Coronavirus has officially been classified as a pandemic, meaning it has spread around the world and is affecting a large number of people.
This is especially concerning to those most at risk: people over 60 and people with underlying chronic health conditions like hypertension, diabetes, and lung conditions.
And while that may seem like a very specific population, the truth is that it puts more than half of the American population in the high-risk category.
I don’t fall into this group, and neither does my husband or 2 kids.
And while we’re not panicking, we are taking as many precautionary measures as we can.
It’s not because we’re scared.
It’s because we care.
And I know you do too.
In this article, I’m going to share exactly what my family and I are doing in response to Coronavirus.
And hope that you’ll consider taking similar precautions until this illness has been contained.
I’ve heard some of these tips circulating, but many are not so I wanted to share them in case they interest you.
Please note that this is not meant to be medical advice.
This article is meant to spread awareness as well as put your mind at ease.
Because even if you’re not personally considered high-risk, it’s important to take this pandemic seriously to prevent unintentional spread of the virus.
In younger and healthier populations, the symptoms can mimic a cold, and due to their mildness people may not take their symptoms seriously. This is one of the biggest ways to spread Coronavirus, so if you have ANY sign of illness, now is the time to stay home and ask other people to step in and help you as needed.
In fact, 83% of people who get infected don’t have significant symptoms, and symptoms can look very different in young children than they do in adults.
Sometimes the infection won’t even present with symptoms for a few days, but they can still be contagious.
The more cautious we all are right now, the better off everyone will be.
Aside from staying home when sick, there are many more things we can do to keep ourselves safe, both on individual and global scales.
Here is my list:
Obviously, the best thing you can do to reduce your risk of infection is to reduce your risk of exposure.
Again, even if you are low-risk, you can still unintentionally transmit the virus to vulnerable populations.
The smartest thing to do right now is to assume that you and everyone else are carriers, with or without symptoms.
Stay away from crowds and populated places as much as possible. Use this opportunity to finish home-projects, kick-start your meditation practice, catch up on shows, and play games with your family. If you can work at home or with reduced contact to others, do so.
• Stop shaking hands and hugging
• Wipe down frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs, light switches, water faucets, steering wheels, car doors, etc.
Wipe down shopping carts with disinfectant wipes.
Leave cleaning solutions on surfaces for at least 30 seconds before wiping them off.
• Wash hands more than you’ve ever washed before, for at least 20 seconds each time, scrubbing all surfaces including palms, backs of hands, between fingers, fingernails, and wrists (and then moisturize). Wash hands immediately after coming home or entering a new building, after coming in contact with other people, after touching public surfaces, etc.
• Use hand sanitizer whenever hand washing isn’t possible, and rub hands together for 15 seconds to kill off whatever needs to be removed. (But always wash hands when you can as it does the best job of cleaning hands.)
• Dry hands with a disposable paper towel. Use a paper towel to open doors after using the bathroom. If you’d like to support the environment as you use more paper, buy recycled or bamboo paper towels and take them with you wherever you go.
• Avoid touching your face. Cover your face with a mask or scarf so you avoid touching your face when you’re out and about.
• Wear rubber gloves when shopping or visiting public places. This virus is spread in large droplets by coughing and sneezing. This means that the air will not infect you but all the surfaces where these droplets land are infectious for about a week on average – everything that is associated with infected people will be contaminated and potentially infectious. On that note, if you need to sneeze or cough, do so into a disposable tissue, dispose of it, and wash your hands. The virus can stay on your clothes for up to 2 weeks so sneezing or coughing into your elbow can still spread it to other people. Washing your clothes is said to kill the virus, so do so frequently.
Eat Your Veggies and Healthy Fats
Your body needs the right nutrients to provide the building blocks for it to function properly, and vegetables are the best way to give your body exactly what it needs.
Since we’re coming into spring now, opt for lightly cooked, slightly crunchy, and fresh varieties. Steaming and water sautées are going to be your best bets for tuning your body to this season.
You also want to eat healthy fats like avocado, avocado oil, olive oil, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish in your meals to help your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
To avoid accidental exposure from other grocery store patrons, it’s a good idea to wash produce in clean running water before using it.
Zinc has been proven by multiple studies to boost the immune system and reduce both the severity and duration of viral reactions in the body.
Good dietary sources of zinc include: pasture-raised beef, lamb, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, and cashews.
It’s also a good idea to have zinc lozenges on hand and take them as directed at the first sign of symptoms.
Get Your Vitamin D
Spending time in direct sunlight every day is your body’s best way of increasing vitamin D. 30 minutes without sunblock or cover should do the trick, (trust me, you won’t break out in a million wrinkles because of half an hour of unprotected sun exposure a day!)
It’s also a good idea to supplement vitamin D.
Amounts vary depending on who you are. Check with your healthcare practitioner and look at this guide to find the dosage that’s right for you.
Supplement Vitamin A
My friends over at Vital Ways have this to say:
“Known as an Essential Vitamin for the Immune System and an extremely common deficiency in the US:
10,000IU up to 30,000 IU per day, for up to 4 days. Vitamin A Palmitate is most common supplement and is vegan friendly.
Food Sources: Animal products, especially liver, egg yolks, cod liver oil, other cold water fish are the best sources.
Plant Sources aren’t reliable for Vitamin A as they require conversion to the form our bodies need, and that depends on specific genes and a healthy metabolism. It can be perfectly fine for you, but it may not be. The only way to know is to test, or work with well-trained nutritionist, like those at Vital Ways to know how to find Vitamin A deficiency from symptoms.”
Supplement Vitamin C
5g-10g divided throughout the day, for prevention.
15-20g divided throughout the day for addressing symptoms
Good food sources of vitamin C include: papaya, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, pineapple, oranges, kiwifruit, cantaloup, and cauliflower.
Note that heat and length of time since harvest can decrease vitamin C significantly, so it’s best to consume these ingredients fresh, and either enjoy them raw or only lightly cooked.
Reduce Systemic Inflammation and Avoid Foods That You’re Sensitive To
You want to keep your body in tip-top shape right now, so start viewing your food as medicine just as much as something to be enjoyed.
Without getting into too many details about personalized and targeted nutrition (I could write a book on the topic), let’s just say that a whole-foods based diet that includes lots of herbs will be your best bet for staying healthy.
Overly processed ingredients like artificial sweeteners, white flours, and foods that require preservatives are going to increase inflammation in your body and weaken your immune system.
It’s also important to note that most people have foods that they may not be allergic to, but are sensitive to.
To identify sensitivities, start to notice how you feel after eating specific ingredients and avoid the ones that make you feel bloated, gassy, lethargic, achey, anxious/depressed, cause skin reactions, etc.
Basically, if you don’t feel awesome it might be because of something you’re eating, so pay attention.
Some of the most common culprits include: dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, pork, chicken, beef, shellfish, nightshades (like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant), soy products, gluten, sugar, pesticides, and mushrooms.
This list is far from complete, and everybody is different.
You can literally be sensitive to anything, and your sensitivities can change throughout your life. You don’t have to go crazy, just start to notice how you feel after you eat your meals, experiment by reducing suspected culprits, and see what happens.
Use Culinary Herbs
In addition to avoiding foods that might cause inflammation in your system, it’s also a good idea to help reduce inflammation in your body with culinary herbs.
Turmeric and black pepper used together can be very powerful medicine.
Garlic is also a great immune booster.
Oregano has been shown to support a healthy gut and is a natural antioxidant.
The list goes on, and entire books have been written on this topic as well. Medicine From the Heart of the Earth by Sherol Tilgner is one of my favorites.
Sleep is another topic I could write a book on, and many books have been written on the topic.
But to keep this short, suffice it to say that adequate sleep is essential to immune function.
So go to bed earlier.
Spend at least 8.5 hours in bed every night (give yourself time to settle in), use black-out curtains, and banish electronics from your bedroom to increase sleep quality.
If you have trouble sleeping, try taking 3-20 drops of passionflower tincture before bed and when you wake in the night (less can be more, so try a small dose first and build your way up as needed).
And listen to this episode of the Hidden Brain Podcast to learn more.
Get Outside and Watch the Sunrise
As the chemical messengers of your body, your hormones are a huge player in the overall health and vitality of your body.
One of the best ways to support your hormones is by supporting your circadian rhythm, and one of the best ways to do that is to expose yourself to direct sunlight, especially at sunrise.
Walk Barefoot in Nature
Staying grounded not only helps you feel less stressed, but it supports your overall immune system as well. The more direct contact you can have with rock, soil, grass, and sand under your feet, the more you will benefit.
But even if you don’t want to take your shoes off, get out into nature as much as you can.
Numerous studies have shown that nature can support overall health, wellbeing, and the body’s natural ability to heal itself.
Take Elderberry Syrup
I recommend elderberry syrup to almost everyone because it’s so effective preventatively and has been proven to reduce the duration of virus reactions like the flu (best if it’s made with raw honey rather than sugar).
Other medicinal herbs that can support the immune system include olive leaf, echinacea, astragalus, and licorice, but there are many more.
If you are diagnosed with coronavirus, there are different herbs that can help you.
Speak to a trusted herbal practitioner to find out which herbs will be best for your individual system.
You don’t have to join Crossfit to get adequate exercise, but move your body you should.
Pretty much anything that gets your blood pumping and leads you to break a light sweat is going to be beneficial to your body and help you fight off whatever germs or viruses you might come into contact with.
Alternate Hot and Cold
A recent study has suggested that taking a hot bath might be just as good for you as 30 minutes of exercise.
But in addition to breaking a sweat in the tub, cold plunges and showers are also very beneficial in keeping you healthy.
Cold water immersion, either in the bath or in a shower, improves lymphatic circulation, cardiovascular circulation, reduces muscle inflammation, boosts happiness, aids weight loss efforts, and improves hair and skin.
From a Chinese medicine perspective, the lung is directly associated with the skin and the immune system.
Sweating is said to open the pores and lets pathogens that are in you out, while cold closes up your pores to strengthen your defenses against external pathogens like bacteria and viruses.
I recommend starting with a hot bath or shower, rinsing cold for a few seconds or even a few minutes, and alternating between the two as many times as feels good to you.
When you have no symptoms and want to boost your defenses you can either end with cold or warm (not hot) water.
If you feel like you’re starting to get sick, end with hot and do the wet sock treatment.
Practice Breathing Exercises
There are many traditions that practice breathing exercises, such as pranayama in yoga, which are used to alter both the body’s physiology, stress response, and consciousness.
Never practice breathing exercises while driving or swimming.
And if you ever feel light-headed or dizzy you should stop and return to your regular breath.
If you’d like to start a breathing practice, which could also serve to strengthen your lungs, I recommend checking out the Wim Hof Method.
Wim Hof is an incredible human who has broken multiple world records and mastered his immune system through breathing exercises and cold immersion therapy.
Nourish Your Spirit to Reduce Stress
A lot of people are feeling very anxious right now, and with media hyping up the situation it’s no wonder.
But anxiety and heightened stress response can actually have the exact opposite effect on your immune system that you want.
Now don’t let that stress you out even more!
Even with a compromised immune system, the vast majority of people who will be exposed to this virus are going be just fine.
The best thing you can do -in addition to taking the steps I’ve listed above- is to regulate your nervous system by shifting your focus and make feeling good your #1 priority.
Avoid excessive news consumption.
The media’s job is to keep you hooked listening to them through sensation.
You can choose to expose yourself to more positive messages that are just as true.
Now is a great time to kick-start that meditation practice you’ve been wanting to try out.
Read soothing books like Peace Is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, The Book of Joy by Desmund Tutu and the Dalai Lama, or some poetry by Rumi, Hafiz, or Mary Oliver.
Do the things that light you up.
The more you focus on the things that make you feel good, the stronger you’ll be, mentally and physically.
Support Your Community
And finally, support your community.
We’re all in this thing together, but it’s affecting some people more than others.
Many kids who can’t go to school right now are missing out on the only nutritious meals they get every day, so give money to your local food bank or an organization like Feeding America. Money goes further than cans, especially in times like these, so be as generous as you are able.
Tell congress to pass emergency paid sick leave so workers don’t have to choose between their health (and the health of the community) and their livelihood.
A lot of small businesses and unsalaried workers are hurting right now. Sign this petition to help them out.
And if you have any elderly or immune-compromised neighbors, ask them if there are any ways in which you can help them out. It might mean picking something up when you’re at the store, or maybe it’s just talking to them on Skype for a little while so they don’t risk exposure but still feel connected socially (social connection is another vital component of health).
Stay safe friends.
And prioritize your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being as much as you can now.
It will benefit everyone else when you do.