Supporting Your Health in the Time of COVID-19
"COVID-19 continues to be a very present part of our daily lives."
As America continues to endure the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Keller Wortham, MD, has some valuable advice for steps you can take to stay safe and support your immune system. Check out today’s post to get Dr. Keller’s overview on the situation and make sure you’re doing everything you can to promote good health.
- 00:02: Introduction
- 00:57: Why We Should Wear Masks
- 02:37: When to Get Tested
- 05:14: Support Your Overall Health
- 07:16: Supplements to Support Immune Function
As everyone is no doubt well aware, we (especially in America) are still very much in the middle of a pandemic. COVID-19 continues to be a very present part of our daily lives. And unfortunately, if you've been tuning into the news lately, the case numbers are on the rise. Southern California, where Dr. Keller lives, is certainly a hotspot, but all around the country — including Texas, Florida, Arizona, and other places — we are still very much dealing with this viral, very contagious infection. Florida particularly has reported record case numbers in the last few weeks.
So, let’s go over some important things to know about COVID to give you a little bit more of some information that might be helpful to you and to encourage you in taking appropriate steps to protect yourself and support your health.
Why We Should Wear Masks
So, the first important point to talk about is masks. There's been a lot of back and forth about masks and whether they are helpful. In the beginning, they didn't seem that important, and then it became a political statement but we are not talking politics here. As a physician, Dr. Keller affirms the fact that masks save lives. So, by all means, if you're out in public, wear a mask. This will help protect you from spreading COVID to other people if you have it, and there are a lot of people who have it and don’t know it. Masks can also help prevent you from getting it yourself. It's not 100% effective, but any margin of reducing the transmissibility of this disease is beneficial. So, when you go out shopping, when you go to the grocery store, if you're around other people, by all means wear a mask.
What kind of masks to wear
If you have access to a surgical mask, by all means you can put one of those on. If you have access to an N95, because you already owned it for some reason, N95s are more effective at preventing transmission. We are trying to reserve N95 still for healthcare workers, because they do a better job of protecting people on the front lines, so don’t go out and buy them, but if you have one around, by all means you can use that.
If you don't have surgical masks like that available, a simple bandana, T-shirt, or scarf can still help guard against respiratory droplets that carry COVID. These can help protect you from breathing them in to a certain extent and certainly protecting you from spraying them out to other people through a cough or sneeze. So, we strongly encourage the wearing of masks. Don't consider the wearing of a mask a mark of masculinity or a political statement just wear them for yourself and for everyone else.
When to Get Tested
Thankfully, as we've moved into latter phases of this pandemic, testing has become more widely available. There are a few different testing options, but usually it's done either by saliva or a nasal swab. In many places, there are drive-in testing centers where you don't even have to get out of your car. You can just go and get that swab and then you'll get results back in two to five days depending on where you were tested. The nasal swab can be a little uncomfortable, but it's worth it and the results are much more reliable than some of the other tests.
- If you have symptoms — Currently, Dr. Keller recommends that if you have any kind of COVID symptoms, you should go get tested. These symptoms could include a sore throat, shortness of breath, a fever, or a cough. If you have any of these symptoms, you should really go get tested.
- Healthcare & essential workers — If you are a healthcare worker or working with people who are immunocompromised or have more exposure, then you should get tested regularly as well, because a lot of people can have asymptomatic infections; meaning they feel okay and they don't realize that they have the virus and can spread it to other people.
- If you’ve been exposed — If you have a known exposure to someone with COVID (like a friend, spouse or coworker has contracted it) then you should really consider getting tested as well, even if you don't have symptoms.
There is also a blood test that you can get to look for antibodies. We’ll talk more about antibodies i a future article, but antibodies are basically something that circulate through the blood, which can indicate if you've had a past infection. Knowing that you had a past infection can be a little bit helpful to knowing what those symptoms that you had were, but scientists are still not sure if having antibodies now from a past infection is effective at preventing you from getting a future infection. They think that this could possibly give you some amount of resistance or immunity to getting it again, but they’re not 100% sure. So, even if you get an antibody test and find out that you have antibodies to COVID, meaning you had that infection in the past, don't assume that you are now safe, because it is possible that you could get it again. Hopefully, we will know more about that in the weeks and months to come.
Support Your Overall Health
The next thing you can do is to get your health in check. We know that existing health conditions like high blood pressure, kidney disease, smoking, being overweight, other inflammatory conditions, all set you up for a potentially more catastrophic and severe infection from COVID. These can increase the risk of worrisome results, called sequelae, of things like pneumonia and inflammatory conditions that cause clotting and can lead to organ failure. So, get your health in check by getting your blood pressure down, following a healthy diet, by getting good physical activity, and reducing inflammation in your body.
So, just to recap what we’ve talked about so far and then add to the list, these are Dr. Keller’s recommendations:
- Wear a mask when you're out in public.
- Be very diligent about washing your hands either with soap and water for 20 seconds, or with an alcohol-based sanitizer that needs to be at least 60% alcohol.
- Don’t touch your face. That's very important when it comes to reducing the transmissibility of COVID.
- Social distancing. A lot of things are opening up these days, and we know that this has caused the rise of infection rates, but if you can stay six feet away from someone, you're really going to reduce the transmissibility of their respiratory droplets getting into your system and causing that infection or you doing the same to them.
- Manage your other health conditions, including getting your blood pressure down, following a healthy diet, reducing inflammation, and exercising.
Supplements to Support Immune Function
Finally, we want to talk about some supplements that you can take that can help support your immune system.
- Vitamin D3 — Smarter Vitamin D3 is a great vitamin D3 product because it is plant-based. A lot of vitamin D out there, especially vitamin D3, can be animal-based and include cheaper ingredients. Smarter Vitamin D3 is plant-based, and contains virgin coconut oil and vitamin K2, which is essential in a vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D is very important for supporting the immune system, and studies have even shown that vitamin D deficiencies can really reduce not only your immune system but also your ability to fight off respiratory infections. Vitamin D deficiency can also increase inflammation in the body, so vitamin D3 is something that you should be taking to help support your immune system.
- A good multivitamin — It would be great if we could all get the vitamins and minerals we need from our diets, but that doesn't happen for a lot of us. So, taking a good multivitamin like the Smarter Multi is important. Both vitamins and minerals are important for your health and therefore, for your immune system. The vitamins and minerals in the Smarter Multi are all organic and plant-based, so you're getting good products that are coming from foods instead of synthetic or manufactured ingredients. Some of the ingredients you’ll get from this that are very important for immunity specifically include vitamin E and vitamin A, which have been shown to help manage inflammation, and help resist against respiratory infections. So, adding a good multivitamin to your regiment is something that you can do right away to help protect your immune system and keep it highly functioning.
- A quality sleep supplement — It's so important for your immunity to get good sleep. Not only does quality sleep help your immune system, it also helps reduce inflammation and help reduce stress levels. So, if you're not getting adequate sleep, try to correct that right away. Maybe it's hard — maybe you've got the kids at home now, and life is more stressful — but a lot of us are also working from home now, which means less commute time, and hopefully more time you can spend in bed, getting that helpful rest. If you have issues with sleep, try taking a good sleep supplement like Smarter Sleep. This supplement contains 4.5 milligrams of melatonin, a natural substance that helps induce sleep, as well as bioactive milk peptides. It’s designed to give you a good restful night’s sleep without giving you that groggy feeling in the morning. If you're using too much melatonin, or a synthetic product like Tylenol PM or Benadryl, it can really make you feel groggy the next day.
So, those are three things that you can add to your regimen to help improve your immunity and help resist against infection.
Dr. Keller recommends this combination of supplements for immune support, as well as all of the other things that we've talked about: social distancing, wearing masks, washing your hands, and working to handle underlying health conditions that can make your body more susceptible to a bad reaction. Doing all these things together can improve your chances of staying healthy during this pandemic.