COVID-19 + Holistic Health

Updated: Jun 17

Corona Virus.


It sounds rather unsavory doesn't it?


It has been called a hoax, a left/right wing agenda, a massive problem, not-worse-than-the-flu,

a destructive force of economy, a fear-tactic, a construct of modern media and much more.


The fact is, Corona has truly impacted the world- and the people are starting to feel it.


For days I've been thinking about what to say in a video on YouTube, or how to talk about it on my Instagram feed. After-all, my profession is in health-care. My life is built on the foundation of good health, strong immunity, and positivity- I want to be involved in some way.


There is so much confusion, fear, and panic settling over the world right now- it seems wrong to say nothing at all; yet, it can be difficult to articulate solid thoughts during a time such as this.


So I took a few deep breaths and wrote out my thoughts on C0VID-19.




Healthy Fear vs. Panic


Fear is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.


Panic is sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety, often causing wildly unthinking behavior.


There is a big difference between these two states of being.


I have a healthy fear of Corona, but I am not panicked.


I am not anxious, worried, or losing sleep.


I am not hoarding toilet paper, groceries, or judging others for their decisions at this time.


I am understanding of the physical, social, and economical implications of the virus.


I am doing my best to avoid public spaces, and practicing diligent hygiene.


I am supporting my immune system with clean food and powerful herbs + supplements.


I am supporting my soul and peace of mind with worship music and quiet time.


I am spending time getting fresh air, and watching funny movies.


I believe C.S. Lewis puts it best in his book Atomic Age, 1948:


'In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb.

"How are we to live in an atomic age?"

I am tempted to reply: "Why as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents."

In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation.

Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors-anesthetics; but we have that still.

It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together.

If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things- praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts-not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs.

They may break our bodies but they need not dominate our minds.'


I believe in healthy fear, but I am incredibly resistant to panic.

Fate and chance happen to us all, and one single moment of worry will never change these sure aspects of life.

Keep reason, avoid panic.



Selflessness


Let us remember that mindfulness is more important now than ever.


Although I believe that we should trust in goodness to prevail, we must actively participate to

be the good.


By that, I mean that everyone must do their part to ensure the best outcome for each other and ultimately humanity.


This means washing your hands, yes.


This also means staying inside as much as possible until we see how rapidly the virus spreads.


The idea is to flatten the curve, which means stopping the virus from spreading rapidly across the states.


What we know currently is that Corona virus is the biggest threat to those with compromised immune systems such as the sick, elderly, those with auto-immune disorders, and other under-lying heath issues.


When you also consider that the leading causes of death in America include heart disease, cancer, & diabetes- all diseases that can impact immunity, we have more potential sickness/deaths.

This means we have a lot of generally unhealthy Americans with low immune system responses susceptible to the virus.


Health is truly your greatest asset, and many of us will come to terms with this during COVID-19.


Compromised immune systems paired with an easily transmitted virus that spread rapidly are a recipe for a viral outbreak in the U.S. Quite possibly the most important thing to understand right now is that we CAN stop the spreading!


The concept to embrace during these tough time is selflessness.


Selflessness is to be more concerned with the needs and wishes of others than with one's own.


Although you may not die from this virus because you are young or healthy, or you just don't believe in it- you must care for the others who do.


This means following precautionary measures in social distancing and quarantine.

Listening to and following the guidelines outlined by your local government.

We all need to work together, cohesively, to make an impact on something so threatening to our mental + physical health as well as our economy.


Our humanity depends on our ability to become selfless in a time of uncertainty and distrust.


Be wise, stay informed, and practice the art of selflessness by thinking of how your actions will effect others- the world needs you right now!




Immune Health



We are living in an American culture that sacrifices true immunological health for busy lifestyles, more money, and ignorance.


I truly believe the worst of times reveals the change that needs to occur to move forward.


When it comes to our health, we need a drastic change.


Now let's be perfectly honest- all the green juice, bone broth, and supplements in the world might not save you. The reality is, death is always imminent.


But we DO have beautiful, wonderful, medicinal foods that enable us to support our immune system response when faced with a potentially deadly virus. For that, I am so grateful.


That being said, America has quickly come to realize the lack of knowledge and confidence they possess when it comes to enhancing the health of their bodies. There is a frenzy of fear and irrationality cropping up resulting in questions surrounding food, medicine, and mental health.


Let me say this to you:


I am incredibly confident in the ability of the human body to withstand impact.

By this I mean that your body was intelligently designed to LIVE.

The one thing we DO know about Corona is that if you contract the virus it is not a death sentence.

Death is a factor, but not a certainty.


Part of living in sync with your body is understanding and trusting that it is strong enough and capable enough to survive this virus.


That being said I wanted to give you some practical tips and foods to incorporate for optimal immunity during this time. I hope if you are reading this, the habits that you may acquire during this uncertain time, are habits that you will continue to incorporate for the rest of your life- so that your immunity will be able to face chronic disease, illness, and more. Health is a life-long journey, not a destination!


You Need To Know About The Microbiome


The microbiome is one of the most important aspects of your health, and the subject is vast. I had planned to create a video on the topic of gut health, but it is something you should understand during COVID-19 so I want to give you a quick overview of what it is, and why it's so important!


The human microbiome is the collection of trillions of microbes living in and on the human body. These microbes also live within the intestinal tract and the gut, or central area of the microbiome, which is found in a pocket inside the large intestine. The gut has been called 'the seat of all health' because it is that crucial to your well-being. The important jobs your gut performs regularly include breaking down food, absorbing nutrients, keeping out toxins, and producing nutrients.


Gut health works one of two ways- you can feed your gut good bacteria to help enhance your gut flora (bacteria), or you can be feeding it bad bacteria which will damage the gut- resulting in something called leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut syndrome is a digestive condition that affects the lining of the intestines. In leaky gut syndrome, gaps in the intestinal walls allow bacteria and other toxins to pass into the bloodstream. Leaky gut syndrome is fairly common in the modern world, due to our highly-processed diets and environmental toxins. I used to suffer from leaky gut and it caused me tons of health issues, including intense IBS- which involved constipation, bloating, and lots of stomach pain in general. The reality is, if your gut is unhealthy, so are you- and it can cause a long list of health issues such as celiac disease, food allergies, skin rashes, and many other chronic diseases. This is why maintaining optimal gut health is crucial in feeling good in your body and optimizing immunity!


So, how do we feed our gut? With food, of course! But there are also many other factors that influence your gut health such as medications, environmental toxins, and toxins in the personal care products we use daily. Focusing on a fresh, whole foods diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, clean meat (no antibiotics or hormones), and lots of water will keep your gut health in check. Equally important as incorporating good food, is avoiding foods that will damage the gut. Processed foods, excess gluten (wheat products), refined sugar, and alcohol should be avoided. There are also several foods that are high in beneficial bacteria for the gut such as fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha. A high-quality probiotic is also helpful in these modern times to support gut health. You can read more about probiotics in the supplement section of this post.



Other important things to note about gut health:

  • Your gut wall also houses 70 percent of the cells that make up your immune system.

  • Besides your brain, your gut is the only organ with its own nervous system. Your small intestine alone has as many neurons as your spinal cord. Your gut nerve cells produce 95 percent of serotonin, and every class of neurotransmitter in your brain also resides in your gut. Your gut, in fact, contains more neurotransmitters than your brain! Serotonin is the chemical responsible for happiness, and if your gut is unhealthy, you may be suffering from depression, low libido, or anxiety from the lack of serotonin. Mood is made in the gut!



Herbs + Supplements


*I am not a doctor, but these are natural remedies that are completely safe and beneficial to the body.

** One of my favorite naturopathic doctors made a statement online this past week that I want to relay to you- if you ask your doctor about these things, and they are not trained in food + herb medicine, they are NOT an expert on this subject and could possibly discount these methods!


Elderberry


Elderberry is amazing. The berries and flowers of elderberry are packed with antioxidants and vitamins that may boost your immune system. They can help tame inflammation, lessen stress, and help protect your heart, too. Elderberry has been shown to help prevent and ease cold and flu symptoms. Although we have no 'cure' for Corona, elderberry is used to treat different flu strains because of the cytokine production benefit. Cytokines are cells that are secreted during an immune system response in the body. Elderberry has been shown to increase cytokine production to enhance immunity. Elderberry comes in different forms- gummies, hard candies, pills, and syrup form. I personally take the syrup form because my favorite brand adds apple cider vinegar and raw honey to the syrup which also have positive effects on the body during sickness. Every time I have the flu (or any respiratory sickness) I take elderberry and it lessens the time and severity of my sickness. Elderberry is a great option for optimal immunity! You can take it before you ever get sick, to get those cytokines ramped up!


Goldenseal


Goldenseal is a perennial herb in the buttercup family Ranunculaceae. Native Americans revered the plant for its medicinal, cultural, and practical uses. Although modern science has not studied the health benefits of Goldenseal extensively, we have much to learn from the wise medicine men of the past. The known actions of Goldenseal are vast, affecting the immune system, digestive system, cardiovascular system, nervous system and mucosal membranes in general. There have been numerous studies validating the immune potentiating effects of these chemicals.


Echinacea


Echinacea is an herb that is native to areas east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States. Oftentimes Goldenseal and Echinacea are used in conjunction to combat illness and are often referred to as natural antibiotics. Echinacea can possibly reduce the symptoms of cold or flu if started when the symptoms are first noticed and continued for 7-10 days. Make sure to buy echinacea from a certified third-party tested source, as there are many fake products on the market.



The following supplements are intended to promote over-all optimal health, which in turn supports immunity. These are supplements I take daily to enhance my health.


Vitamin D


A 2018 review of existing research suggested that some studies had found that vitamin D had a protective effect against the influenza virus. Vitamin D is essential for many different things like strong bones and teeth, optimal nervous system + mental health, and influencing genes in cancer development!


Magnesium


My body seriously reaps the benefits of my magnesium supplement! Magnesium is such an important mineral because it plays a role in over 300 different enzyme reactions in the body! Unfortunately, 50% of Americans are deficient in magnesium because it is found in foods that we do not commonly eat on the SAD (standard American) diet. Magnesium supports cardiovascular health and protects us from mood disorders like anxiety, chronic disease such as diabetes & Alzheimers, and regulates bowel movements (and sooo much more!).


High-quality Probiotic


Probiotics are so important in maintaining a healthy gut by 'feeding' the microbiome with healthy flora or bacteria. It is essentially a supplement of the good bacteria most of us have a hard time getting in our modern diets. Unfortunately, many of the mainstream probiotics on the market are not very effective. This is because a pill must be able to pass through the stomach acid to make it to the large intestine- where the gut resides- and many probiotic pills available never make it through. My favorite brand is HyperBiotics because they use a patented technology to ensure the pill makes it all the way to the gut! I have been purchasing from this company for almost three years now, and I could feel the effects within a couple of months! (i.e. less bloating, regular bowel movements, etc.) I also love this company because they are committed to social change for women. They have created Change for Women which is a collective of creative leaders and businesses standing together with one simple mission: to make a difference in the world by advancing health, human rights, and equality for women and girls everywhere. With each purchase through HyperBiotics you are supporting social justice and equality.

*From now until 4/20 you can use the code MINDFUL10 at checkout to receive 10% off your first order!



Adaptogens


Adaptogens are some of the coolest substances (in my humble opinion). Adaptogens or adaptogenic substances are used in herbal medicine for the stabilization of physiological processes and promotion of homeostasis. In other words, adaptogens help the body adapt to or manage stress. The reason I wanted to include them in this blog post is because many of us are feeling stressed and anxious during these uncertain times, and stress suppresses the immune system, leaving us more vulnerable to sickness. Incorporating even just one of these adaptogens can ease some of the effects of stress on the body. Each adaptogen has its own unique properties and can enhance different functions of the body. I will outline a few common adaptogens here. You can take some of these in pill form, but I primarily get them in powder form and add them to my smoothies and other drinks depending on what I need that day. There are several adaptogens available, but these are some of my personal favorites.


Ashwaghanda- This strong-smelling (and tasting) adaptogen has been used for over 3,000 years reduce cortisol levels, ease symptoms of depression, and help reduce inflammation. This herbal medicine can also improve brain function, increase muscle mass and strength, and reduce blood sugar levels. It has also been shown to produce anti-cancer properties! This is my go-to adaptogen for managing stressful days. I often take it on days when I drink coffee (helps to manage the increase of cortisol from caffeine consumption) or on days I feel like I will be faced with several stressors.


Maca- This root is chock full of nutrients! It contains several vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin c, zinc, copper, and iron. It also contains all eight essential amino acids! Maca also helps to improve mood, energy levels, and libido.


Chaga- This parasitic mushroom has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine to boost immunity. A popular way of consuming chaga is in tea form. Chaga promotes healthy cytokine production to enhance immunity. On top of that chaga can prevent the production of harmful cytokines which trigger inflammation in the body. Chaga also helps to regulate bloog sugar and lower cholesterol. Something to note- if you are on specific medications such as blood thinners or insulin, chaga can negatively interact with these.


I believe that it is important for us to become educated about alternative methods, because at this point, modern medicine has no cure for Corona virus. Although none of these herbs + supplements will kill or cure Corona virus, they are also not being tested in traditional Western medicine to treat viruses in any capacity (i.e. enhancing immune function). Therefore we do not know how little or much of these supplements will help us facing this virus. But we DO know the immune-enhancing properties of these medicinal options that come from the earth, and so instead of having no options (no vaccine yet), we can use powerful herbs + supplements to enhance our immune system so that our bodies are at optimal health to face this virus.




Food As Medicine


If you've been following Mindful Manna, you already know that I am an advocate for eating clean, fresh food from the earth that is designed to keep us living happy, healthy lives with minimal sickness. If you stumbled across this post with no previous knowledge of holistic health, I want you to know that using food as medicine can quite literally change your life. What do I mean by food as medicine? I mean that fruits, vegetables, grains, herbs, etc. are filled with essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other properties that heal our bodies. Your body was designed to self-heal if you give it a fighting chance! This is why our bodies detox themselves every single day, heal open wounds quickly, protect vital organs by using weight gain (to re-direct toxins), and so much more. Instead of living a lifestyle taking medicine to combat sickness that we bring upon ourselves with unhealthy diets and lifestyles- we can eat our medicine day in and day out and prevent common ailments and chronic diseases. I am one of many others in the modern world who have been able to reverse my health completely and ditch all medicine just by focusing on eating a whole foods diet. If you are interested in reading my story you can do that here.


That being said, food is one of our biggest allies in cultivating optimal immunity. I created a short list of foods that you should try to incorporate as much as possible- during COVID-19 but also every week on your grocery list!


  • Leafy greens- Something I can never get enough of! Leafy greens are PACKED with nutrition and will seriously make you feel amazing if incorporated regularly. My favorites are kale, spinach, bok choy, cabbage, and collards. Check out this video on how to make a simple kale salad! A few easy ways to incorporate greens are in salads, sautéed in the skillet, or thrown into smoothies (you won't taste them!).

  • Cruciferous vegetables - A detoxifying powerhouse, I make sure to eat these every single day. Cruciferous veggies include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts, cabbage, and bok choy. Click here for how to cook broccoli!

  • Ginger + lemon- Ginger is a true superfood- the benefits are endless! It especially great for sickness because it is anti-bacterial and anti-viral. Lemon is also great for detoxification and is easy to incorporate day to day. You can sip on hot ginger tea (here's how to make it!), hot lemon water, make ginger and lemon juice (add an apple to balance the taste!), add raw ginger or lemon juice to smoothies, and incorporate grated ginger into sauces (like stir-fry sauce!).

  • Bone broth- Remember the section above on gut health? Bone broth is one of the best possible things you can sip on for improved gut health (i.e. immunity). Make sure you are getting bone broth and not just regular broth. My favorite brand is Epic Provisions but there are a few great ones on the market! If you suffer from leaky gut syndrome, incorporating bone broth helps to heal the gut.

  • Mushrooms- Mushrooms are *crucial* in a healthy diet. They are some of the most healing foods available to us which is why they are often used in alternative medicine practices. Mushrooms contain a powerful antioxidant called selenium, which helps to support the immune system and prevent damage to cells and tissues. They also have anti-cancer properties! I prefer roasted mushrooms, but I also add them to my salads and sauté them in the skillet.


Although these are some of my top go-to's, remember that ALL plant foods have amazing healing properties. Focusing on a fresh, colorful plate at every meal with small amounts of meat and grains is the best way to ensure you get the nutrients you need!





Awakening


This is a true awakening of sorts- a call for higher ways of living.

A call for mindfulness, selflessness, and honesty.

We are all being faced with the honesty of where our trust and hope begin and end.


For some of us, this is exactly what our anxiety-ridden minds have dreamt up all along- a world public health threat that will distance us and wipe out many lives along the way.

For others, this still feels like a bad dream that we can't wake up from.

And for the rest of us, we pretend like we don't care or don't believe in what's happening at all.


Wherever you are, we are all facing the same consequences of Corona, and simultaneously learning more about who we are.


Just a week before Corona started to hit the U.S. I watched a timely sermon from Steven Furtick of Elevation Church. The sermon was titled 3 Habits of a Healthy Heart. The one thing that truly stuck out to me was his comment on a hiding place. He confidently stated that we all have a hiding place when things get tough. For some of us, it can be anxious thoughts or a black hole of depression. For others, it can be alcohol or drugs. One example was a lady who uses blame as her hiding place- when the going gets tough she starts blaming everyone and everything else for the current problems.


This idea started to really resonate with me when the world was beginning to truly panic.

Where was I going to hide? What or who would I run to?


I believe during COVID-19 we will all be faced with the truth of our heart habits. Not only is COVID-19 scary and uncertain- we are also being ripped away from the busy 'normal' lives we live. The lives that generally help distract us from these hard truths of the heart. We are forced to stay inside, and participate in stillness. Stillness brings contemplation. Contemplation brings truth.


As for me, I have determined in my mind that my hiding place will be in Jesus.

Why?


Because I know Him to be faithful.

I know him to be the symbol of hope yesterday, today, and forever.

I know that he loves humanity, because he created it, and therefore he cares what happens to us.

I know him to be ultimately good.


In John Mark Comer's book, God Has A Name, he explains the character of who God is.

The book is based off the scripture of God's revelation of who he tells us he is.

Exodus 34:6- The LORD passed in front of Moses, calling out, “Yahweh! The LORD! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.


In Psalms 91:1 we are encouraged to abide, or hide, in the Lord.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.


I have peace today, writing to you about such a fearful and uncertain time in our world, because I am running to hide with the one who created every emotion I could ever feel.


My question to you is where will you hide?

As the weeks move on, and things progressively get worse, and fear heightens to new levels-

where will you find peace and hope?


The time is now to search your heart, and fully know your hiding place.


xx,

Ashley


@mindful_manna