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How to Break Free From Fear



A shamanic healer explains how fear drains our vitality — and how we can reclaim more energy.

Fatigue is a common complaint at doctors’ appointments these days. Whether we’re experiencing sleeplessness, anxiety, excessive stress, or a low-grade case of the blues, we usually try to treat these issues one at a time, often pharmaceutically.

But pharmacist, herbalist, and shamanic healer Constance Grauds, PhD, claims chronic stress, apathy, anxiety, insomnia, and depression — and a general lack of energy and vitality — are all symptoms of a deeper issue: fear. And there’s no pill for that.

Grauds, coauthor of The Energy Prescription, learned about the effects of susto, or fear, while exploring the jungles of Peru in 1994, where she studied natural pharmaceuticals and began her 17-year apprenticeship with an Indigenous shamanic healer.

Noting that Western tourists seemed to have little energy — and believing that fear is what drains us — the Indigenous people Grauds met observed that perhaps our busy, stressful way of life has left us in a chronic state of fear. Their observation changed the way Grauds views health.

“We all know from our own personal experience that fear makes our bodies, minds, and energy contract,” she says. And while it’s a natural response to stress, emotional shock, emergencies, and danger, many of us aren’t able to shift out of fear, so it becomes a chronic condition.

Even if our fears are minor, they force us to retreat and disconnect. “The shaman would say there is only one disease: the disease of disconnection,” she explains. “And fear is the ultimate disconnector.”

But there are simple ways to transform the chaos and depletion of a fear-driven existence into a more vibrant, happy, energy-filled life. And some are as easy as taking a deep breath.

Attitude Is Everything

Exercise, proper nutrition, meditation, and spending time in nature are a few of the things we can do to feel more energized, says Grauds. But attitude is where it all begins.

“Many of us approach these healthy activities out of fear,” she notes. Nursing worries, such as I’m not thin enough! I’m afraid of getting sick!, puts us in a constricted, stressed-out state. As a result, on a cellular level, the body can’t absorb the full health benefits of our healthy practices.

To achieve better health and energy, Grauds asserts, we must release fear. She recommends a four-step process that helps us shift from the anxiety-ridden self to a state of deep awareness of our connection to everything else. From there, she says, we can move toward a stronger, calmer “sustainable self.”

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7 Immune-Boosting Foods – Experience Life



Looking to build your immune system? Start by eating immunity-boosting foods like turmeric, sauerkraut, and medicinal mushrooms.

Healthy, balanced immune function is your best defense against any illness. One of the keys to bolstering your immune system? Nutrition.

“Diet is all-important,” says preventive-medicine specialist David Katz, MD. “You’re building white blood cells, enzymes, and antibodies every day, and the food you eat is literally the source of your construction materials.”

A single meal can alter how immune cells respond to provocation, and the effects accumulate over hours, days, and weeks, he explains. “You can do a complete 180 and optimize a badly broken immune system in as little as weeks by improving your diet, so it’s a very immediate return on investment.”

Foods that dampen the immune system include highly processed or fried foods, those high in added sugar, and nonorganic foods grown with glyphosate, the chief ingredient in Roundup, a common herbicide that has been linked to cancer.

On the flip side, foods rich in polyphenols — beneficial plant compounds found in many vegetables, fruits, and legumes — support immune function. Integrative practitioner Robert Rountree, MD notes that the Mediterranean diet (plenty of colorful vegetables, nuts, and olive oil; moderate amounts of protein; and a little red wine with dinner) provides a good general template for immune-supportive eating.

Some immune system–balancing superstars to focus on:

  1. Green tea is rich in polyphenols, including potent antioxidants called catechins that have antimicrobial properties and may help protect against influenza. It also contains quercetin, a flavonoid that Rountree calls a “time-honored immune-supportive agent.”
  2. Berries are a potent source of immune-supporting flavonoids. “When you eat berries, most of these pigment molecules go to the colon, where bacteria break them down into smaller molecules that escape and circulate in the body, exerting antiviral effects,” says David Nieman, DrPH, FACSM, an exercise immunologist at North Carolina’s Appalachian State University.
  3. Turmeric gets its deep orange-yellow from curcumin, a compound that helps balance the immune system. It has a modulating effect on T cells, B cells, macrophages, and other immune cells, and can also enhance antibody response.
  4. Garlic contains sulfuric compounds with a range of antimicrobial effects, such as inhibiting the biofilm formation of bacteria. It also has natural antiviral properties and can help reduce hypertension, one of the leading risk factors for COVID-19. (For more on garlic, see “Garlic”.)
  5. Citrus fruits such as grapefruit, kiwi, and lemon deliver abundant ­vitamin C — one of the most important nutrients for the immune system, aiding in the formation of white blood cells. (For more on this essential ­nutrient, visit “What You Need to Know About Vitamin C”.)
  6. Sauerkraut and other fermented foods contain lactic-acid bacteria, which produce compounds in the gut that spur the immune system into action. And cabbage itself is another excellent source of vitamin C.
  7. Medicinal mushrooms are rich in beta-glucans, an immunomodulator that activates macrophages, natural killer cells, dendritic cells, and neutrophils. “Mushrooms like shiitake, oyster, and maitake have been shown to prime immune cells in published studies,” says Rountree. He recommends both eating shiitake mushrooms and taking a mushroom extract to support the immune system.

This originally appeared as “Eat Well” in “6 Ways to Boost Your Immune System” in the January/February 2021 issue of Experience Life.

Mo Perry
is an Experience Life contributing editor.

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