Dr. Mark Pettus is a triple-board certified Internist, Nephrologist, and Integrative Medicine physician practicing for over 25 years.   He is also the author of two books, The Savvy Patient: The Ultimate Advocate for Quality Health Care and It’s All in Your Head: Change Your Mind, Change Your Health.  He hosts The Health Edge Podcast along side John Bagnulo.

During the pandemic, humanity is dealing with a sustained level of stress.  Mark explains that our “fight or flight” sympathetic nervous system is an important survival response when it is short lived; however, this prolonged stress can cause a disruption in our circadian rhythm, causing issues with sleep and mental health.  This raises the question: how do we become more resilient to these stressors?

Mark tells us that when it comes to the virus, there is a real threat out there, but there is a lot you can do with food and lifestyle strategies to empower your health and the health of your loved ones.

For instance, Mark offers some key food interventions like avoiding processed and sugary foods while eating more healthy fats and vegetables.  He shares some of the critical nutrients necessary to strengthen the immune system, such as fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, and K as well as water soluble vitamin C.

Mark also emphasizes the role of the gut in keeping our immune system defenses strong.  For instance, it’s estimated that over 2/3 of the immune system is housed in the gut lining.  “The gut is probably as much an immunologic organ as it is an organ of digestion.”  This ecosystem of trillions of microbes dwelling in our gut – our microbiome – acts in partnership with our immune system.

A major problem with the way we are currently living is a result of “circadian disruption.”  Most of us don’t get enough natural light during the morning and day hours, and we get too much artificial light from our electronic devices at night.

Another factor that interferes with our wake / sleep cycle is that we eat all day long and very often, late into the night.  This late night feeding confuses the brain and is not a normal evolutionary biological pattern.

Mark talks about what the virus can teach us.  He says “the pandemic has lifted the veil of the many inequities that exist in our culture.  Those with less are hurt even more, those with more are hurt less.”  During these challenging times, Mark says that we must come together as a community and care for one another. 

For anyone feeling alone right now, Mark reminds us that life is a journey meant to be shared.  He also talks about the importance of reigniting that inner flame by connecting with what brings purpose and meaning to our lives.

In the end, Mark offers these words of inspiration to his younger self: don’t take things too seriously; love the person you see in the mirror; and don’t forget how powerful you are.

You can learn about Dr. Mark Pettus and The Health Edge Podcast right here: https://www.thehealthedgepodcast.com/mark-pettus-md-bio/