Meet Byrdie's monthly columnist, Juhi. She’s an acupuncturist, wellness and health guru, activist, CEO and founder of The Juhi-Ash Center in New York City’s Upper East Side. Each month, she’ll be answering your questions and sharing her tips on how to leave a healthier, more centered life from a holistic perspective. In her first column, she shares her personal health journey and a few simple tips for easing into a new year, new season, or new period in your life. Got questions? Follow her @juhi says and DM us @byrdiebeauty so she can answer them in her next column.
Question: It's such a stressful and anxiety-inducing time. What are some things I can do to boost my immune system and take care of my health, other than washing my hands and practicing social distancing?
I find it ironically enlightening that a virus which demands the loss of human contact, for awhile, may well be the catalyst for reclaiming the waning art of human contact. A potential silver lining, should we choose it. When the urgency of distancing for containment is eliminated, we will have the choice to remain cocooned or to coexist in celebration. Amidst much uncertainty, I am certain of this: COVID-19 is not contracted through a smile.
COVID-19 is not a recognizable catastrophe such as fire, earthquake or hurricane. But it is a storm. An actual and philosophical virus shedding light on how separated we have become—how separation has as much power to alter our lives as a virus does. I have never witnessed as much confusion among my medical professional peers in my career. I have also never had more certainty and trust in their knowledge, compassion and dedication to action. I want you to know that scientists have your back. And I have your back. And most importantly, that you are not without power yourself. It generally takes twenty-eight days to establish new habits that will enhance the rest of your life. You’re on the couch. Get off it. Let’s use those twenty-eight days wisely. Calmly and together.
The most important thing is a strong immune system. Illness feeds on weakness; weakness feeds on panic. And as difficult as a state of calm seems now, it is attainable. Stop reading for five deep breaths. I’ll wait. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. One more, as deep as you can inhale and as slow as you can exhale. And you’re back. Good. See the difference that made? You can do that as you wash your hands. Take in the soap’s aroma and the feel of your skin. Make it pleasurable. Pleasure ups your immune system. What I share with you next is not to indulge in the aforementioned panic, but rather to make precaution its indomitable foe. It is a fair assumption that you have been exposed to COVID-19. Exposure does not mean contraction, and contraction does not mean demise. As with any virus, it transmits in many ways. What does your immune system need to combat this? Nutrition, supplements, movement, creativity and positive thought. Let’s take a peek at each.
Pleasure ups your immune system.
It is reasonable that you have stocked the freezer with prepared foods since they will last longer. Just don’t start with them. Start with the natural foods you have. You have time to cook now. Teach your children that banana bread comes from bananas, not plastic wrap. And if it comes out as the worst banana bread you’ve ever tasted, then laugh at that. Laughter ups your immune system. A flour fight with your kids to herald bad banana bread? That’s rolling on the floor laughter and your immune system skyrocketing. Then everyone participates in the clean-up and you try again. Trust me, with practice you will be the top banana in your kid’s eye. Bananas, by the way, contain resistant starch that feeds the protective bacteria in your gut. Good gut bacteria is the powerhouse of immune cell production.
The quality of the supplements you take is essential. The internal path of nutrients is an intricate one. The purer the supplement, the faster your cells rejoice. It’s the proverbial lab maze. Think of two mice eyeing the cheese. I am not a fan of cow dairy—it counteracts the good gut bacteria you just upped with your bananas. So, let’s say goat cheese. Goat cheese is a bit easier on your digestive tract. Which mouse gets to the goat cheese first? The strongest one with clarity. The same goes for your supplements. I recommend my line, Pure Essentials. The powerful immune-boosting combination of buffered vitamin C, quercetian, vitamin D3 and zinc. The Pure Essentials Vitamins are nutraceuticals, which means they are medical grade vitamins that are not heat fused, are without fillers, and non-GMO. They have 96% bioavailability versus 6% in your average off the shelf brands. A few more favorites: turmeric/curcumin, elderberry (gaia), and oregano oil.
When your mind is stuck on a thought, move your body. It doesn’t do you any good to let your mind roam into despair with your derrière rooted to the couch. Pretend you’re at the office and your kids are your employees. Play a game of Simon Says—the family moves and you get a semblance of leadership. Or try a morning family boot-camp. Who can do the most push-ups in your family? If it’s Nana, then this was long overdue anyway. Another benefit of boot-camp involves rising early. Staying on your schedule is so important. Trust me, your alarm clock will ring again one day.
My son is truly industrious in putting things together—an inventor in the making. My home is fortunate to be graced with a Deepak Chopra meditation chair and a hand-held massager from my health center. This morning, he placed the hand-held massager behind the cushion chair, which lets you lean back for a hands-free massage. It’s all about thinking outside the box. Maybe you have a tub. Ease into a bath. Add lavender in the evening to promote sleep or peppermint in the morning to wake the senses. Now, lean back and gently rest the base of your skull on the ledge. Slowly roll your head back and forth. Gently. Feels good, right? That’s because the base of your skull is a pressure point to relieve tension. As are your earlobes. You can massage them yourself or have a partner do it. Ladies, remember to remove the ear bling before doing this.
Create a morning mantra. Say it aloud if it helps you. The sound of your own voice is louder than the voice in your head
Accomplish this and you are golden. It is a perfectly sane reaction to uncertainty to awake with panic. It’s the first thing that says good morning to you. It doe not, however, warrant a return greeting. Create a morning mantra. Say it aloud if it helps you. The sound of your own voice is louder than the voice in your head (though I know that does not always seem so). Choose something benign that does not bring about memories, unless it is a comforting memory. A prayer to what you consider greater than you. No sad song lyrics.
For now, I want to share with you the thought that soothes my soul. It is this: One trauma, two blessings. Two traumas, four blessings. Four traumas, eight blessings. And keep going. The math skill will strengthen your brain function. Lack of gratitude depletes your immune system. May counting your blessings sooth your soul. Be well.