As the UK ramps up the response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (also known as Covid-19), and the virus moves into more countries, it can be hard to keep any sense of calm as the only thing being circulated right now in the media are discussions on the newest strain of Coronavirus. This is why I felt it was important to make this update and bring some other important topics to the table, providing accurate insight on what Covid-19 is and how to actively prevent catching it with several proactive strategies.
What is Covid-19?
There are 7 types of Coronaviruses according to the CDC that are known to infect humans, with the SARS-CoV-2 type being the one that has caused the latest and most recent Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak we are currently dealing with globally.
This particular Covid-19 strain is a respiratory illness that affects lungs and airways and according to infectious diseases expert from the European Respiratory Society (ERS), Professor James Chalmers, the infection can be caught by anyone and those with an existing lung condition will be more likely to show symptoms of the infection and have a more serious form of the infection than others.
Most people that get COVID-19 have a mild viral illness, but some people develop a chest infection/pneumonia.
What are the symptoms of Covid-19?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the following are typical symptoms of Coronavirus Disease 2019:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Difficulty breathing (severe cases)
If you experience any of the above symptoms, you need to immediately contact your nearest emergency hospital by phone, where they will give you advice on what to do next including where to go.
How can I prevent catching Covid-19?
Our immune systems are constantly being bombarded by dangerous germs. Which is why at any given time, naturopathic wellness practitioners like myself will always want to focus on strengthening the immune system when we see our patients, as well as ensuring all the body’s other systems are working in harmony together.
This is also why I promote practising living in a way that boosts our immune systems every day to ensure when an outbreak happens, our bodies are well prepared. Of course, washing hands regularly is one heavily promoted prevention strategy but here are some more key practical strategies to help support and boost your immune system naturally:
1. Ditch refined sugar and processed foods
Viruses (and bacteria) love feeding off refined sugar, as it is their only source of energy. Foods that are processed are also lacking in nutrients, especially if they have been sitting in the store on the shelves for some time. So ditch the refined sugar as much as possible, along with the nutrient lacking processed foods and start increasing your intake of fresh or frozen foods from the following list that are all known to promote a healthier immune system:
(*opting for organic and pesticide-free as much as possible)
- Vegetables (9-12 servings a day) such as broccoli, onion, pumpkin, fresh sprouts, leafy greens and carrots.
- Fruit (1-2 servings is sufficient) such as those highest in antioxidants like blueberries, strawberries, goji berries, lemon and avocado pears.
- Animal protein (fresh or frozen that are antibiotic-free, and wild-caught or pasture-reared) such as mackerel fish, chicken, chicken bone broth and beef.
- Whole grains (such as oats, rice, millet and quinoa), legumes (such as beans and chickpeas), nuts and seeds (such as coconuts, almonds and Brazil nuts).
- Herbs and spices such as garlic, ginger, horseradish, coriander, cayenne pepper and turmeric.
2. Don’t feed yourself fear
Understandably you might be feeling quite anxious and fearful about the Coronavirus. However, it is this fear that can damage the immune system, especially if it is long-standing. Fear is a signal to the body that there is danger in our environment, which is what then causes the body to have three options to choose from when dealing with this: fight, flight or freeze. When this fear-response state is activated, stress hormones are released in large amounts into the body that soon begins to wear our immune systems down.
3. Ensure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals
Vitamins and minerals are needed in the exact amounts and some for the body to thrive, anything less and the body will become deficient which will leave your health exposed.
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C has demonstrated in many scientific studies to be good at getting rid of harmful bacteria and viruses.
- Vitamin D – Whereas having a vitamin D deficiency puts a person at increased susceptibility to infection. Recent reports also state that a large number of UK citizens are deficient in vitamin D, with vitamin C deficiency being more common than we think.
- Zinc – For the last 40 years the mineral zinc has been studied more closely, and a deficiency is known to reduce immune system function. Zinc is known to play a central role in the immune system, and zinc-deficient persons experience increased susceptibility to a variety of pathogens. It is clear from research that zinc affects multiple aspects of the immune system, from the barrier of the skin to gene regulation within lymphocytes. Zinc is also crucial for normal development and function of cells mediating nonspecific immunity such as neutrophils and natural killer cells.
- Selenium – Selenium is another important mineral that is needed for a healthy immune system and a healthy body in general. It’s role is as an antioxidant which is what helps to reduce oxidative stress and damage in the cells, which in turn lowers inflammation and boosts a person’s immunity.
4. Ground yourself in nature
Grounding (also known as earthing) is the act of soaking up negatively-charged electrons that are good for our health, by placing bare feet on the natural earth. Think wet grass, sand, soil, or water, and being truly connected to the earth. Whereas we lose this ability when we wear items like rubber-soled shoes, that are non-conductive. Benefits reported in the studies on earthing include lowering cortisol levels which immediately boosts the immune system as discussed earlier, and neutralising free radicals which instantly calms the immune system as it doesn’t have to work so hard. For best results, research has stated grounding needs to be carried out for 30 minutes at least.
Keep Calm and Stay Well
I hope this information is useful for you and your loved ones during this stressful time. For those that are unsure I am still currently conducting face-to-face patient consultations. However, due to Covid-19, I have temporarily set up online consultations should patients prefer to not come into clinic. To arrange an appointment please click here.