The long awaited article!
Ever since we first heard about coronavirus, I have been asked my opinion about what it is, how to stay well, and many other specific and general questions. I don’t mind… I love teaching! And various questions would prompt me to look into angles and subjects I would not have otherwise studied. And I have been promising you this article for a couple weeks now… well at least an article!
The truth is that I have written said article (or at least started it). It is already 9 pages, single space, 11 font in a Word document! Most of it does not specifically address coronavirus, but addresses important background thinking and researching work. I’m glad I have written all that, and I have thoughts to someday publish it as an ebook (no promises!). But since putting the myriad of thoughts in my head down on paper, I think I can write a brief and succinct article to sum up what I believe is important to be doing right now.
Hopefully succinct… this intro is not getting off to a great start! 😉 But let’s dive in!
First off, what do I think of the virus?
I think it is a virus.
In terms of what I recommend for your health, it doesn’t matter to me if it was manufactured in a lab or if it naturally morphed. Or perhaps our understanding of what a virus actually is is wrong, along with the way we understand infectious disease and this is an exome.
I am, of course, interested in finding the answer to these questions from a curiosity standpoint! But in regards to how you and I should take care of our bodies, there is no need. The ways to have a healthy body are the same, and you already know them! Eat good food. Don’t eat sugar. Manage your stress. Address health issues at the root, not with bandaids. Drink meat stock. Eat fat. Sleep enough. Rest when you are sick.
You, dear family, already know how to take care of your body! That’s why I’m not worried about you!
This virus, like every other immune threat, is more deadly to those who are not taking care of their health! I just saw the analysis of CDC data about USA deaths. It reports that about 90% of people who died of COVID-19 had comorbidities like obesity, diabetes or heart disease. Most people who die were unhealthy before they got sick.
Do I think there is a special risk because it is “novel”?
No, I do not.
I have seen articles on this topic, but here is the bottom line. It’s still a virus, and it is not the only pathogen we are exposed to that has morphed. For example, influenza develops different strains every year. We now have staph and strep bacteria that have morphed to be resistant to many hard-core antibiotics. And you could even argue that to a young child getting exposed to things like the chickenpox for the first time, that is “novel” to them. Not to mention that since World War II our bodies have been exposed to over 85,000 new, manmade chemicals (per the EPA). And I have yet to see any compelling proof that it is spread more easily than other viruses. I know I’m going out on a limb here, and if you have information about this, please let me know. But as far as I can tell it follows all the same rules of any other virulent virus.
So then the question becomes, is the immune system smart enough to recognize threats and defend your body?
The answer is yes, of course!
The response of inflammation, which is activated as a first line of defense to anything threatening our bodies, are sufficient to recognize, attack and defend you! And how do you make sure the inflammatory response gets activated? You feed your immune system! The immune system is a very hungry organ! It needs plenty of fat, amino acids, minerals and vitamins to be able to produce enough immune cells, and perform all the functions it has.
Also you need to avoid doing things that handicap it, like eating sugar, not getting enough sleep, or having increased stress. Help your body detox, and put your feet and hands in the dirt! When you feel “run down” you can be sure your immune system is not functioning to its peak potential!
And remember that the immune system works closely with your microbiome. In fact, 80% of your immune system surrounds your intestines, and the beneficial microbes in your gut are sharing information with your immune command centers every moment! Take care of your gut flora, and it will take care of you.
Also you need to stay out of fear! Fear has many negative effects to our immune system.
First, it causes our cortisol levels to increase. Cortisol is made primarily out of cholesterol, just like many of our immune cells. If you tell your body “there is a tiger to run away from,” it will prioritize giving cholesterol to cortisol instead of the immune system. If this fear state is sustained the immune system can be seriously hindered.
Second, fight or flight changes many different metabolic states, often increasing the demand for things like oxygen, magnesium, zinc; causing many valuable nutrients to be used up.
Finally, being in a state of fight-or-flight puts us into survival mode. When our minds and bodies are under extreme stress and fear we have only one thing on our mind: immediate survival! We cannot create or build or examine or explore or ponder or consider or do anything of that sort. We often will not hear facts properly, and we usually only hear the information that further confirms our fears. Because that helps us survive.
We all get into this state sometimes… I know I have been in it several times a week since this all started. Of course we have! Our whole world is changing around us, and we are having to adjust to almost daily changes. The world around us is afraid, and we feel that! We are tribal, responsive to sensed threats. And there’s plenty of places that fear can personally come in. For example, if you are not afraid of the virus you may be afraid of losing your job, or even of a neighbor reporting you for leaving your house too often!
In fact, fear and shaming are being encouraged by many people. Media, authorities, and peer pressure are nothing to sneeze at! But even if they are pushing fear on you, you don’t have to be afraid. You are in control of your responses. You can see the situation, and not walk in fear.
How to do that?
First, stop regularly and notice if you are having a fear response. Although I often address my emotions, that second week of March I made it an absolute priority to stop and address my emotions anytime I noticed that something was wrong. This looked like me going to a quiet place as soon as possible when I noticed I was reacting in a strong or odd emotional way to things or people around me. For example, when I start endlessly scrolling social media instead of working on my to-do list, I know that I am probably trying to make myself feel better. Then I try to figure out why I feel bad.
Sometimes I need to grieve, and I have been avoiding shedding tears about a loss in my life, or a hardship in someone else’s. Sometimes I am afraid, and have lost sight of important truths, like that God is in control, and that He loves me. And sometimes I am angry, because there is a lot of injustice out there in the world. I want punishment to come quickly and completely to correct the wrongs I see. And sometimes I am hungry, and have not fed my body enough (usually fat) to allow it to keep up with the face pace of stress and flexibility required to respond to the changing world around me.
There were some very major fears I worked through that first week, but after facing and working through them, I was able to interact with this whole situation in a very different way. I could listen and question ideas and articles that before would outright scare me, or make me panic and re-evaluate my position on this virus or what may or may not happen politically. I could observe people responses and reactions as an “interesting study in human nature,” instead of taking on their emotion as my own. It was fascinating, actually, to observe how differently I was able to interact with the world. I love Steven Covey’s first habit of highly effective people. In it he talks about how we have an ability to respond, or a response-ability in every situation. No matter what your circumstances are, and how little control you feel, you have a response-ability in that situation.
Second, do things for your body and mind that you know help you better handle stress and fear. Maybe it is a favorite essential oil of homeopathic remedy. Maybe it is prayer and meditation. Maybe it is taking a walk, listening to music, playing hide and seek with your kids. Maybe it is taking fermented cod liver oil, or eating some extra sour cream with dinner. In fact, you will probably have to do all of them at some point! It’s okay and good to support your mental health by choosing external inputs that help you be in a better place. I find that these are so important when I am really afraid! Sometimes I find it is necessary to listen to music, or put on a homeopathic remedy
Finally, avoid things that are feeding the fear. Don’t avoid them fearfully, but evaluate how much time and energy you are spending in certain activities, and perhaps restructure where you are spending your time.
And if you can keep yourself out of fear, I don’t have to write a ten page article to perfectly explain the research for you to be okay. Because you can read and assimilate the information yourself. Or decide to turn off the T.V. Because you will be making decisions based on more than survival.
Finally, if we are not walking in fear, how are we to live?
I am not afraid of the virus. Yet I stay 6 feet away from people in the store because I want to care for them. I don’t want to make their fear greater. I am compassionate when I am near people who are clearly nervous, and try my best not to give them any reason to increase their fear. I wear a mask in certain public situations. I make these and other decisions based out of love.
And when you are not living in fear anymore, you can, too! And what is the saying?
“Perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18)
You can help others to not be afraid as well, by loving the best way that you can!
As we journey together,