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The following is a guest article from our internal Mindbody community.
Even if you live under a rock, you know about COVID-19 and the accompanying global chaos. As someone dealing with chronic illness, I’m constantly thinking about how to keep my immune system from being compromised. While that sounds morbid, in times like this I am thankful for my chronic illness, because I can be a beacon of hope for others. As fear around COVID-19 has intensified this past week in the US, friends, and family have reached out asking me which natural remedies I support. So, I’ve put together a list of what to avoid, what to eat, and which supplements to take. These are my opinions, but I hope they help.
Everything I am about to share is learned from healthcare professionals and from my personal experience. I am not a licensed practitioner, so don’t take my word as canon, but rather take this as insight into how I stay healthy in a hectic world.
In addition to consuming more leafy greens and citrus, here are a few easy recommendations on how to nourish your body.
I’m often asked why I put lemon in my water. Other than wanting a spa-like experience, there are studies that show benefits to adding lemon to your water. “Water coming straight from the tap or a bottle has lost its vitality and its innate living legitimate structure. By adding fresh-squeezed lemon juice, you “wake up” the water and bring it back to life. This allows it to travel more deeply into your tissues and cells and carry the essential nutrients and compounds you need in order to thrive.”
Thank God. Not that we need scientific evidence to entice us to consume this sweet nectar, it’s just reassuring to remember these facts when I am on my third spoonful of the day. This review compared the beneficial effects of honey with common over-the-counter children’s cough remedies, a placebo, and no treatment. The authors found that honey appeared to be more effective than diphenhydramine and salbutamol, drugs commonly used in cough medicines. If you are going to consume honey I highly recommend local raw honey. If you’re not sure where to find local honey, go to your resident farmers’ market or this local honey finder — a tool that literally tells you where to find local honey in your area. You’re welcome.
I know — it’s popular and it’s everywhere, but this stuff works. I was a skeptic and doubter myself until I added this magic into my morning routine. Among a host of incredible benefits, celery juice kills off pathogens, including flu viruses. Its unique form of Vitamin C doesn’t need to be converted by the liver, which means it instantly strengthens the immune system. Read more from the source: Medical Medium
This has anti-fever compounds and agents that help calm a fever like water on a fire. It’s also deeply rejuvenating and hydrating.
This has its own signature variety of Vitamin C and helps bring the body out of a reactive state when you’re sick. Fresh ginger has anti-viral activity that supports to defeat human respiratory syncytial virus, check out this 2012 study if you don’t believe me.
Turmeric Ginger Shots
I like to blend or juice 1-2 inches of ginger with fresh turmeric and two oranges. This shot boosts the immune system and can be sipped on all day for relief when you have a sore throat or other cold symptoms.
If you know anything about me, you know how much I consume tea. Tea, specifically herbal tea, can heal anything. I swear by this statement. Tea leaves are abundant in natural plant compounds, such as polyphenols, flavonoids, and catechins. These stimulate the immune system. Catechins, in particular, may protect against certain strands of influenza
Vegetable Healing Broth
This stuff is healing, cleansing, and nourishing all in one. It’s rich in minerals your body craves when you have a cold or the flu. Healing Broth is a powerful mineral-rich liquid that carries the essence of vitally nutritious vegetables, herbs, and spices in a way that is easy for the body to digest, assimilate and utilize.
It sounds intense, but a clove of this is antiviral and antibacterial, killing off only unproductive bacteria. It’s also immune strengthening.
The best way to get out those toxins is through your bile, so fiber, fiber, fiber baby. Cute, I know. But, beans truly are the best form of soluble fiber, which plays an important role in digestion and toxin elimination. If we don’t eat enough soluble fiber, our bile will be repeatedly recirculated in our immune system,, instead of being ushered out of the body and then replaced with fresh bile produced by the liver. If your bile is repeatedly recirculated, it becomes more concentrated with toxins. So, go eat some beans.
Supplements can be a touchy and controversial subject, and I’ve been on all sides of the arguments. From taking 10 supplements 3 times a day to cutting them out cold turkey, I have developed my thoughts about them. But, for this particular season in my health, this is what I’ve found to be helpful.
First things first: What are they?
Essentially, supplements are a way to provide nutrients that you may not be consuming in sufficient quantities through food. They can be vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, and other substances delivered in the form of pills, tablets, capsules, liquid, etc. I would check out the European Commission statement on supplements for the best up-to-date information.
Maintaining healthy zinc levels can help shield you from pathogens and decrease your chances of contracting future common illnesses. However, our bodies use up reserves of zinc at a rapid rate. It’s common to become zinc-deficient when you’re sick. It’s important to take zinc as soon as your first sign of a sickness develops. Having a bottle of high-quality liquid zinc sulfate on hand at all times is important. Squirt two dropperfuls of the zinc into your throat, let it sit there for a minute, and then swallow the zinc. Three hours later, squirt another two dropperfuls into your throat and let it sit there again for a minute before swallowing. Repeat every three waking hours for two days. Here are a few powerful articles on Zinc: Article 1 and Article 2.
This stuff is STRONG and powerful. I don’t take it daily, but when I am starting to feel anything coming on I take this. Cat’s claw is a miracle worker, a special herb that supports a healthy immune system. It aids in alleviating almost any symptom, from neurological to digestive. Cat’s claw is unique, because bacteria cannot become resistant to it, like sometimes when taking antibiotics. The herb eliminates these and other bugs without the “Herxheimer die-off reaction,” that's common with antibiotics. The bioactive pharma-compounds in the herb regulate the destruction of pathogens at a level person can tolerate.
My daily love. I either have it in tea form, or tincture, depending on the time. Lemon balm is a heal-all, with a positive contributing factor to almost every part of the body. Extremely high in trace minerals such as boron, manganese, copper, chromium, molybdenum, selenium, and iron, lemon balm also has large amounts of the macromineral silica. Plus, it’s a B12-conserving herb—which means it monitors your stores of this vitamin and keeps your body from using it all up.
This vitamin is praised by every doctor I have seen, both Western and Eastern, and it makes sense why —- it’s incredible and I lack it naturally. This article goes into depth about the continual benefits researchers discover about the supplement. An ideal B-12 supplement includes both methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin. B-12 can help with neurological disorders and diseases, anxiety and panic, and the immune system.
Yum, syrup that heals you!. Elderberries contain special proteins and bioflavonoids that have the ability to destroy viruses on contact. Elderberries are also known to significantly enhance immune function by boosting the production of cytokines in the body. This syrup is super easy to make, just follow this recipe from my all-time favorite health guru, Rachel Pelisson.
I hope these suggestions have helped and possibly eased a bit of panic. Keep washing your hands and be smart. Sending love to you all!
This article originally appears on healingmckenzie.com
Remember, we are getting through this together, and together we will emerge stronger. To show your local studios support during this time, please visit them on Mindbody.io or in the Mindbody app and find your favorite classes or one you've always wanted to try. Also, tag them on social media, along with @Mindbody, and we will support in any way we can.
With so many fitness studios and gyms closing their doors in a bid to help flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic, their members are turning to at-home workouts to fill the need for physical activity. As we’ve mentioned before, there has likely been no better time to prioritize exercise in our daily lives, both for physical and emotional reasons. Luckily, many studios are now recording and streaming virtual workouts so people can take advantage of their offerings at home (Hint: you don't have to just book local, change your location to anywhere you'd like and explore classes all over the world!). But before you move the coffee table and roll out the mat, there’s something you should remember: stretching.
Ah yes. Stretching. For many of us (though we’d never say it out loud) stretching before and after working out feels a bit like that pile of peas your mom made you eat as a kid: you know it’s good for you, but do I have to? The answer, I’m afraid, is yes—and even more so if you’re working out at home. Here are some best practices to help you prevent injury and make sure you’re getting the most of your incredibly valuable workouts.
Remember: any workout—even one done in your living room—is still a workout. If you’re about to do a 45-minute virtual class, don’t just give yourself 45 minutes. You need to give yourself time to arrange your space, get your water, and get your mind right before hitting play or joining that livestream. But you also need to give yourself time to get your body right too, and that brings us to…
Wait, what about stretching? Conventional wisdom dictates that you should stretch your muscles before beginning your physical activity, but mounting research is telling us that may not be such a great idea. Stretching your cold, stiff muscle fibers before they’re warmed up can actually hurt them. And because we're spending so much time at home, it’s likely our poor muscle fibers are tighter now than they've been in a long time.
If you’re following along with a livestream or on-demand workout, there will likely be some sort of instructor-led warm-up. That said, don’t assume that your virtual workout will provide exactly the kind of warm-up that you personally need. Without the trainer right there to keep you accountable and check your form, it’s super important to take steps to protect yourself and ensure you’re warmed up enough to begin.
According to McAlister Training co-owner and head trainer Michael McAlister, “Warming up is as important, if not more important, than the workout itself. Even from home, I encourage clients to warm-up just like they would at our studio. Before every class, I ask clients to foam roll, do hip lifts, and perform trunk rotations as a pre-warm-up. Then, we’ll warm-up together on-screen.”
So before reaching for those toes, spend a few minutes getting your blood moving to the areas you are going to stretch and exercise. A few other great ideas for some gentle (but effective) warm-ups include:
- High knees (or run in place)
- Holding a plank
- Air squats
Once you’re nice and warm, and maybe breathing a little heavier…
Properly stretching your muscles helps keep them long and flexible, improving your range of motion during the coming workout and protecting muscles and joints from potential injury like sprains and strains. But as important as stretching is, you can injure yourself just as easily doing it incorrectly as you can by skipping it entirely.
Enter your stretches slowly, and don’t overstretch to the point of pain. You should feel a satisfying pull, but if it hurts, you’ve gone too far. Combine static stretching—where you find your stretch and hold it for 30 seconds or more—with dynamic stretches like “cat-cow” where you move fluidly through a range of controlled motions. Feel free to concentrate on an area longer if you know you’re about to work that area out intensively or if you feel a lot of tightness there. And please, don’t bounce in your stretch—just stick with smooth, steady movements to avoid injuring yourself before you’ve even begun your workout.
During the workout, pay attention to areas of tightness/sensitivity you noticed during your stretching session (or any new ones you discover). Don’t “push through the pain” in problem areas or extend your muscles and joints past their natural range of motion. Basically, if it feels wrong, it is wrong. There’s absolutely no shame in modifying a move to protect yourself.
“If you’re attending livestream classes at the studio you regularly go to, reach out to your instructor(s), and let them know what you’re experiencing. Just like in a regular class, they’ll be happy to chat with you on the phone or through FaceTime, individually, to provide tips to modify and recover properly,” says McAlister.
Once you've counted down the final seconds of your workout and completed your last rep, you may be (justifiably) tempted to lay on the floor in a sweaty heap for a while before getting up to shower and carry on with your day. But do that and you’ll miss a huge opportunity to improve your overall mobility and flexibility.
As soon as your workout is over, cool down with some walking to bring your heart rate down in a controlled manner. Once you’ve caught your breath, it’s time to stretch again—and this one’s at least as important as the first. Think about it: your muscles are about as warm as they’re ever going to get, which makes it the perfect opportunity to work on conditioning those muscles and joints. Stretching can help lengthen and soothe your pumped-up muscles, which are now in a more contracted state after your workout.
Plus, stretching is just a nice closing ritual for ending a workout. It allows you to decompress after the physical demands you just placed on your body and gives you a moment of calm reflection before changing gears.
Just like working out, stretching only reveals its true potential when you do it consistently. If you’re inflexible now, you got that way over a long period of time—and that means it’s going to take time to improve it. You can’t expect a single high-quality stretch sesh to undo months or years of tightness. Stick with a good pre- and post-workout stretch routine, and one day you’ll notice those toes aren’t quite so far away, and your back doesn’t hurt so much when you do that one thing anymore.
Right now, a lot of people are re-evaluating what “normal” means for them, and many of them are finding ways to use this difficult time for self-improvement. Virtual, at-home workouts are a blessing, giving us ways to stay active and stay connected with our favorite studios and trainers (or try new ones!). But remember, you can protect yourself while you push yourself—you just might have to stretch yourself a bit.