You’ve heard of zinc lozenges to help fight colds? Zinc lowers the risk of symptoms from respiratory infections up to 54%. Zinc is an essential mineral found in meats and dairy. Zinc attaches to the proteins on viruses and stops them from replicating. It also helps produce white blood cells, one of your most important defenses against infections. A good choice includes zinc salts, like zinc gluconate, citrate, or picolinate 30-50 mg/day.
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D calms an overactive immune system, often called the cytokine storm present in some patients with COVID-19. Vitamin D also lowers the risk for the flu. Eggs and salmon are rich sources of Vitamin D. You can’t beat the sun for getting in more Vitamin D. Consider 2000-5000 IU/day and check a blood test to make sure you have enough; a healthy range is 60-80 ng/ml.
Deficiencies in selenium may cause a weakened immune system and underactive thyroid. A study in China of COVID-19 patients living in Keshan, a county with one of the lowest intakes of selenium in the world, had a death rate almost 5x higher than the average of all other provinces reported. Selenium deficiencies also promote viral mutations that can result in more dangerous strains. So enjoy your Brazilian nuts, they are loaded with selenium and consider a supplement of at least 50 to 100 mcg/day.
- Vitamin C
An overactive immune system is one of the major problems with COVID-19. Vitamin C is a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. A randomized double-blind study of elderly patients with hospitalized bronchitis or bronchopneumonia utilized vitamin C supplementation. With as little as 200 mg of Vitamin C daily, there was an 80% decrease in deaths among the severely ill, compared to placebo. That is significant! Oranges, broccoli and sweet peppers are great sources of Vitamin C. Your body does not store Vitamin C, so it is important to consume foods high in Vitamin C and take a Vitamin C supplement daily. Consider 5000 -10000 mg/d, especially if you are deficient or ill.
- Go Outside
“Fresh air is a natural disinfectant…and can kill the flu virus and other harmful germs,” says Dr. Richard Hobday author of the Healing Sun. Sunlight restores healthy Vitamin D levels. That is why the flu is more of a problem during the winter, than in the summer, lower Vitamin D levels. Not only will you lower your risk for infection, you will boost your mood, try it!
- Wash Your Hands with Soap
Soap is the most effective way to kill germs. Viruses literally explode and can’t replicate. Disinfectants that contain alcohol, like gels and wipes, are not as effective as plain soap, and they are more expensive. Wash for at least 20 seconds and get in the crevices.
Exercise lowers inflammation in the body. Exercise also lowers your risk for the diseases that put you at great risk for consequences related to COVID-19, such as hypertension and diabetes. It also helps with depression, so get moving!
Sleep boosts immune cells, called protective cytokines, in addition to stimulating antibody production. Both are powerful tools to help fight off infection. Sleep also lowers your risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Try to get at least 7 to 8 hours a night.
- Meet a Friend for a Healthy Lunch
What is one of the most effective ways to lower anxiety and depression? … Spending time with friends or family. A 2018 study found that “people with strong social networks were less likely to get sick when exposed to a virus.” Why not support your community and have lunch out? Have a great salad. Try to avoid carbs. Sugars block the body’s first immune responders, neutrophils, for up to 5 hours!
- Consider Viral Prevention Therapy
Age and diseases make us more susceptible to infections. There are safe effective and affordable medications that have been used to help treat and prevent COVID-19. The NIH reported in 2005 on chloroquine and its use with SARS Coronavirus. “The fact that chloroquine exerts an antiviral effect during pre- and post-infection conditions suggest that it is likely to have both prophylactic and therapeutic advantages.” More study is always helpful, but results are promising. Ask your doctors if this is appropriate for you or a loved one.
What about Masks?
Current CDC guidelines report that N95 masks should be reserved, due to shortages, for healthcare workers and other medical first responders. Cloth masks may prevent the spread of COVID-19 from someone who is asymptomatic. Your mask may prevent spreading COVID-19 to someone, and their mask may prevent you from contracting COVID-19 from them.
You may be surprised, but there is little science to support the use of masks for the public outside the medical setting. “We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection,” a recent published article from the New England Journal of Medicine. Unless you are exposed for “a few” minutes (some say >10 minutes or more) with direct face-to-face contact with someone who is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, you are at little risk of contracting COVID-19. It is important to know what is myth and what is fact.
“One might argue that fear and anxiety are better countered with data and education than with a marginally beneficial mask,” reported Michael Klompas, MD, MPH and his co-authors of the NEJM article.
We are exposed to viruses and bacteria every day of our lives. The goal is not to rid ourselves of these threats, but to foster a healthy immune response to handle them naturally.
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