Mauritius, we need to talk…
I know these are difficult times and that we’re all scared and stressed.
And that’s ok.
Our country has never seen anything like this before.
And, if you’re one of the many people checking your Facebook feed every 20 seconds, panic buying food, or considering whether you should go get tested and isolate yourself… I can imagine how confusing all this is.
But I’d like to share some common wisdom, (as a Dietitian, yoga instructor and citizen) which, I think, can all help us get through this together.
1. Stay Calm
Yes, it’s getting scary out there but please… let’s all stop panicking and take a second to breathe.
There’s no denying that this is one of the most serious health crises we’ve faced as a nation but running around in panic won’t change anything.
It won’t help you fight the virus, it won’t protect your loved ones… in fact, stress and fear lower your immune system.
Instead, give your immune system a boost by practicing some relaxation techniques.
You may think that this sounds pointless, but trust me… just take a break, step outside in your garden or on your balcony, and take a few deep breaths.
Relaxation techniques makes dealing with any form of adversity (mental or physical) much easier. Here’s what you can do for some peace of mind:
Make sure to get some rest, pause take a break. And get a good night sleep to let your body repair.
Smile and laugh: it actually relaxes your mind and boosts up your immune system.
Practice some breathing techniques, or even better, meditation. If you have no idea how to use your breath to relax, this video will teach you the basics.
Take a break from watching constant Coronavirus news updates and reading messages. It’s important to stay informed, but don’t flood your mind with it and make it your reality.
When you want to get informed, make sure it’s from an official or reputable source which will help you make a real assessment of the threat.
A healthy, well balanced diet is a great way to help you reduce your levels of stress and boost your immune system (more on that later…)
2. Be considerate of others
Please do not empty the pharmacies and supermarket shelves. It’s good to plan ahead, but it’s unrealistic to think any lockdown or restrictions will leave you without food.
However, inconsiderate people hoarding every ounce of food or goods available will.
So, please think of others before buying much more food (or toilet paper :)) than you need. Remember, we have a better chance of getting through this if we consider everyone’s wellbeing; not just ours.
That includes practicing social distancing, saying namaste, giving a virtual hug (or any other greeting you prefer) instead of hand shakes, and using basic hand washing practices (learn more about this in this informational video from America’s CDC)
Also, don’t forget that we’re very lucky to have plenty of local food that are easily available. Support local farmers in this difficult situation. Make sure to include some cassava (manioc), taro (arrouille), breadfruit (fruits à pain) in your plate. I’m sure that your health, and the local economy, will thank you for it.
3. Boost your immune system by eating healthy
Last but certainly not least. One of the surest ways to fight off any virus is to make sure your immune system has all the energy and nutrients it needs to win the fight.
As always, a balanced diet is key to this, but if you really want to give your immune system a boost for the coming months, here are the essentials you need.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency is very common among Mauritians. Deficiencies in Vitamin D leads to higher chance of infection among other health consequences. Vitamin D is obtained from direct contact in the sun (not through the window of your car!). So the easiest (and cheapest) way to get more of this is to step out in the sun for about 15-20 minutes everyday. If that’s not possible, you may have to get a blood test and then get supplementation.
Vitamin A: Vitamin A is essential for cell growth and repair… which is essential when fighting an infection. It’s also an excellent antioxidant. You can get your vitamin A from: fish, cod liver oil, liver, meat but also from plant sources (carotenoids) such a carrots, red peppers, green leafy veges.
Vitamin E: Another essential vitamin in protecting our immune system. So, make sure you include plenty of these in your diet: spinach, broccoli, peanuts, almonds, sunflower seeds - literally most nuts and seeds.
Vitamin C: One of nature's most powerful antioxidants, vitamin C ensures that your cells stay strong and maintain their integrity when fighting an infection. If you’re a smoker, keep in mind that you need 30-40% more vitamin C than the average person. So make it a point - especially now - to include plenty of it in your diet. Common sources of Vitamin C include: your regular citrus fruits (orange, grapefruit, mandarine, lemon), kiwi but also spinach, peppers (“poivrons”), papaya (any fruits and vegetables actually!)
Zinc and Selenium: When fighting infections, a lot of your cells are bound to suffer damage and fall apart. That’s where zinc and selenium come in. These essential nutrients help your cells to repair themselves and grow at the rate needed to stay in peak condition. Here’s what to eat to get it: - For zinc, make sure to include fish, shellfish, chicken, eggs or dairy and if you’re vegetarian, make sure to pack up on vegetables and beans (lentils, chickpeas and more). - For selenium, you should be consuming fish such as sardines and tuna, eggs, offals, nuts, dairy, barley (“l’orge”) and garlic
Talking about garlic, the following list of food items are also great at boosting your immune system: garlic, ginger, black pepper, turmeric and honey.
There you have it. Practicing common hygiene principles, eating healthy and keeping your stress lower are three powerful ways to help you (and others) get through this difficult time.
I know there’s a lot of things to be worried about right now, but I would like to end this article with a bit of hope. I wish that we can all be considerate of others during this outbreak, that we support each other in any way that we can.
Let me know what you think, did you find this helpful? I can also try to make some live videos on breathing and yoga exercise. Leave a message if you're interested. I'd just like to finish by saying that we're all in this together.