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COVID-19: Staying Well

COVID-19: Staying Well

by Dr. Laura Hieb, ND on May 14, 2020

Are you ready for COVID-19 to go away and for life to go back to normal? Silly question!!! WE ALL want Covid-19 to go away. But as we all know, it's still here.

So how do we stay well now? and (especially) after life returns to "normal"?

The simple answer is that we keep our immune systems strong.

Great! But other than washing our hands frequently, social distancing/isolating and wearing a mask and/or gloves, what can we do?

For starters, the immune system is made up of proteins, so make sure you get enough good quality protein at every meal.

How much is enough? Well this, like many things, is controversial. But if you are not a tiny, or a very tall person, 20-30 grams per meal is a good goal.


What foods contain protein?

*All animal foods, including fish, contain protein. In fact, 3.5 ounces of meat or fish (about the size of your palm) contains about 21 grams of protein. A large egg has about 7 grams of protein and 8 oz of milk has 8 grams.

*Vegan protein sources include beans (1/2cup, cooked has around 7 grams of protein), lentils (1/2 cup cooked has 12 grams) grains and seeds (quinoa, 1/2 cup cooked has 4.7 grams) nuts and seeds and nut/seed butters (2 Tbsp of almond butter contains 6.8 grams and 1/4 cup hulled pumpkin seeds contains 11 grams).  Soy is a good form of vegan protein, but only eat non-GMO soy, and if you have hypothyroidism, eat it sparingly because it lowers thyroid function.

Even vegetables contain 1-2 grams per cup.

What are good quality proteins? Proteins that are wild, organic, grass fed, pastured , and/or non-GMO.

Secondly, avoid foods that suppress your immune function.

This means sugar and things that turn into sugar, such as starches and too much protein. The American Heart Association has only recently realized what naturopaths have known for a long time: sugar causes cardiovascular disease. It also causes Type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes, and causes inflammation that leads to pain, and even dementia (often called Type 3 diabetes).

How can anything that tastes so good be so bad for us? Sigh. But sugar is not our friend and it lowers our white blood cell count and our white blood cells are our (specific) immune system.

What is sugar? Sugar = any word ending in -ose (dextrose, fructose, sucrose), honey, maple syrup, agave syrup, brown rice syrup, molasses, evaporated cane juice, cane crystals, dried fruit, fruit juice, fruit juice concentrate alcohol.

The American Heart Association Guidelines for sugar consumption is 36 grams (=9 tsp) or less for men, 24 grams (6 tsp) or less for women and 12 grams (3 tsp) or less for children. As you can see, this is not very much.

Start by cutting out sodas and fruit juice. Add lemon or lime slices to plain sparkling water or dilute your fruit juice by 50% and then continue to decrease the amount of juice over time.

Read labels and choose foods that contain less sugar.

Limit fruit to 1 cup daily and note that tropical fruits are the highest in sugar.

Avoid artificial sweeteners. Use stevia instead. As you probably know, stevia is an herb that tastes sweet but does not contain sugar.

Then, load up on the veggies! Vegetables (and fruit) are loaded with micronutrients like vitamin and minerals. Certain vitamins and minerals (Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Zinc and Selenium) are antiviral. Aim for 7 servings of veg daily. 1/2 cup = 1 serving, except for salad greens--then it's 1 cup = 1 serving.

Next, exercise. Exercise moves our lymphatic fluid, which is part of our immune system, and improves our circulation, among many other good things. What kind of exercise? Anything you like that gets you moving. Walking, especially outside is great, and can even help decrease anxiety. Jumping on a trampoline is especially good. Biking, elliptical machines, playing frisbee, lifting weights, yoga, pilates, etc. Aim for 30 minutes daily.

Lastly, get enough sleep. Sleep for 7-9 hours per night. Sleep is when we heal and repair. Getting less than 6.5 hours of sleep per night is associated with developing high blood pressure and diabetes. These underlying conditions were more prevalent in people who died from Covid-19.  Besides strengthening our immune system, sleep also helps us to better cope with stress, which also helps our immune system to function better.

 

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