Wearing a mask and physical distancing are only small steps towards protecting ourselves from illness. We're not totally helpless without these. There are many things we can do to protect ourselves. And wearing a mask isn't an excuse to stop caring about our bodies and our health. The reality is, if we start looking at these physical measures as the only way to protect ourselves, then we are losing an opportunity to really empower ourselves and learn how to support our health from the inside out. Because we do have the power to do something about our health, rather than continue with the same things we've always been doing.
One important place to start is to improve the environment from the inside, making us less susceptible to illness. Just like when a virus or bacteria grows in a dish, it has to have the perfect environment in order for it to thrive, multiply and spread. The same thing is true in our gut. When we consume things that create an acidic environment on the inside, it allows for viruses, bacteria and bugs to grow and spread. There are lots of easy ways to help produce an alkaline environment in our gut(that's where the good bacteria like to live!).
ACIDIC VS ALKALINE ENVIRONMENT:
The scale from acidity to alkalinity goes from 0-14, where the smallest numbers are considered acidic, and the highest numbers are alkaline. Inside the body, there are are many factors that influence an acidic environment or an alkaline environment. Here are some examples of each:
Here are 5 things I do daily to help create a healthy gut:
1. START YOUR DAY WITH A WARM WATER + LEMON JUICE: You might have heard of this becoming a trend for people in the mornings, but it actually has a lot of health benefits too! Even though lemons and lemon juice are considered "acidic", when we consume them, they create an alkaline environment on the inside(if you ever want to test this out, you can purchase test strips from some health food stores, where you can check your saliva before and after consuming lemon juice, to see the colour change from acidic to alkaline on the strip). When we start our day with something that forms an alkaline environment on the inside, it helps to tips the scales a little more towards the alkaline side, despite all the acidic things we consume day to day. The goal isn't to completely eliminate acidity all together, because that's nearly impossible, but rather, we want to help lean more towards the alkaline side, which is the ideal environment for our gut to be able to digest properly, have regular bowel movements, and to push out viruses and bacteria.
2. PROBIOTICS: Probiotics are the "good bacteria" in our gut. And when we have the proper balance of good bacteria in our system, it helps to keep the environment healthy and helps to crowd out the bad bacteria too. One thing to recognize with probiotics is that there are many different kinds, with many different functions(just how there are many different types of dogs, and each of them have different characteristics). And it's important to find the proper combination of strains for your body's needs. Two ways that I find a good quality probiotic, and the right strains for my body, are:
-->I work with a natural health practitioner who knows my symptoms and my history, to recommend one that will be beneficial to my body.
-->I shop at a natural health store. The brands at this type of store are typically higher quality than what you find at a drugstore, and will ultimately give you better benefits.
3. USE SEA SALT OR PINK HIMALAYAN SALT OFTEN: a lot processed foods contain table salt or just "salt", but what we really want to consume more of is sea salt or rock salts. These types of real salts contain a balanced proportion of minerals, and minerals help to create more of an alkaline environment on the inside. One way to start moving more towards the alkaline is by reading food labels and avoiding "salt". Another way is to purchase sea salt or rock salt and start sprinkling it into your foods: salads, on meats, in homemade sauces, and even in your morning warm water and lemon juice(if you like that salty/sour taste like me!)
4. CHOOSE HEALTHY FATS AND OILS RATHER THAN REFINED OILS: Same as table salt, refined oils such as canola oil or vegetable oil contribute to an acidic environment on the inside. And same as table salt, these refined oils typically exist in packaged and processed foods. The first place to start is to not purchase or use these types of oils in your homemade foods. But the more important part(and fun part!) is to start adding good, healthy fats to our meals. I like to add nuts and seeds to my salads, or just eat them as a snack, avocado chunks to my smoothies, and my favourite way to add healthy fats is by making my own dressings and veggie dips(check out my blog post with my top 3 favourite dressing recipes!).
5. FIND WAYS THAT WORK FOR YOU TO REDUCE STRESS: Food isn't the only thing that contributes to acidity inside of our gut. Stress and anxiety does too. It's easier said than done to just stop feeling stressed or anxious, but there are lots of ways we can start exploring that can help to lower our stress. Here are some ways that work for me that you can consider:
JOURNAL WRITING: check out the blog post with the prompts I use, and the ways I like to get started with journal writing.
MEDITATION OR DEEP BREATHING: this can be just a few minutes, or longer, and it can be a guided meditation through an app, or just an opportunity to sit still and clear your mind.
MOVEMENT: movement can be going for a run, doing a yoga session, or just doing some stretches on the bedroom floor. Anything to get stuck energy out and blood flowing.
WALKING, FRESH AIR, SUNLIGHT: don't underestimate the power of a little movement, fresh air and sunlight on your face! Even a short time outdoors can be so helpful for our mood and our stress levels.