No comments made in this blog should be construed as medical advice or as a substitute for medical advice. It is for informational and educational purposes only. This blog is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose your condition. Please discuss and gain approval from your doctor for any changes to your healthcare regimen, medications, or treatment protocol.
The outbreak of the coronavirus in China and the prediction that it will spread worldwide has brought fear to people and financial markets worldwide. Baring the development of a vaccine and a massive vaccination program, what can we do to keep ourselves healthy? Commonly available wisdom advises avoiding people who are sick, washing your hands thoroughly and frequently, and avoid touching your face, eyes or nose. For airplane travel and exposure to crowded venues N95 filtering facepiece respirators may be used, which filter out 95% of 0.3 micron particulates. With the coronavirus outbreak, these respirators are becoming increasingly tough to procure. I recently went to Home Depot to buy zero VOC paint and a mask to limit solvent inhalation in order to paint my new office. There wasn't even one mask available in the huge store! When I inquired the answer was that they had all been diverted to China. This blog attempts to go beyond standard recommendations. The answer lies in keeping the terrain and defenses of our bodies healthy. And we do this by leading a healthy lifestyle and supplementing when appropriate.
1. Diet – Eat a well-balanced diet high in vegetables with adequate protein and lots of high quality fats. Vegetables and berries contain phytochemicals and flavonoids which reduce inflammation, enhance immune function and bolster metabolic processes. Avoid processed foods and sugar as these have a deleterious effect on immune function. Sugar impairs the activity of Natural Killer cells, an innate immune cell that defends against viruses. Do eat a small amount of fermented foods: things like kimchi, sauerkraut and kefir, or take a probiotic to keep the gut healthy. It is estimated that 70% of the immune system resides in the gut and it is becoming more and more known that our gut microbiome, the trillions of commensal bacteria, that live in our guts have a major influence on immune function.
2. Exercise – The right type and amount exercise busts stress and enhances immunity. Exercise is a very personal thing, and may look very different in type and duration for each individual.
3. Sleep, Rest and Recovery – Simply put proper sleep in terms of both quality and duration is critical for immune function. Practice good sleep hygiene: get to bed at the same time each night, make the room as dark as possible, get all electronics out of the bedroom, and turn off your Wi-Fi (some even go as far as turning off the circuit breakers to the bed room). Electromagnetic fields can disrupt sleep by inappropriately activating calcium voltage gated channels causing nerve cells to fire when they should be relaxing. Sleep is serious business and both quality and quantity of sleep are necessary! Try to get 7-9 hours of sleep nightly. Your bedroom should be an oasis reserved for sleep and lovemaking.
4. Stress Reduction – Stress releases cortisol, and cortisol suppresses immunity. Find a stress busting activity like yoga, meditation, walks in nature, time spent with friends or pets. Acupuncture, massage and energy work help to shift the body from “fight or flight” to “rest and digest” mode. Perhaps one of these modalities can become part of your self-care regimen.
5. Dietary Supplements – Healthy Vitamin D levels are a great immune enhancer. Therefore if you aren’t getting sunlight on your skin it may be appropriate to supplement. It is best to use a supplement where the Vitamin D3 is balanced with Vitamin K2 and even Vitamin A. Among other things Vitamin A keeps the immune defenses in the mucosal linings of the body healthy which is very important to prevent infection with a virus. If you feel yourself coming down with a virus, in addition to OTC products like Theraflu, you might consider increasing oral Vitamin C or using Transfer Factor or anti-viral herbal combinations. Transfer Factor helps boost immunity and supports Natural Killer cells to eliminate cells infected with viruses. Herbal combinations contain anti-viral herbs like Astragalus, Elderberry, Andrographis, Echinacea, and Olive Leaf, along with other substances such as zinc, monolaurin, l-lysine, and bee propolis which kill viruses. Please note that both Transfer Factor and anti-viral supplements can be used on a prophylactic basis as well. High quality supplements like these can be obtained from your healthcare provider.
Eat well, exercise, sleep well, reduce stress and take targeted dietary supplements to reduce your chances of becoming ill and if you do get sick, these practices often will limit the severity and duration of your illness.
Yours in Health,