Here are five basic pillars of healthy living: Eat plants. Move. Breathe. Fast. Sleep.

Following these simple health practices is key to achieving a healthy and balanced body and mind. However, more than providing balance to our lives, could these pillars also strengthen our immune systems, helping us beat COVID-19 and other infections? According to scientific evidence, yes, these five pillars can truly influence your immune system for the better. For example, a healthy diet and exercise lower inflammation in your body. Vitamins help to keep your immune cells strong. Getting enough sleep and managing your stress, for example with mindfulness meditation, prevent your body (and your immune system) from getting worn down.

But how can you live healthy according to these five pillars, especially when stuck at home? Let’s get a bit practical.

Below I’ve included some suggestions and tips to help you achieve the five pillars amidst the novel 2019 coronavirus pandemic. Try to practice these behaviors every day if you can – use the LIFE Extend app to help you.

Eat Plants – 5 servings of fruits and vegetables

In another post, we’ve seen that vitamins C, D, A, E, B6, B12 and Zinc are good to keep your immune system balanced and ready for action. But where could you get these vitamins from? Of course, you’re thinking of oranges to get your vitamin C – but let’s get creative to get as many vitamins as possible into our diets right now!

You can get vitamin C from kiwifruits, bell peppers, strawberries, oranges (we’re cliché too), papayas, broccoli, tomatoes, kale and snow peas. Vitamin A can be found in sweet potatoes, carrots, butternut squash, spinach, cantaloupe melons, lettuce, red bell peppers, broccoli and grapefruit. To get some vitamin E, try some sunflower seeds, almonds, avocados, spinach, butternut squash, kiwifruit and broccoli. Lastly, the plants with the most zinc include lentils, shiitake mushrooms, green peas, asparagus and lima beans. Most of these fruits and vegetables can last many days to weeks in your refrigerator, and you can also buy them frozen.

Some other vitamins are a bit trickier to find in plants, such as vitamin D. This vitamin is very important – it may even help to prevent acute respiratory tract infections. You can get vitamin D mostly from fish like salmon and dairy products. What’s interesting about this is that you can also get it from sun exposure. When UVB radiation from sunlight hits your skin, you naturally make a form of vitamin D, essential to your bone strength. However, since most of us are staying indoors lately, it’s challenging to get some sunlight, especially if you live in an apartment. To solve this, plants come to the rescue. Mushrooms absorb sunlight. If you consume them before the “best before” date, they will still be enriched in vitamin D. So, you can still get some sunlight, even if you must bite it.

Vitamins B6 and B12 are also a bit complicated to get from plants. B6 is mostly in meat, but you can still find it in sweet potatoes, potatoes, bananas, avocados and pistachios. B12, on the other hand, does not exist in plants, so you need to get it from elsewhere.

Move – 30 minutes of physical activity

Before the pandemic, most of us moved more. Getting to the car, walking upstairs, walking to a coffee-shop, shopping more often etc. These little movements are now gone for a while and we must adapt.

Exercising at home is a challenge if you are stuck in an apartment for 24 hours. Even though there are solutions to get those workouts done at home, you need to first focus and get in the right mindset. You need this.

To help you out, there are many apps out there that allow you to organize your workouts and learn some new movements and exercises. Feel free to explore some apps out, but if you want a head start, these are some highly-rated apps:

You can get more lists online, so do your own research and find a suitable app for yourself.

If you are not into apps that much you can also get some great content from YouTube. Some fitness channels offer great videos with different types of workouts you can make at home.

Finally, to be sure that you can stay motivated, here are some tips to start your home workouts:

  • Schedule your workouts (Put them in your agenda so that you are sure you will make them happen).
  • If possible, get a place in your home that you know will be your place to work-out (It helps to keep yourself focused).
  • Look for no-equipment sessions (Either on apps, YouTube, Google, the web is huge, so search on).
  • Be careful not to exhaust yourself or certain muscles (If you are a beginner, you may feel like you should exhaust yourself every session but be sure to start slow. Give yourself time so that your muscles get used to intense movements).
  • Use your home (Stairs to do some cardio, water bottles to do some weight-lifting – your home is your oyster).

Breathe – 20 minutes of mindfulness

These times are tough, so more than ever mindfulness can give you the quietness and rest your mind truly needs.

To improve your mindfulness sessions, apps are quite useful. Some of them are quite expensive, but here’s the good news: app owners are giving away free packages of mindfulness sessions during these difficult times. Headspace, for example, has released a free package called “Weathering the Storm” with great sessions. It’s a small package but includes calming meditations (to use when you are feeling stressed or you want to improve focus at work), SOS sessions (to use when you are panicking or feeling overwhelmed) and sessions to help you sleep. Bonus: it has a 10-day meditation course to help you learn how to navigate through change, which is more than welcome since the world is different lately.

Sleep – 7 to 9 hours of sleep

Sleeping well may seem an easy task, but it can be a challenge nowadays. On the one hand, chances are that you are feeling stressed, anxious and perhaps overwhelmed by what is going on globally. On the other hand, your surroundings are not helping. Perhaps your screen time is higher than usual since you are using your phone and laptop more. Maybe you are not moving that much, so you don’t feel tired when you go to bed. Or maybe your daily routine is a complete mess and falling asleep just takes more time than usual.

Whether your struggles are mental or physical (or maybe both), there are ways around them. Mindfulness is a good way to tackle anxiety and stress before bed. Physically speaking, you can search for tips and strategies to boost your sleep everywhere online, but here are some:

  • Get light in the morning (Your body needs light to find a rhythm of wakefulness and sleepiness).
  • Exercise every day (if you are tired, your body will crave for that sleep more).
  • Leave your bed alone during the day (Work on your desk and watch films on the sofa, let the bed be the place to sleep).
  • Avoid caffeine after 5 pm.
  • Set routines (Why wake up early when you don’t have to clock in at 9 am? It could help your body to find a rhythm, so set a schedule and stick to it).
  • Turn your devices (laptop, TV and phone) off a few minutes before going to sleep. Scrolling before going to bed may be a habit. However, the light you get from your phone tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime, so you may struggle to fall asleep.

Very light fasting – 12-16 hours overnight or not longer than 24 hours

Fasting can be good for your body for many reasons. It may lower your overall inflammation levels, which improves your body’s ability to fight off infections.

Fasting for long periods right now may not be recommended, as long fasting periods may be temporary stressors. But this doesn’t mean that you want to be eating around the clock, either. While at home, you’re probably surrounded by your favorite snacks. It’s dreadful to avoid that comfort food, but there are ways of making it easier. For example, try to stop eating after an early dinner and don’t eat again until breakfast.

You may find some useful tips here if you are just starting to fast, but ultimately, don’t forget to stay safe while you fast during this pandemic. Stay motivated and of course, download our app LIFE Fasting to keep on track.


Keeping up with the five pillars is never an easy task and given the current pandemic, it becomes a greater challenge. However, stay focused, follow our tips and conquer these healthy habits. You will feel better and stronger, both physically and mentally. And given the current times, we could all use some extra strength.