Doctor McRae's take on COVID-19 and Boosting the Immune System
The spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has left a nearly palpable feeling of anxiety in the air. From media updates to schools closing, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Knowing very little about its health impact leaves most feeling helpless as it approaches. It’s like watching a storm roll in from the distance.
While advice and policies on prevention, containment, and next steps are available, we have many asking “Am I at risk?” and “What if I get it?". As medical providers, we see a population at risk, not simply because of age, but because of chronic disease. According to the CDC, 6 out of 10 Americans live with a chronic disease such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. While the flu’s usual mortality rate comes in around 0.1%, we’re seeing early COVID-19 studies from China come in between 1.4% and 3.4%. While we expect this rate to come down as comprehensive research becomes available, the early data shows that the elderly and those with underlying health conditions are most at risk.
People with underlying health conditions such as lung disease, diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune conditions will be more vulnerable to severe illnesses, and more likely to require extensive care from hospitals and clinics. With 6 in 10 Americans falling in this category, we can only assume that it will strain our hospitals and clinics once the infection spreads.
Whether or not you have an underlying health condition, the most important thing you can do is boost your immune system.
Take Steps in Boosting your immune System Today
Now is not the time to skimp on sleep. While sleep should always be a priority, getting a good night of sleep while sick should be considered mandatory. Your body uses downtime to flush out toxins and repair itself. Poor or inadequate rest will slow your recovery time. Hit the bed, phone and blue-light free tonight! Listen to your body - it will tell you when you need to slow down.
2. IV Therapy
Nutritional IV Therapy is a great option for most people. IV Therapy delivers high doses of vitamins directly to your body while bypassing the digestive tract. If you are working on malabsorption issues you have a great option- with IV Therapy the body gets all that it needs, and fast.
3. Vitamin D
Simply put, it’s very difficult to get adequate Vitamin D in Ohio, in the winter. In fact, 35% of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D which is associated with increased susceptibility to infection. Consider taking 5000 IUDs of Vitamin D a day but talk to your doctor about what is right for you.
4. Bone Broth
Continue to fill your body with nutrients! Bone broth is great for soothing and healing the gut. Bone broth is packed with nutrients and the perfect thing to sip on when you start feeling under the weather.
5. Avoid Sugars and Processed Foods
It takes your body quite a bit of energy to properly digest and break down these foods. Sugars also cause a direct halt to your immune cells. Redirecting energy from immune support to digesting sugar and processed foods can slow the healing process. Not to mention, these foods offer very little in regards to nutrient value.
Hydration, like sleep, is always important. Make sure you keep a water bottle close. You can track your hydration by watching your frequency and color of urine. If you notice anything darker than a pale shade of yellow, you'll need to boost your water intake.
Moving has many benefits. In fact, any type of exercise is better than none at all. Simply put, general movement and fresh air are stimulating for the body. One expression I like to say is “Move until your mind is clear”... and that is so true now. We do know that excessive, vigorous exercise can actually suppress the immune system. Don’t go overboard and potentially get an injury. Instead, consider adding an evening walk or a short HIIT workout to your daily routine.
8. Begin a Habit of Healthy Living
The best defense is a great offense. Keeping the body functioning at optimal levels is the best thing you can do to avoid illness. Don't wait until you get sick to start drinking adequate amounts of water or considering your body's vitamin levels. Be proactive! Talk to your Vitality Provider at your next visit about how you can make sure you're living at optimal wellness.
Consider Your Health
There are a few tests we recommend every adult gets regardless of your age. These tests help us, your doctors, assess if you have an underlying chronic illness or if you are at greater risk of having a poorly functioning immune system.
1. CBC, hs-CRP, and ESR
These inflammatory markers measure different sources of inflammation in your body. Even mild increases are associated with a greater risk of things like cardiac events or depression. If you have elevated levels, it’s a sign that something else is going on in your body that needs to be addressed, like an autoimmune condition, infection, or cardiovascular disease.
2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is the body’s “handyman.” There are vitamin D receptors on almost every cell and it actually acts like a hormone. We know that Vitamin D is a major contributor to regulating the immune system as receptors for Vitamin D are densely located on your immune B cells and T cells. In fact, this vitamin plays a key role in stabilizing cytokine-induced inflammation which currently is a concern with the Coronavirus.
3. HbA1c and Fasting Insulin
The HgA1c test looks at your blood glucose level average over the past 90 days. Elevated levels mean your body is not processing sugar properly and indicates that you are on a path to becoming diabetic-- if you aren’t already. 112 million Americans have metabolic syndrome and another 34 million have diabetes — that’s more than 1 in 3 of us who have a blood sugar disorder, primarily caused by high sugar and refined carbohydrate diets. We know that elevated blood sugar levels have very detrimental effects on your immune system. It is crucial to get appropriate blood sugar control.
While we know that boosting your immune system and checking for signs of underlying health conditions won’t stop the spread of coronavirus, they will shape your individual risk. If more people take steps to improve their immune system and their body’s ability to fight illness we will see an improvement in the health of the nation overall.