Firstly... what is COVID-19? Most of us know it simply as a highly contagious respiratory virus that has rampantly spread across the world. But what is it exactly, how is it spread, and why is it so contagious?
To begin, let's look at the constitution of this organism. COVID-19 (or Coronavirus 2019; shortened to COVID-19) is only one of many coronaviruses that exist in the world, each of which can infect both human and animal alike, but have existed long enough for many people (and animals) to have built up some form of resistance to many of the strains. Coronaviruses are virus organisms that cause upper-respiratory infections, leading to symptoms such as fever, dry cough, and runny noses, but can also lead to other complications, such as bacterial infections (though, the coronavirus organism itself is a virus, not a form of bacteria). The coronavirus earned its name from the Latin word "coronam", which is translated as "crown"; because, each coronavirus "cell" looks like a crown when viewed under an electron microscope, (as seen in the picture to the right).
Most coronaviruses will run their course through a person, like a cold, then be killed off by the various organisms that makeup a person's immune system. Through the infection and immune system (or healing) process, a healthy person's body usually develops some degree of resistance to the virus; though, the amount of resistance a person gains is greatly varied by many things, ranging from unhealthy lifestyle habits (e.g. smoking, junk food, etc.) to genetics, and more. To add to it, a person's resistance to future encounters is also varied by the amount of exposure they have to a virus, at one time. This "resistance-process" is the primary problem with the new (novel) coronavirus called COVID-19. Since it is a new strain (or mutation), virtually everyone is susceptible to being infected; but especially those who have weakened lungs, like the very young, the very old, and those who have personal or family history of lung disease, (inc. those that currently smoke). Which leads us to the next topic: How to Increase Your Resistance.
Before I move onto COVID resistance suggestions, here are a few official articles on COVID-19:
So, how does one defend themselves from COVID-19? Strong hygiene (washing / sanitizing, hands, and bathing regularly), social distancing, and masks are all good ideas (which I'll break down further below), but there are a few more things that we can add to this to help slow and eventually stop the spread. Before I get to that, let me ask you something. Why do you think that many young kids get sick so often? For one, it's because, like the many who are trying to fend off COVID-19, their bodies have not yet built up any degree of resistance to the virus (that infected them). But there's more.
What is one of the most common thing young kids are notorious for doing? If you're a parent, you probably know where I'm going with this. More often than not, young kids seem to love jamming things (inc. fingers) in their mouth and nose... things which are often covered in germs. The mouth, nose, and eye membranes are some of the most susceptible places for germs to infiltrate, regardless of a person's age. With this in mind, it's now easy to see how a person (or kid) might be more susceptible in getting sick if they have habits like biting their nails (or fingers), scratching their nose, or rubbing their eyes (even if they have gloves on); but more especially with instances concerning viruses that a person has little to no resistance to.
So... going back to the original question; How does one defend themselves from COVID-19?
Most of us are aware of the 3 most common advisories that social media and the government have released on COVID-19... but let's break them down and get a better understanding here before I add any other suggestions to it.
Probably one of the most underrated things we can do is simply keep our hands clean. It's something parents of young kids know all too well... and for good reason. A kid whose hands are cleaned on a regular basis are usually less prone to getting sick as often, and so too this rule applies to adults. Hand cleaning isn't the only part of a person's hygiene though. Brushing one's teeth & using an alcohol-based rinse (to cleanse the mouth), bathing (to cleanse the body), regularly washing clothes, and even cleaning one's house are all important contributions to a person's hygiene.
Also, never forget that using soap and water to wash your hands should not be substituted for hand sanitizer. Using sanitizer can be convenient while you're away from the house, but it shouldn't replace good-ol' soap and water. Even sanitizers with moisturizers can dry out and crack your hands with enough use, not to mention that sanitizer can't compete with the germ-eradicating-effectiveness of good-ol' soap and water.
While many could argue that social distancing serves no purpose because we breath the same air that is circulated in a home or business, this method wasn't created to be a guarantee that a person won't contract COVID-19, but rather adds one more way to increase the chance of resisting it. Remember in the section above when it was stated that the infection-resistance process also involved how the amount of exposure a person has to the virus will also cause variance in rather a person contracts it or not? Social distancing uses that factor. While this method isn't foolproof, it certainly offers a far better chance of a person's immune system fighting the few viral cells in the air circulation compared to what their body would have to face being within touching distance.
As coronaviruses can be spread across species, it is also advised that anyone who believes they are exhibiting symptoms should stay away from their pets and other animals. Plan ahead if you think you'll be visiting anyplace that has animals which could have been exposed to COVID-19.
Masks are a highly debated subject right now, but here's some food for thought: while it is true that nothing short of an N95 (or similar) "mask" / respirator will do anything to filter your breathing from the virus, that's not the point to wearing a mask. Most viruses are as small as 0.3 microns, but can be as small as 0.001 microns; COVID-19 is said to be around 0.12 microns. An N95 respirator can filter out viruses down to 0.1 microns (with a 95% efficiency), but most of the homemade and generic / fiber masks circulating around would be doing good if they could filter out particles as "small" as 10 microns; so what's the point? The point is, like the social distancing, masks aren't meant to be a guarantee that you won't contract COVID-19, but rather, if you have it (& don't know it, or have a mild form, such as a "carrier"), your occasional cough or sneeze has a far less chance of infecting those around you by slowing both the speed and quantity of viral cells being shot out of your body. On this same token... if an infected person who is asymptomatic coughs or sneezes without a mask, the droplets of saliva or mucus that clusters of virus cells often cling to will be slowed or trapped on the outside of a mask... even a simple cloth one. Which leads me to a final note on masks:
Whatever type of mask you choose to wear, make sure you keep 2-3 spares that you can change out during the day. As a mask gets wet (regardless of the material), its efficiency is greatly reduced. Also... never forget that your mask is one of your defense lines against the virus. DO NOT touch the outside of your mask until you are changing or taking it off, and make sure that you are nearby a hand-washing station. Lastly, after you've taken your mask off, be sure to store it in someplace that won't cross-contaminate your clothes, furniture, etc., and wash / sanitize it as soon as you can, (or throw it away, if it is disposable).
Now... on to the other suggestions...
This is another highly debated subject, but one which doesn't have the efficacy support that masks and other methods have. For my own 2 cents, I feel that gloves are a waste of money;
(1) because as long as a person follows the first rule of hygiene, gloves become irrelevant, and (2) even if a person uses gloves to avoid touching "contaminated" things, they often forget that and don't remove their gloves before touching their phone, car, clothes, wallet, etc., which completely defeats the purpose the gloves were intended for. As often as we touch our cell phones (and hold them close to our head; e.g. close to those sensitive membranes mentioned earlier), our phones should be something we're extra careful about contaminating and/or cleaning; regardless if we're wearing gloves or not.
I briefly touched on this in the beginning of this section, but I'll elaborate more here. At the beginning of this section I asked why many young kids seem to get sick so often, and the answer is that they always want to jam things (inc. fingers) into their nose and mouth. It's surprising how many adults have this problem too... albeit not for the same reasons as kids. Some adults have a habit of scratching their nose, or biting their fingers / nails, or rubbing their eyes (especially when they're sleepy), or any number of other habits that involve the sensitive membranes of the face. In addition to all of the suggestions mentioned above, this is one that I'm surprised hasn't come up more often. Given its importance, however, I felt it worth mentioning in this article. I know it's hard for some people to break certain habits, but now would be a great time to start!
A lot of a person's natural immune boosters come from diet (inc. supplements), ranging from citrus / vitamin C foods, to fish and eggs / vitamin D foods, to yogurt / probiotic foods, and even raw fruits and veggies / enzyme foods. There are, of course, many more types of foods, supplements, and herbs that can help boost a person's immune defense than I just listed, but since 95% of a person's immune system relies on the health of their gut, eating a lot of fresh foods and yogurt are some of the best options for immune-boosting, as well as making sure you're staying hydrated by consuming* at least 1 oz of water for every pound you weigh, each day; this means that if you weigh 140 lbs, you should be consuming* at least 140 oz (or a little over 4 liters) of water each day; as a general rule of thumb, but subject to change based on your level of activity.
* I use the term "consuming" here to represent getting water through either drinking it or eating it (via raw or lightly cooked foods).
Many foods (especially fresh foods) contain water, and while it would be ideal if a person could drink their "weight" (in oz) in water each day, it isn't practical for many; and many often "consume" their water through foods. That being said, if a person can drink at least half of their daily water goal as fluid itself, while the other half is consumed through the foods they eat, they would be amazed at all of the positive differences it makes in their daily life.
Here are several immune boosting nutrients and herbs (the serving amounts and frequencies are merely an average guide; individual needs will vary):
We offer all of these products, as high-quality / pharmaceutical-grade forms, GMP-certified, and
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The body is not unlike an engine. Park your car off of the driveway somewhere and let your engine endure the elements without being turned on or maintained for years and watch what happens to it. Similar to the degradation of a cast-aside engine, many of the body's functions (inc. immune function) will slow or begin to exhibit complications as it grows under-worked and under-maintained. Diet alone will not achieve bodily homeostasis, even though it does help to keep us healthy. It is just one-half of the whole, and needs exercise to complete it. Through low-impact exercise, many find that they are more apt to get up and move each day, are less bloated after meals, can keep their lipid and sugar numbers down / regulated, and have a consistent feeling of well-being and mood each day. In the same way an engine moves fluids around as it runs / works, so too does our body when it works. Healthy diets and supplements will help boost a person's immune system to a point, but with exercise, the body can more readily and efficiently use immune-boosting nutrients, giving you the strength to bolster your virus-fighting defenses that much more.
To learn more about boosting your immune system (or any other type of health consultation), or if you're interested in getting more information about a custom-tailored healthy diet or fitness program, call our office @ (678) 228-8900
* This article was written by Brian G.; a nutrition and fitness coach with The Nutrition Shoppe. Any personal advice in this article is not a substitute for government or M.D. related instructions concerning COVID-19, and/or other viruses.