“Aaahhh!!! Real Monsters,” the world’s ending. At least when we turn on the news, that’s probably what they want us to think. There’s a pandemic, protests, rattlesnakes, and Russia all glaring on the flashing screen. Ok, maybe not rattlesnakes, but it’s that time of year. As we all deal with the world’s worst health crisis since the 1918 Spanish flu, it can feel downright terrifying at times, but we can’t let fear erode our lives.
Viruses, bacteria, and germs akin, have been around since the beginning of time. They are a natural part of the ecosystem, Corona included. Now this in no way mitigates the loss of life and economic hardship faced by many during this pandemic. But to not understand that disease is a part of our reality and curse the skies is probably not the most effective way to handle this crisis.
Luckily for all of us, we all have a biological defense system within our bodies that is designed to combat illnesses such as Covid-19. What’s this magical drug? And how come the news doesn’t talk about this?
It’s our fricking immune system. Our internal biological functions are designed to keep our bodies healthy and our minds calm. We must respect our innate systems, with the understandings that it is possible to heal from just about everything, given the right resources.
This article is going to provide three simple tips to boost your immune system during these turbulent times.
*(While I’m grateful to provide my take on the current health crisis. I am not a medical expert and I advise everyone to follow the directions provided by the CDC in-regards to social distancing, face coverings, and avoiding mass gatherings.)
1. Eat an Organic, Plant-Based Diet
Stop, we’re all thinking the same thing. No one said anything about becoming a vegan. An organic, plant-based diet does favor vegan foods, but there is nothing wrong with incorporating organic humanely-treated animal protein into your diet. In simpler terms, eat healthy, happy chickens; don’t eat tortured animals.
This is one aspect about our society that literally makes no sense. Hospital food is loaded with added sugar, processed meats, and high sodium. This trifecta lowers the immune system and makes people much more likely to contract, and ultimately be killed by, disease. Expecting people to heal on this type of diet is expecting a 5-foot-11 player to dunk over LeBron James. It is possible? Yes. Is it likely? No.
And look—no one said anything about being perfect, I think most people can agree that bacon is probably an American staple breakfast food. But instead of four slices, switch to two, and make sure it’s high-quality stuff.
There’s a fear-mongering culture regarding diet in our country and it shouldn’t be that way.
Plain and simple, try and eat a healthy-balanced diet with no added crap in the food. There is nothing wrong with gluten, meat, sugar, alcohol, carbs, or any other smear campaign that the FDA backs to pad their mahogany leather wallets.
Eating healthy doesn’t mean weird hippie kale smoothies. It could mean rice, tuna, sliced onions, cabbage, and olive oil. Oh, and don’t forget the spices.
Just buy organic food for the most part and be reasonable, and there is nothing to fear. The environment, animals, and our immune systems will simultaneously take a combined deep breath.
2. Limit Stress
There are many people who eat a perfect diet and are still extremely unhealthy. This is because food is really only about 25 percent of the health equation.
The biggest factor in boosting one’s immune system is limiting stress. And yes, we’ve all heard this before, and no, this isn’t some wussa-wussa-zen-mask-tribal-knowledge peace and everything will be alright message.
What this is, is a reminder for all of us to check in with our bodies every once in a while. To act like we’ll never get mad, angry, and everything is all dandelions and roses is pure crap. Life may feel hard at times, but how we react to difficult circumstances is what defines us as humans.
We all could probably benefit from some form of meditation in a society where most of us are on the go, grinding to reach our next goal, and believe in some sort of no-excuses mentality. Sitting down and connecting with oneself for even 15 minutes a day could provide vast benefits.
It may be hard to recognize at times, but stress is commonly stored in our bodies and we have no idea it was even there. The simple act of releasing tension from time-to-time is paramount in keeping our immune systems functioning at their highest level.
We’ve all heard the excuse, “I don’t have enough time in a day,” or going back to point one, “healthy food costs too much.” Well finding oneself in the opaque hospital walls fighting a life-threating illness will likely cost more in the long run…if we make it out at all.
And this isn’t some corny slogan—these are facts.
However, the good news for us is, there are many fun ways to limit stress beyond meditation. Listen to music, go for a walk, drink a glass of wine, or simply, spend time with someone you love. These are all reasonable options. It really doesn’t matter what we do, just do what we like to do.
Work is an important and invaluable part of society, but it’s not everything. We were all placed on this spinning globe to love, have fun, and strive toward our passions.
Ok so now we’re eating good, doing a little wussa-wussa, so what’s left?
How we impact others is probably the most important part of our own lives.
The first two steps are crucial in terms of loving ourselves. But the whole point of putting ourselves first is ultimately to spread love to others. But we all should be cautioned. The latter is nearly impossible without the former.
Ok that was a lot of wordy stuff for a simple concept. Bottom line is, trusting close connections with others is of vital importance to our overall health. We’ve probably all had that euphoric feeling in our bodies after we’ve spent time with a close friend.
This is not an illusion. This is our body’s way of showing us the power of connection.
The Harvard Study of Adult Development is a research project that, up to this point, has studied the lives of 724 men for over 75 years.
* (I’m not going into details on this study if you’d like to learn more I recommend these sources)
The overwhelming results from the analysis indicates that the most essential ingredient to a happy life, is the close-relationships that we have with other people.
Robert Waldinger director of the study and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School said, “The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health.” He then added, “good relationships don’t just protect our bodies; they protect our brains.”
Connecting with happiness and joy is a key piece to boosting our immune system’s vital functions. So, the next time one of us grabs a drink with a close friend, remember, it can actually be good for our health.
But for now, let’s make sure that we enjoy that beverage responsibly. Celebrate with a small group of people while including proper social distancing protocols.
Don’t worry, we’ll all get back to the party that life is soon enough.