How worried should I be about the Coronavirus?
We’re being bombarded with information about it daily. And because nothing spreads as fast as misinformation, it is my goal to provide accurate information to help people stay calm, make good decisions based on what we know, and support lasting wellness.
First, the current virus is not called “COVID-19.” COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the virus. SARS-CoV-2 is the actual virus; it owes its name to its genetic similarity to the original SARS virus. “SARS-CoV-2” is short for “Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2.” COVID-19 can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can be mistaken for a cold or flu. A lab test is needed to confirm a diagnosis. This is an important step since colds, flu, allergies and Covid-19 will all be treated differently.
Second, if you have not traveled to any area where the virus is active or been in contact with anyone who has, then you are in an extremely low risk group. Persons at greatest risk for any severe disease, requiring hospitalization and intensive care support are the following:
- Over the age of 60,
- Chronic health problems (diabetes, heart disease, severe obesity, lung disease)
- Chronic autoimmune condition
- Taking immune-suppressing medications.
For many with autoimmune disease, immune altering or immune suppressing medications are used to help balance an overactive or dysregulated immune system. These medications and even steroids such as Prednisone can make individuals more susceptible to infectious diseases caused by bacteria and viruses. Besides being more susceptible to infections, individuals on immunosuppressant medications who become infected may have a more serious illness path than someone not on such medication.
What can I do to reduce my risk of infection?
The two biggest myths right now are the mistaken belief that there is nothing you can do to reduce your risk of infection and fear that if you get the your recovery is out of your control. There is a lot we can do to reduce the spread of the infection and improve the probability of having a mild case if you are infected.
“The two biggest myths right now are the mistaken belief that there is nothing you can do to reduce your risk of infection and the fear that your recovery is out of your control”
Here are several actions that will improve your immune defense and increase the probability of any infection being mild.
Eat a healthy nutrient dense diet. Improving the quality of your diet is the biggest step you can take toward overall health. If you ever thought about breaking the sugar habit NOW IS THE TIME. A high–glycemic index diet dumps a lot of sugar into your bloodstream, which decreases your immune cells’ effectiveness at protecting you from illness. Focus on vegetables and meat (legumes and gluten-free grains for vegetarians and vegans) and get rid of sugars, white flours, and pastas! Use supplementation only if necessary and only with professional guidance.
Get enough sleep. Preferably 7 to 9 hours. Sleep is vital to keeping immune cells ready to fight viral infections. Sleep deprivation suppresses your immune system’s innate ability to act as the first line of defense.
Wash your hands with soap and water vigorously for 20 seconds and keep hand sanitizer use to a low to protect your microbiome which is a vital part of your immune system. Hand sanitizers should only be used when soap and water or not available. Also it’s important to avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes.
Minimize your exposure to sick people. Stay home if you become ill. If you develop a cough, sore throat, and/or runny nose, do not go to work or frequent public places, which could perhaps spread the disease to an at-risk individual for whom an infection could be severe.
Drink plenty of fluids. Hydrate your body with clean, filtered water to make sure toxins are being flushed out of your system. ½ your body weight in ounces is a general reference point. Sodas, coffee, black teas, energy drinks, and sports drinks are all dehydrating and not good choices when you are sick.
Manage your stress. Cortisol or the “stress hormone” can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system and has a direct link to infectious illness. Cultivate spiritual practices and positive a positive mindset to increase your ability to remain calm, focused, and balanced as you go through life’s experiences. It’s important to stay up-to-date on information however know when to say when and unplug from any sources of fear, panic, or chaos.
Exercise. Daily movement is imperative for health however low to moderate exercise is best for the immune system. Daily 20-30 minute walks, bicycling with your kids, or playing golf are all good choices that get you outside into the fresh air and sunshine where you can build vitamin D3.
The bottom line: The coronavirus is placing a severe strain on healthcare systems in Europe. We do not want that issue here as well. Even if you are in a low-risk group, stay informed and respect any restrictions such as self-quarantine. Those in good health are more likely to stave off illness and/or recover quickly, so support your immune system and your overall health with fresh, organic foods. Choose grass-fed meats, organic chicken and wild-caught fish. Eat a wide array of organic produce and avoid toxic and inflammatory foods including gluten, dairy, highly processed foods, alcohol, and sugar.
Since the information is changing so rapidly please consult the CDC for updated guidance. Here is a link to the CDC coronavirus site.
- Johns Hopkins Resource Center