If you haven’t heard about the widespread panic about the Coronavirus, that’s awesome! Seriously, good for you. Wash your hands and carry on.
For the rest of us, let’s talk.
What’s all this Corona hype?
According to the CDC, there are several types of human coronaviruses. Most cause mild upper-respiratory symptoms, others like SARS and MERS, are more problematic. COVID-19 is a new disease that hasn’t been seen before in humans starting in December 2019 (originating in Wuhan China). It’s spread by “close contact” and through droplet transmission, like a sneeze or cough.
The main symptoms seen are fever, cough, and shortness of breath/difficulty breathing—basically flu-like symptoms…minus half of the flu-like symptoms: headache, body aches, sore throat, etc., which like any flu, can cause more trouble in people who are at risk for complications such as the elderly, people with co-morbidities (like diabetes, heart/lung diseases) or are immunocompromised.
So far, the main difference between this Corona outbreak and the “regular” flu, is its longer and tenacious incubation period (1-up to 14 days—the experts aren’t really sure yet) and aggressive contagiousness—not so much what happens after you are infected with it.
But people are freaking out.
I recently read a post a neighbor wrote “calling the school district out” where we live. It was the day the kids got out for Spring Break, and the district said that they would let us know the following Thursday if Spring Break would be extended or not as there have not been any reported cases of Corona in our county. My neighbor was livid that the district hadn’t closed like the rest of the surrounding districts. He talked about how our children’s health and safety wasn’t important to them and blah, blah, blah…
Slow down there, tiger. The school has a process they have to follow, and at the end of the day, YOU are responsible for your kids’ safety, not the school. With the state of emergency, that sounds like a judgement call you can totally make for your family.
But this is what the threat of illness is doing to people. And this threat is very real. This isn’t a movie you can just stop watching. It’s not something that’s just isolated to one area. It’s affecting markets, businesses, and “everyday people” and even celebrities now. It’s uncomfortable, and that’s really scary. It never occurred to me that one day I would wake up and there would be a massive shortage of hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and paper towels (which by the way—what about trash bags? How come no one is stocking up on trash bags? We’re just going to use paper towels at the rate we’re buying them and not have a place to put soiled ones? Isn’t that going to contribute to the risk of disease??).
I don’t have the cure for Corona (obviously). I do, however, have some tips and insight that might make you feel a little better. But first, the aura of the Coronavirus…
Fear and Lack of Control
Psst! Word on the street is that this outbreak may be a manufactured political-pharmaceutical event. Wouldn’t it be fishy if in a couple of months or so there will be a magical well-studied vaccination that will be provided to us from the heroic Big Pharma and suddenly end the outbreak? Like with almost every other epidemic? And why didn’t this happen during football season—the peak of any flu season? Funny how the summer Olympics is in an Asian country, right?? Okay, so maybe the street maybe making some stretches lol. Here’s two great satirical videoes by JP Sears about the panic and it being deadlier than it is—emphasis on “satirical”, if you don’t laugh at some point, you probably watched them wrong and may need to watch them again ;)).
Whatever you believe or don’t believe about the outbreak—it doesn’t really matter because you can’t control it, and you can’t control other people’s actions, thoughts, beliefs, or their germs. My neighbor? He feels like he doesn’t have any control, and this greatly concerns him. It’s extremely uncomfortable and can initiate a downward negative spiral fueled by the fears of “what ifs”. Fear only attracts and creates more fear. The more we think, breathe, and obsess about it, the closer it will get until suddenly, your fear becomes your reality and you have it. That’s how fear gets the best of us.
Regardless, the hardest part about this, is that we have to accept that it’s happening. All we can do is control our thoughts, our personal actions based on our beliefs, and—here it comes, what we put in our bodies. That’s right, nutrition. I’ll explain below.
But what about masks?
Recently, a family member of a patient asked one of my co-workers for a mask, which is encouraged if you have symptoms. She opened a box and set it on the counter to offer it to him—like you would when offering tissue to someone. She looked away for a second, then when she looked back, and the entire box was gone! As in JACKED. As in family-member-rushing-out-of-vicinity JACKED.
Hate to break it to you, but masks are designed to protect people FROM you, not you from people with symptoms. Masks are one-way protection. So, if you have symptoms, thank you for wearing a mask. That’s great. If you’re wearing a mask to keep other people’s germs out, that’s not so great.
Respirators can help by preventing smaller particles from entering them to protect you, but unless you’re properly trained how to don and doff it, you’re still at risk. Also, respirators should be fitted to your face for true protection and effectiveness. Things like facial hair and small nose bridges (like mine) often prevent the mask from sealing around your face, creating leaks. Check out this article about the difference between masks, respirators, and how they can or can’t protect you.
Here’s a slo-mo video of a sneeze from Nature Video (go to 2:16 min). Some masks may decrease spew-age but the power of a sneeze is pretty impressive.
And please stop stealing supplies from hospitals/etc. The last thing you want is a hospital that doesn’t have supplies to contain what they’re trying to contain. Remember, there are more diseases than just the Coronavirus that live in the hospital. TB is still a thing, pneumonia is still a thing, the “regular” flu is still a thing…We pay enough taxes as it is. Plus, stealing isn’t even nice! It’s only funny when animals do it…
What about hand sanitizer?
Personally, I can’t stand hand sanitizer and avoid it when I can for a couple of reasons that lead to big problems:
- Antibiotic resistance
- Toxic chemicals
- Hormone disruption
- Weakened immune system (you have a skin microbiome that helps protect you at a cellular level and keeps your skin healthy, until you wipe it out with things like hand sanitizer)
- And the worst, personally (even with the some soaps), super dry irritated hands that crack. It takes days for my hands to recover.
And if something is compromising the integrity of your skin—your very first line of defense in your immune system, how effective will it be when something as small as the Coronavirus comes in contact with it? Plus, hand sanitizer doesn’t kill everything. Ever heard of C. diff? And for years now, hospitals have been using chlorohexidine when sterilizing the skin since alcohol wasn’t effective enough (just ask any nurse about central line infections), which is what the base of hand sanitizer is.
Of course, if hand sanitizer is your best/only option, don’t hesitate to use it.
If you’re using hand sanitizer, be sure to apply properly, allow appropriate drying time, wash your hands if they are visibly soiled, and keep in mind that it’s recommended to wash your hands anyway after 5-10 uses of hand sanitizer due to “build up”. Check out the CDC article here.
The bottom line is, washing your hands with soap and water for the appropriate amount of time is way more effective than hand sanitizer.
If not that, then what??
You may be thinking, “So if you don’t particularly care for masks/respirators (specifically the misuse of them) or hand sanitizer, what am I supposed to do to protect myself?”
I’m definitely not suggesting that you just sit there and take it. The most impact you’re going to have in protecting yourself is with the foods you put in your body and your stress level. Avoiding certain foods, and eating foods that are supportive to your whole system (and not just the immune system) is going to be way more effective than hiding in a closet with a mask and your bottle of hand sanitizer watching CNN updates on your phone.
Here’s a few tips:
- Avoid sugar + take care of your inner environment
- Decrease and avoid stress as much as possible
- Stay or start being physically active
- Helpful supplements
- Stay positive
- Avoid Sugar + Take Care of Your Inner Environment
Avoid sugar including refined sugars, refined carbohydrates, starchy foods, high sugar fruits, and foods high in “natural” sugar.
In case you were unaware from the rise of the obesity epidemic, as a society, we are overachievers when it comes to exceeding our sugar needs. According to Dr. Berg, in order to maintain a stable blood sugar of 90-100, your body only needs 5 grams of sugar per DAY. That’s ONE teaspoon. And your body can actually get that sugar from vegetables and even protein. The average consumption of sugar per day is 16-21 teaspoons. That’s 80-105+ grams of sugar PER DAY—up to 20 times the amount we actually need!
What’s this got to do with viruses?
- Food source for pathogens
- Environment for pathogens
Structurally, viruses contain two main parts: a capsid to protect them and DNA instructions. Basically, viruses enter your system, invade you own cells, reprogram them with their DNA to reproduce, then release them into your body causing symptoms. They are able to do this by hijacking your cells to do their work. For any cell to work, they need energy, which is provided to your cells as glucose (sugar) when you eat.
The more sugar available for your cells, the more fuel provided to viruses, the more then can replicate themselves. In the case of bacteria, infectious bacteria don’t hijack our cells, they are able to use the fuel that’s available for them like any cell.
Sugar increases inflammation, which affects the efficiency of our immune system, and it also competes (and wins) with vitamin C, causing deficiencies. Refined carbohydrates also deplete B vitamins and can act as diuretics, which increases urination and dehydration.
Check out this article by Dr. Berg about avoiding sugar when you’re sick.
The most effective thing you can do for yourself is “starve out” the infection by avoiding sugar and eating foods high in nutrients.
There are two theories when it comes to germs and diseases. One we are very familiar with, and one not so much. Let’s start with what you probably already know: Germ Theory.
Back in the 1800s, Louis Pasteur supported the school of thought that the germ CAUSES the disease. If you have the germ, you have the disease. He believed that the best way to deal with germs, despite contradicting evidence, was to eradicate them as seen with the development of antibiotics, anti-bacterial practices, and pasteurization of food (most widely used for milk now, which destroys all of the good stuff like enzymes and probiotics, but was intended to keep alcohol from spoiling). He also believed that bacteria were static and couldn’t mutate or adapt, but you know…details. Germ Theory is what most people and our society believe, like healthcare. Makes sense, right?
Yes, that’s what we’ve been told our whole lives, but Antoine Bechamp, on the other hand, believed that it’s not so much the germ that causes the problem but the environment that matters more.
A germ is just a germ, until there’s A LOT of them, and a lot of them thriving.
Okay, so what does that mean?
Say you have two groups, Group A and Group B. Each has 10 people in per group. Now, let’s say we take Group A and drop them in California where they have access to food, water, mild weather, and resources, and we drop Group B in the Sahara Dessert where they have no access to food, water, or any resources except for sand and boiling heat. What will happen?
Since Group A will have their basic needs taken care of (food, water, and shelter), the next stage for Group A is to get busy and start reproducing. Soon they have Group A grandmas and Group A schools and Group A recreation centers. They are a very happy group.
Group B, however, is not so happy. They are in survival mode. They have no food, no water, no resources. In fact, 5 of the 10 have already died. Making babies doesn’t even cross their minds because it would be detrimental to their survival.
They are struggling to make it day by day because Group B’s environment does not support them. You could have a group of a 1,000, 10,000, or even a million people, but if you drop them off in the Sahara Dessert with nothing but their own to cannibalize, they won’t flourish like Group A was able to do.
This was essentially Antoine Bechamp’s theory and why avoiding sugar—infection’s main food source, helps create an environment that is not hospitable for their survival.
The reason we practice Germ Theory has a lot to do with fame and politics of the time, but even on Louis Pastuer’s death bed he said, “Le microbe n’est rien, le terrain est tout.” Or in plain English: “The microbe is nothing, the terrain is everything”.
Taking care of our bodies from the inside out is our best defense against any disease.
Plus, if you’re not eating sugar, this leaves your diet open to add more nutrient dense whole foods that can provide your body with the building blocks it needs to fight infection and heal.
Something to keep in mind, however, is that even though avoiding sugar is the most effective thing you can do prevention wise, you’re only as healthy as what you can absorb. Meaning, if you aren’t digesting your food properly (i.e. heartburn, belching, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, etc.), you may not be absorbing the nutrients you need to stay well. If this is the case, it may be necessary to work with the support of someone who specializes in nutrition and digestion (like a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner with the NTA or functional medicine doctor).
- Decrease and Avoid Stress As Much As Possible
Easier said than done, haha—I get it. You have a hectic schedule as it is and it seems that in a time like this, the world isn’t even sure what to do about it, but finding a way to decrease your stress is extremely necessary. Despite the source of stress, here’s what it’s doing to your body—and not just during an epidemic scare.
When our brains perceive a threat (physical or emotional), it triggers the sympathetic nervous system (our “fight or flight” response), which signals the adrenals to release cortisol, one of our main survival hormones. Cortisol’s job is to break down stored sugar from muscles and make it available to your cells by increasing your blood sugar so you can have increased energy to “fight” the threat or “flight” from it. That’s totally normal and a necessary survival response, but when we don’t fight or flight, the pancreas sends insulin out to lower your blood sugar and stores it in your cells as fat—specifically fat on your lower abdomen. Excess sugar is always stored as fat.
When cortisol increases blood sugar for cells, guess what else uses it to flourish? Coronavirus!
Stress is a complex topic, and a lot of it has to do with not prioritizing or knowing how to start implementing real self-care, but some effective ways to manage it include:
- Slowing down physically and emotionally, like slow enough that you can sit comfortably, sip on tea, and read a book or better yet, take a bath—yes, that slow!
- Getting at least 7 hours of sleep. This is when the adrenals can rest, your nervous system can repair itself, and the body can detoxify.
- Decrease stimulants like caffeine which can overstimulate the adrenals causing increased cortisol levels.
- Deep breathing exercises. Most of us don’t know how to take a true deep breath, and if we do, we don’t do it enough. I’m not saying you need to be the next Wim Hof, but what I am saying is that deep breathing calms the autonomic nervous system (which includes the “fight of flight” response) by toning the Vagus nerve that innervates every system of your body.
- Deep breathing:
- Puts you in a parasympathetic state
- Helps with digestion
- Detoxifies through your lungs
- Decreases your heart rate
- Helps with anxiety
- Deep breathing:
Another important way to decrease stress is by avoiding food sensitivities which create a stress response (increases cortisol) and decreases your immune system’s resources since your body’s job is to respond to ALL threats including undigested/irritating foods that enter your blood stream as well as threats such as Coronavirus.
- Stay or start being physically active.
If you haven’t started before today, now is as great of a time as any! Being physically active is super important because it gets your lymphatic tissue moving. Your body’s cellular waste products are transported from the blood circulatory system to your lymphatic circulatory system where it travels through lymph nodes then dumps into the gallbladder via bile to be official excreted through your bowels. It’s an incredible system. The only thing is, the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump, or heart, like your blood system has.
Your heart can pump 5 liters of blood PER MINUTE, while your lymphatics pump 3 liters PER DAY.
Physical activity helps move the lymph along so it can get out of your body. It also prevents stagnancy, so if you have something hanging around that shouldn’t be, it can’t get too comfortable and cause the trouble it could if you didn’t move your body. Find something you love to do or always wanted to do, and do it!
- Helpful Supplements
In addition to cutting out sugar, staying hydrated, avoiding stress, and resting, here’s how we handle colds/flu/anything-that-gets-you-down at our house:
- Kick-Ass Immune Activator by Wish Garden: This is a tonic we take that contains a blend of herbs that activate your immune system to fight your infection instead of using synthetic drugs to kill it (and other beneficial things too!).
- Viral Escape by AromaHealth: We use this anytime we have cold/flu-like symptoms. It’s an herbal chest rub that’s easy to apply. Judy grows most of her own herbs and distills her own essential oils. The best part? She’s local in Fort Worth, and the blend smells great.
- Throat Coat with Lemon Echinacea by Traditional Medicinals: This is our favorite tea to soothe irritated throats. Once it’s cooled, we add lemon juice, and sometimes a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and 1-2 tablespoons of elderberry concentrate (not syrup to avoid sugar).
- Himalayan Salt Inhaler: This is a dry inhaler filled with Himalayan pink salt. The best part? No chemicals. It’s SUPER easy to use. Just inhale through the inhaler and exhale through your nose (you want to avoid moisture getting into the inhaler which can dissolve the salt). When you inhale, you breathe in the salt crystal fumes. The particles decrease airway inflammation, help thin and clear mucous, and calm the nervous system since you’re deep breathing which also decreases cortisol. When I use this, I inhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, then exhale for 6 counts for at least 10 minutes. 10-15 minutes 2x/day is recommended. Check out the benefits of a salt inhaler and a video of how to use one here.
- Homemade Turmeric Ginger Tea with Cinnamon and Lemon Juice: Turmeric and Ginger are two of the best ingredients when it comes to anti-inflammatory properties. Packed with anti-oxidants, it’s a great way to support your liver, digestion, and nervous system without overstimulating yourself with caffeinated beverages.
What about Vitamin C?
Avoid OTC vitamin C powders (like Emergen-C and even powders from Whole Foods) that contain additives like citric acid, fructose, maltodextrin. There’s debate about the side effects regarding citric acid, which is usually derived from corn. Fructose is a sugar that is stored directly as fat in your liver. Maltodextrin is usually derived from wheat and is known to spike blood sugar. The source of Vitamin C is also questionable when it’s in the form of ascorbic acid as it’s likely to be synthetic.
The cleanest Vitamin C supplement I’ve seen so far is C From Nature made by Purium. The only ingredients are: Amla, Acerola Cherry, Camu Camu, Rosehips, Citrus Bioflavonoids, and cellulose capsule.
This article by Amma Resonance Healing Foundation has more detailed suggestions for herbal medicines and supplements when managing Coronavirus symptoms.
- Stay positive
When I first became a nurse, it wasn’t long before I saw a trend: Positive patients saw positive results while negative patients saw negative results.
Patients with positive attitudes seemed to get better and go home more quickly. They’re families were more supportive and they were more joyful in general in their challenging time. Patients with negative attitudes and outlooks ALWAYS stayed longer in the hospital compared to patients with more positive outlooks. They didn’t get along as well with their families and they had a laundry list of complaints (most of which the nurses, patient, nor doctor could control). It seemed like things kept popping up preventing them from being able to go home: infection, surgical complication, pain…pain was a BIG one.
From those patients, I learned that your attitude and perception matters A LOT. If you believe the sky is going to cave in on you, it will. So in a time like this, when you have no control, choose to be positive, compassionate, and hopeful.
I was talking with a friend about many school districts extending their Spring Breaks, I pointed out that it must be hard for parents with younger children to have to take off work to stay home, and he said:
“In the best case scenario, this will lead to a social tenderness similar to the aftermath of 9/11. I hope there’s a kind of reset happening for people too, a bit of a retreat is possible of they don’t get caught up in the panic.”
I really connected with this.
If I have a choice to believe that kids are going to rot their brains out on their screens while holed away at home or the choice to believe that their house arrest could result in an impulse to go outside and reconnect with nature, even for a brief time and slow down a bit, why wouldn’t I choose to have hope for the latter? It’s your choice to believe that.
Even if you think it doesn’t, what you believe contributes and influences our collective thought. So when the opportunity presents itself, the only way up (and out) is to choose the positive point of view—the silver lining.
Check in with yourself. How are you feeling?
The goal of this article isn’t to convince you that you won’t get sick (again, something you might not be able to control) or not to worry or that Corona isn’t serious. I’m only offering my expression based on my experience in healthcare and my own observations in hopes that you find comfort in this challenging time.
Slow down, continue to connect with loved ones, let nature nurture you, and above all else: value, prioritize, and be grateful for your health and wellness you have now—even if it’s not perfect. Our bodies do the best with what we give it, and making “giving it the best” a habit only helps it protect us in times like these.
If you’ve made it to the bottom of this post and you’re still finding that you need a little more logic-based reassurance, check out Chris Masterjohn’s The Food and Supplement Guide for the Coronavirus (Note: this is an affiliate link, but there’s no way I could resist the way this super nerd explains his protocol).
If you need more faith and ways to support and comfort yourself in this challenging time, check out Gabrielle Bernstein’s 7 Spiritual Tools to Relieve Anxiety About Coronavirus.
There are a ton of great people who want to help you get on track with your health and life. Instead of focusing on fear, lack, and the external circumstances you have no control over, I encourage that you to find someone who resonates with you and choose to refocus your attention on caring for yourself and family.