With the Coronavirus quickly spreading across the U.S., it’s easy to feel helpless in such an unprecedented time. But, there are some precautions we can make for our health that are in our control. American Spa spoke with Elizabeth Trattner, AP, DOM, and doctor of Chinese medicine, about what we can do to make sure our bodies are in tip-top virus-fighting shape. Here, Trattner shares 11 tips she’s taking to make sure your body is at optimal health.
- Start Eating Well: Now more than ever it’s time to start eating well. Eating well is paramount for a healthy immune system. Getting three meals in a day loaded with organic food and lots of veggies and fruit can boost the immune system. Foods like greens, mushrooms (not button), turmeric, ginger, matcha, garlic, marrow-based soups, and citrus can all boost the immune system. Make sure to have between seven and 11 servings of fruits and vegetables that have fiber and are loaded with antioxidants. Also, it’s important to eat cooked foods. Even though spring is right around the corner, it’s still cold out. Cold foods increase the production of mucous and weaken the digestive fire in According to Chinese medicine principles, warm foods like oatmeal, sweet potatoes, whole grains, soups and stews all keep the digestive system healthy and warm which is your first line of defense.
- Decrease Immune-Depleting Food and Drinks: Junk food, alcohol, and sugar can all deplete immunity. You should also limit caffeine, which can dehydrate you. Instead, try herbal teas like rose hips which is high in vitamin C, chamomile which is relaxing, and lemon verbena. Hot tea will keep you warm and your nasal passages open.
- Get Plenty of Sleep: Instead of staying plastered to the TV or your phone, take some time to rest. It’s the best medicine, and more is better than less. Turn off electronics at least an hour before bedtime, and no TV in the bedroom—especially the news.
- Get Outside: Get outside and into a park to take a walk in the fresh air. Being in nature resets our brains and induces a state of calm. We also need vitamin D from the sun as well which boosts our health. If you live in a big city: find a park. Trees are beginning to bloom and are a perfect reminder of renewal.
- Breathwork: The following technique was taught to Trattner by her mentor, Andrew Weil, M.D. It is based on Pranayama, and can calm you down within a minute or two. With your tongue against your teeth at the roof of your mouth, inhale through your nose for four counts. Hold your breath for seven counts. Exhale for eight counts through your mouth, making a “whooshing” sound. Repeat for about a minute, or until you’ve begun feeling calmer.
- Eat Good Bugs: Not literally, but it’s time to feed your gut good bacteria. Trattner likes a multi-strain probiotic supplement with at least eight strains and at least 25 billion units. She suggests taking it first thing in the morning and at bedtime to increase permeability. Foods like kimchee and pickles bring good bacteria to the body as well.
- Protect Your Wind Gates: In Chinese medicine, the back of your head and neck are your wind gates. Wear a scarf around your neck and pull up your hoods! Protect your back of your head against wind, drafts, and fans. This is how colds enter the body. Make sure to dry your hair this time of year for extra protection.
- Use a Gratitude Journal: With everyone being scared and everything seeming scary, write down a few reminders why life is good. It can be as simple as someone held the elevator for me. Gratitude helps calms the mind.
- Try Essential Oils for Anxiety and Nerves: Trattner’s favorite essential oils are rose, lavender, and vetiver. It’s important not use directly on the skin—make sure to always use a carrier oil. Oils like rosemary help clean the air and were even used hundreds of years ago to purify the air in hospitals.
- Work Out: Moving your body has positive immunomodulatory effects. Again, get outside in the fresh air. Yoga can keep you calm and boost immunity. Truly, any movement is a positive one.
- Self-Care: Small acts of ritual can help increase the production of oxytocin, a hormone that reduces cortisol, the stress hormone. This can be a bath, skincare, a foot rub, cooking, or really any healthy habit that brings you joy.
Somethings we can’t control—like what is going on in the world—but good self-care, nutrition, and sleep practices optimize our health and immunity. Now more than ever, it’s time to take control of your health. Staying calm will get us through this!
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