Stress is a wasted emotion, unforgiveness destroys health: Lifestyle coach-author Luke Coutinho
Amid Covid-19 pandemic, people across the world are stressed and anxious about their future. But lifestyle coach-author Luke Coutinho has some unique way to get rid of the emotion which he calls a "wasted" one. As a guest at Kitaab, an initiative of Prabha Khaitan Foundation in association with Ehsaas Women, Luke launched his book 'The Magic Immunity Pill : Lifestyle'- which is co-authored by Indian actress Shilpa Shetty Kundra- and spoke about stress, health and wellness. India Blooms correspondent Souvik Ghosh brings excerpt of the interaction
How did you come up with the idea of writing this book?
Even before the Covid situation, the fundamental principle of our practice has always been immunity. Whether someone comes to us with problems related to cancer, diabetes, hairloss, weight gain or weight loss, the fundamental of the unibody is the immune system designed to protect and prevent us from disease and manage inflammation. After the Covid situation started, we (doctors) were bombarded by questions related to immunity every single day. And it was alarming to me to know that people even didn't know the basics.
Lot of them (people) don't even know what immunity is. So I found the best way to reach the masses is by putting all into a book. Then I reached out to Shilpa (Shilpa Shetty, actress) and I asked her whether she would contribute with the yoga part. We (Luke and Shilpa) immediately decided to put (write) the book together and then reached out to the book publishing platform.
What according to you is the need of the body? What according to you we fail to understand about the needs of our bodies?
Firstly the nutrition that suits one's body. The digestion process, metabolism are different for each person. So we need nutrition at the right quality, quantity, way and at the right time. Secondly, the right kind of physical activities which suit a body. Thirdly, a quality sleep is required for any person irrespective of his identity, bank balance or designation. Human body needs sleep, period. Fourthly, emotional wellness is the most important. By that, I mean chronic stress, chronic emotional issues, negativity, depression, all of these things have an impact on the immune system.
So if we are able to operate our bodies within these four verticals, a lot of our problems will start getting better. According to me, one can go to fancy restaurants, have a social life but should still have a discipline of eating and sleeping right, looking after the amount of stress you have in your life and your activity. One can have the abundance and maintain the fundamentals that his or her body requires and still have great health.
What would be your advice in taking any form of medication?
I think a lot of people are sick today (at the present time) because they have self-medicated themselves over the years. People take pain-killers like candy. They have an antacid before going for a party! They don't understand that these (activities) over the years have built up big problems in the human body. And there will be another drug to fix the damage that was created by the first drug. So self medication is a big issue. Everyone should understand that there is a reason why there are doctors. So self-medicating is not going to get one anything. One should never self-medicate which causes more destruction and frustration.
How Indians can overcome the Vitamin D deficiency particularly at this time?
Vitamin D has always been important. It is unfortunate that there had to be a virus or doctors to start giving importance to the Vitamin D. Vitamin D is always being required for the immune system. We can get sunlight if we can. As many people can't due to lockdown, they must call up their doctors and get a prescription for Vitamin D because no amount of feeding organic food will help it. So one must try to get 10-15 minutes of sunlight in the mornings or evenings. We can't depend on food to get Vitamin D because they are very small. So technically one needs to get a supplement if he has a deficiency of Vitamin D. If not deficient, one can maintain it with sunlight.
At the present moment, people are living with an additional stress and anxiety. How can one overcome stress?
Overcoming stress is a personal decision for everyone. There is one fundamental thing about it. People can't do anything about it except prevent it from affecting oneself. No one should take stress personally. Like right now under the Covid situation, some people are learning new skills and trying to figure out an action plan, while others are just wallowing in the stress and expecting their life to get better by not doing anything about it. Stress is a wasted emotion because one gets nothing out of wallowing in it. Lot of people are stuck in victim mode.
I know so many people who have started online businesses at this point. And there is a population that continuously watches negative stuff on social media, spiralling deeper into their negativity. Television or social media posts are only adding more to their stress. So, invest more in reading, exercises, yoga.
But (some) people are unwilling to change and therefore it becomes their fault as they don't want to change. So I think overcoming stress is looking at it in a different light and understanding that it is not the end of the world. So it is all upto how we use our mind which is a very powerful thing. Mind can destroy us and also build us and create an opportunity of abundance in our life. So there is no magic pill to get rid of stress.
With the advent of social media, we are so connected to the outer world that we have lost our inner connection. How can that connection with the inner self remain unaffected?
When we are connected inside, then the outside world can't bother us. It may worry but can't control us. Right now news is worrying us. When children are going into depression, we have to look beyond it. The present situation is actually normal. What abnormal was the amount of mindless socialising that had existed, the mindless parties children used to go in the (pre-Covid) world. We have to look when the outside world opens, whether we will go back to that mindless social life. Lot of people in the lockdown are changing their lives. A lot of them are also getting out of depression. The media is only focussing on the people who are getting depressed. There are so many people who are realising that they do not want to get back to that outside world. We should always look at the data from both ways.
Depression isn't increasing, it was always there. People were good at dealing with it and numbing it with alcohol, drugs, socialising, shopping. We have to be honest about that. Very few people socialise out of enjoyment. Most people just show in society. And now when the social life is taken away from people, a lot of them realise that they are actually happy while others can't feel it because their identity doesn't exist anymore. Children should not get depressed right now unless they are seeing the same in their parents. But children have to learn from this experience. This is a very good, grounding experience for most people. People also have to learn how to be alone sometimes.Children need to know who they truly are. So inner connection is important. We maintain our inner connection through our meditation and by knowing who we are.
You have spoken about senior citizens' diets in detail in the book. How the diet of a child will be different from that of an adult?
The only difference is the size of the proportion. Otherwise, food will be the same. Vegetables, legumes, lenticels, nuts, seeds, natural grains and proteins. I am not talking about infants though. Some children are fussy over food because they are given a choice to have an alternate option. All of us had resisted (during our childhood) certain food like vegetables or particular fruits but we grew over it. There was no significance given to our choices in our childhood, but today so much importance given to what the child likes. Children will love many things but that doesn't mean they will have to be handed over. Diets will have to be balanced for both kids and adults except proportions.
How to address certain health issues which even a fit person suffers from?
Fitness and health are not about external looks. There are many people who look great from outside but having conditions (health issues) inside. So it comes down to what food they are eating. Lot of people are on fat diets but they don't have sufficient nutrients. Second is the stress level. Most people who pose happy on Fridays (at weekend parties) queue up outside the psychologists' chambers. They seem happy but they have suppressed their emotions. One may look good from outside, but his or her liver, immune system, heart are not good. Lot of people disguise stress.
How unforgiveness affects the immune system of a body? How could you discover the relationship between the two?
Almost 70-80 per cent of my cancer patients have one commonality that they can't forgive people in their entire life. Today it is scientifically proven that disease specially many kinds of breast cancers can't be cured if the patients can't forgive people. So unforgiveness is a deeply rooted emotion which only affects the person who is carrying unforgiveness at their hearts. The bitter, ugly truth at the end of the day is we have to start forgiving people because it will never help the person in any way and destroy his or her health. So unforgiveness is a deeply-rooted emotion which only limits life, health and growth of so many people around the world. People who commit the mistakes are actually living happily and have moved on in their lives. So the only person who loses is the one who cannot forgive.