In this new world of COVID-19 precautions, I want to share that one important way forward is to seek ways to optimize your physical and mental health.
Did you know that the same chronic health problems of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity tied to diet are the same risk factors for increased risk of dying from COVID-19? A recent article by Jane Brody in The New York Times (“How Poor Diet Contributes to Coronavirus Risk”) highlights the concerns of what is known as metabolic syndrome. This syndrome is the stage before being diagnosed with these chronic diseases.
It is most important to remember that as a human species, we have coexisted with the world around us at the microscopic and macroscopic level. Our immune system has been busy supporting us and does so each moment of our lives. We have an amazing human body that has adapted to this planet Earth for many, many years.
We have also learned much about the gut microbiome that exists in our body. Its very strength is in its diversity. Our microbiome and our immune system are usually supportive of each other.
Our immune system is very adaptable if we allow our body to be honored and cared for with our daily self-care habits. If you are more adaptable and flexible, you are more resilient—and that allows you to be prepared and available in a healthy way to meet the stress of the day.
Your immune system needs support for an optimum level of resilience. Yet, your daily self-care choices can either support this universal truth about our human biology or not. Are your daily morning habits there to support your health and wellbeing of your mind, senses and body?
This is beyond the basic hygiene we all were taught as children and practicing now. This remains important but there is so much more we can do. And that’s one reason I wrote Cleanse Your Body, Reveal Your Soul, which has the caring wisdom of ayurvedic at its heart. (Pre-order now, or just find out more here.)
Caring wisdom for mind and soul
- Express gratitude upon awakening. When you are thankful, you are optimistic. You allow love to be woven into your life, unfolding that day and always. The East Indian sage Ramakrishna once said, “The winds of grace are always blowing. It is for us to raise our sails.”
- Start with a contemplation or meditation practice for 10-20 minutes daily. Pause to clear your mind and become more present in the moment. Add prayer into your practice—it can be highly effective in creating clarity for being present.
- Set an intention for what you desire. But equally important, let your mind empty. Quiet your senses, and you will calm your mind.
When your mind is calmer, your body is calmer. If your body is calmer, you experience less stress and have more resilience during stressful times.
Caring wisdom for your body as a whole
- Scrape your tongue upon arising. When you do, you remove the toxins (ama) formed on the tongue during the night. You can do this with a stainless steel or copper tongue scraper. Rinse off what you scraped off. Make this a daily habit as important as brushing your teeth.
- Drink warm lemon or lime water made from freshly squeezed citrus. This helps to stimulate the stomach juices. It also helps to increase the alkaline levels in your blood. Most of the Western diet is quite acidic. Research has shown that this may be a contributor toward increased inflammation in the body. This is one small step to add to your daily regimen as you begin the transition to a healthier diet.
- Sip freshly grated ginger tea with breakfast. This further aids digestion and reduces inflammation in the body.
- Move your body rhythmically. Studies show that rhythmic movements such as yoga, tai chi and qi gong support the body-mind connection. Over the years, practicing 10 to 20 minutes regularly help your body stay flexible—and your mind, too. Morning is best but they can be done in the evening as well.
Food is medicine and supports optimal wellness
What and when we eat daily contributes to our gut microbiome and help to determine its diversity.
- Start your day with whole grains or eggs. This kind of breakfast supports your brain much more than a sugary bowl of cereal.
- Choose fewer fried or nutrient-poor (but high in empty calories). This is kinder to your body and brain.
All these choices are good for your microbiome and of course, your immune system. It is then easier for the body to adapt to the external stressors such as the latest virus outbreak or pandemic or the stress we encounter at work, whether on Zoom or at your onsite job. Adding even one to two fruits or green, leafy vegetables a day further supports this diversity.
#FoodAsMedicine Tip: Six Almonds a Day
Did you know that eating six almonds a day has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer? (“A Handful of Nuts is Good for Your Health.” Read more about the study here.) Almonds are a great source of a healthy fat and protein so are great for that 4 p.m. snack time before dinner. These almonds also serve as a prebiotic source for the probiotics in your microbiome.
Optimal wellness creates flexibility and resilience in our body/mind and soul which we all need as we navigate life going forward.
Stay in good health,