What do you need to know? What can you do?
This is a virus that has never been previously seen in humans. It is suspected to have been transmitted from animals to humans. The virus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Chinese authorities have since confirmed that healthcare workers have been infected with the virus, suggesting human-to-human transmission is now occurring. Infections have now been seen in the United States, Australia, France, South Korea, Japan, Nepal, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and Taiwan. As of Saturday, January 25, the virus had claimed more than 56 lives and 1,400 were infected with a pneumonia-like viral illness. The Chinese government is taking this very seriously. As of two days ago 35 million people were quarantined in China. They are stopping travel and festivals where the virus can easily spread.
We deal with the flu on a yearly basis. Supporting a good functioning immune system is the key to keeping healthy during winter virus season.
This current type of virus is an enveloped, hardy virus that has specific mode of action that allows it to pass through the lipid membrane surrounding the virus. Enveloped viruses are surrounded by an outer lipid membrane which helps mediate binding to host cells and protects the virus.
What are the symptoms?
The CDC has an updated web page that lists all of the possible symptoms related to this particular virus. You can visit the site here. Keep up to date with this information as the virus can have many diverse symptoms.
What can you do to protect yourself and your family? Here are some simple tips to keep from being infected by viruses in general:
- Wash your hands often and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. This is one of the most important strategies you can incorporate into your virus prevention plan. Despite popular belief, the temperature of the water used for washing is unimportant. The important action includes vigorously rubbing with soap and water for 20 seconds before rinsing your hands completely. Regular hand washing has been shown to reduce your risk of contracting a cold or flu by up to 21%.
- Don’t touch your face. Many infections are introduced by touching infected areas, like handrails, and then touching your mouth or nose. These are the areas where a virus is likely to infect your body. So always wash your hands before touching your face. Researchers have found that the average person in a public place touches their face 3.6 times per hour. That is a staggering 60 times per day for most individuals, which greatly increases self-inoculation with viruses.
- Eat the rainbow of fruit, vegetables and berries. These foods provide a wide pharmacy of phytonutrients, which are natural plant chemicals that work directly to support your immune system to more effectively fight off viruses. They also provide fiber, which is the most important factor in maintaining a healthy microbiome in our gut. Our gut is our most important immune organ as adults, containing 70-80% of your body’s immune tissue.
- Get moderate exercise, but don’t overdo it. Moderate exercise is shown to improve immunity. Intense workouts or working out too frequently can decrease your immunity for up to 72 hours. According to a study in the British Journal of Sport Medicine, adults who got at least some aerobic activity five or more days per week experienced 43% fewer sick days during cold and flu season.
- Drink water! Your mucous is the protective lining on the surface of your respiratory tract. Your body needs water to make mucous. This mucus lining performs the important duty of being the first line of defense against infections.
- Lower sugar intake. Sugar is shown to lower your immune function for up to 7 hours after ingestion. Sugar also can disrupt your microbiome, making it easier for you to contract infections.
- Sleep is way more important than Facebook or Netflix! Most individuals are sleep deprived and engage in media far after their body has given them the signal to go to sleep. This can cause a significant reduction in your immune system’s ability to fight off infections. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover from illness.
- Make sure that your vitamin D3 levels are optimal. Vitamin D3, because of its fatty acid complex, has been shown to aid in cellular immune support. We recommend starting Vitamin D3 immediately for the cold and flu season at 1,000 to 5,000 IU per day depending on your blood test findings. Many individuals need a much higher dose due to genetic mutations and poor absorption, but these factors would need to be evaluated before using higher dosages.
- Consider having blood work done to evaluate your current level of immunity. A basic blood panel can help you determine if your immune system is running optimally. This typically includes a Complete Blood Count with Differential and Platelets, 25-OH Vitamin D3, Immunoglobulins Panel, and other markers that can aid in the ability for your body to make immune cells. Consult your doctor about ordering lab work.
When it comes to infections, we are often quick to call bacteria the bad guys. Of course everyone by now has heard of the body’s microbiome. These are the bugs we need to colonize our bodies in order to help us perform vital processes in the digestive and immune system. Now, researchers at University of Michigan have discovered a new symbiotic relationship between our nasal bacteria and the lessening of infection by the flu virus. Creating a healthy gut microbiome helps to balance your general microbiome. Remember, Your body consists of 10x more bacteria than human cells - they are an important part of your innate immunity and defense system.