Coronavirus: Simple Strategies to Stay Safe
*This blog post is a resource, and it is only intended to identify agents that may boost your immune system. It is not meant to recommend any treatments, nor have any of these been proven effective against COVID-19. None of these practices are intended to be used in lieu of other recommended treatments. Always consult your physician or healthcare provider prior to initiation. For up-to-date information on COVID-19, please consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov.
Coronavirus continues to make headlines. While there is much that is unknown about this novel form of the virus, it is important to realize that there are simple strategies available to boost the immune system and help prevent COVID-19. Learn easy ways to increase health and guard against viruses.
What is Coronavirus COVID-19?
COVID-19 is part of a large family of coronaviruses. Named for the crown-like spikes on their surface, this group of common viruses may cause upper respiratory and flu-like symptoms.
The Missouri State Department of Health offers a toll free hotline available 24/7 for guidance on COVID-19. If you are experiencing symptoms, contact the statewide public hotline at 877-435-8411.
The World Health Organization encourages a balanced, fact-based approach while avoiding a pandemic of fear:
“If you are not in an area where COVID-19 is spreading or have not travelled from an area where COVID-19 is spreading or have not been in contact with an infected patient, your risk of infection is low. It is understandable that you may feel anxious about the outbreak. Get the facts from reliable sources to help you accurately determine your risks so that you can take reasonable precautions.” (1)
Specific strategies can strengthen the body and immune system to guard against all viruses, including COVID-19.
Simple Strategies for Boosting the Immune System are Important
Thinking of a virus as a seed and the immune system as soil quality may help illustrate the importance of prevention and boosting the immune system. Just as a seed cannot grow in unsupportive terrain, such as rocky soil, equipping the body’s terrain is crucial so that unfriendly invaders don’t take root.
Simple strategies can include everyday preventative measures, diet and lifestyle strategies and specific immune support through vitamins and supplementation.
1. Everyday Preventative Measures for COVID-19 and Viruses
Day in and day out, you can protect yourself with simple measures. Proper handwashing and avoiding touching your face may seem basic, but is important not to dismiss. A study of people in an office setting found participants touched their face around 16 times per hour, and noted this contact spreads pathogens and may predict respiratory infection. (2) When soap and water aren’t available, opt for an alcohol-based hand-sanitizer.
Also, since COVID-19 is spread mainly through respiratory droplets and close contact, distance is important. If someone is ill, maintaining at least 6 feet between you and the infected is recommended. (3) Cough into an elbow or a tissue, and stay home if you feel unwell. Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched.
2. Diet and Lifestyle Strategies for COVID-19 and other Viruses
Supporting the body with solid nutrition, sleep and stress-management are foundational.
Supportive Nutritional Strategies
Stay hydrated by making water a priority. Skip sugary sodas. Take your body weight, divide it by two and consider making that number the amount of ounces of water you consume each day.
Make a rainbow on your plate. Colorful fruits and vegetables mean increased phytonutrients, the plant-chemicals that can increase the body’s resilience. Picking a whole food, low inflammatory diet means a higher consumption of foods naturally higher in immune-supporting vitamins. Adding foods with antiviral properties, such as garlic and honey may be considered. (4, 5)
Since the digestive tract and immune system are linked, address leaky gut issues to boost immunity. Probiotic-rich foods or just a probiotic may be helpful.
Supportive Lifestyle Strategies
Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep each night. Increased sleep increases white blood cells. Loss of sleep can increase susceptibility to viruses.
Manage stress. Emotional and physiological stress can lower immune function. Since stress can be unavoidable at times, find ways to manage and process emotional stress through intentional practices such as mindfulness, meditation or prayer. (6)
Don’t underestimate the power of fresh air and outdoor movement, even if it’s just a stroll in the park. Laughter can combat stress and may be helpful in boosting the immune system. (7)
3. Immune-Boosting Strategies
There are many ways to support the immune system with specific supplements and health-promoting interventions.
- Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps the body fight infection and may be helpful for coronavirus. (8)
- Vitamin D can also be considered since those with adequate levels have been shown to have lower rates of infection during cold and flu season. (9)
- Zinc supports white blood cell functioning and may shorten duration or frequency of infection. (10)
- Elderberry syrup has antiviral properties that may be beneficial in decreasing the length and severity of a cold or flu. (11)
We’re here to support you
Lastly, as you navigate the information in the media each day about the unfolding situations regarding COVID-19, remember these simple measures that can be foundational to health and prevention.
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"Efficacy of Zinc Against Common Cold Viruses - Journal of the ...." https://www.japha.org/article/S1544-3191(15)31790-8/fulltext. Accessed 12 Mar. 2020.
"Nutrients | Free Full-Text | Elderberry Supplementation ... - MDPI." https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/8/4/182. Accessed 12 Mar. 2020.