With the latest announcement from the Government of Dubai to slowly re-open the city and activate different sectors of the economy, it is imperative that we do what we can to strengthen our immunity as we go back to life as it was pre Covid-19. In this post, we at the Gaggler continue our first conversation with Dr. Walid Khairallah which centered on the roles nutrition and supplements play in boosting our immunity and dig deeper into risk factors that can reduce our immunity system.
Debora: Dr. Walid, what other factors are negatively affecting our immunity response?
Dr. Walid: Sleep deprivation is a huge factor. We have disrupted our biological clock, especially since we started using artificial lighting. We also tend to spend long hours looking at device screens. When people are exposed to blue light this blocks the melatonin production, an essential component for sleep induction. The overstimulation of the brain right before going to bed compromises the quality of sleep by not only delaying the time we retire for the day but also inhibiting our ability to easily doze off. It is during the crucial hours, between 11 pm and 4 am, that a lot of the immune functions occur and that is the reason why it’s imperative to have a good restorative sleep to help us detoxify and strengthen our defense system.
A healthy sleep induction timeframe will take between five and twenty minutes. People who fall asleep before 5 minutes are sleep deprived whilst those who take more than 20 minutes to fall asleep are likely dealing with a type of sleep disorder. It is necessary to monitor yourself and know these rules to improve the sleep process.
There are several ways to improve our sleeping habits and diminish blue light exposure:
- Set your devices on night shift mode, ideally between 7 pm and 7 am.
- Wear special glasses that filter out blue light when working in front of the screen.
- In case you wake up in the middle of the night and need to turn the lights on in the room install blue light blocking light bulbs in the bedroom and bathroom to avoid the sudden drop of melatonin levels
- Expose yourself to the sun to help regulate your biological clock and promote the production of melanin stimulating hormones, boost vitamin D levels which helps to improve the immune system function, our mood, and overall well-being.
Another disruptive factor is Electro Magnetic Frequency (EMF) exposure from Wi-Fi, mobile phones and antennas especially at night that causes the destruction of melatonin. Melatonin has been shown to prevent complications from viruses such as Covid-19 and SARS-CoV-2. Being close to electrical sources and voltage fields has a detrimental impact on the nervous system in a chronic way, making us weak and less capable to fight infections.
Debora: Most people will consider their mobile devices and WIFI networks an extension of themselves, an essential part of their lives. What can we do to diminish these destructive effects on our bodies?
Dr. Walid: Try to avoid unnecessary exposure to these devices and fields by:
- Keeping these devices outside of your room while sleeping.
- Turning these devices off or at least putting them on airplane mode.
- Plug your phone away from your reach as the voltage field from the charger itself, especially the fast chargers, produce more expansive voltage fields.
Another destructive behavior is over-exhaustion. When we get stressed our brain and our body become wired and we start producing high levels of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which could lead to a suppression of the immune system. We need to be conscious of this, especially as we are being bombarded with negative news. It’s important to manage stress and try to get out of this emotional tension to avoid burning out and further going into depression.
Debora: Speaking about emotional stress and how it affects our immunity, what advice can you give to those who are facing the lockdown by themselves?
Dr. Walid: We must remember this is a period of physical distancing, not social distancing. We can be socially closer to people even if we are in lockdown. We have all the media for communication – we can contact our family, our friends, people we love, even talk to our teachers in different disciplines, so it’s important to connect to people, not to stay isolated.
- Taking care of one-self through spiritual practices like meditation, prayer, mindfulness, or self-reflection is crucial. They’re all important aspects of dealing with the current situation and a great opportunity to dedicate time to our personal growth.
- It’s important to listen to music, to discover new sounds, or enjoy our favorite songs.
- Laugh! Watching comedy is therapeutic because it keeps your mood high, it relieves all the stress and it affects the brain that can last up to four hours.
- We can also experiment with cooking. Cooking is very close to meditation, a wonderful way of being, not doing. Creating your meals gives a lot of satisfaction not only to the body but also to the soul.
- Have a routine and follow a schedule just as if you were going out to work every day. Don’t stay in PJ’s all day long. Having a schedule helps maintain the familiar rhythm of your personal biological clock and enables you to be centered in life and, critically, aligned with your purpose.
- Stay connected to the people you love and care about and express your love and your longing to see them.
Here are the Gaggler’s picks for books that may help you start your journey of meditation, mindfulness, spirituality and self-reflection as suggested by Dr. Walid during his interview with us.
Debora: What role does physical activity play when it comes to boosting our immunity?
Dr. Walid: Exercise produces free radicals in the body which in turn increases the antioxidant production in response to the free radicals. It is an effective way to boost your system and helps you fight infections. Bear in mind that all of these benefits are only realized when exercising is done correctly. Be careful with overtraining your body, as you can get the opposite effect and deplete your system, suppress hormonal levels, and suppress their immune system at the same time. Daily activity or frequent activity is more important than bouts of intensive activity.
Debora: You’ve mentioned something very interesting. It is not about exercising for one hour a day, it is about staying active. How can we stay active at home?
Dr. Walid: Go get your things done, move a lot. Don’t sit there just for long hours, use the stairs whenever you can. Keep yourself moving and busy at home.
Debora: Now that the government of Dubai is starting to re-open the city, what are your recommendations to people who are getting back to the ‘normal life’ that we used to know not long ago?
Dr. Walid: Everything I’ve mentioned so far applies:
- Focus on good nutrition, taking supplementation, sleeping well, and being active. Also wear masks when you go out until the numbers of infected cases drop further.
- Report sickness to the health authorities and seek medical advice, getting hospitalized if need be, and get treated.
- Try to avoid big gatherings as much as possible, but don’t be afraid of being in open spaces. It is in closed spaces, when someone is sick, that there is a bigger risk for infection. You can count mostly on your self-defense system by boosting your immunity.
- Get sun exposure is important as it kills the virus quickly and strengthens your immune response.
- Keep a positive attitude in life because we know as humans, we can overcome all kinds of problems. We’ve done it throughout our history, so keep on believing in yourself and humanity, that’s all very important.