Category Archives: psychology

How to flourish through the epidemic

Yesterday I found the above small flowers on a path in the woods. The name of the flower is fukujyu-sou. It means happiness and longevity. It tells us the spring has come through the severe winter in Hokkaido. COVID-19 is still spreading all over the world, however, the spring will come through the winter. Let’s find the meaning of this experience and manage this situation and look forward to seeing the flower of happiness and longevity.

Enhance your immune system

If we do not have the medicines intake or “outside-in” approach to this disease, we can change the perspective and can take the “inside-out” or holistic approach. We ourselves should be healthier and protect from the disease. This is a great opportunity to enhance or improve our health The secret weapon is in your gut. In your gut, there are tens of trillions of microorganisms, including at least 1000 different species of known bacteria.   This is astonishing numbers like the numbers of stars in the universe. You have a universe in your gut. This is still an uncovered area of our science. Today I would like to share with you one of the cutting edge microbiology research. There are three types of intestinal bacteria: beneficial, harmful and opportunistic. The three of them are necessary for our gut. The proportion of them is important. To keep you healthy, the number of beneficial bacterias should be higher than the harmful ones.

Beneficial bacterias

Bifidobacteria, lactic acid bacteria are examples of beneficial bacterias and they have some functions such as vitamin synthesis, digestion and absorption assistance, infection prevention, immunity stimulation. To improve or keep the gut flora healthy, we have two strategies, Probiotics and Prebiotics

Probiotics (Eat yogurt)

Probiotics are live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host. Simply put, if you have or intake the adequate number of the above beneficial bacterias, you can keep your gut healthy and enhance your immune system. Dairy products such as yogurt, yogurt drink or other fermented foods contain them.

Prebiotics (Eat vegetables)

Prebiotics are compounds in food that induce the growth or activity of beneficial microorganisms. Simply put they are nondigestible fiber compounds and they are food for microorganisms. You want to increase or maintain the number of beneficial microorganisms, you should feed them. It makes sense. Most of all vegetables contain these fibers. So eat more vegetables.

So, to enhance our immune system, we should take probiotics and prebiotics at the same time. It is called Synbiotics. I would like to share one tip for synbiotics with you. You should have meals including vegetables before having probiotics or yogurt because gastric fluid or stomach fluid is strong and might kill bifidobacteria, lactic acid bacteria. After the meal, gastric fluid is weakened, this is the timing to eat yogurt. Maybe some of you think, is it the latest research of microbiology? We traditionally eat such fermented products and vegetables. Yes. Some of you traditionally have them daily basis. That is why we should learn from experiences and wisdom from our ancestors. In science, sometimes we found surprising facts which are counterintuitive, but most of the time, we prove our traditional wisdom with data. In this regard, we should respect our traditions and indigenous people’s practices. Learn from the past, live in the present and plan for the future.

With the following video, you can learn the basics of Prebiotics and Probiotics.

If you want to learn more scientifically, please read the thesis.

Effects of Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics on Human Health by The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health of the United States.

Positive Emotions

When we face obstacles, we tend to have negative emotions. The negative emotion brings negative attitudes and as a result, does not occur anything good. It’s a vicious circle. On the contrary, if you have positive emotions even in challenging situations, you can have positive attitudes and you can have creative ideas to tackle them. According to Dr. Barbara L. Fredrickson, a leading scholar within social psychology, affective science (the study of emotion), positive emotions, like love, joy, and gratitude, promote new and creative actions, ideas, and social bonds. For example, please take the time and look back on the joyful moment. Your feeling will be changed and ready to have creativity. Also, you can aware of this epidemic situation as an opportunity. For instance, The opportunity for confirming family ties, realizing the importance of healthy diets and thinking about the reason why we have this problem.

Relax and Do exercises

I imagine most of you have to stay home for this time. If you can go outside, take a walk in the woods and do walking meditation.

Walking Meditation (Link to Greater Good Science Center)
Turn an everyday action into a tool for mindfulness and stress reduction.

If you can not go out, do exercise and make you feel better, try to do simple exercise, stretches or dance with your favorite music.

Empathy with others and collaboration

To overcome the big obstacle, we can take care of not only our family and yourself but other people, community, and country. It’s better to see the whole picture of the situation and think together and act together. This process turns the obstacle to the opportunity and the practice with harmony produces great work as music. Spring will come.:)