Set on Spain’s Costa Blanca, SHA Wellness Clinic is one of the world’s premier wellness destinations. This health resort has been known to attract everyone from elite athletes, to Hollywood celebrities and Victoria’s Secret models, as well as assorted oligarchs and billionaires. They come to lose weight, detox, or participate in SHA’s Healthy Aging program. Others want to reset their minds and bodies, adopt new healthy habits, or simply get away from it all.
Devised by wellness guru Alfredo Bataller, the immensely successful SHA method is based on a holistic approach to wellness that combines the latest advances in Western medicine and progressive natural therapies, with a particular focus on healthy, balanced nutrition and exercise.
Since reopening in July, SHA has introduced a series of new services specially designed for the COVID-19 era. Immunotherapy and lymphocyte profile consultations have been added to all bookings to assess the state of the guest’s immune system, while a new immune system strengthening pack has also been developed. A comprehensive “SHA insurance” covers medical and related expenses in the event of positive COVID-19 test on arrival.
So, how can we apply the SHA method to our everyday lives to give our immune systems an extra boost in times of COVID-19? Here are some tips from Alfredo Bataller and his team of experts at SHA Wellness Clinic:
1. Choose seasonal fruit and vegetables
Alfredo Bataller, founder of SHA Wellness Clinic: A balanced diet that includes plenty of fruit and vegetables, vitamin C and antioxidants helps reinforce the immune system and prevent disease. It’s highly recommended to choose fruit and vegetables that are in season to ensure that they are as fresh and nutritious as possible.
2. Enjoy immune-boosting superfoods
Melanie Waxman, healthy nutrition expert: To keep the immune system in perfect working order, we should enjoy a diet based on fresh food that helps to maintain the balance of the intestinal microbiota. It should include whole grains, beans, seaweed (spirulina), nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables, such as kale, onions, garlic, leeks and asparagus, and fruit, such as apples.
3. Take moderate exercise
Luis Ganso, personal trainer: Moderate exercise, such as 30 minutes of fast-paced walking, has been shown to improve the function of the immune system. This type of exercise strengthens our respiratory capacity, mobilizing antibodies and white blood cells to circulate more quickly, and detect and neutralize external attacks. Meanwhile, raising the body temperature helps to prevent the development of infection.
4. Exercise outdoors if possible…
Alfredo Bataller: It’s always a good idea to spend some time during the day walking outdoors—preferably in nature. Spending time outdoors is important for breathing fresh air and absorbing the vitamin D provided by the sun, which is so crucial to support calcium absorption and the proper functioning of the immune system.
5. …Even when you don’t feel like it
Alfredo Bataller: Exercise is always good, even if we may have lost motivation during lockdown or if we feel tired or low on energy. Exercise strengthens the immune system and makes our bodies secrete “happy” hormones, or endorphins, while reducing the level of the stress hormone, cortisol. Stress is harmful to the body, and, having less of it actually strengthens the immune system.
6. Use deep breathing to stimulate lymph flow
Rachel Rose, body and mind expert and yoga coach: Stable mental health is basic to managing stress, which, in turn, impacts the immune system. Lymphocytes are found in lymph nodes and organs, and in the blood. Lymph nodes are the body’s first line of defense against disease. Breathing is directly related to lymph flow, and lymph flow is directly related to immunity.
The diaphragm muscle, located between the lungs and the abdomen moves down when we inhale and up when we exhale. This movement causes a series of pressure differences that generate movement in the body. Lymph flow, or the mechanism that transports the lymph containing our infection-fighting white blood cells throughout the body, is one of the most crucial movements supported by deep breathing.
7. Get enough rest
Alfredo Bataller: Getting quality sleep is essential to reinforcing our immune system, while not getting enough sleep can cause our immunity to decline, making us more prone to infectious diseases. Adults should sleep at least seven to eight hours a day.
8. Rethink breakfast
Maria Romeralo, healthy nutrition expert: When we start the day with sugary coffee and a pastry, we instantly feel good and full of energy. However, after a while, our energy levels drop and our bodies demand more sugar. This is why it’s important to avoid refined sugar, artificial sweeteners and honey at breakfast.
At SHA, we serve miso soup for breakfast. Miso soup is a great source of protein, vitamins, minerals and enzymes. You can make it even richer by adding wakame seaweed, onions, tofu, carrots or pumpkin. It’s a wonderful way to cleanse the body while providing quality nutrients. Miso is a fermented food and therefore a source of probiotics that also help strengthen our immune systems.
9. Keep in touch with friends and family
Alfredo Bataller: Confinement can lead to loneliness, sedentariness and depression, all of which are detrimental to the proper functioning of the immune system. Contact with our loved ones helps calm the mind, enables us to cope with the stress of these uncertain times, and also reduces the risk of obesity and alcohol and tobacco abuse.
10. Look for lasting lifestyle change, not quick fixes
Melanie Waxman, healthy nutrition expert: It’s important to transition to a healthy lifestyle gradually, with a view to maintaining it long term. At SHA, we give our guests the necessary tools to start leading that lifestyle once they leave: healthy cooking classes, yoga classes, outdoor exercise, nutrition and medical advice on everything from quitting smoking, to sleeping, and strengthening the cognition. Once back in their routine, they’re encouraged to adopt these activities until they become habits.