The following article was inspired by the ideologies of Dr. Daniel Amen shared during Mindvalley University Online 2020. Dr. Amen is a #1 New York Times best-selling author, double board-certified psychiatrist, professor, and brain health expert.
“Mental hygiene is just as important as washing your hands.”– Dr. Daniel Amen
It’s never been more important to stay healthy.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, if there was ever a time when your immunity should be a priority, it’s right now.
As quarantine lifts and the world tentatively returns to ‘normal’, brain expert and America’s most popular psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen shares his 4 Top Tips to protect our immunity – and it goes way beyond the basic advice we already follow.
By now, we’re all aware that it’s important to wear a mask, wash our hands and disinfect our surfaces. But what about disinfecting our thoughts?
Neurological research is producing more and more evidence to suggest that immunity isn’t just about our genes and how well we take care of our physical body, but also how important it is that we take care of our minds.
Think Out Loud
Every time you think a thought, your brain releases chemicals into your body. An anxious thought, an angry thought, a hateful thought, any negative self-talk…according to Dr. Amen these thoughts ‘directly hurt your immune system’ due to the consequential production of cortisol and other damaging chemicals which result in inflammation.
What goes on in your mind matters.
What goes into it matters too. Exposing yourself to negative information on a regular basis can have seriously detrimental effects. Dr. Amen gives a good example of this in terms of watching the news. ‘The news isn’t the news. People don’t understand that. The news is there to drive clicks to make these companies money. So they’re going to make you sad, mad, fearful.’ This isn’t good news for your immune system. ‘Find a source you trust, give it 15 minutes a day, and then leave it alone. Otherwise, it will steal your brain.’
Thankfully, the concept works the other way around too.
Any positive thoughts which produce joyful emotions have equally powerful effects on the immune system. According to a study by the University of California, watching a comedy can dramatically enhance your immune system markers as well as helping to heal pre-existing conditions.
We can literally laugh off our ailments! If you currently have a Netflix subscription, Ace Ventura, Airplane!, Austin Powers and Get Him to the Greek are highly recommended and voted some of the funniest comedies of all time by Vulture and many other blogging platforms.
Have The Sunshine State Of Mind
As well as having a positive disposition, Vitamin D is also an incredible immune booster and comes at the top of Dr. Amen’s supplement list. But the best source is free and available to (almost) everybody on a daily basis.
When it comes to COVID-19 mortality, there seems to be a correlation between high death rates and low vitamin D levels. So get outside and soak up some rays, or alternatively, you can take a daily vitamin D3 supplement. This is especially important if you happen to live in a climate with lots of cloud cover and shorter spells of daylight.
Bear in mind that those with darker skin tones actually need more sunlight for a healthy vitamin D level – those who have immigrated to colder climates in particular. A great way to figure out how much vitamin D you need to take is to do a vitamin D level test the next time you go to the doctor. The ‘normal’ zone lies anywhere between the 30-100 markers, but Dr. Amen recommends that for heightened immunity your level should never dip below 50. You can also order one online.
Get A Good Gut Feeling
The gut is now known by many researchers as ‘the new mind’.
Happy gut, happy mind, happy immune system.
The best way to boost your gut health is by paying close attention to what you eat and avoiding antibiotic pills unless totally essential. Thinking of your gut microbiota as pets you have to take care of is a fun way to go about it. According to Dr. Amen, what they love the most are probiotic and prebiotic foods high in fiber, accompanied by as many colorful fruits and veggies as possible.
Here’s a Shopping List of Dr. Amen’s Top 10 Gut-Friendly Foods:
Grab these items on your next trip to the grocery store and avoid the sugary, processed stuff. If you’ve got a gut feeling that you’re a bit podgier post-quarantine after gaining the infamous COVID-15, you’re not alone. But now is the time to address it – according to recent studies, as our weight goes up, the function of our brains goes down. Weight gain is also strongly linked to high levels of inflammation and lowered immunity. Yikes!
Catch Some Zzzs
If you want to support your immune system, it’s critical to have lots of regular, deep, restorative sleep.
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Did you know you activate a whopping 700 health-promoting genes when you sleep seven to eight hours a night? That’s right, you can quite literally sleep yourself healthy.
‘…and when you don’t sleep, you’ll have lower blood flow to your brain. This may ultimately lead to more bad decisions, and it’s the quality of your decisions that determine the health and success of your life’.
If you have trouble sleeping, Dr. Amen suggests ditching the caffeine, exercising in the morning, and taking 200g of magnesium every evening.
So there you have it – 4 simple, helpful hacks for boosted immunity and brainpower. Be sure to share this information with your friends and family.
Surprised that snoozing seriously boosts your immunity? If you found this advice helpful and feel inspired to dive deeper into the science of better sleep, you can check out our FREE Masterclass with America’s #1 Sleep Doctor – the legendary Michael Breus. Discover The 5-Step Formula for Better Sleep and how many Zzzs you need to catch according to your own circadian rhythm by clicking this link.