2021. Hang on – we are going to be fine!

2020 is done and dusted. On the one hand, it was a painful year that I want to forget. On the other hand, it was a year of change that taught me so much.

The problem now is that 2021 is looking depressingly like a repeat of last year. Is it going to be 2020 two-point-zero? Is it going to be a game of two steps forwards and one step backwards? For example, we are coming out of our second wave which is good, but we are struggling to secure enough vaccine here in SA, and even if we do, will it even be effective against our new Covid variant?

As local restaurants and businesses close due to lockdown, the realities of recession sink in. As friends report that parents have died from Covid, the shroud of sadness becomes heavier on all of us. Perhaps a year of this madness was manageable, but as we move into our second year and the goalposts keep moving down the road, there are many people who are finding all this negativity quite overwhelming.

So, my approach for 2021 is that I have decided there are many things that I can’t control, but there are some that I can, and that shall be my focus. I can’t control what is reported on the TV, but I can restrict the time that I spend watching the news channels. I can’t stop the keyboard warriors trolling on Facebook and WhatsApp groups, but I can decide not to react to every conspiracy theory that gets thrown at me. I can’t control when a vaccine might be available, but I can control and optimize my health. I have discovered that the more I focus on the positive, the less important becomes the negative.

Let’s focus here on optimizing our health. As I point out in my book ‘Younger for Longer’, there are 3 big topics that make the biggest difference when it comes to health. I call them “The `Three S’s “:

Sleep
It is when we sleep that we rebuild the hormones that control our immune system. It is when we sleep that we rebuild our brain neurotransmitters that give us the desire to go out to exercise and stops us craving sugar. Sleep is our number one health issue that we all need to get right and we should be aiming for 8 hours of sleep a night. Poor sleep is broken up into either struggling to fall asleep or struggling to stay asleep. If you are struggling to fall asleep then try a 10-minute meditation or bath before bed or take an old-generation sleep-inducing anti-histamine tablet like Allergex.
If you are struggling to stay asleep, then add in magnesium, CBD oil or even melatonin if you can get it. If sleep is still a problem then contact your doctor.

Stress
The problem with stress is that it is so difficult to measure. However, many people who come to see us with cancer can recall a major stress event that triggered the start of the tumour. Most people who have started to put on weight can identify the stress event that initiated the problem. As we continue to stress, we can burn through our immune-boosting hormones leaving us susceptible to nasty infections.
Managing stress is therefore vital to health. We should:
-Limit the amount of news and social media hype that we are exposed to – no more than 1 hour per day.
-Do a daily exercise – 40 minutes of brisk walking every day, WITHOUT a cellphone, to blow off excess adrenaline stress hormone and to boost the immune system.
-Restrict coffee to one a day (caffeine has a stress-like effect on our bodies).
-Do a 10-minute body stretch and a 10-minute meditation. This will reduce our stress hormones and allow us to sleep deeper.
-Add a stress-reducing supplement like Ashwagandha.

Sugar
When we don’t sleep, we crave sugar and when we are stressed, we will seek comfort from the cookie jar. It is now well documented that sugar will not only inflame the body, but as little as a 500ml bottle of Coke has enough sugar to drop our immunity and leave us susceptible to nasty viral infection. To stop the sugar cravings, we first need to empty our cupboards of all sweet treats. Then we need to source a healthy alternative treat (dark Lindt chocolate for example). Lastly, we need a lifestyle that stops our cravings: good sleep, daily exercise, stress management.

If we can get the “Three S’s ” right then we have gone a long way to optimizing our health. They all interplay so that if we don’t get enough Sleep, then we tend to react more to Stress and crave Sugar.

In my heart I know that 2021 is going to be a much better year for us. The vaccines are starting to be rolled out and herd immunity is starting to become a reality. There are exciting new medications developing: Ivermectin is showing promise as a drug that can stop Covid-19 from becoming a nasty infection. Monoclonal antibody injections are proving useful at preventing Covid spreading through old-age homes. Drips and injections at our clinic are helping the energy and immune systems of patients suffering from ‘long Covid’. 2021. Hang on – we are going to be fine!