As we come out of lockdown, beginning to mix and mingle with other human beings, albeit at a safe distance, our immune system is going to need to be stronger than ever.
There are lots of opinions out there about how to strengthen our resistance to the Coronavirus and without doubt, bad diet is certainly one of the most frequent causes of poor immunity. Viruses usually enter the body via the lung and are detected in the main by receptors in the Large Intestine.
Eat Pungent Foods to Absorb Vitamin C
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Lung & Large are paired together. The flavour of the food to strengthen these organs is pungent, so food in this category include onions, garlic, ginger, chilli, turmeric, cayenne pepper, coriander, and cloves. Many of these foods are packed with selenium, zinc and vitamin C. Onions especially have phytochemicals that act as stimulants for Vitamin C within the body.
Vitamin C is the go-to chemical when we need a boost of energy or support the body getting through a cold. The pungent flavour, helps the absorption of Vitamin C found in many foods such as parsley, kale, broccoli, berries, tomatoes and red pepper. Remember the body cannot store Vitamin C so it’s essential to eat every day and mix it up with the pungent onion family that help with absorption.
Eat Naturally Sweet Foods to Boost the Immune System
The 5element system in Chinese Medicine is a holistic system that helps us understand and help our body to be the healthiest and happiest it can be. The Spleen-Pancreas is the mother of the Lung and the Immune System. It’s flavour is sweet which corresponds with western medicine as it is the Spleen-Pancreas that govern insulin and blood sugar.
If we have been overindulging in the sweet stuff during lockdown, which includes alcohol high in sugars, now is the time to address this as sugar significantly reduces the ability of the body to protect itself. Vitamin C and sugar compete to use insulin to travel around the body and into the tissues of cells. Usually, sugar wins and so there is less absorption and use of vitamin C to repair and protect the body.
White blood cells that protect the body against invading infections also have their defensive function significantly impaired by overconsumption of refined sugars. So instead of reaching for the biscuits go for naturally sweet foods such as parsnip, sweet potato, butternut squash and carrot. These help spleen function by releasing their sugars slowly and regulating insulin levels.
Reduce Cravings and Tension with Simple Hand Exercises
Connection and physical touch is really beneficial to this organ and reducing sugar cravings. Unfortunately, hugs and tactile behavior is the thing we may have been lacking during lockdown. Instead, we may have been filling this emotional hole with chocolate, cake and banana bread. As a Shiatsu therapist, I see how beneficial touch is for health. It helps relieve pain and tension. It relaxes the body improving neurological function, digestion, sleep and breathing, while releasing fear, so something we all need as we move through uncertain times. Don’t wait for someone else to touch you, practice simple self-shiatsu, massage, beginning with your hands.
There are potent acupressure points around the body that have a direct effect on organs and well-being. Large Intestine 4 is a strong elimination point that helps if you have fatigue or the is body overloaded with sugar and toxins. It also helps reduce spasms in the colon that can come after eating or during times of stress.
Find the point by pressing the thumb against the side of the first finger to make a mountainous, fleshy bulge. At the top of the peak you will find Large Intestine 4 (LI4 ). Release the thumb from the forefinger, pressing and massaging into the point, with your other hand, until you feel it softening and supple. You mustn't press too hard, you aren't digging a hole and you don't want to bruise your hand, you are simply connecting with your body. Feel your lungs fill with oxygen, your diaphragm moving and your intestines relaxing as you press into the point.
You have two hands so make sure you find LI4 on your other hand too. Rub and massage all over your hands, giving a squeeze to the fingertips to stimulate blood and energy flow. Clasp your hands together, rubbing and rolling the heels of the palms so all the bones and flesh of your hands flex and are physically manipulated.
This self-massage boosts spleen function sending the energy upwards towards the lung and together these organs form your barrier of defense. Like a glow surrounding your body this defensive chi-energy from these healthy organs will help protect us as we emerge from lockdown and enter the world.
For more information on Shiatsu Conscious Cooking or to buy the books full of recipes, tips and Chinese Medicine visit www.joannefaulkner.ie or find her on Facebook @joannefaulknerShiatsu where she offers Free Morning Chi Gong sessions at 8.30am.