Immunity in the wake of COVID-19
There is so much fear in the media, around local communities and indeed the global population regarding the outbreak of COVID-19 aka coronavirus. In my alternate reality (I also work for a local health shop in my area) we are fielding the same questions from our customers over and over again regarding how to protect themselves from this deadly virus.
A few things which I feel need addressing right here;
Firstly, the vast majority of the healthy global population, if infected, will have mild to moderate symptoms, somemay experience extreme chesty, flu-like symptoms including the aches and pains, breathlessness, fatigue etc. (or potentially no symptoms at all!). They will usually recover within 7-10 days, may report lasting shortness of breath and fatigue but the same can usually be said for any bad winter infection such as the flu and should resolve without further intervention. The figures we are seeing in the news are rightly terrifying, however, they are far fewer than influenza infects every year.
Secondly, those with compromised immune systems (people with asthma, eczema, autoimmune problems, on immuno suppressive drugs such as cancer sufferers and organ transplant patients, anyone with any one of myriad underlying health conditions such as atherosclerosis or arteriosclerosis, diabetes or metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, COPD etc., the elderly and the very young WILL be at higher risk. Be mindful that not everyone you see, walking around looking healthy, is actually healthy! Some of us are pretty darned awesome at keeping that kind of thing to ourselves.
Thirdly, challenges to the immune system help it to learn and grow. When a disease isn't deadly (so we're not talking about smallpox or ebola here) it can actually be beneficial to contract it in order for your immune system to learn how to deal with it effectively in the future. Having a virus means that your body has to respond. Just by dealing with your current infection, your immune system is actually teaching itself how to spot and effectively overcome that virus or bacteria as soon as it sees it in the future.
Lastly, anti-bac hand gel isn't the be all and end all! Good, old fashioned, soap and hot water is still by far the best method of sanitizing your hands. At the shop, we went through a delivery of colliodal silver, which would usually last us an entire winter season, in 5 days. 5 DAYS! Utter madness. That said, once you're aware of colloidal silver, it will be your go to product for so many things!
If you are desperate for a sanitizer, I suggest you track down the spray bottle for your last one, wash it out and refill it with any one of the hundreds of recipes for your own use. My favourite at the moment is a take on Dr Bronners Lavender Hand Sanitiser. I use ethyl alcohol, colloidal silver, glycerine, lavender & thyme essential oils (you could substitute this with any of the great antibacterial essential oils e.g.tea tree, oregano, rosemary, eucalyptus etc.) and top up with water. For a gel you can use aloe vera gel, ethyl alcohol and antibacterial essential oil as listed above.
There is so much that we can do to protect our immune systems beyond hand sanitiser though. It is so important to get enough sleep, be aware of your vitamin D levels (get tested and supplement if needed!), getting enough fruit and veg to meet our vitamin C needs, avoiding the sugar to stop stressing out our gut bacteria etc. Make sure your basic immunity needs are being met before you start to panic.
The sheer volume of great, immune supporting supplements out there is boggling, but before you empty your savings, you can nearly always find the main ingredients in your food!
For example, beta glucans can be found in mushrooms (just your plain button or chestnut ones from the supermarket as well as reshi, shiitake and maitake) oats and other whole grains, they work by activating some of your white blood cells, called macrophages and NK cells, especially relevant as macrophages are designed to loacte and 'eat' particles such as viruses, fungi and parasites.
Elderberry juice, again just a juice and not a fancy expensive syrup or decoction, is fantastic at bolstering the immune system against viruses by blocking the action of proteins they produce to stick to and infiltrate our cells. It has also been shown to stop viruses reproducing, thereby limiting the length of infection. Untested against COVID-19 but still full of vitamin C as well either way.
Vitamin C, widely available in all of your vegetables and fruit! When cooking veg, use the water from boiling or steaming to make your sauces or gravy so you don't lose the vitamins which have leached in to the water during cooking. Snack on fresh berries to up your intake of antioxidants and vitamin C.
Zinc is widely available in oysters if your tastes (and budget!) lean that way as well as being abundant in other shellfish and meat. For plant based sources look towards your legumes, pulses (chickpeas, lentils etc.) and also your nuts and seeds, dried apricots etc.
Vitamin A, for the retinoid forms it is richly available in organ meats (think chicken liver pate if you can't stomach the thought of kidney pie!) For plant based Beta Carotene, that's in all of your brightly coloured red, orange and yellow foods. Peppers, carrots, butternut squash, pumpkin, beetroots etc.
Vitamin D, for the love of all that's good in the world, get tested. Deficiency and low levels are directly related to the severity of symptoms if you contract COVID-19. Tests are available from nutritional therapists and directly from www.vitamindtest.org.uk for very reasonable costs, delivered straight to your door and easy to do with a tiny, finger prick blood test at home. You may be able to get tested at your GP, please be mindful of their operating practices at the moment though as this is not going to be considered 'essential contact' for most people.
Above all, stay positive, get good sleep, get outdoors at least once a day, look after the things and people you can, realise that everyone else is trying to do that too, eat your immunity boosters and wash your hands!
If you feel that you need more targeted help, please get in touch to discuss consultations (which can be conducted over Zoom/Skype etc at the current time!).