Pandemic Health Solutions & Preparedness
First, What the heck is a Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses represent a wide variety of viruses that include anything from the common cold to the most recent pandemics of SARS (Sever Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome).
While everyone right now is so scared about coronaviruses, you should know that they have actually been around for a long time and are nearly everywhere scientists look.
They appear to be somewhat seasonal, occurring primarily in the winter, with some smaller peaks in spring and fall.
The first people to have been known to be infected by the current SARS-CoV2 Viruse (which causes the disease COVID-19) worked in a Chinese market in Wuhan, China.
Currently, SARS-CoV2 appears to be as contagious as the Flue and H1N1 and somewhat deadlier for a smaller part of the population.
The reality is, we just don't have enough data right now to make any real sense of the matter.
Coronavirus requires a host to replicate; it can’t reproduce unless it has found a home inside a mucous membrane such as a nose, mouth or eyelid. However, it can survive outside of a host (on doorknobs, countertops, gasoline pumps, etc) though it is unclear for how long. Other coronaviruses’ ability to live outside of hosts range from a few hours to 9 days.
As it stands, if you are healthy and don't have any co-morbidities such as Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Asthma, Cardiovascular Disease or Autoimmune Disease and you're younger than the age of 70, your risk of death is very, very low.
Simple, Powerful Practices
The SARS-CoV2 virus has no way of defending itself when it comes to good old-fashioned soap.
Hand sanitizer is also effective, but not necessary.
All coronaviruses are envelope viruses, which means they have a coating that is easily disrupted with alcohol-based hand sanitizers and soaps (other viruses like norovirus and rhinovirus are not, and require serious hand washing to mechanically rinse them away).
Without its envelope, the virus is incapacitated.
So washing your hands and not touching your face is actually one of your best defenses against this virus.
I think it's also important to consider other good hygiene practices such as taking off shoes before entering your home, how we handle shopping carts, gasoline pumps, doorknobs, or any other interface outside of our house.
I am a big fan of paper towels for door handles and faucets in public restrooms.
Optimize Your Immune System
Prevention is the Best Medicine!
I know most of you already know this, but if there has ever been a reason to be proactive about your health, now is that time!
Maintain a healthy, nutritionally dense diet, mind your stress and get your sleep. Minimize sugar consumption.
I discuss all the basics in my COVID-19 Action Plan.
Identify your individual health challenges and vulnerabilities and work to optimize health and reverse disease; this is where functional medicine really shines.
So many of my patients assume that they're healthy and they've got it all together, but I guarantee, we all have blind spots in our health and now is the time to plug them up!
There is a lot of noise on the internet on what supplements or botanicals to take. Be Careful.
Some of these supplements can help, and some can actually cause your immune system to backfire.
I would take precaution high dosing on vitamin D3, vitamin C and Bee Propolis.
I generally prefer sourcing my nutrients from whole foods, but it may be beneficial to supplement these nutrients, particularly during a tough viral season.
Now, if you know your numbers, then take Vitamin D3 with K2 as directed, but if you don't know your numbers, then you can safely take 1000 – 2000 IUs per day.
For Vitamin C, don't take more than 2000 mg's per day in supplement form.
Fortunately, it's easy to get vitamin C from citrus fruits and many vegetables; some of my favorite sources of include oranges, bell peppers, tomatoes, and cauliflower.
There is evidence that supplementation with 200 mg daily throughout the year can help shorten the frequency and duration of viral illnesses.
If you want to supplement, then I'd suggest visiting my store to see what supplements help with COVID-19 specifically.
Though it is not hard to get your dietary zinc (meats, legumes, and seeds, shellfish, eggs, to name a few), there is some evidence that lozenges, allowed to dissolve slowly in the mouth, work to prevent viral upper respiratory illnesses and shorten their duration.
In fact, the controversy around zinc’s utility in fighting viruses may really have everything to do with how the zinc is being delivered.
Studies using cell cultures have demonstrated that zinc can impair viral replication and there are studies specifically on coronaviruses demonstrating this phenomenon.
Reality Check Yourself
At the end of the day, COVID-19 presents an opportunity to take stock of your health, identify your family’s vulnerabilities and work towards minimizing them.
As health care provider and Functional Medicine doctor, I will more than likely be exposed to this virus at some point. I've accepted it and I'm not fearful of it.
For us, this is an opportunity to think about our work-to-home transition, our in-home infection control practices, and how we will protect our more vulnerable elder family members.
I'm staying away from any family or friends who are compromised or older than 65.
It is also useful to take a deep breath and remember that even though it is a novel virus, we have seen the likes of nasty, highly contagious viruses before.
Fight fear with facts! And in this particular case, I feel the facts are stacked in our collective favor.