Immune Systems: Keeping Them Healthy

Keeping Your Immune System Healthy

It is more important than ever to keep our immune systems as healthy as possible as we head into colder weather. Especially with a second wave of the Covid-19 virus leasing its germs upon us in this pandemic.

My gardening business keeps me (very) physically active during the summer months. I also soak up lots of vitamin D. Both are important requirements for keeping our immune systems functioning at their best.

However, during the (too) long winter months here in Canada I spend my days freelance writing This does absolutely nothing for my physical activity or vitamin D levels. Instead of working in the sunshine and fresh air, digging, lugging plants and soil, I am indoors, sitting in a comfortable chair with my laptop.

Netflix movies are also more tempting on cold winter evenings, accompanied by a glass of wine and snacks of course.

When I was sick last February, we were just coming off a miserably cold and icy winter. My immune system was probably at a low from lack of physical activity and vitamin D. My consumption of junk food was enjoying a winter high too.

Motivating ourselves during our winter months to get outside is tough, but I plan to keep reminding myself to do so this coming winter. Perhaps like minded neighbours can be convinced to go for morning walks.

I won’t pretend I will completely avoid the high carb comfort foods, but I can limit them. Continuing my healthy practice of a hydrating and nutrient-packed green smoothie every morning into my gardening off-season should help too.

The Benefits of COVID-19

You wouldn’t think much good would come out of a pandemic such as COVID-19, but a few benefits have emerged. Hopefully these few good things will not disappear with the virus, if it ever does that is.

Pollution

China is typically the world’s biggest polluter, contributing 30% of the world’s CO2 emissions annually. Pictures taken by NASA have been circulating depicting the increased air quality in China. In this first set of pictures, nitrogen dioxide emissions depicted by yellow clouds of toxic gas between January 1 and 20, have disappeared between February 10 and 25th.

Due to the reduction in burning fossil fuels (coal) in China during measures taken to contain COVID-19, the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) has reported that CO2 emissions were down by at least 25% between February 3 and March 1. Good quality air days increased 22% in February due to the shut down of power plants and factories as well as the lack of vehicles on the roads. Unlike 2019 and other years, the level of pollution in China did not rise in 2020 after the Chinese New Year.

With most of Italy in quarantine, their iconic waterways are getting cleaner. The air and water is less polluted since there is less vaporetti (public waterbuses) and other boat traffic than usual because of the restricted movement of residents.  The reemergence of dolphins, fish and swans is exciting as they have not been seen in many years due to the polluted waters.

This amazing drop in emissions and the resultant fresh air and clean water is huge, but will it last? Now that they are recovering from the ravage of COVID-19, China is already talking stimulus measures for factories and workers to ramp up their activity to boost their floundering economy.

Their populations might rebel though if China’s blue skies turn gray again and Italy’s waterways revert to a murky disgrace.

Humanitarian Gestures

Sometimes crisis brings out the best in people. Many heartwarming humanitarian gestures have been circulating with the COVID-19 virus. Online support groups have popped up on Facebook and other social media platforms where healthy volunteers are helping the not so fortunate or healthy. Grocery shopping, errand running, sharing of provisions and factual information; these do-gooders have been awesome.

Family Time

With many parents forced to work from home while schools and daycares are closed, families have been spending more time together. Whether we are self-isolating, self-quarantined or practicing social distancing, spending time with our families is currently the thing to do. Hectic schedules have been shut down with no running to and from jobs, errands and extra-curricular activities. What a concept! Games, puzzles, home movies, and family dinners are suddenly popular again. What a shame it took something like a nasty virus to bring these examples of quality time to light. Hopefully we can remember to schedule some of these irreplaceable moments into our lives when the restrictions are lifted and our lives return to normal.

Fresh Air, Sunshine & Exercise

One of the luxuries we have been allowed and encouraged to do with the isolation and social distancing practices is to get out into the great outdoors to enjoy fresh air, sunshine and exercise. Science has proven that these freebies are key to staying healthy. If you didn’t already know or appreciate this, you may be learning it during this crisis.