Dr. Nammy Patel of San Francisco Green Dentistry discusses moving forward with COVID-19.
Hillary: So today, there’s so much going on in the world about COVID-19, and from your perspective, I would love to hear your thoughts on what we can best do to really move forward with our lives as we go through it now and in the future.
Dr. Nammy Patel: Absolutely. So one of the things I noticed about COVID-19, it is driving us all in a state of fear, in a complete state of fear, where we’re not able to think clearly, where want to go buy all the toilet paper, where we want to buy groceries that is probably going to spoil itself, and we are just not thinking.
The main reason for this is that a survival brain is online. So there’s two brains, right? There’s a survival brain, there’s a thrival brain. So at this point, we are all scared about dying and what that does, we go into a state of survival. So when we need to do that, we do whatever it takes in order to keep ourselves alive. We’re not really thinking about what’s right, what’s wrong. We’re just kind of an automation, unconscious, not really sure really of all of our actions, and even our judgment is kind of flawed at this point in time. We make rash decisions that probably when we look at this 10 years from now, we’re going to be thinking, “Oh my God, why did I do that? That totally didn’t make any sense.”
And so my first advice, or my first ask of our community really is, is that let’s take a minute to slow down. Let’s take a minute to slow down. Our society has asked us to slow down by staying home. Great. Now let’s use that opportunity to actually work for us versus against us. What I mean by that, is really taking the time to really start becoming conscious. Let’s look at our lifestyles. Are we on that hamster wheel of go, go, go, go, go? Or are we going to actually take the time to be conscientious of what we’re thinking? What are we doing? Is it doom and gloom? Are we all going to die?
Well, the reality is we’re all going to die at some point. It doesn’t have to be today or tomorrow. And the reality of COVID-19 is most likely we’re not going to die. The people who are most challenged with COVID-19 are people who are immunocompromised, especially if you’re older, especially you have a history of any liver disease, any history of cancer, any history of heart disease, any diabetes, anything that lowers your immune system or has lowered your immune system in the past, is going to go ahead and impact you directly.
For somebody like you, you’re young and healthy, or me, not really going to have an impact. I can go on with my day-to-day life and I’ll be okay. I just want to be very conscious of not being a carrier for the virus, of course, so of course, I’m going to practice universal precautions when I’m in my practice, really making sure I’m washing my hands, social-distancing, all that good stuff. But does that limit me to you and I having an interaction? The answer is no. I don’t think that you’ve gone out of the country in the last 14 days, nor have I heard you say you have any of the symptoms. So absolutely, you and I can have a social interaction like we’re having right now in the comfort of our own home. We are six feet apart and that’s perfect.
So when it comes to COVID-19, what I really ask the community is really start looking at this in a realistic way. When I say a realistic way, I mean what can we do and how can we utilize this time to know some real truths? The real truth of our society is we are meant to survive. We are meant to thrive, in fact. Darwin’s theory is really true, survival of the fittest. And to a certain degree, that’s what we’re seeing with COVID-19, right? Survival of the fittest. People who are healthy are surviving. People who are immunocompromised are not. So if we look at that this has been happening for centuries since the earth has began, with the animal kingdom, with us, with the fishes, with God knows what. So these things are real truths of how the universe works.
Now, when we look at that, we want to take some learnings on and say, “Okay, I’ve learned that I have this time. I can either be afraid and really be on this autopilot, or I can really start using this time to be thriving.” And the best way to do that is really, what can I do to actually make myself better? How can I come out of this at the end so that I’m better? The best way I would do that is by focusing on building your immune system.
Maybe life was so busy for you with kids and family and whatnot, that you really didn’t have the time to focus on yourself. Meaning, start off with a morning routine. The first thing I do when I get out of bed is do some breath work. Pranayama is one of the most important things you can do for yourself, deep breathing through the nose. Because when you’re breathing through the nose, you are giving your body the most essential nutrient it needs. Oxygen. Think about it. How long can you live without oxygen?
Hillary: Like 10 seconds.
Dr. Nammy Patel: Exactly. And how long can you … Actually, it’s eight minutes. But so, that’s why CPR is so effective.
But when we look at not having that oxygen in … Our most powerful agent that we have is oxygen, right? It is the fuel that fuels our body. We need oxygen and water. Those two things really help us be the most efficient antiviral, anti-disease thing there is on this planet. So when we’re able to focus on our breathing, and through the nose, we’re able to actually fuel our body so it can fight off any bacteria. Because the reality is, we have good bacteria and bad bacteria in our body. And actually viruses too. We just want to kill off the bad bugs and let the good bugs survive, which in turn, we can do in several ways.
First thing I mentioned was deep breathing. The second is exercise. Exercise is really important. Mental, emotional, and physical. I mean all three. Mentally calming our fears. So going to a state of what do I have control over? What is it that I need to do? How can I look at this rationally? And we now know that influenza has killed more people than COVID-19, so we really want to take that shot into account because it’s in direct conflict with our fear, when we look at the fact and when we look at the fears.
Our biggest concern is really making sure that we’re not a carrier for the elderly or somebody who is immunocompromised. And for the majority of the population, that’s really true. We’re not really traveling as much nowadays, we’ve all been in our homes, we’re not having as much human contact. So we’re taking the measures to make sure that we are not being carriers or not passing it on. And that’s absolutely right. Great.
Now, what’s next? Okay. So take care of your breathing. Get out and exercise. Fresh air is really important. We live near a park. It’s really important to get out and do a 20 minute walk. Not that we’re going to go hug anybody, but we really can go out for a 20 minute walk and freshen our minds and our emotions so that we can actually fight the virus. One of the most important thing that we forget as human beings, is that our emotional state is really important.
One of the ways that we can become immunocompromised is if we’re overstressed or overworked. We’re not dealing with the overworked piece anymore, now we’ve got the overstressed piece. So it’s really important to make sure that we have, we’ve just calmed ourselves, and we’re really looking at this from a logical perspective. Because this is going to be important as we come out of COVID-19. Are we going to come out of it? Absolutely. Are we going to be okay? We will be. As a species, we’re designed to do that. Do I know that for sure? No, but I’m pretty, I believe in the universe. I’m willing to say that something that’s happened for millions of years is going to happen. It’s kind of like gravity, right? Whether you can argue it or not, it exists.
So from that perspective, I absolutely believe that we will come out okay. And we have to look at it when we do come out okay, when we start going out into our world, how have we come out? Have we come out and have we taken care of ourselves, so that way we can get back to work, up and bouncing really well? If we look at our social markets, how are they going to be doing? How is our economy going to be doing? We need to be in a state to be well-equipped to take care of that. And the better we take care of ourselves now, and the better we are prepared, the faster we can do this.
A graduate of the University of Southern California and the University of California’s School of Dentistry, Dr. Patel is a leader in the movement to bring environmental sanity and well-being into the dental world. As a trusted dentist, Dr. Patel provides her patients with more than just world-class dental care — she helps them recognize the vital connection between dental health and whole body health. She is also a ForbesBooks and Amazon best-selling author.