Navigating the Pandemic, Social Detachment, & Keeping a Strong Immune System
by Anthony Benjamin on Oct 12, 2022
Bariatric Patients: Navigating the Pandemic, Social Detachment, & Keeping a Strong Immune System
Life after bariatric surgery is often seen as a new beginning since a complete change in lifestyle is often required. These lifestyle changes themselves are sometimes difficult to implement and follow through with, but now we find ourselves faced with the added obstacle of a worldwide pandemic. Maybe you are wondering how to keep a strong immune system and how to stay healthy. You are not alone if you find yourself stressed out wondering how you will get through these difficult times as a bariatric patient.
One of the top underlying conditions that causes a greater risk of complications from coronavirus is obesity. This is because severe obesity increases the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which is one of the major complications from COVID-19. Obesity itself can also cause other top underlying conditions – high blood pressure and diabetes.
What preventative measures can you take to help lower your risk factors? First, if you have been prescribed medication to treat any pre-existing conditions, continue as normal! Remember to always check with your doctor before starting or stopping any medications.
We’ve put together a short list of things you can do to keep your immunity strong by focusing on your physical and mental wellbeing:
Let the Fear Go
Fear as well as stress are our emotional responses to perceived threats and dangers. When our bodies are in a stressful state, it causes us to activate our fight or flight response, which releases stress hormones like cortisol. When you are faced with a threat and in survival mode, these optimal amounts of stress hormones can be lifesaving. It helps to maintain fluid balance and blood pressure and regulates body functions like digestion that aren’t critical.
However, if you are under constant stress, the body continuously releases cortisol into the bloodstream. Too much cortisol has negative effects and can result in increased blood pressure and sugar levels, more cravings, weakened immune system, and more.
It may be easier said than done, but don’t stress! The key to reducing fear and stress is to face it directly and find an approach to handle it. Denying – or avoiding – stress and fear only magnifies it. Some healthy ways to reduce fear and stress include:
- Keep a routine
- Eat a healthy diet
- Get plenty of rest
- Reach out to your social network
If you find that you are overwhelmed, consider reaching out to a professional for help.
Establish a Routine
Your daily routine consists of all your actions that structure your day. During this time of uncertainty, a routine can give us a feeling of safety and purpose. If you are working from home or homeschooling children, create an area that is just for work and school. A routine can also include time for selfcare! Whether it is a daily cup of tea or reading before bed, this part of your daily routine can do wonders for your mental wellbeing.
If you are struggling to set a routine, consider the following for good health and more energy:
- Morning. Start with a glass of lemon water that can protect you against inflammatory diseases.
- Exercise. Working out in the morning can boost your energy levels and improve circulation.
- Eat a nutritious breakfast. Fuel your body with a healthy mix of protein, vitamins, and minerals.
- Eat a healthy lunch.
- Take a break for mid-afternoon exercise. Try a 10 minute walk or a few stretches.
- Eat a good dinner.
- Take time to relax with a healthy activity. A few examples are journaling, reading, and meditating.
- Go to bed. Turn off your phone and computer at least one hour before bed.
Keeping yourself physically active during this time is crucial for both your mental and physical wellbeing. It can be anything from a walk through your neighborhood to yoga in your living room. Any activity that gets your blood circulating will increase oxygen flow that allows your cells and substances of the immune system to move throughout the body freely and efficiently. Not to mention, the release of endorphins enhances feelings of calm and wellbeing.
Staying active while social distancing may look and feel different from your workout routine. The usual trip to the gym or class is not available and you may feel unmotivated. The following are some tips to stay active and on track:
- Find what activities you enjoy doing. Do not be afraid to try new things. Do you like neighborhood walks or high-intensity workouts? Identifying what you like best and what makes you happy will help you stay consistent.
- Develop a routine to make exercise a priority. Try planning ahead for what you will be doing and set an appointment in your calendar for exercising each day.
- Set small and realistic goals and write them down. Listen to your body and start at a pace that feels good.
- Find accountability partners. Work out with friends and loved ones over video chat, participate in online exercise groups or join an online fitness challenge, send encouraging texts to your workout partners.
Remember to do the best you can and have fun.
If we could recommend focusing on one thing during this time of isolation, it would be sleep. Adequate sleep is just as vital to our wellbeing as proper nutrition and exercise. Poor sleeping habits have been linked to weakened immune systems and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
Additionally, missing out on sleep triggers hormones that control appetite and satiety. According to the latest sleep studies, the two important hormones — ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and leptin (the hormone that tells you “I’m full”) – are regulated by sleep, or lack thereof. Six to eight hours of sleep each night can boost leptin, while less than six hours of sleep can increase your ghrelin levels. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine confirmed that people who slept only four hours a night were hungrier and ate more than those who were well-rested. If you are tired, you may also find yourself craving sugar or foods that are higher in carbohydrates and not on your bariatric diet.
The following are some helpful tips for improving sleep:
- Sleep in a cool, dark, quiet space and use darkening curtains, eye masks, ear plugs, and white noise to create an ideal sleeping space.
- Turn off computers, tablets, televisions, and smartphones to eliminate artificial light that can keep you awake. Avoid using these devices for at least one hour before bed.
- Keep your bed designated as a bed to get your body into a routine that the space is for sleeping.
- Monitor and reduce caffeine consumption. Some common culprits of high caffeine include beverages, protein bars, pain medication, teas.
- Skip alcoholic drinks and eating three hours before bedtime to prevent dehydration and promote deep sleep.
- Start winding down each night by doing something relaxing like reading a book or taking a bath. Try to go bed at the same time each night and aim for eight hours of sleep.
- Nap for no more than 15 to 30 minutes at a time because longer naps may prevent falling asleep easily at night.
- When waking, open your curtains or step outside. Your circadian rhythm, which regulates sleep, benefits from natural light.
Supplementing during a time like this is important for everyone, but even more so for bariatric patients. In addition to the normal routine of taking your once daily multivitamin, the following vitamins and mineral supplements can help give your body a boost and help you keep a strong immune system (these are all included in ProCare Health’s multivitamins).
This essential nutrient affects several roles in your body and is involved in many biochemical processes – many relating to immunity. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant, which helps to decrease inflammation. In addition, it promotes growth and the spread of lymphocytes – a type of immune cell that increases the antibodies circulating in your blood.
Another essential, Vitamin D, plays a major role in mediating the immune systems response to infection by stimulating naturally occurring antimicrobial peptides, which live in immune cells lining the upper and lower respiratory tract.
Helping to keep the immune system strong, Zinc is a mineral that also helps to fight infections and heal wounds. Zinc “taps the brakes” on the immune response to ensure that it does not spiral out of control and prevents excess inflammation in the body.
As one of the most important micronutrients, magnesium plays a key role in the immune response by lowering inflammation levels. It also helps keep bones strong, blood sugar normal, and heart healthy.
Proper nutrients can be hard for the body to absorb after bariatric surgery. That is why it is essential to choose the best bariatric multivitamin for your specific needs, so you avoid health problems, get the right nutrients, and promote a strong immune system – all of which are vital to your overall health.
Social distancing can start to feel isolating, but there are ways to maintain community while still being responsibly distant.
- Call or video chat with family and friends. This can include texting, virtual gaming, or a video group chat.
- Cook a meal for a friend, neighbor, or family member or deliver groceries to someone who is housebound. This can not only brighten their day, but yours as well.
- Greet someone from a distance. A polite wave or warm smile can be a great morale booster.
- If possible, share resources. Many people are finding it difficult to find daily essentials and food. Shelters, food banks, and other agencies need your donations.
Remember that social distancing doesn’t have to mean social isolation.
ProCare Health Is Here to Help You Stay Healthy
We know that this is a challenging time, and it is normal to feel heightened anxiety. By slowing down, taking one day at a time, connecting with others virtually, and taking care of yourself can help your mental health and help you keep your immunity strong.
At ProCare Health, we are committed to providing you with the nutrition you need to stay healthy. We have a top selection of vitamins and supplements to support you. Please contact us today with questions, to get a free sample, or to place an order.