COVID-19 and Preventative Care
With COVID-19 being an unsettling pandemic, the discussion of the importance of preventative care could not come at a better time. We are seeing over time, that the cases of COVID are happening with individuals who are immunocompromised, overweight, or Vitamin D deficient. These states of being have a large part to do with poor lifestyle habits. While some cases of being immunocompromised can not be helped (due to cancer treatments, or chronic immunosuppresive illnesses and medications), we can do a large part of maintaining optimal health, simply by consuming more water, and healthier foods, while regularly exercising and being outdoors. Here, we will discuss in further detail how, and why, these simple acts can increase your immune system's functions, while simultaneously lowering your susceptibility to get sick.
Human beings are compromised of about 60% water. Water is used to lubricate all aspects of the body, and gives a base for fluids to carry out every day functions, such as breaking down food, increasing the volume of blood, and excreting various types of waste from the body. Water also helps various hormones and neurotransmitters communicate and reach their destinations within the body. When you are dehydrated, your body will begin to become a bit more acidic in pH, which allows bad bacteria, yeasts and viruses to thrive. Keeping your body well hydrated and nourished gives your white blood cells, and the healthy bacteria in your gut, a fighting chance to fend off pathogens from infecting you.
With foods, the best things to fight off infections are foods high in nutrients. This starts with organic foods. Organic foods have been shown to have from 50-70% higher nutritional value than conventional foods. This is due to the farming practices and quality of the soil in which the foods are grown. When you use the ground for one specific type of food, those nutrients will be stripped from the soil. If you do not compost, and add nutrients back into the soil, the quality is lessened quite substantially. Additionally, practices of tilling the soil, releases vitamins and minerals into the air, and rips up the network of fungi in the ground, which decompose substances and restore the health and vitality of the soil. Foods that should be avoided, include dairy, simple, processed carbohydrates, and refined sugars. These foods cause inflammation in the body, and produce mucous. These types of foods also contribute to a more acidic pH, again, making you more susceptible to viral, fungal, or bacterial infections. The best foods to consume to strengthen the immune system are citrus fruits for their Vitamin C content (in moderation, because they also contain sugars and acids), leafy green vegetables (high in Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Calcium, and other nutrients known to help aid in immune system regulation), and organic, pasture raised bone broths (high in protein and collagen, which help heal the digestive tract lining, allowing healthy bacteria to thrive and promote a healthy immune response). If consuming meats, try to avoid pork and beef. These meats are known to have an acidic effect on the body, which will create stress on the immune system. Ensuring that the animals are pasture raised, means they are being raised in the healthiest, most natural conditions possible, and that their diet is low in corn. Over consumption of corn has been shown to cause severe health conditions in animals, such as fatty liver, and bursting of the stomach lining. Working with local farmers for any food you purchase is a great way to support your community, and to know the environments in which your food is being grown.
Regular, balanced exercise is an integral part to maintaining a healthy immune response. Exercise can be shown in various ways, and differ from person to person based on their needs. A balance of strength work, and movement, is necessary to stimulate circulation within the body, and oxygenation of the tissues. Our bodies are comparable to wind up watches. When we stop movement, the entire system shuts down. By increasing movement within the body, our breathing increases, which gives more oxygen to the blood. When our blood is adequately oxygenated, it nourishes our tissues so that they remain healthy and responsive. Our body temperature will raise, which helps our body create an environment in which viruses and bacteria do not want to live. When our body temperature is raised, we begin to sweat, and excrete metabolic wastes that accumulate from various bodily functions. Over exercising can be detrimental to our health, because we can weaken our body's resilience to pathogens if we become too worn out. Simple stretches, brisk walking, and body weight movements are all we need to ensure optimal health and wellness.
A key point in a healthy immune system, specifically noted in studies with the Corona Virus, is the percentage of Vitamin D in the blood. People can become concerned with having too much sun exposure, but too little exposure makes us highly susceptible to illnesses of bacterial or viral infection. Studies have been shown in various countries that a staggering number of deaths from COVID are correlated to low levels of Vitamin D. Vitamin D also helps slow down the aging process by increasing telomere length, which are located at the end of chromosomes, and have to do with aging and protecting your DNA from being damaged. An increase of body fat, and age, are relative to how much Vitamin D you are able to absorb via sunlight, so an oral supplement can be taken as well, to increase the levels of Vitamin D in the bloodstream.
Lowering your levels of stress to the best of your ability is extremely beneficial to regulating your immune response. Aside from unhealthy lifestyle habits that stress may induce (smoking, drinking, poor diet), the stress hormone (cortisol) lowers the lymphocyte activity and production (a major white blood cell), which lowers the immune system's ability to respond to pathogens. In addition, cortisol also lowers NK cell production (cancer killing cells), increases tumor development and growth, and also increases infection rates as well as tissue damage. There are a multitude of ways to lower stress such as meditation, aromatherapy, and acupuncture!