The majority of us are at home practicing social distancing, while others are still going to work to the essential jobs that support us during this global pandemic. Regardless of which end of the spectrum you are on, taking good care of yourself seems more vital now than ever. Most of the time our immune systems do a good job of fighting off illnesses, however sometimes it isn’t able to for various reasons, and we get sick. There are many factors that can determine immune health. Genetics, lifestyle, exercise, sleep, diet, mental health, etc. are all said to play a role in overall health and immunity. Looking at our body and mind as an overall whole can contribute to an immune system that elicits a healthy and strong response to attacks. Yoga and Holistic practices offer beneficial tips as well.
Good nutrition may perhaps be one of the most important factors in maintaining body health, as well as mental health. Our body needs proper macro and micronutrients, antioxidants, protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, vitamins, fat, and water to function, stay healthy, and provide defense for disease and environmental factors. Rather than letting this be a source of stress or overwhelm, it can be helpful to have guidelines, and simply start to notice the foods you are purchasing more closely. Organic meats processed without hormones or antibiotics if you are not vegan, minimally processed foods, lots of fruits and vegetables, olive oil, switching from processed sugar to dates, honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar, micronutrient rich herbal foods such as spirulina, turmeric, and wheat grass, and lots of water are a few suggestions. All of which are beneficial aides in maintaining body health, but also mental health.
More research has been done the past decade regarding the connection between a healthy gut, or GI System, and healthy mind. In fact, studies have been done that link chronic anxiety to an unhealthy gut or imbalanced gut bacteria. Yogis have told us for thousands of years that every part of us is connected. It’s in the word itself, “yoga” means to yoke, or to bring together. Modern day science is confirming what the ancient yogis have known all along, that our body and its systems are interconnected.
In order to maintain a healthy gut, probiotics and fiber-rich foods can bring balance. Examples are yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, bone broth, and kimchi. If you are vegan you can usually find options in these categories. Just be mindful of sneaky extra ingredients such as processed sugars or preservatives.
In addition to healthy food nutrition, herbal remedies have the potential to assist in relieving certain ailments, boost immunity, and have a myriad of medicinal properties. For example, Lemon Balm has the potential to calm the nervous system, relieve occasional indigestion, and promote a sense of calm that relieves anxiety. Garlic and echinacea root are known as immune stimulants. A potent oil, oil of oregano, has been shown to have antiviral, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties, in addition to other powerful properties. Also, mushroom powders such as reishi, astragalus, and turkey tail are thought to help regulate the immune system. Another ancient medicinal herb is ashwagandha, it is known as an adaptogenic herb that can help relieve stress or provide energy, depending on what your body needs. If you feel the early onset of something coming on, try making a tonic such as hot water, fresh lemon, fresh ginger, and 1-2 tablespoon(s) of apple cider vinegar with honey and 2-4 drops of oil of oregano. Be mindful as oil of oregano is very strong and can burn or cause upset stomach. Remember to speak to your health professional before ingesting herbs as they are often not regulated.
Therapeutic grade essential oils are said to have a myriad of healing properties as well. Lavender, lemon, eucalyptus, rosemary, and tea tree are potent oils and can aide in overall health and immunity. Be aware that not all essential oil brands are created equal. Some are meant only for diffusing, and some can be used topically with a carrier oil, or some even minimally ingested. Without proper knowledge these healing oils can quickly become detrimental. Do your research before purchasing an oil and speak with a health professional before use. The term therapeutic grade on the bottle isn’t enough to ensure quality, check for the company’s test results such as GC/MS, and verify there are no fillers or additives in the oil. That being said, with proper knowledge, essential oils can be a powerful tool to maintain health and wellness with antiviral and antibacterial properties, among others.
Yoga and holistic practices remind us to look at ourselves as one whole. To take into consideration our nutrition, herbal remedies, adequate exercise, good sleep, balancing practices such as breathing techniques, meditation, and mantras, in order to achieve overall health and wellness. It’s not just our body that keeps us healthy, it is our emotions, thoughts, mind and spirit. During this time of quarantine, it can be a great time to integrate more healthy and holistic practices into your daily routine if you are able to. I know not everyone is able to do this, and many are struggling greatly right now, but if you are able to, one of the best things we can do is take care of ourselves, so that we may better be able to take care of others in our community. Have patience with yourself along the way.
Note: The above information is simply to serve as alternative knowledge, and thus should not be taken as medical prescription or advise. Please consult with a physician before taking any herbs or changing diet as there can be adverse side effects with certain medications, and certain conditions should be taken into consideration.
With 6+ years of yoga experience, Christine Fronterotta is passionate about sharing the gifts of mindfulness and wellness. Her ample teaching experiences include her years in yoga studio management, teaching abroad in Costa Rica, yoga for schools, company yoga, and much more. She is a certified Reiki Master, Sound Healer, and fuses these techniques in her teaching and healing sessions. Additionally she is a Yoga Educator with well over 1,000 hours of yoga instruction, and has certified many students to become instructors. Currently she teaches yoga for companies, privately, in studios, and for special events. Christine writes regularly for YogaRenew Teacher Training. She is passionate about offering a healing and teaching yoga to others.