Hello, Patients, Families, and Friends of Holistica!
I was on a long run this weekend and contemplating the state of where we are. I am sure many of you are doing the same. After a period of time, I realized we have all traveled a through some of the stages of grief as defined by Elisabeth Kubler Ross:
Denial (I am not going to get sick. I have no symptoms. This is just like the flu.)
Anger (What? I can’t go to the gym? I need to go to work! My kids don’t have school!)
Bargaining (Believing you can avoid grief through some type of negotiation)
Depression (Ugh…I am stuck at home for how much time?!)
Acceptance (Coming to terms with the new reality and knowing you will get through this.)

A New Reality

It has taken three weeks for us to all find some type of cadence in this new reality, and one of the gifts for many has been an increasing ability to be present with what is. Enlightenment has been said as “cooperating with the inevitable,” which is where we are. Cooperating. It has been heartbreaking to observe those in the despair of losing someone, watching emergency medical professionals struggle with a lack of protective equipment, and to see the lines of people who do not have adequate access to food.
While it is tragic on so many levels and I can barely stand to watch the suffering of others, the devastation is not something I want to hide from. I want to observe this eyes wide open. It has struck me numerous times that there is some blessing for all of us in this moment, and more importantly, it is a reminder of the departure from nature and the natural law that has contributed to where we are in this moment — our lives have taken a turn away from what is natural in a global sense, and now what we have is a consequence that is being faced at an individual level.

Why Are We Here?

Coronavirus has been co-evolving in bats for the entire span of human civilization. As the Coronavirus family of viruses grow, different strains co-infect bats creating new strains, and the new strain has clearly leapt to humans. (This viral escape from one species to another could have happened anywhere; this is not a comment on China itself). And so, we find ourselves battling a pathogen for which our immune systems are woefully unprepared.
The number of articles I am reading are dizzying — total information overload. What makes the most sense is to examine why we are here.
If we take a look back at the last 30-40 years and what has happened with commercial production of food in the U.S, farming practices that are reliant on chemicals, our outsourcing of all industries to other nations and countries, changes in greenhouse emissions and the subsequent impact on our environment, the soil degradation and lack of nutrients found in food, overuse of antibiotics for animal feed as well as prescribed for patients, we can start to see how this perfect storm started earlier in our lifetimes. All of the aforementioned factors have created a less resilient person, planet and world.

Glyphosate and Our Microbiome

We are eating foods contaminated with glyphosate with daily regularity. Glyphosate destroys our critical microbiome in our gut lining and in the soil, which handicaps our ability to have a vital immune response.
Our diets have become so deficient in fiber that our gut inhabitants – 20,000 to 30,000 different bacteria in our system – require dietary fiber to live and are dwindling in number because their food is missing. Packaged processed homogenized foods are now more common than eating plants in their original packages (e.g. with peels intact), and this has contributed to every single chronic health ailment currently being diagnosed.  Gut bacteria can’t grow to sufficient quantities without enough dietary fiber, which leaves us with a deficient microbiome and thus a poor immune response to any pathogen that comes our way.
In the past 8 years since we have been able to test the microbiome in stool studies, I have yet to see a patient’s results that look fantastic. Over 90% of patients have low diversity in their microbiome and suffer from a  lack of abundant bacteria.  Even if someone’s diet is optimal, other factors such as EMF (electro magnetic frequencies such as those from WI-FI), antibiotic use, alcohol consumption, and more compromise diverse populations of gut bacteria. All of the above factors are direct departures from what mother nature has intended.

Stress and Screen Time Are Stealing Our Health

Our stress and busy-ness prevent us from being present with the important people in our lives, reducing our connection, which is needed for health. In the study of Blue Zones across the globe — the study of greatest density of those living to be over 100 years old — one of the determinants of longevity has been connection to others through community, service, and family.
Screen time and use of technology has interfered with our reverence for the earth, nature, and its healing potential. If kids were outside exploring, riding bikes, making forts, and getting dirty, I know we would have healthier kids. Unfortunately, kids in this current generation are sicker, struggle with mental emotional disorders and diagnoses, and have a greater likelihood of having allergies, asthma, and autoimmune conditions.  If adults were spending more time outdoors, I know we would see changes in their stress levels and numerous improvements in their health. Today, I believe every parent struggles with how different our children’s lives look from the childhoods we had where we played outside with other kids until dark.

Nature Wins

Whenever there is a defiance from nature, there will be a backlash. There is no exception. Ever. When we go against what is the natural order, there will be some result, maybe not felt immediately, but in the long term we will see it. One of the consequences of doing things our own way rather than living in accordance with nature is poorer health for all populations of people. There is no greater example than where we are right now, traversing the COVID pandemic.

What Can YOU Do?

You have likely been inundated with information about supplement THIS or THAT, which can address COVID, and I am a proponent of taking supplements and herbs to boost immune function. But we can no longer superimpose the use of certain products for living in parallel with nature. Our diets need a major overhaul, our lifestyle is requiring a renovation, and our use of technology needs to be re-evaluated. This is an opportunity to look at all of the factors before us and initiate creative change in our lives that will benefit our health in the long term, right now while we have a minute to do so.  The best advice I can give you today is to work on creating an optimal microbiome through the way you live, not through the probiotic you take.
1. Eat an organic-only diet to avoid glyphosate. By doing this you will be supporting agricultural practices that are more in line with what is natural and will be avoiding chemical use and pesticides.
2. Leave the peels on! Peeling carrots, cucumbers, apples, and potatoes robs you of the diversity of nutrients in those peels, specifically fiber. By peeling the peels, we only get the carbohydrate portion of this plant and are missing a critical food and fiber for our microbiome.
3. Make your own sauerkraut. The air in your environment contributes to your batch, and it gets more rich every single day. Keep stirring. You don’t need to buy these products at the store and can make them at home for pennies. Add this to your diet in 2 Tb amounts daily.
4. Grow a garden. Even if you only have space for pots on a deck, grow something to eat. If you have children this will help them connect with how food is grown and inspire them to help outside if you have space for an outdoor garden. Eating something you have grown feels triumphant. Try varieties of seeds you have not tried before to increase your microbial diversity, amend soil with compost from your kitchen, and get your hands in the dirt.
5.  ION BIOME is my preferred support for the microbiome.  Stronger and different than a probiotic, this helps heal the gut lining (protecting us from toxic substances like glyphosate), helps colonies of good bacteria grow. The gut barrier is in trouble for most of us, ION BIOME helps keep it strong. Good health begins on the gut lining – a lot more is happening there than digestion. It is where proper immune function begins. 1 tsp 3x per day before meals.  Call or email Holistica if you would like us to send you a bottle.
Be well and stay healthy my loved ones,
Mary F. Shackelton, MPH, ND