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Coronavirus: How to Protect Yourself


If you have been paying any attention to the news recently then it is highly likely that you will be aware of the latest health epidemic that has emerged from Wuhan City in China's Hubei province. The epidemic has already infected over 40,000 people with the death toll set to pass the 1,000 mark soon. With cases being reported all over the world, including 8 here in the U.K., this article is intended to give some helpful, proactive steps you can take to protect yourself against this virus and the inevitable viral epidemics that will come in the future.


What is coronavirus?

Coronavirus (or novel coronavirus-infected pneumonia, to give it its proper name) is a respiratory infection that is symptomatically similar to flu. Sufferers first experience fever and a dry cough, which can develop into a shortness of breath. For most people, the symptoms stop here and the body is able to combat the virus successfully. For others, however, the symptoms can develop into pneumonia, respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and in a significant minority of cases, death.


The official line is that coronavirus is zoonotic, meaning that it developed in animals and has found a way to cross the species barrier into humans. In this instance, it is thought that the origin can be traced to a Wuhan food market that trades in unusual animals such as snakes and bats. It is worth noting, however, that the city of Wuhan is home to China's first Biohazard laboratory for the study of dangerous pathogens and that no animals sold in the Wuhan market have so far been identified as carrying the virus.


The role of the immune system

While it is certainly a tragedy that so many lives have been lost to coronavirus already, a large majority of people who have contracted the virus have since recovered. So what distinguishes those who can fight off the disease from those who cannot?

As is the case with other viral illnesses, the answer is the immune system. Most of those who have succumbed to coronavirus have either been elderly or have been suffering with pre-existing conditions. Both of these groups are known to generally have lower immune systems than younger, healthier people.


As I have discussed previously, the immune system is the body's army, waging battle against all sorts of foreign invaders. As with any army, the more fronts that it is being forced to fight on, the more thinly spread its troops are. Additionally, the longer it is forced to fight for, the more fatigued and ineffectual its troops become.

The good news however, is that, as with any army, battered and wearied troops can be resupplied and reinforced, which is where good nutrition comes in. Read on through the next section to learn what steps you can take to protect yourself and keep your immune system ready to do battle at a moment's notice.


What you can do

At the time of writing, there was no pharmacological treatment for coronavirus, nor a means of immunisation. Despite this there is much you can do to protect yourself from coronavirus and whatever else may be coming down the line. There are two lines of defence that you can start to implement now. The first is avoidance, i.e. taking measures to ensure that the virus does not enter your system. The second is immunity, i.e. making the right nutrition and lifestyle choices to keep your immune system in the best condition it can be in. Let's look at these in turn:


Steps to avoid a viral infection

  • Regularly wash your hands, especially after contact with others, or after going outside.

  • Consider keeping a pocket-sized hand sanitiser in your bag or pocket when you go out and cleanse your hands any time you come into contact with people or objects that have been handled by people.

  • As an alternative to a hand sanitiser, consider using an HOCL (hypochlorous acid) spray. HOCL is an oxidant which is naturally produced as white blood cells respond to and kill pathogens in the body. Keep a travel-sized bottle with you to spray on things like trolley handles, ATM machines, phones, laptops and on and around your seat on planes, trains etc. You can also spray on clothing, hands and face as it is a particularly strong anti-viral. I advise against taking HOCL orally. You can purchase HOCL here.

  • Ears, eyes, nose and mouth are all potential points of entry for a virus, so whenever possible avoid touching your face. As a rule, keep your hands below your shoulders.

  • Avoid close contact with anyone who displays symptoms of flu.

  • Make sure all animal products are thoroughly cooked before consuming.

  • Whenever possible, avoid busy, confined spaces. Favour areas with plenty of ventilation.

  • Cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing to prevent any further spread of viruses you may be a carrier of.


Steps to build and support your immune system

Dietary:

  • Cut sugar - Sugar corrodes the immune system and depletes the body of essential nutrients. For example, it takes over 50 molecules of the important nutrient magnesium to break down one molecule of sugar. Sugar feeds all kinds of pathogens and unhealthy bacteria, making an ideal breeding ground for viruses to take hold. Read this article to understand what sugar is doing to your body and what you can do to help yourself quit the habit.

  • Include a wide range of fruit and vegetables in your diet - Try to have a wide variety of coloured fruit and veg on your plate as this is a simple way of making sure you are getting as broad a range of nutrients as possible. There is an increasing body of evidence that suggests we have evolved to eat a plant-based diet and so it is vital that you get a minimum of 5 portions per day to allow your immune system to function in the way it has evolved to. If you find it difficult to eat enough fruit and veg each day, or if you find it hard to get your kids to do so, here are 25 tips to make it easier for you.

  • Eat Clean - Aim to eat clean, non-processed foods. To get the best nutritional value from the foods you are eating, particularly in the current climate, avoid chemicals, additives, preservatives, colourants, artificial flavourings and ready-meals, which all weaken your body's immune system. Focus on organic as much as possible, particularly when eating animal proteins.

  • Drink at least 2 litres of filtered water each day - Toxins build up in the body and weaken the immune system. Drinking water helps to flush these toxins out and to prevent them from causing damage. Staying hydrated is one of the easiest ways to help support immune function. Try carrying a 1 litre BPA-free bottle around with you, making sure you refill it once a day to accurately monitor your water intake. If you are exercising during the day you may want to increase the amount you drink.

  • Eat more garlic - Garlic is a potent antiviral food. Using it in cooking is a great way of staying healthy. However if you start to feel ill, eating one or two raw cloves per day can have a strong antiviral effect. Raw garlic has a strong taste and you may find it easier to nibble your way through a clove than to eat it all at once.


Supplementing:

  • Check your magnesium - Magnesium is responsible for over 300 chemical reactions in the body, including numerous immune supporting roles, yet as many as 70% of us are believed to be deficient. This in-depth article is full of information on the role magnesium plays in the body and contains advice on how to check if you might be deficient, as well as tips for topping up.

  • Take vitamin D3 supplements - Vitamin D3 plays a pivotal role in arming your immune system's defences and is essential for disease prevention. The ideal source of vitamin D is sun exposure and during the summer you should be able to get all the vitamin D you need by spending 15 - 20 minutes in the moderate sunshine without sunscreen. During the winter, however, it is more difficult to get sufficient vitamin D naturally and therefore this is when viruses tend to take hold of us. Always look for D3, as this is much more easily absorbed that D2. For an in depth look at vitamin D, including recommended dosages, please take a look at this dedicated article.

  • Take oil of oregano - Oil of oregano has very strong anti-viral properties. The supplement ADP from Biotics Research is a highly concentrated form of oil of oregano, available in pill form. As with any supplement, discuss with your healthcare practitioner before taking oil of oregano.

  • Iodine - Dr Sarah Myhill and many other experts in this field maintain that iodine and vitamin C are a very effective combination in helping to protect us from infection. The anti-viral properties of iodine can also be extremely beneficial in the case of respiratory symptoms. Dr Myhill suggests applying a smear of iodine ointment inside the nostrils. This should protect you from incoming microbes by killing them on their way in. Adding four drops of Lugol's iodine 12% to an inhaler and inhaling for two minutes a few times a day is another method of addressing upper and lower respiratory infections. Iodine should never be taken without the advice of a healthcare practitioner.

  • Take vitamin A - Vitamin A is known to have anti-viral properties. It can be taken in quite high doses when sick but only on the advice of a healthcare practitioner. Consider taking cod-liver oil as this is a rich, more natural source of the fat-soluable vitamins A and D as well as the anti-inflamatory Omega-3s. Please note that if you are pregnant, you should not take vitamin A without first speaking to your doctor.

  • Take vitamin C supplements - Vitamin C is an essential pillar of the immune defense, supporting numerous cellular functions, while acting as a powerful natural antioxidant. At this time, I would recommend that you take 1000-2000mg per day, but not more than 1000mg in one dose. If you start to feel unwell, you can increase the dose by 1000mg, remembering that the benefit is in the dose (in other words, if you are still feeling sick, it is because the dose is insufficient and you can continue increasing it in increments of 1000mgs). Vitamin C is water-soluble and your body will naturally excrete any excess. In fact, diarrhoea is your body's way of telling you that it has reached capacity and to stop increasing. In this case, reduce the dose. This in-depth vitamin C article gives more detail about how much you should be getting and the best natural and supplement sources.

  • Avoid prolonged levels of stress wherever possible - When the body is under stress, it activates its ‘fight or flight’ response, which suppresses many functions, including that of the immune system. The stress response can be very useful in short bursts but, over the long term, it can be devastating to your health. There are many coping mechanisms you can implement to help you regulate your stress response. Most importantly do not become 'stressed' and 'panicky' as you read and hear the news surrounding this virus, as this will activate your stress response and weaken your immune system. Rather stay calm knowing that the more steps you take to strengthen your own immune system the more chance it will have to fight off this, and other, infections. Please read this in-depth article for lots of stress-lowering tips and suggestions, as well as for more information on exactly how stress affects your immune system.

Conclusion

None of the advice in this article is intended to supersede the medical advice of your doctor, who should be contacted if you think you are displaying symptoms of the coronavirus. However, as there is currently no treatment or vaccine for coronavirus, this article is intended to advise you on how to protect yourself as best as possible, while understanding that there is much you can do to arm your own immune system with the tools it needs when called upon to defend you.

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