The global impact of COVID-19 is poised to change the way people in the US view their health and nutrition. With no medical means to prevent or treat this pandemic and 40% to 70% of Americans expected to feel the effects of it at varying levels based on their immune system, this pandemic has forced us to question the strength of our own system and seek out ways to boost it. Until the virus mutates again, it is our immune systems that will keep the young and healthy less vulnerable while the immune-compromised and elderly continue to struggle.
Wouldn’t an immunity pill be oh so nice?
Well there is one for the average American, and it wasn’t created in a lab. The silver bullet to boosting your immune system right now is achieved by reducing stress, getting the right amount of sleep your body needs to heal, and feeding it nutritious whole (ie. non-processed), plant-based foods.
I am not a nutritionist nor a scientist. I am the owner of an up-and-coming juice bar, and my hope in all of this is that Americans cash in on the upside potential for increased awareness around holistic health and wellbeing.
In the US, as a first step, we use modern medicine to provide band-aid relief to ailments that further suppress our natural immune system from functioning properly, rather than considering the underlying cause of the ailment – all because pharmaceutical companies are praying on the low level of nutritional expertise across the medical community and the high level of Americans who are susceptible to the quick and easy fix over the harder-to-make long-term lifestyle changes. The result is one pill a day that leads to 15 by the time we have reached our golden years.
Luckily, integrative wellness is becoming more accessible and ‘alternative’ health providers, such as acupuncturist, chiropractors, eastern medicine and holistic care facilities, and yes, even juice bars, are becoming the norm with insurance companies even coming around to understand the value of total health.
We can best take control of our immunity today by showing up in our lives with more knowledge around what our bodies need to develop a strong immune system that will in-turn show up for us in times like these.
With stress running high across the country and the world, we can all benefit from improved immunity that allows us to feel the best we can as we uniquely battle the implications of COVID-19.
It only takes seven days to create a new habit, so what we do during this time of physical distancing can lead us to long-term habits and benefits that we carry forward into our lives. We are forced to stop, pause, and take a breath, reflect, and refocus on what is important.
Let’s take this opportunity to renew our perspective and see the small changes we can make to support our immune systems using the following mind, body and health techniques:
Reduce stress by taking care of your mental and physical health
Phone a friend. Stay in touch by phone and/or video. Keep in mind those who are physically distancing alone and the elderly who haven’t had family visits in weeks. A little bit here goes a long way for you and them to feel connected – a basic human need.
Help others; it helps you. So many people have lost their jobs and businesses already, others are immune compromised and can’t leave the house, and many Americans dance a thin line of food insecurity (not knowing where they will get their next meal). Reach out to coworkers, your children’s teachers, and your Facebook and NextDoor communities to offer what help you can.
Center yourself to keep a positive outlook. Whether you pray or meditate, take time for daily devotions and affirmations. Spend ten minutes each day (that’s all it takes to release oxytocin in the brain!), sitting upright and supported on your bed or couch just being still and focused on your breathe.
There are many meditations you can listen to online that will guide you to a quiet mind, but remember, there is no wrong way to meditate! Check these out: Instagram – Finding Calmness & Peace and on YouTube – Find Peace in Uncertain Times. You can also text Selfdstudios to 474747 to receive a week of inspirational meditations that focus on joy, relationships, spirituality and so much more.
Get moving; everything counts. To keep your immune system high, you don’t need rigorous activity, you just need movement to release and expel toxins and pent-up negative energy from your body. This can be as simple as rebounding and light stretching, walking the neighborhood, taking a bike ride or jog, or an in-home workout.
It is great to see the wellness community stepping up with free online programming, so take advantage. I know I am. Neighborhood Barre is offering a 30-day free trial to their online service, Boho Beautiful has a robust menu of yoga and meditation practice (her Yin Yoga is my fave), and Beach Body offers any workout you can imagine to fit your activity level and workout style with a two-week free trial.
Get your kids involved. Give your children a foundation of and awareness around their wellness now. Start by talking about total health, let them see you put it into action, and get them involved on their level. Try Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube, Meddy Teddy is a fun learning tool, and you can tap into apps, such as Head Space, that have programming designed specifically for kids.
Fuel your body with the right kind of food
Limit your intake of processed foods. Instead, opt for wholesome plants, such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, seeds/nuts, legumes, and sprouted grains. Think about eating the rainbow, and don’t limit your intake.
Consume immunity-boosting foods. Call your local cold-pressed juice company and speak with the owner. Once they know your budget, they will customize an order that's packed with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties and deliver it to your door. They have immunity shots (by the half gallon in many cases), elderberry and raw juices that contain high levels of vitamin C, probiotics, aloe vera, echinacea, turmeric, ginger, and so much more. Simply rotate them throughout your diet.
Note: I am aware of the recent elderberry backlash on the internet. I have reached out across my circle of influence, and I do not believe you should stop taking elderberry unless you are currently immune-compromised or your doctor has made that recommendation.
Get enough sleep to allow your body to heal
While we all need varying amounts of sleep, there isn’t any area of your health that isn’t impacted by the amount of sleep you get every night. It is your body’s most powerful chance to heal. Rachel Hilinski, a certified holistic nutritionist, recommends that should you fall ill, you would benefit from going to bed at 6 or 7 pm. This gives your body the time it needs to take advantage of deep sleep that is crucial for physical renewal, repair and health. Without this third stage of sleep, you are more likely to get sick in general.
For more mind, body, health content, I highly recommend that you regularly read Rachel’s blog. She is a wealth of knowledge and the creator of the Veg’n Out juice and smoothie line.
The COVID-19 pandemic is unique to our lifetime and gives us the opportunity to come together and show that as divided as we may be in politics, we are still a country united at the human level.
We can come out on the other side of this more aware and more deeply connected to our community and our own wellbeing.