by Henry Gould – July 22nd, 2020
Safe to say, summer is HERE. The sun is shining, it’s hot (no, we’re not complaining…) and basically all we want to do is lounge around outside. That is, once we’re finished an hour long Bone Yard group class @ the Yard…
Since it’s far too early to let our guards down regarding COVID-19, I thought it would be worthwhile to do a “weekly roundup” of news from around the web on a few topics related to Vitamin D, the promising results of early COVID-19 vaccine trials, as well as habits for immune heath.
“Vitamin D = A+”
We all know about vitamins, but do we really know about vitamins? Most people are aware that vitamins are important to our health; some people take a multi-vitamin supplement once a day, others take a whole host of different micronutrients in an effort to “hack our health”.
The term vitamin refers to any organic molecule that organisms need in order to regulate a properly functioning metabolism i.e. carry on all the processes we need to stay alive. This could mean regenerating new muscle after a hard workout, building new blood cells to carry oxygen, or breaking down food to use for energy.
Vitamins are essential nutrients, meaning we can’t produce them on our own and therefore need to get them from our diet and environment.
Vitamin D refers to a group of fat-soluble secosteroids that help the intestine absorb calcium, magnesium and phosphate. The reason Vitamin D deficiency leads to weak bones and the condition known as “rickets” was because people were not getting enough Vitamin D by being outside or in their diet, thus not properly metabolizing calcium, leading to the weak bones.
The main way we get Vitamin D is not from our diet or a pill (although we can supplement it this way) but from the sun. Our skin can produce Vitamin D from cholesterol when exposed to sunlight, which usually gives us more than we need. If we have too much it can be a problem, but usually the body will break down any excess Vitamin D.
Interestingly, Vitamin D is now being thought to influence the immune system much more than we originally realized. If you’re up for a technical read, check out this scientific study discussing the impacts of Vitamin D on the regulation of the immune system. Long story short; Vitamin D is important, and since the sun is shining, get outside!
“Experminetal COVID-19 safe, generates immune response”
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic around the world have been devastating, not only to those whose lives and health have been affected, but on an economic scale not seen since the great depression.
As the world adjusts to a “new normal”, experts agree that until there is a vaccine for the SARS-CoV-2 Virus we will still be practicing social distancing, mask wearing and extreme hygiene measures.
However, there might be light at the end of the tunnel as it seems there has been promising results of the early vaccine trials, with results published in one of the worlds leading scientific journals, The New England Journal of Medicine.
A review of the published results is available here, but in summary the vaccine was “generally well tolerated and prompted neutralizing antibody activity in healthy adults”.
Regarding safety, “no serious adverse effects were reported”. This almost comes in conjunction with reports from Oxford University that one million doses could potentially be produced by the Fall, being administered to at-risk groups by December 2020 if all goes well with the vaccine trials.
“Five Habits To Cultivate For A Stronger Immune System”
In addition to the above mentioned Vitamin D for a healthy immune system, there are tons of other ways we can take our health into our own hands and work to improve our immune function in an effort to prevent and fight illness.
This doesn’t mean a single wheatgrass shot at the juice bar or turmeric tea is going to turn you invincible. Quite the opposite; instead the focus should be on lifestyle changes we can follow to keep our immune system functioning optimally at all times so we don’t need to scramble for a “quick fix”.
The following article from Joe Holder at GQ is a great rundown on 5 things we can do to cultivate a stronger immune system 12 months of the year.
- Move Your Body
- If you’re reading this blog, you’ve obviously come through Yard Athletics at least once, and therefore see the value in living an active lifestyle
- From March – May when Yard Athletics was closed, we all had to adapt to get a workout in while staying at home, whether that was following our “Yard At Home” Zoom workouts, or just doing pushups in the living room
- Most importantly, more exercise doesn’t always mean healthier. Sometimes the opposite, as over training can sap the immune system of energy as it tries to repair a body that doesn’t have time for rest, and thus can end up making you sick
- Long story short; do something active every day, but not too much
- Get Enough Sleep
- As we’ve talked about on this blog before, sleep is the secret weapon of any healthy lifestyle. Without it we can’t function, and in a world that demands we maximize every minute of the day, it can often be ignored.
- Inflammation increases when we don’t get enough sleep, which in turn leads to the body sapping energy trying to fight it
- As it gets hotter during the summer, it becomes harder to sleep. Fact is, we sleep better when it’s cold. If your room is too hot to sleep, consider investing in a portable air conditioner or fan; your immune system will thank you.
- Practice Mindfulness
- Stress has a profound impact on health, both physiologically (cortisol production) in addition to secondary factors (can’t sleep, don’t eat well, drinking too much)
- Meditation can help us practice mindfulness, getting into a routine of calming one’s self down and staying grounded to the things that are important in our lives
- There are countless apps out there that allow for guided meditation, so consider taking 20 minutes each day to slow down and relax
- Spend Time In Nature
- Apart from the benefits of Vitamin D, being outside in nature can have a huge impact on one’s mental and physical health.
- For those of us who live in hectic urban environments, it allows us to detach from the chaos of a busy metropolis and engage with our surrounding environment
- Going on a hike, renting a kayak, lying on the beach, walking in the woods, swimming in a lake… they all sound pretty good to me
- As we’ve seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, political decisions related to health policy can be of global consequence, not to mention on the issues of race and inequality that still persist throughout the world
- In a democracy it’s our responsibility to stay engaged and exercise our right to vote for those candidates we feel will will represent our material interests
- Stay informed, stay engaged, listen, talk, discuss, read, learn…vote.