By Mihaly Safran, Biochemical Engineer, Former Olympian, Level 2 MCT
The coronavirus pandemic now is real and it affects our life in many ways. We are in an emergency situation that we have never experienced before. So, we should act differently than before to overcome this crisis. Fear, panic, and stress don’t help; but accepting the current situation, being aware, and doing mindful lifestyle practices does!
I think there are two main areas now where we can do something beneficial for ourselves, for our family, and for the world.
- Reduce the chance of spreading the infection so we save lives and we don’t overload the healthcare system and economy.
- Boost our immune system in order to become strong, resilient human beings so we can avoid the infection or survive it with mild symptoms.
I hope the first part is obvious. Accept the pandemic behavioral rules, stay home if you can, limit your personal meetings, keep the social distance and pay special attention to basic hygiene. We are seeing most people survive with mild symptoms, but they can infect those who don’t have a strong immune system! And we don’t want to overload hospitals or healthcare workers. Right?
In this article, I would like to give you some practical lifestyle tips to help you boost your innate immune system and utilize its full potential as nature designed it throughout evolution.
This is a subject I have extensive knowledge about. Briefly about me: I was a professional athlete in canoeing; a European champion; an Olympian in 2008. Later, I had to stop due to burnout and injuries associated with elite-level training.
Meanwhile, the MovNat system came into my life via Jerome Rattoni who was teaching it in my neighborhood. Regular practice sessions of Natural Movement helped me to regain my musculoskeletal and mental health and gave me a training inspiration for the rest of my life.
Education-wise, I have a University degree as a Health Preventing Biochemical Engineer in 2010. Since then, I’ve remained curious about the secrets of human physiology. So, I studied a lot about biophysics and quantum biology. I’ve written many articles and books about these topics.
Some lifestyle strategies below may seem already familiar, but I hope I can give a good overview on how they work and how they are related to each other. It is difficult to set an order of importance in the lifestyle tips below. Use them as much as you can. Luckily the MovNat community has always been on the right track to give us a strong, healthy body and mind which supports our environment in many ways.
So, here we go! Let’s see the most effective, simple methods on how to boost your immune system! (not just in case of pandemic)
Sunlight is essential for human beings. The cycle of light days and dark nights regulate a primary metabolic pathway: the circadian rhythm which keeps our hormone and neurotransmitter levels in the optimal range. It also helps with producing energy and water in mitochondria. In the modern world, we are sunlight deficient with indoor lifestyles and artificial lights and gadget screens. The artificial light sources are missing many frequencies compared to sunlight (like ultraviolet, infrared) and they are emitting too much blue light.
So, do yourself a big favor: get some sunlight! Many people start their mornings by checking the news and social media on their smartphones. Why don’t we go for an early morning walk or do an easy low intensity Natural Movement session outside first? Watching the sunrise triggers the circadian rhythm. It is also great to go sunbathing later in the morning to get some UV-A light for regulating steroid hormone levels, dopamine, melatonin production, and nitric oxide release. Sunbathing around noon for producing Vitamin D by UV-B rays. Sunset to calm down your body and gradually go to night mode (AKA sleep). Even 5-10 minutes here and there is already excellent, even if you just open the windows. Our eyes are the most important light receptors, but our skin, cellular water and many biomolecules play a role in this process.
Those grandpas are not ripped just because of their movement habits and diet but also because of their light environment!
If you regularly have quality sleep, you have already won a lot. The melatonin hormone is also extremely important in the immune system! How can you sleep like a baby? It starts with watching the sunrise, then trying to get some sun frequently during the day to sense the fine changes in the solar spectrum. After sunset, you should avoid artificial blue lights or at least filter them out with software and eyeglasses to protect your melatonin levels. Eat your dinner early. Calm yourself down with breathing exercises, reading, meditation etc. Make sure your bedroom is dark and has a cool temperature. Turn off the electric gadgets around you. Making quality sleep a high priority will yield many immune system benefits!
3. Blue Light and Electro Smog Reduction
Artificial lights and screens provide plenty of blue light even after sunset. This reduces melatonin levels, damages melanopsin receptors, DHA omega-3 fatty acids, diminishes sleep quality, and interferes with the optimal functioning of circadian rhythm. At night, use candles and red lights, when needed. Blue light blocking eyeglasses and blue light filtering software for your electronic devices can be helpful, too.
The excess artificial electromagnetic waves also weaken the immune system. Less gadgets and less electronic device time! If it is possible, turn off the WiFi, especially at night. Spend more time in nature, in a natural electromagnetic environment. You can also practice grounding, that means walking barefoot or swimming in natural waters. We are fortunate to have access to an infinite number of excellent books, learning and Natural Movement opportunities, so we can have plenty of fun, even without electricity.
4. Cold Thermogenesis
Cooling the skin surface for short periods is an old and effective method to boost our immunity and mitochondrial energy production. Especially for those who live in high latitude, in cold areas without much sunlight. If you’ve never done this before, start gradually and don’t overstress your body. You can start with a normal hot shower and at the end turn to cold water! Later you can take direct cold showers for at least 30 seconds. Face dunking in icy water is also a good way to start. As you get some friendship with cold, you can go to cold/icy water bath tubs or outdoor waters. Moving naturally outside, even in very cold environments, has proven efficient by the MovNat community worldwide (Nordic countries, North America, Canada, etc).
5. Nasal Breathing
Simply put, pay attention to breathe through your nose instead of your mouth. This allows you to filter out many pathogens, stimulate the antiviral nitric oxide release and further boost immunity through optimal CO2 and O2 levels. There are of course some exceptions from nasal breathing, like a very high intensity workout, swimming, and speaking. But most of the time, try to inhale and exhale only through your nose. You can also practice breath hold exercises to improve hypoxia and CO2 tolerance. You can learn more about healthy breathing techniques from the MovNat Diaphragmatic Breathing tutorial. Or, do some research on the Russian scientist, Dr. Buteyko.
6. Stress Management
If you are constantly in the “fight or flight” state, you will have less energy for your immune system. It’s good to pump adrenaline and sugar into the blood when a lion is chasing you, but it will exhaust your body if you are in this state 24/7. Practice conscious stress reduction, meditation, laughing, hiking in nature, breathe deeply, get some massages, etc. The simple act of deep breathing can stimulate the parasympathic nervous system for greater relaxation and stress management right now. Of course, a daily practice of Natural Movement is also a huge benefit in Stress Management.
7. Stay Hydrated
Sufficient water levels in cells are also important! How much water should we drink? It is quite individual. It greatly depends on your nutrition, the climate you live in, and how much natural or artificial lights you get. Generally, a carbohydrate-rich diet requires more water than a fat-based diet, because mitochondria produce more internal deuterium-depleted water with the latter strategy. A couple of the simplest and easiest indicators to follow are, if you’re thirsty, drink water. And try to drink enough to maintain a clear or pale yellow urine color.
8. Healthy Nutrition
Regardless of your diet choices and beliefs, please avoid refined, processed junk foods. They contain unnatural levels of sugar, inflammatory fatty acids and are harmful for the gut flora. Instead, choose local, seasonal hunter-gatherer type, whole meals. Things like seafood, offal, animal meats and fats, bone broth, eggs, local and seasonal veggies, fruits, fermented veggies. Spicing it up with turmeric, garlic, or ginger is a good idea. Offal, animal fats, and mushrooms are great sources of vitamin D, too!
Timing of the meal is at least as important as the quality of the food! It connects to the circadian rhythm. In general, eat between sunrise and sunset, and rest your digestive system in the evening. You can also try an intermittent fasting protocol, eating only within a few hours window of the day.
Supplements? I am not a big fan of them, and since I’ve learned more about quantum biology, I focus more on micronutrient dense foods, sun, and sleep. Some of them can help like Vitamin C, zinc, and adaptogenic herbs (e.g. ginseng, ashwagandha, maca, reishi mushroom).
Quality and optimally dosed Exercising also boosts the immune system. Moving decreases inflammation levels, boosts mitochondrial density and efficiency, optimizes blood sugar levels and blood pressure, reduces stress, and makes you happy. The practice of Natural Movement gives all the metabolic benefits mentioned above. Even better if you have the chance to move naturally in open, fresh air. How to start? Get into the habit of practicing “movement snacks” throughout the day or start following one of the many programs MovNat provides.
10. Selective media fasting
We can easily spend the entire day (and night) watching the current “scary news” or conspiracy theories. Be informed, process it, and accept it as reality, but also take the time to boost yourself! Watching the news all day will not protect you, but smart, immunity-boosting behavior will. If you can’t control this information flow coming in, you’ll lose precious time for strengthening and empowering yourself. Choose wisely!
Follow these lifestyle recommendations and you will quickly feel better, more energized, and more self-confident. A lesson of this current pandemic we can begin to apply in our lives right now, is to always be doing what we can to build the foundations of health and a strong immune system. Let’s look at some of those foundations that we can always be working, pandemic or not.
This situation allows us to have more time to rethink our lifestyle. I hope we can learn from this crisis and that a better world is coming soon! With healthy, happy, strong and more environmentally friendly human beings. We all matter in this game. Use this period to your advantage, learn, move naturally, nurture your relationships. Take care of yourself and others, stay healthy. Be strong to be helpful!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mihaly Safran is a former professional athlete in canoeing (2x European champion, Olympian 2008, World championship bronze medalist). Now he is a passionate MovNat practitioner and Level 2 instructor. He graduated as a biochemical engineer, self studied 10 years in quantum biology and published articles, books in Hungary. You can find him on Instagram (@mihalysafran) and you can read his first English translated book, SunnyFitness on amazon.com. Currently he is living on the Spanish island Fuerteventura.
Sunlight, circadian rhythm, mitochondria, quantum biology
John Ott – Health and light. Ariel Pr, 2000
Jim Al Khalili: Life on the edge. Crown, 2015
Nick Lane: The vital question. Profile Books, 2015
Roland van Wijk: Light in shaping life – Biophotons in Biology and Medicine. Meluna, 2014
Sengupta S, Tang SY, Devine JC, et al. Circadian control of lung inflammation in influenza infection. Nat Commun. 2019;10(1):4107. Published 2019 Sep 11. doi:10.1038/s41467-019-11400-9
Wallace DC, Fan W. Energetics, epigenetics, mitochondrial genetics. Mitochondrion. 2010 Jan;10(1):12-31. doi:10.1016/j.mito.2009.09.006. Epub 2009 Sep 29.
Wever RA. Phase shifts of human circadian rhythms due to shifts of artificial Zeitgebers. Chronobiologia. 1980 Jul- Sep;7(3):303-27.
Laura K. Fonken,† Taryn G. Aubrecht, O. Hecmarie Meléndez-Fernández, Zachary M. Weil, and Randy J. Nelson Dim Light at Night Disrupts Molecular Circadian Rhythms and Affects MetabolismJ Biol Rhythms. 2013 Aug; 28(4): 262–271.
Andrei P. Sommer, Adam R. Mester, Mario A: Trelles Tuning the mitochondrial rotary motor with light Ann Transl Med. 2015 Dec; 3(22): 346.
Carrillo-Vico A, Lardone PJ, Alvarez-Sánchez N, Rodríguez-Rodríguez A, Guerrero JM. Melatonin: buffering the immune system. Int J Mol Sci. 2013;14(4):8638–8683. Published 2013 Apr 22. doi:10.3390/ijms14048638
Robert O. Becker: The body electric. William Morrow Paperbacks, 1998
Andrew Marino – Going somewhere: Truth about a Life in Science. Cassandra, 2011
Ober C, Sinatra ST, Zucker M: Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever. Basic Health Publications, Inc.; 2nd ed. edition (March 15, 2014)
Johansson O1. Disturbance of the immune system by electromagnetic fields-A potentially underlying cause for cellular damage and tissue repair reduction which could lead to disease and impairment. Pathophysiology. 2009 Aug;16(2-3):157-77. doi: 10.1016/j.pathophys.2009.03.004. Epub 2009 Apr 23.
Volkow ND, Tomasi D, Wang G, et al. Effects of Cell Phone Radiofrequency Signal Exposure on Brain Glucose Metabolism. JAMA. 2011;305(8):808-813.
Cheung IN, Zee PC, Shalman D, Malkani RG, Kang J, Reid KJ. Morning and Evening Blue-Enriched Light Exposure Alters Metabolic Function in Normal WeightAdults. PLoS One. 2016 May 18;11(5):e0155601.
Lameese D. Akacem, Kenneth P. Wright, Jr., and Monique K. LeBourgeois, Bedtime and evening light exposure influence circadian timing in preschool-age children: A field study. Neurobiol Sleep Circadian Rhythms. 2016 Nov; 1(2): 27–31.
Walmsley L, Hanna L, Mouland J, et al. Colour as a signal for entraining the mammalian circadian clock. PLoS Biol. 2015;13(4):e1002127. Published 2015 Apr 17. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1002127
Witkovsky P . Dopamine and retinal function. Doc Ophthalmol. 2004 Jan;108(1):17-40.
Daniel P. Newman, Steven W. Lockley, Gerard M. Loughnane, Ana Carina P. Martins, Rafael Abe, Marco T. R. Zoratti, Simon P. Kelly, Megan H. O’Neill, Shantha M. W. Rajaratnam, Redmond G. O’Connell, Mark A. BellgroveOcular exposure to blue-enriched light has an asymmetric influence on neural activity and spatial attention Sci Rep. 2016; 6: 27754. Published online 2016 Jun 13. doi: 10.1038/srep27754
Vetter C, Juda M, Lang D, Wojtysiak A, Roenneberg T. Blue-enriched office light competes with natural light as a zeitgeber. Scand J Work Environ Health. 2011 Sep;37(5):437-45. doi: 10.5271/sjweh.3144. Epub 2011 Jan 19.
Wim hof, Koen De Jong: The Way of the Iceman: How the Wim Hof Method Creates Radiant, Longterm Health. Dragon Door Publications (December 19, 2016)
Janský L1, Pospísilová D, Honzová S, Ulicný B, Srámek P, Zeman V, Kamínková J. Immune system of cold-exposed and cold-adapted humans. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1996;72(5-6):445-50.
Patrick McKeown: The Oxygen Advantage: Simple, Scientifically Proven Breathing Techniques to Help You Become Healthier, Slimmer, Faster, and Fitter. William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (November 29, 2016)
Mehta DR, Ashkar AA, Mossman KL. The nitric oxide pathway provides innate antiviral protection in conjunction with the type I interferon pathway in fibroblasts. PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e31688. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0031688
Lin, YL & Huang, YL & Ma, S & Yeh, C & Chiou, SY & Chen, Li-Kuang & Liao, ching-len. (1997). Inhibition of Japanese encephalitis virus infection by nitric oxide: Antiviral effect of nitric oxide on RNA virus replication. Journal of virology. 71. 5227-35. 10.1128/JVI.71.7.5227-5235.1997.
Saura M1, Zaragoza C, McMillan A, Quick RA, Hohenadl C, Lowenstein JM, Lowenstein CJ. An antiviral mechanism of nitric oxide: inhibition of a viral protease. Immunity. 1999 Jan;10(1):21-8.
Gerald Pollack: The fourth phase of water. Ebner & Sons, 2013
Gabor Somlyai: Defeating Cancer!: The Biological Effect of Deuterium Depletion. 1st Book Library, 2002
Boros, Laszlo. (2016). Biochemistry of ATP synthase deuteronation. Chemical & Engineering News. 94. 32-36.
Mark Sisson: Primal blueprint. Primal Nutrition, Inc.; Fourth Edition,New edition edition (January 2, 2019)
Weston A. Price: Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation; 8th edition (2009)
Crawford MA1, Broadhurst CL, Guest M, Nagar A, Wang Y, Ghebremeskel K, Schmidt WF. A quantum theory for the irreplaceable role of docosahexaenoic acid in neural cell signalling throughout evolution. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2013 Jan;88(1):5-13. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2012.08.005. Epub 2012 Nov 30.
Deretic V, Saitoh T, Akira S. Autophagy in infection, inflammation and immunity. Nat Rev Immunol. 2013;13(10):722–737. doi:10.1038/nri3532
Fasano A, Not T, Wang W, Uzzau S, Berti I, Tommasini A, Goldblum SE. Zonulin, a newly discovered modulator of intestinal permeability, and its expression in coeliac disease. Lancet. 2000 Apr 29;355(9214):1518-9.
Smits SA, Leach J, Sonnenburg ED, et al. Seasonal cycling in the gut microbiome of the Hadza hunter-gatherers of Tanzania. Science. 2017;357(6353):802–806. doi:10.1126/science.aan4834
Longo VD, Panda S: Fasting, Circadian Rhythms, and Time-Restricted Feeding in Healthy Lifespan. Cell Metab. 2016;23(6):1048-1059.
Carr AC, Maggini S. Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients. 2017;9(11):1211. Published 2017 Nov 3. doi:10.3390/nu9111211
Malo C, Wilson JX. Glucose modulates vitamin C transport in adult human small intestinal brush border membrane vesicles. J Nutr. 2000 Jan;130(1):63-9.
Aranow C. Vitamin D and the immune system. J Investig Med. 2011;59(6):881–886. doi:10.2310/JIM.0b013e31821b8755
Prasad AS. Zinc in human health: effect of zinc on immune cells. Mol Med. 2008;14(5-6):353–357. doi:10.2119/2008-00033.Prasad
Mikolai J1, Erlandsen A, Murison A, Brown KA, Gregory WL, Raman-Caplan P, Zwickey HL. In vivo effects of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on the activation of lymphocytes. J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Apr;15(4):423-30. doi: 10.1089/acm.2008.0215.
Kang S, Min H. Ginseng, the ‘Immunity Boost’: The Effects of Panax ginseng on Immune System. J Ginseng Res. 2012;36(4):354–368. doi:10.5142/jgr.2012.36.4.354
Kox M, van Eijk LT, Zwaag J, et al. Voluntary activation of the sympathetic nervous system and attenuation of the innate immune response in humans. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014;111(20):7379–7384. doi:10.1073/pnas.1322174111
Black DS, Slavich GM. Mindfulness meditation and the immune system: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2016;1373(1):13–24. doi:10.1111/nyas.12998
Mahagita C. Roles of meditation on alleviation of oxidative stress and improvement of antioxidant system. J Med Assoc Thai. 2010 Nov;93 Suppl 6:S242-54.
Van Wijk EP, Ackerman J, Van Wijk R. Effect of meditation on ultraweak photon emission from hands and forehead.
Nieman DC, Wentz LM. The compelling link between physical activity and the body’s defense system. J Sport Health Sci. 2019;8(3):201–217. doi:10.1016/j.jshs.2018.09.009
Sander R1. Exercise boosts immune response. Nurs Older People. 2012 Jun 29;24(6):11.