With cases in Ontario and around the world rising many people are reaching out wondering how to be proactive in their defense. Of course we should all be following Public Health guidelines to maintain physical distancing, wear a mask appropriately and continue to wash hands and sanitize profusely.
However, this is not the only part of the puzzle.
While Covid-19 is indeed a novel and nasty virus, the immune system is still what is needed to fight it off. Strengthening your own immune system is an equally vital piece of the puzzle.
How to protect yourself from nasty Colds and Flus and Viruses (oh my):
Part 1. Decrease your likelihood of becoming infected take precautions to reduce exposure - stop me if you've heard this one before: Wear a Mask. Physically distance yourself from others. Wash your hands and sanitize. If you experience any symptoms - isolate. These actions are vital to control the spread. We know this. It’s also what is going to lead to a much lower rate of seasonal flu this year since those same precautions will also reduce exposure to colds and flus - they all spread the same way.
Part 2: Keep your natural defense, your immune system, strong Your immune system is what the human body needs to fight off any bugs that get through your part one defense - reducing exposure. So keep that Immune system strong, healthy and active. When you do that you are protected and you're being proactive, and bonus - you're feeling good which makes everything better, doesn't it? Soooo Dr Dori.... how do we do that?
Nourish your body:
Hydrate - if your mucus membranes are dry, viruses are more likely to take hold. The air is dry right now - inside and outside - drink water, bone broth, herbal tea, use a neti pot, run a humidifier, consume healthy fats, stay hydrated.
Nourish - eat a rainbow of real, unprocessed food, make sure you are consuming protein and fiber every time you eat. Include fermented foods as well as nuts and seeds if there are no allergies. Sweets in moderation - keep in mind that 1 teaspoon of sugar suppresses your immune system for 1 hour. Do you have time for that?
Optimize your Sleep - there is no replacement for this. Sleep is when we rejuvenate and recover. Without sleep our immune defense plummets.
Move your Body- Outside in the bright sunlight and fresh air ideally. Physical activity raises white blood cells and antibodies, increases circulation, thereby boosting immune function and lowering stress hormones. Exercise helps both alleviate mental distress and prevent respiratory infections. My current favourite is to put on some music and dance until my heart is really pumping. Find whatever movement works for you.
Take care of your mind:
Stress lowers immune function, aim to take peaceful breaks throughout the day where you intentionally bring your body into a calm state - deep breathing, yoga, hot bath, playing music, meditating, making art, whatever makes you feel peaceful
Turn off the news - you can check it once, max twice per day. You don't need to have the onslaught to your senses 24/7. Trust me, your anxiety will thank you.
Focus on what you can control - there is so much out of our hands right now - don't dwell on all the can'ts. Focus on the cans.
Do one thing every day for someone else - if you are a parent or you have a pet you are obviously already doing this. If you aren't, even if it's just a simple phone call check in - do it! It is incredibly uplifting for your spirit and that in turn will actually increase your ability to withstand stress and viral exposure is very stressful.
Vitamin D3 - cheap, easy, safe to administer - must be taken in oil format. An extremely common deficiency in Canada - we are simply too far from the equator to make it from the sunshine we have access to. Current research reveals that Vitamin D deficiency is a key risk factor for severity of viral infection. If your Vitamin D stores are high prior to any exposure - the more ammunition your immune system has to fight with, the more likely you are to make it through an infection with only mild symptoms. If you don't have enough Vitamin D to fight with, your immune system army gets depleted and symptoms become severe. Vitamin C - helps prevent infections, lowers frequency of common cold and pneumonia and shortens the duration of symptoms.
If you do develop symptoms, please isolate and contact your healthcare provider for direction.
It's mid-November. If you're not a teacher and you have extended health care benefits that haven't been used up yet this year - use them!
Book your preventative visit now so that you can ask all the questions and equip yourself with all the tools you need to stay healthy and keep your family healthy this season, this year and beyond, In good health.... Dr Dori