We are living in a strange time. Every time I turn on the radio, open FaceBook, click on the news app on my phone… the first thing I hear about is the coronavirus.
Suddenly, everything has to do with the effects of this virus which no human has ever encountered before. The airlines, the schools, the stock market, toilet paper, vodka being used for hand sanitizer…. it’s endless, and exhausting. We vacillate between thinking we are overreacting to proclaiming that the current measures should have been done weeks ago.
My name is Dr. Katherine Day. I’m a preventative medicine practitioner here in Kitsap County. And the truth is, we don’t know what the coming weeks will bring. So we need to focus on what we do know:
The novel coronavirus is transferred via respiratory droplets. This means you can only get it when germs are spread through a cough or a sneeze that either lands on you or a surface that you touch and then transfer to your face.
It is very contagious and has reached pandemic levels.
It does not appear to be fatal in children, however, for those over the age of 80 the fatality rate is very high.
The most common symptoms include fever, dry cough and shortness of breath.
There is no cure. All we have is symptom management.
Currently, public health measures are focusing in three areas: protection, containment and testing. Public health officials are advocating for frequent hand washing, not touching your face, coughing and sneezing into a tissue or at least your sleeve. They are also limiting gatherings of people greater than 10, closing bars and restaurants and advocating for social distancing. Lastly, they are working to make testing more accessible so that we are able to identify those individuals who need to be quarantined.
It is important to note that this is not being done because we think we can stop this virus, we can’t.
These measures are being instituted in order to stay below the threshold at which our medical facilities can respond appropriately. We have to make sure that people who need care can get it.
In Naturopathic medicine we focus on the whole person and keep in mind how the various body systems work together. Not only that, but we take into consideration the environment in which that person lives. It is time for us to see ourselves as individuals within a larger body and realize that our health is dependent on the health of our community.
So what does this mean for our day-to-day lives in the foreseeable future?
It means we need to dramatically change.
We need to take the opportunity to slow down and be home with our immediate families.
It means turning down invitations and cancelling parties.
It means that as we focus our energies inward we are also setting our intention outward.
We are recognizing the very real danger that exists for those in high risk populations. We know that the best way to protect them is to stay away.
This as an opportunity for us each to do all the things we always wish we had the time to do. Coincidentally, a lot of those things are also exactly what will keep your immune system healthy.
Staying healthy may be your best line of defense
I would love to be able to tell you that we have the answers to fighting coronavirus—that we know exactly what you need to take in order to protect yourself and that it’s as simple as taking a few supplements.
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. We don’t know exactly what will work. At best, we can use common sense and recommend things we know will most likely be helpful.
Sleep! Get 7-9 hours of sleep per night to avoid depressing your immune function.
Get regular moderate exercise.
Eat a diet that is rich in protein, fruits and vegetables, and low in excess sugar and alcohol.
Develop stress management techniques such as meditation, journaling, or yoga.
Consider zinc. Some studies have shown that zinc lozenges may be helpful in inhibiting the replication of coronavirus in the nasopharynx.
Up your Vitamin C. Vitamin C is an anti-oxidant that supports healthy immune function.
Elderberry syrup also contains anti-oxidants and other vitamins which have been shown to shorten cold and flu duration in a few studies.
Power up with probiotics. Probiotics found in foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir and yogurt have a beneficial effect on immune health.
Take your Vitamin D! Being deficient in this key vitamin has a detrimental effect on immune health.
This is the time to live the life you vow to live every December 31st.
Take the time to enjoy your life, breathe deeply, sleep long and well, go on walks in the fresh air, laugh, eat good food prepared at thoughtfully at home.
This can be a restorative time in your life amidst all of the chaos and uncertainty.
For more detailed recommendations, or to address chronic health concerns that are having a detrimental effect on your life and may be hampering your immune health, please talk to your physician.
ABOUT DR. DAY
Dr. Katherine Day is passionate about families and establishing the basis for a health for all members of the family from day one. Together with her husband, Dr. Andrew Day, she owns Day Family Medicine, a Naturopathic medicine practice based in Kitsap County. She and Dr. Andrew Day are preventative medicine experts trained in a wide range of natural approaches to treat and manage disease.
Dr. Katherine and Dr. Andrew utilize Vibe Coworks to hold educational workshops on important components of health and nutrition, as well as for administrative work while renovations on their new office in Poulsbo are being completed.