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May 17, 2021

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, maintaining a healthy diet and staying active has never been more important. Unhealthy eating habits, a lack of exercise, consuming tobacco products and abusing substances can lead to lifestyle diseases, such as heart diseases, stroke, type 2 diabetes and various cancers. These diseases can pose a high risk if you contract COVID-19 by reducing your immune system’s ability to fight off the infection. In efforts to help you fight the COVID-19 virus and improve your overall health, below is some great advice on maintaining a healthy lifestyle during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The importance of eating healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic

Eating healthy ensures that your body gets the important nutrients it needs to support your immune system. It enables your body to fight off infections and improves your body’s ability to recover from infections, such as the COVID-19 virus. Coupled with regular physical activity, healthy eating staves off high-risk factors and increases your body’s chances of preventing and managing a COVID-19 infection.

You can create healthy eating habits by:

  • reducing your fat intake – instead of frying, consider grilling, boiling, or steaming your food.
  • reducing your salt and sugar intake – instead, check the labels on your foods to choose low sodium and sugar products, and limit the amount of salt and sugar you add to your food and drinks.
  • reducing your fast food intake – eat more home-cooked meals so you know exactly what you add to your food.
  • reducing high-energy drinks and processed food – instead, eat more fresh foods and consider drinking naturally caffeinated drinks, such as coffee and tea, for an energy boost.

Bestmed aims to help you continuously along your journey to adopting an active lifestyle. As a Bestmed member, you have access to free Bestmed Tempo wellness benefits when the main member completes their health assessment (HA). These benefits include one free nutritional assessment for the whole family, as well as three consultations with a dietitian per member/dependant 18 years and older. For more information or more personalised help on this healthy diet journey, send an email to tempo@bestmed.co.za.

The importance of maintaining physical activity during the COVID-19 pandemic

Exercise and physical activity are important to help you control your weight, increase blood circulation, and keep lifestyle diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and heart diseases at bay. Regular exercise also has wellness benefits, such as improving your mental health and emotional wellbeing, as well as improving your mood and reducing stress. Exercise can also help reduce mental fatigue, leaving you feeling more energetic.

You can maintain an active lifestyle by:

  • engaging in at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, at least three times a week.
  • playing active games or picking up an active hobby, such as hiking or a sport.
  • exercising at home, such as walking briskly every day in the house and yard, or skipping rope.
  • doing gardening and routine household tasks.

Bestmed is committed to help you along your journey to improving your eating habits. As a Bestmed member, you have access to free Bestmed Tempo wellness benefits when the main member completes their health assessment (HA). These benefits include one free fitness assessment with a biokineticist for your child dependants (13 –17 years old), as well as three free consultations with a biokineticist per member/dependant 18 years and older.

For more information or more personalised help on your fitness journey, send an email to tempo@bestmed.co.za.

Avoiding tobacco products during the COVID-19 pandemic

Given that COVID-19 is a respiratory or lung infection, the consumption of tobacco products, which has a harmful effect on your respiratory system, does have an impact on your body’s ability to fight the infection. All tobacco products are harmful to your health. The smoke and chemicals from the consumption of tobacco products can harm your respiratory lining. This weakens your lungs, exposing you to infectious respiratory diseases, such as tuberculosis and COVID-19.

The benefits of quitting the consumption of tobacco products include:

  • reduced carbon monoxide levels in your blood, dropping to normal levels within 12 hours.
  • improved blood circulation and lung function within 2-12 weeks.
  • decreased coughing and shortness of breath within 1-9 months.
  • reduced risk of lung cancer, as well as cancer of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, bladder, cervix and pancreas within 5-10 years.

Avoiding substance abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic

The abuse of alcohol and other substances should be avoided in general, however, it should be especially avoided as a means to manage boredom, anxiety and fear. Using alcohol and other substances can reduce your inhibition, which can result in people neglecting to properly observe COVID-19 prevention and health protocols such as wearing masks, frequently washing hands, sanitising and social distancing. You can avoid substance abuse by avoiding areas where you have easy access to substances and avoiding spending time around people who abuse substances. Remember that substance abuse does not take away negative feelings.

If you are experiencing anxiety or fear you can:

  • do breathing exercises to help manage these feelings.
  • talk to someone close to you about your worries.
  • engage in physical activity to relax or release stress.
  • contact a qualified psychologist 24 hours a day via Bestmed’s toll-free mental health helpline (080 062 7775) and/or email address (mentalhealth@bestmed.co.za).

The importance of being vaccinated against COVID-19

Prevention will always trump cure as far as illnesses are involved and vaccinating is one of the best ways to prevent diseases or prepare the body to fight them. Vaccines assist the body by enabling the immune system to recognise and fight the respective viruses and infections.

When we get vaccinated, we do not just protect ourselves, but also those around us. Some people, like those who are seriously ill, are advised not to get certain vaccines as they may react negatively with their medication. This means that they depend on the rest of us to get vaccinated and help reduce the spread of disease. This is referred to as population immunity.

Bestmed will continue to be your partner in health, and we are committed to keeping you informed to allow you to make the best healthcare decisions to protect you and your loved ones from this virus.

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