Most of us have been following mass media updates and our online news feeds amid news of the Coronavirus spreading. At a time like this when much remains unknown about the long term physical and economic effects of this novel virus, it can be easy to succumb to the overwhelming feelings of anxiety that generate panic. Rather than stir the pot of fear, let’s focus our attention on what we CAN do to stay healthy and the preventative measures we CAN take to reduce the likelihood of our susceptibility in contracting this or any other virus. Remember, we are all in this together, so the more we unite in practicing better hygiene and safeguarding procedures, the better off we all will be.
Let’s start by relaying what we do know to be true and implement some safety guidelines to practice so that we can all actively protect one another from getting sick. Then let’s discover how we can all boost our immunity. Whether it’s the common cold, the flu or Coronavirus, these practices are the best defense in fighting infection. There’s a reason they say the best offense is a good defense.
What Do We Know About the Coronavirus?
The 2019 Novel Coronavirus has been identified as the cause of the respiratory illness called COVID-19, first detected in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. The most common symptoms are similar to that of the flu and include fever, tiredness and dry cough. Some people also experience aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. About 1 in 6 people become seriously ill and develop difficulty breathing, according to the World Health Organization. Symptoms can appear anywhere between two to 14 days after exposure, with the average patient seeing onset at around five days, according to the CDC.
There are immediate steps you can take to reduce your risk and build your immunity.
Preventative Measures To Take:
- Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands- did we mention, wash your hands? Get into the habit of washing your hands with soap regularly.
- To emphasize: Do not touch your face or handle food before you have washed your hands; when you come in from outside or have touched public external surfaces, wash your hands.
- Wash your hands with soap for a full 20 seconds to clean off bacteria; get a good lather going and let those soap suds come alive.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth: Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and make you sick. Let’s avoid that.
- Use hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol or higher (whenever you’re not accessible to good old-fashioned soap and water).
- Clean and disinfect regularly touched surfaces daily: Use disinfectant sprays or wipes (This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks).
- Reduce your exposure to large crowds of people, if possible.
- Distance yourself from people who are sick: Distance yourself at least 3-feet apart from anyone who is coughing or sneezing, if possible.
- If you are sick or are feeling unwell and are exhibiting any symptoms of illness, stay home! We all can help reduce the spread of germs this way and reduce further contamination; you also reduce the detrimental risk of impairing a weakened immune system further.
- Wear a facemask if you are sick: Take this measure when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room, public transportation or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office.
- Practice respiratory hygiene: Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze; then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
- Avoid sharing personal household items: You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people or pets in your home; after using these items, they should be washed thoroughly with soap and water.
Steps To Boost Your Immunity
- Get Your Daily Dose of Vitamins – Daily consumption of essential vitamins including Vitamin A, B6, C, D and E, can strengthen your immune system. Vitamin C is the biggest booster of all and you can find it in citrus fruits like orange, grapefruit, or in spinach and strawberries. Taking a multivitamin is another great way to ensure variety.
- Reduce Your Stress Levels – Chronic stress suppresses the immune response of the body by releasing the hormone cortisol. Cortisol interferes with the T-cells’ ability to receive signals from the body and fight off infection. Cortisol also reduces the antibody Secretory IgA, which lines the gut and respiratory tract and is our first line of defense against pathogens. To combat stress, incorporate physical exercise, yoga, meditation or deep breathing into your daily routine.
- Control Your Alcohol Consumption – Excess alcohol intake can impair the immune system response and your body’s ability to recover. It’s best to moderate your consumption for overall body health.
- Eat Well – Maintain a healthy balanced diet that nourishes you and gives you energy. Incorporate healthy fats and oils (i.e. omega-3s). Avoid overly processed, fatty or sugary foods and drinks that cause inflammation in the body and weaken your immunity.
- Eat More Vegetables and Legumes – Vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts are loaded with nutrients that are essential for our immune system. Consuming them on a daily basis boosts the immunity. For a healthy liver (a natural detoxifier), try incorporating cruciferous vegetables like Kale, Broccoli and Cabbage into your daily diet.
- Try Healing Herbs & Supplements – Herbs such as AHCC, Echinacea, Elderberry, Andrographis and Astragalus have been shown to help reduce the duration and severity of illness while strengthening the body’s immune system. As with any new supplement plan, always consult your healthcare provider first.
- Exercise Often – Working out on a regular basis has been scientifically proven to boost the immune system. Regular exercise supports T cells, a type of white blood cell which guards the body against infection.
- Get Plenty of Sleep – Lack of sleep can activate the body’s inflammatory immune response, inhibiting the activity of T cells in the body. This can weaken your immune system and your body’s response to vaccines. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
- Get Some Sun – Natural light is one of the major contributors to the production of Vitamin D in our body. Vitamin D is essential for the healthy functioning of the immune system as it helps the body to produce antibodies and prevents respiratory problems.
- Munch on Mushrooms – Mushrooms are rich in essential nutrients and minerals. Some mushrooms that are especially known for their ability to boost the immune system are Turkey Tail mushrooms, Maitake and Shiitake Mushrooms and Tremella Mushrooms.
- Keep Good Oral Hygiene – You can lower the risk of infection by taking care of your teeth and mouth. Brush your teeth regularly after meals, floss and make sure to have regular cleanings and checkups with your dentist.
- Avoid Shaking Hands – Since most viruses are picked up by our hands, it is best to practice other ways of greeting one another or showing celebratory enthusiasm. Instead of the natural handshake, try a friendly wave and smile; instead of a high five, try a thumbs up.
- Avoid giving into fear. Anxiety thrives on uncertainty. While we are all in a shared state of uncertainty right now, remember, stress only wreaks havoc on the body and impairs its functioning further. It’s important to know the facts, be aware and use proper judgment. Remain calm so you can plan ahead accordingly and that will help you ultimately feel more in control.
- If you feel unwell, stay home and recover.
- If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.
- Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. Follow the advice given by your healthcare provider, your national and local public health authority or your employer on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
- Keep living your life. Get outside, be present, enjoy the sunshine and warmer temperatures gracing us; remember that this shall pass and smile knowing that spring is just around the corner!
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Danielle is the Marketing & Content Coordinator at Fitspot. She is a former journalist and professional opera singer. Danielle is passionate about whole body wellness and understands the critical role optimal health plays in having the immunity, energy and stamina to excel on stage and off! Running, hiking and yoga are her favorite activities. Danielle resides in New York City and is always on the hunt for the best new coffee spot.