What is The Most Powerful Thing You Can Now?
The most powerful thing you can do right now is to stay home. Obviously, we’ll all need to get out of the house for grocery shopping and fresh air throughout the week, so it’s important that when you are around other people you maintain at least 6 feet of distance between you. Current research is showing that population-wide social distancing will have the largest impact on the reduction of COVID-19 cases.
If going out to the grocery store, it is now advisable to wear a mask. I know it seems silly and definitely is awkward but the COVID-19 virus can stay airborne for up to 2 hours. If someone had coughed in the snack aisle in Target 1.3 hours prior to you searching for microwave popcorn, you could contract the virus. So please wear a mask.
But where can find face masks to order? Basically nowhere at this point in time as any masks that are available are being sent to healthcare and essential workers. You can easily make your own mask. The CDC now has two easy ways to make a mask. One is sewn while the other you can easily make without sewing using a t-shirt.
It is also now advisable to wear disposable gloves when going out to the store. As of now, I take a pair for each store or place that I am going to. After getting back into the car, I remove the gloves to be disposed of later. Using a new pair for the next place that I go to.
Practice Good Hygiene Habits
Equally as important as social distancing is proper handwashing! Washing with soap and water is one of the key public health practices that can significantly slow the rate of this pandemic and limit the number of infections.
It’s not enough to just wash your hands though, it must be often, and it must be done completely. Twenty seconds is the rule of thumb to go by in terms of length — so enjoy your rendition of “Happy Birthday” or the “ABC’s” to know when time is up.
By the way, soap actually works better than just using hand sanitizers as it actually kills the virus. Soap is more reliable at killing the virus, however, if soap is not available, then use a reliable hand sanitizer. I keep hand sanitizer in my car to use when coming back from the store.
Whole Food Nutrition
Now more than ever it is crucial to fuel your body with nutrient-dense, whole foods. Focusing on high-quality protein, healthy fats, and vegetables in every color of the rainbow will provide your body with all of the macronutrients and micronutrients it needs to support and balance your immune system.
When grocery shopping, skip the processed foods filled with refined carbohydrates and sugars, as this will put even more pressure on your system. Instead, prioritize pasture-raised organic eggs and poultry, grass-fed beef, wild-caught seafood, nuts, seeds, and a variety of vegetables and fruits.
One of the key ways to support your immune system is to make sure you are aiming for 3-6 servings of vegetables per day. Especially cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, and cabbage. They are coming into season in most areas of our country. However, fresh vegetables may be in short supply with distributions in the food supply systems due to this virus. The next best is frozen because they are frozen right away. That is why I stocked up on some frozen vegetables to have on hand.
For some of us working at home, you might just be snacking more than you usually do. Now is the time to try something different and skip the processed snack foods like popcorn and potato chips. I just love Rebecca Katz's Anytime Bars. Super easy to make and packed full of nutrition.
Should You Take Dietary Supplements?
There is nothing wrong with taking a high-quality multiple vitamin to support your immune system. However, it may not be such a great idea to take large dosages of some nutrients like vitamin C and vitamin D.
With vitamin C, large dosages over 2000 mg. may cause digestive disturbances and also, lead to reduction of your own powerful antioxidants like glutathione. Vitamin D is actually toxic as it is a fat-soluble and what your body doesn't use is stored in the liver. Too much vitamin D can lead to toxic symptoms like too high of blood calcium which can be deadly.
Additionally, we now know that there is a big difference between “boosting” the immune system and supporting the immune system. Too much “boosting” may not work in your favor and actually be harmful. Want to learn more about your don't want to boost your immune system, “Why You Shouldn't Boost Your Immune System“.
If you are struggling with an autoimmune condition or feel that your immune system is challenged, then additional supplementation may be warranted. Be sure to check with a qualified nutritionist to determine what is the best immune support through a Functional Nutrition Assessment.
What About Exercise?
With all of the extra time being spent at home, gyms and tennis clubs closed, it may become tempting to just relax all day on the couch. While this is a really important part of stress-reduction and self-care, this sedentary lifestyle must be balanced by exercise and movement. Studies show that moderate-intensity exercise reduces inflammation and improves the immune response to respiratory viral infections, like COVID-19.
The best thing you can do right now is to head outside, get some fresh air and go for walk or jog, remembering to keep your distance from others. Take this extra time to smell the flowers and listen to the birds! Check out what spring plants are peeping their little heads like chives and garlic. Our garlic is out full force with my chives growing rapidly despite the cold Spring we are having.
If you can’t get outside, YouTube has thousands of free exercise classes from yoga to kickboxing and everywhere in between. There are also plenty of mommy/daddy and me classes to include your children if you have little ones at home.
Stress Reduction & Self Care
Stress-reduction and self-care may seem inconsequential at a time like this, but actually, it’s vital for your health and well-being. Stress has been shown to suppress the immune system, making it more likely that you’ll fall ill during times of high stress. To counteract this, practicing deep breathing can have positive effects on immune function in health and disease because of its ability to reduce stress.
Stress reduction is a personal process that can look very different for each of us. For some, it may look like relaxing in solitude, while for others it may look like gardening, running, surfing, painting, coloring, or sewing. Whatever it looks like for you, just make sure you prioritize the time and engage in the practice of self-care by committing to doing the things you love the most.
While this novel pandemic has never touched our lives before, the important immune-boosting practices listed above have always been foundational aspects of our health. Now more than ever the focus should be on nourishing your mind, fueling your body, and boosting your spirits.
Eileen Schutte, MS, CN, FMN – One of my biggest passions is to help clients reach their health goals whether that is weight loss, overcoming hormonal imbalances or digestive conditions. My other passion is nutrigenomics, speaking to your genes through nutrition and providing a truly personalized nutrition approach. I hold a master's degree in functional nutrition from the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut graduating Summa Cum Laude. After completing my masters I went on to get my certification in functional nutrition medicine, and am a Certified LEAP Therapist (food sensitivities program) and a metabolic balance coach.
- Ferguson, Neil M, et al. “Impact of Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) to Reduce COVID- 19 Mortality and Healthcare Demand.” Imperial.ac.uk, 16 Mar. 2020, www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/sph/ide/gida-fellowships/Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdf?fbclid=IwAR2u67e-V_OllF0AzhOXDP_EyNNHUL2EB40_8FCh0jD_6P1WR5AkE2g4v2U.
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