We’re coming up on a year since COVID-19 began to turn our lives upside down. With the tragedy of 500,000 people departed so far in the United States alone, remaining healthy has been an undisputed blessing.
Back in March of last year, I tackled the topic of protecting our immune systems. Everyone was rightfully concerned at the time, and looking to see if various “quick-fix” remedies offered by the internet’s less-than-scrupulous sector actually worked.
The short answer was, and remains, a resounding no. An improved immune system comes from taking care of yourself over time in ways that should be part of your regular routine — prioritizing exercise and solid nutrition, getting enough sleep, avoiding excessive alcohol, staying calm, and throwing in some vitamin D for good measure.
But even back then, I used the word “boost” when talking about enhancing your immune health. And that word is part of the problem, given that you’re not looking for more immunity.
In the Global Wellness Trends Report for 2021, Dr. Ken Pelletier, a professor of medicine at UCSF, puts it this way:
The whole concept that you can “boost” your immunity is nonsense, and with the immune system, “more boosting” is not better at all. “Hyper” or over-activated immunity is when the body attacks itself, the pathway to all kinds of autoimmune diseases. And with COVID-19, we saw how an over-boosted immune system released a cytokine storm that killed people.
Yeah, not a good thing. A better word than boost would be balance, or immuno-stabilization. Dr. Pelletier goes on to say that “the immune system is something you want to modulate, not crank up to 11.”
Unfortunately, this escaped most everyone in 2020. People gobbled up supplements and foods promising immune-boosting capabilities in mass quantities that made even the Coneheads queasy. So, if you fell victim to an elderberry-adaptogen tonic in a cool can or super-herb immunity gummies, you weren’t alone.
But you can stop wasting your money now. The vitamin D is still worth it, but that’s about it on the pill-popping and miracle product front. Pelletier cuts to the chase:
Your immune system isn’t changed much by any particular functional food, supplement, herb or treatment. These are too simple-minded prescriptions for something so complex.
So what works? It’s the core pillars of wellness that you should be focused on regardless — exercise, diet, sleep, and meditation (or some other form of stress relief). But you knew that as a Further reader from last March.
Given that immune health has become its own lane of wellness thanks to the woes of the pandemic, people want to know if there’s more that can be done. If you’re looking for an extra edge, here are some things you can consider:
Metabolic health: What you’ve been putting in your body may have been the difference between whether you got sick this last year or not. It’s not just about a healthy body weight. You need a sensible, science-backed diet that doesn’t spark inflammation.
Personalized nutrition: It’s becoming clear from research that the same foods can have drastically different effects on individual metabolic health and microbiomes (the gut, where 70% of your immune system resides). Consult with your physician about blood and genetic testing for indications.
Intermittent fasting: We talk about IM quite a bit around here in terms of weight loss and even longevity. Research is also indicating immune system regeneration from forms of fasting, so now there’s even more reason to consider it.
COVID-19 likely won’t be the last pandemic of our lifetimes. And as we get older, we don’t want the flu or pneumonia taking us down either. A strong immune system is your suit of armor against illness.
Immune health is a way of life, not a quick-fix — and fortunately it’s a byproduct of living the optimal life you already want. So here’s to your health and continued prosperity.
The Future of Wellness 2021 Report (Paid access)
Become Remotely Stable
For some, working away from the office has been a dream come true. For others, not so much. But whether you love it our would prefer to leave it, there are challenges for everyone. Here’s good advice from a veteran of WFH.
The Corner of Fifth and Vermouth
Excessive alcohol use compromises your immune system in serious ways. And yet, beyond the worthless elderberry-adaptogen tonic in a cool can, we’ve been downing more glasses of society’s favorite painkiller in increasingly dangerous amounts during the pandemic. If this sounds like you, start here to drastically improve your immune health.
Drug of Choice
They can take away the booze, but I draw the line at a life without coffee. Thankfully, the news about coffee drinking not only remains positive, it keeps getting better.
Free Their Mind
Psychologists find that when we listen carefully and call attention to the nuances in people’s own thinking, they become less extreme and more open in their views. So don’t try to change someone else’s mind. Instead, help them find their own motivation to change.
Down below, Trudi’s got Feng Shui tips for your home office. And in the Flashback, it’s that George Michael song … I think it’s called “I Want Your Sax?”
P.S. Share this issue of Further with friends, and earn cool Further gear. It’s easy … just use these links that contain your unique referral code:
The Ancient Energy Your Home Office Needs
By Trudi Roth
A few years ago, following several car accidents, my cousin recommended I hire a Feng Shui expert to “fix my Qi.”
While I wasn’t so sure my energy was the problem vs. being a Masshole driver navigating LA traffic, I was game. Sure enough, the consultant zeroed in on the long hallway that runs from the living room to my office.
“Your Qi is like a strong wind whipping through your life — too fast with nothing to stop it,” she explained, tying my house’s layout to the accidents.
Energetically connecting the quality of your life to your habitats is core to the 5,000-year-old Chinese philosophy, Feng Shui. With remote work at an all-time high — 71% of those who can work at home are doing just that, according to Pew Research — and home improvement topping consumer spending, it’s worth considering this ancient art that links harmony and balance with success, happiness, and prosperity.
The Feng Shui Way
Rooted in early Taoism, Feng Shui means “the way of wind and water.” Balancing opposing yet complementary elements is thought to activate positive energy and repel negative forces.
While the details of how Feng Shui works are esoteric, the philosophy is simple: optimize your environment for greater well-being. According to Cathleen McCandless, author of Feng Shui That Makes Sense:
Feng Shui is not a belief system, a religion, or a good luck system. Like gravity, Feng Shui affects all of us all the time, whether we believe in it or not. When correctly applied to one’s surroundings, Feng Shui can help create an environment that is soothing and nurturing, and in turn, reduce tension and stress levels.
It’s very Feng Shui to integrate nature and light into your space, for example. It’s also scientifically proven: research shows that better lighting and houseplants improve mood, productivity, and satisfaction.
Home In On Your Happiness
In my wind-inviting abode, the Feng Shui expert provided a Bagua Map (energy blueprint) to improve the interior design and counteract weak spots with plants, crystals, and mirrors.
While it’s helpful to work with a professional, your instincts can tell you if your space feels “off.” These basic Feng Shui principles can help you shift the energy in your space.
- Integrate the five main elements — wood, fire, earth, metal, and water — using plants, candles, rocks, mirrors, and fountains.
- Declutter your desk (and anywhere you spend a lot of time).
- Separate your bedroom from your office.
- Avoid placing your desk with your back to a door.
- Choose colors and decor that make you feel happy, successful, and appreciated.
If you buy into the idea that your home is your castle, consider fortifying it with the same energetic blueprint as China’s Great Wall. It’ll help you scale the challenge of achieving work-life balance.
George Michael – Careless Whisper
Make it Big, 1984
“With Careless Whisper I remember exactly where it first came to me, where I came up with the sax line … I remember I was handing the money over to the guy on the bus.” ~ George Michael on conceiving a legendary baby maker at age 17. (YouTube)
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