Welcome to a very new and different world. We are now living in a time of unchartered territory. So, yes, because of the unknown, we are all living with a little bit anxiety and fear. We don’t really know the extent of influence Corona will have. As of now, there is no anti-viral to eradicate Corona, and a vaccine will certainly only be around for the next winter’s season.
With all of that said, there are many things we can be doing to reduce the chances of getting this virus. Additionally, we can take precautions and make sure that if one does indeed get infected, his or her symptoms will be minimal and not life-threatening. Although there is some dispute among scientists, there are certain things that everyone agrees upon and by now, hopefully everyone knows what they are.
First and foremost, WASH YOUR HANDS often and use soap and warm/hot water for 15-20 seconds. There might be nothing more important to stopping the spread of this and ALL infectious disease (like the flu) than this. Another important guideline we have also been told is to refrain from touching our faces, the best we can. Follow the recommendations regarding social distancing as well as any other instructions your local health authorities and government advice. Don’t try to outsmart this thing—just follow directions!
But there is something else I would like to address:
Regarding all diseases, Dr. William Li of Harvard University states that there are 5 main systems in the body that must work correctly and efficiently:
- DNA protection
It is the last of these, immunity, that I would like to focus on.
Although anyone can catch an infectious disease, like the common cold, flu, strep infection, etc., there seems to be a different outcome for those who are generally healthy and those who aren’t.
For instance, with Corona virus, people over 80 have a significantly higher mortality rate and so do smokers. In both cases, the immune system is compromised. Being healthy is an advantage! Healthy individuals without underlying health issues and comorbidities, can get through Corona with nothing worse than the symptoms of a bad cold. In one study of 399 patients with one addition disease, there was a 79% greater chance of requiring intensive care or a respirator. If there is ever a time to make some positive changes in health behaviors, that time is now!
Our immune system is built on beneficial live bacteria that lives in the gut, mostly built from fiber-rich foods. This protect the human body from disease. When the immune system is weak or damaged, it becomes an open invitation for both contagious and non-contagious diseases.
What are the practical steps, other than what public health officials are telling us?
- Quit smoking. As pointed out by Dr. Yehuda Mond, if you are a smoker, now is the time to quit. Just throw away the cigarettes. You will survive the three weeks of withdrawal, and it’s worth the short-term discomfort.
- Get rid of the junk food. Diet is the single most important thing to build a good immune system. So, get rid of the junk. If you are now home by government instruction or working from home, set up your environment for success. Get the junk food out of your house.
- Stick to basics. Your main course is now, vegetables, fruit, whole grains and starches, legumes, lentils and some nuts, too. Keep your animal proteins like meat, poultry, fish, and dairy to a minimum. It is now the side dish if anything. If you can pick two or three days a week where you don’t have any of this, it will help reset your microbiome and immune system faster.
- Control your stress. This might sound absurd but control your stress. Stress is terrible for the immune system. Remember that you can’t control things out of your control, so don’t even try. Look at some good things going on in your life and get some exercise and recreation where you can.
- Form a routine. As someone who had small children during the Gulf War here in Israel, put structure into your day. Both adults and children will benefit. Schedule activities, studying, meals, even schedule the down times.
- Get enough sleep. Last but not least, you need to get 7-8 hours of sleep (if not a little more) each night. Sleep deprivation is terrible for fighting all disease. Set a bed time and a wake up time.
Let’s make the best out of these times! In Israel, kids are home from school and many places of business are closed. In America and Europe, different restrictions apply in different places. Make use of the together time and make use of time in general. Look for all the positive things that you have in your life.
We’ll all get through this period of time together, stronger than ever and especially if we take this opportunity to get healthy.