COVID-19 will be here for a while. We all have an individual responsibility to maintain the immunological resiliency necessary to thrive in an environment shared with a dangerous, invisible intruder such as the current moment and foreseeable future. The following advice will aid in enhancing your ability to cope with COVID-19 when the inevitable interaction occurs.
Lack of sleep may very well be one of the most detrimental aspects of society today. You will act with greater effectiveness when you get 7-9 hours of quality sleep in a 24-hour period.
Physical exertion greatly aids in the development of a more robust immune system and a sharper mind. Cardiovascular and lung health status are major contributors to severe complications associated with COVID-19. Be sure to integrate frequent movement into your workday and short bouts of intense exercise throughout your week. When feasible, alternate between sitting and standing at your workstation. Intermittent walking breaks will improve your metabolic status and your creativity. Executing these brief walks in fresh air will further improve your health status by lowering the potential to encounter COVID-19. We’re on orders away from the distractions of normal life. View this time as a great opportunity to spend more time improving your fitness and physical capabilities.
Obesity and diabetes are leading contributors to a more severe infection of COVID-19. Prioritizing consumption of nutrient-dense foods over low quality food will go a long way to lowering your body fat percentage, blood triglyceride level, and cholesterol numbers. Given the highly personalized nature of diet and nutrition, I’m reluctant to suggest particular food groups, but it is reasonable advice to promote the consumption of more vegetables, nuts, quality animal products, and fruits while limiting sugar, processed wheat, industrial oils (corn, canola, soybean…), and artificial sweeteners (Monster/Red Bull energy drinks). Nutrient-dense foods with higher proportions of fiber, protein, and fat in a diet has been shown to suppress hunger. These foods will make you feel more satiated, curbing cravings for junk food and unhealthy snacks and resulting in less calories being consumed in a day. Theoretically, cutting 500-1000 calories/week out of one’s current diet will result in 1-2 fewer lbs of body fat than they otherwise would carry.
Chronic stress is an immunosuppressant, in part due to secretion of cortisol (often referred to as “the stress hormone”). Utilize stress management tactics such as meditation, yoga, creative/artistic endeavors, journaling, exercise, breathing techniques, and consensual safe physical touch. Use your rest and recovery days to de-stress and prepare your mind and body for the upcoming week completing tasks essential to the mission.
Honoring one’s faith traditions is an important component of the human experience. Believe in something. Believe in the good of humanity and focus on the beautiful interactions between community members working to support each other in these turbulent times. Believe in whatever provides power and inspiration to your daily life, sustaining the energy required to perform your civic duty: enhancing the well-being and safety of the lives that we serve.
Vitamin D status has been inversely associated with severity of infection of COVID-19. As a precautionary measure, spend the appropriate amount of time in the sun after your shift or on your R&R day. Utilize the app, “dminder”, to discover the safe amount of time in the sun to increase your vitamin D levels without afflicting yourself with sunburn. If it is impractical to obtain enough time harvesting vitamin D through the sun’s rays, vitamin D supplements can be a suitable replacement. Do not consume more than 2,000 IU/day due to toxicity concerns.
Zinc is another supplement that will guard you from a severe COVID-19 infection. Suggested supplement dose is 8mg/day for women, 11mg/day for men. This can be found in pill form by itself, in a multivitamin, or whole food sources such as meat, shellfish, legumes, seeds, nuts, dairy, eggs, some vegetables, and chocolate (stick to 70% dark or more).
Selenium is a mineral that has been shown to improve the outcome of immune system infections. The suggested dose is 55 micrograms/day. If you are known to have high levels of selenium, supplementation is not advised. This can be found in pill form by itself, in a multivitamin, or whole food sources such as Brazil nuts, pork, beef, turkey, chicken, fish, shellfish, and eggs.
Microbiome health has been a hot topic in the past few years. It is highly likely that a healthy microbiome will protect individuals from severe infection. The microbial community in one’s gut is significantly impaired after using antibiotics. Only administer antibiotics when necessary. Other tactics to improve the microbiome include consumption of fiber, collagen, resistant starch, probiotics, and fermented foods, as well as reducing smoking and contact with chemicals such as pesticides. Fiber is found in most fruits and vegetables. Collagen is found in meat on the bone, bone broth, and collagen supplements. Resistant starch is found most commonly in cooked and cooled rice and potatoes as well as green bananas and plantains. Probiotics are bought as a supplement. Common fermented foods are yogurt, sauerkraut, and kombucha. Purchasing organic food will reduce the pesticide load in one’s diet.
Vitamin C is another supplement that has the potential to overcome an infection. Research suggests that a large dose (around 1000 mg) should be consumed at the first recognition of a symptom.
Stay safe. Embrace the joys of helping the community. Thrive through resiliency!
What are your suggestions for creating COVID resiliency??