The New Research You NEED To Know To Stay Healthy During The COVID-19 Second Wave
Wisconsin is on the brink of a major outbreak.
In the past week, Wisconsin has crashed through its own coronavirus records, reporting more cases and more COVID-19 hospitalizations than it has at any time since the pandemic began. It now ranks among the top states in new cases per capita.
So as Wisconsin – and the rest of the U.S. – braces itself for a “second wave” of COVID-19 this fall, what does the latest research suggest to safeguard your health during the pandemic?
There are no guarantees, but the science points to a simple, fundamental fact – when you’re healthier overall, your chances of avoiding or surviving COVID-19 are exponentially greater. And let’s be clear: age doesn’t make as big of a difference as you’ve been led to believe. That’s according to a recent report from the CDC which found that nearly 4 in every 10 cases requiring hospitalization involved people under the age of 55.
Take Vitamin D3
I’ve been pounding the table on this since March, but if there’s one supplement you should be taking right now, it’s vitamin D3. A growing number of studies have suggested that vitamin D could play a hugely important role in COVID-19 – from preventing infection in the first place to making the disease less severe.
Brand new randomized controlled trials and multiple retrospective studies have found that – even when controlling for age, sex, and comorbidity – those with vitamin D deficiency were twice as likely to test positive for COVID-19 compared to those who had sufficient levels of the vitamin.
More importantly, low vitamin D levels increased the odds of hospitalization due to Covid-19 by 95%, after adjusting for demographics and comorbidities.
Even more critically, Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with a 10x higher mortality rate for those testing positive for the COVID-19 virus.
Unfortunately, more than half of Americans are deficient in vitamin D3, with higher rates for those of us living in northern states like Wisconsin – especially as we move into the colder months of the year.
Most guidelines will tell you that 400–1000IU Vitamin D3 per day is a recommended intake. However, this amount is rarely sufficient to reach optimal circulating levels (>75nmol/L), and D3 metabolism can vary based on health issues, body fat percentage and genetics.
A better rule of thumb is to take 1000IU Vitamin D3 per 50lbs of body weight per day.
Vitamin D is very safe when taken at reasonable dosages and it’s increasingly becoming recognized as one of, if not the, most important micronutrients for overall health.
However, if you have risk factors for vascular calcification and/or kidney stones, it’s worth adding vitamin K2 into your daily regimen as well. When it comes to calcium utilization, Vitamin D and Vitamin K2 work together as a team: D increases the absorption of calcium in the body, K2 moves it out of the blood stream and into your bones. Adults should aim for 100-200mcg vitamin K2 per day.
Optimize Your Diet
The human body is a finely-tuned biological machine. And like any machine, clean, high-quality fuel in the form of protein, carbohydrates, good fats, vitamins and minerals is a must to keep your body’s immune system functioning optimally and able to fight off viral infections.
A diet consisting of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, lean meats and oily fish is a solid starting point, but consider making the following changes to your diet.
Food choices that can boost your immunity:
- Citrus fruit and red bell peppers (both rich in antioxidants, which have been shown to support your immune system)
- Foods rich in zinc such as oysters, clams, mussels, cashews and egg yolks. You may recognize zinc as an ingredient is the cold remedy Zicam, as zinc has virus-fighting effects.
- Magnesium-rich foods may help you to feel calmer, and help support immunity. Stress can deplete our magnesium levels too. Sources are legumes, nuts, seeds, leafy greens, and whole grains.
- Fatty fish like wild Alaskan salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids. A study on medical students in 2011 was one of the first to show that omega-3s may help reduce anxiety.
- Probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, miso, and kefir. Your gut micrombiome plays an important role in regulating your immune response.
- Limit sugar-sweetened drinks, red and processed meats, fast foods and alcohol.
Don’t Skip Exercise
So many of us have limited our environment to our homes and a few other places — we’re not just missing exercise in a gym, but most of us are moving less period. Quarantining has radically altered the work styles of millions of Americans, so we need to go out of our way to get our bodies into motion.
Thankfully, just because the gym shuts down doesn’t mean your body has to – staying in shape and building muscle even while stuck at home is totally doable. Here’s our guide to moving your workouts from the gym to the living room.
There’s an established link between physical activity and fitness levels and severity of viral infections. During and after physical exercise, anti-inflammatory cytokines are released, lymphocyte circulation improves, and immune cell recruitment is increased.
If you’re working out for the immune system benefits, though, it is possible to over-do it. Studies have shown that while moderate-intensity hour-long workouts 5 days per week improves immune function, intense exercise longer than two hours actually increases risk of illness.
Research shows that stress negatively affects the immune system, so taking steps to reduce your stress in a healthy way is essential.
It’s no surprise that anxiety and depression have skyrocketed the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the CDC, the percentage of Americans reporting anxiety symptoms increased 300% and the percentage reporting symptoms of depression increased about 400%, compared with levels during the same period in 2019. The increase was particularly striking among adults ages 18 to 24.
Studies have demonstrated the importance of limiting computer screen time and media exposure. While keeping informed about current events is important, paying too much attention to it can seriously effect both your mental and physical health. Setting boundaries can prevent feeling overwhelmed by the situation.
If there’s one safe, natural supplement that’s been shown to help with anxiety and depression symptoms, it’s L-theanine. L-theanine is an amino acid that’s responsible for the calming effect of green tea, and it’s been extensively studied for its ability to encourage wakeful relaxation without making you tired. It works by decreasing “excitatory” brain chemicals that contribute to stress and anxiety while increasing brain chemicals like GABA that encourage a sense of calmness. It’s even been shown to lower stress-related blood pressure and heart rate.
If you’re considering adding L-theanine to your daily supplement stack, a dose of 100-400 mg is recommended, beginning with the smallest dose and gradually increasing until you feel the effects.
Lose The Extra Weight
A team from the University of North Carolina looked at data from 75 studies from around the world, including nearly 400,000 patients, to determine how much being overweight affected the severity of COVID-19.
They found that people with obesity and COVID-19 were twice as likely to end up in the hospital and 74% more likely to be admitted to intensive care. They were also more at risk of dying from the disease caused by coronavirus.
So if you’re carrying extra pounds, here’s just one more (really good) reason to lose that weight. Evidence suggests that a form of intermittent fasting called early time-restricted eating might be the best ‘diet’ we’ve developed yet.
While chiropractic care isn’t going to do anything to directly protect you from the coronavirus, I’d be remiss if I didn’t stress the importance of keeping up with your regular health care.
It’s a fact that scientific research supports using chiropractic care to improve overall health and reduce stress.
Recently a team of Japanese researchers looked at the brain PET scans and cortisol levels of patients before and after chiropractic are. They found that, following chiropractic care, patients have significantly reduced cortisol levels (indicating decreased stress) as well as positive changes in the areas of the brain responsible for processing pain and stress. They also reported less pain and improved quality of life after treatment.
A healthy spine helps you keep a healthy body, and there’s no better way to eliminate pain and improve the health of your spine than with regular chiropractic care.
The Bottom Line
The most important thing we can do is be mindful of our actions to avoid the spread of the virus and make smart decisions to keep our immune system functioning optimally. So, along with social distancing, wearing face masks and washing hands, make sure you continue to exercise, take your vitamin D3, reduce your stress levels, eat right and keep up with your regular health care. We’ll all get through this together.
At Ascent Chiropractic – your Brookfield chiropractor – we’re committed to optimizing your body to function better than it ever has before. Our unique, low-force, evidence-based approach to treatment allows us to correct spinal biomechanics, restore normal function, and get you out of pain and on the road back to optimal health. Ready to get started? Schedule an appointment by calling us at 262-345-4166 or use our online scheduling app.