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Boost immunity and practice better hygiene during pandemic

Proactively addressing COVID-19 at home and at work

Natalie Cole OW Publisher | 3/26/2020, midnight

Now is a great time to make smarter decisions, practice better hygiene, and boost immune systems. This is my personal account of how I am trying to keep my family and employees safe as we face the current COVID-19 threat.

We live in a world filled with infectious disease-causing microorganisms, which are held at bay by our personal immune system. That immune system acts as a fortress against microorganisms which threaten us daily. Our immune systems are as unique as fingerprints and are there to rescue us, to protect us from extinction. If we shared identical immune systems, a single deadly disease could end mankind. Male and female immunity systems are wildly different and special care is needed when men are impacted with viral illnesses, as significantly more men die from infections.

I read about Covid-19 in January and immediately began research to educate myself on the disease. I discussed the virus with my family, but they all believed I was overreacting. I cautioned that they were under-reacting, but I kept at it, telling them to pay attention; to become more vigilant about washing their hands; to maintain six foot distances from others; and to avoid big crowds.

One daughter (a millennial) told me that she is NOT in the same “at risk group” as her parents. Another told me she was travelling home next month for a visit. I explained to my family that yes, dad and I are in a higher risk group, but all of us are at-risk, based on the decisions and judgment calls of everyone with whom we come in contact. I personally believe that traveling makes us more susceptible to viruses.

Eat to build immunity system

By consuming whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds in your diet, you better support your immune system. Make sure you are consuming good fats, quality carbohydrates, fiber, quality protein and phyto-nutrients (plant-based chemical compounds) to boost your immune systems.

Fats: polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are best and are found in some fish, olive oils, seeds, nuts and avocados.

Fiber: Not only does fiber help us eliminate more often, it is food for all of the beneficial microorganisms living inside of us. Consume plenty of fruit, vegetables, oats, rice, lentils, nuts and seeds.

Phytonutrients: A function of plant phytonutrients is to protect plants from predators, by way of acting like a natural pesticide. Similarly, regularly consuming such protects us from illnesses. You will find phytonutrients in fruits, vegetables, coffee, red wine, tea, herbs, spices, cacao and olive oil.

Fish: our bodies cannot make essential fats, therefore, we must ingest quality sources of oily fish to satisfy our daily needs.

Supplements & other natural ways to build immunity

There have been many studies that have supported the claim that supplements reduce the incidence of respiratory and gastrointestinal infections. In addition, we have an arsenal of other natural foods, food products and practices that can help support and build our immunity.

  1. Garlic: an amazing antimicrobial and immune booster that can be eaten raw for its medicinal benefits. Cut garlic, allow to sit for 10 minutes, swallow or add to your food before serving.

  2. Herbs: immune-supportive herbs such as eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticocus), Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng), American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), or astragalus (A. membranaceus) all work wonders for recurrent infections.

  3. Vitamin D3 and Sunlight: Our skin, when exposed to sunlight, produces vitamin D. Generally, a 10-15 minute exposure (minus sunscreen) is adequate. However, if you are darker skinned or deficient in Vitamin D, 10-15 minutes may not be enough, but supplementation can help raise your levels. Many studies have proven its heart health benefits as well as its powerful effects in warding off respiratory infections, specifically influenza A.

  4. Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a Powerful Antioxidant that boosts the immune system; helps to control High Blood Pressure; and is useful in improving memory, among many other benefits.

  5. Zinc: Another powerful antioxidant that also boosts the immune system; may help fight against cancer; is an effective anti-inflammatory; and balances most hormones, to include insulin which helps to fight against diabetes. Zinc has many other benefits.

  6. Sleep more and manage stress levels: high levels of the hormone cortisol occurs when we are sleep deprived or have stress overloads for prolonged periods, which suppresses immune function.

  7. Fermented foods/probiotics: Studies have also shown that fermented milk products reduce respiratory infections in adults and kids.

  8. Mushrooms: Shitake and maitake are considered medicinal mushrooms due to their immune-boosting abilities.

  9. Echinacea: Consider making your own Echinacea tincture to have readily available for the first sign of respiratory viruses.

  10. Don't smoke tobacco: It wreaks havoc on our basic immune defenses and dramatically increases the risk of contracting bronchitis and pneumonia.

  11. Minimize alcohol consumption: excessive alcohol consumption makes us vulnerable to many illnesses. Alcohol can impact the liver and the lungs.

Hygiene at home & work

Regularly disinfecting with bleach or Lysol is the goal. Include: counter tops, appliances, desk tops, computer keyboards, cell phones, doors, showers, toilettes and sink handles periodically throughout the day, both at home and in your place of business as necessary.

If you wash dishes in the sink rather than the dishwasher, use very hot water with an ounce of bleach. Minimize visitors to your home for now. As supplies of hand sanitizer are scarce, here's a recipe for homemade sanitizer which I am using during this pandemic:

1 oz Aloe Vera Gel

4 oz Rubbing Alcohol (or 150% Proof Vodka)

1.5 Tbsp of Vitamin E or Glycerin

30-40 drops of Tea Tree Oil

20 drops each of Lavender and Peppermint Essential Oils