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Apr 20, 2020

How to build a lifestyle and nutritional firewall against viruses like COVID-19

By: Stuart Richer, OD, PhD At the Ocular Wellness and Nutrition Society,1 we teach our members how to build a firewall of immune protection for patients, eyecare providers, and their families. Humans have lived and survived severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS, 2004), avian flu (2008), swine flu (2010), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS, 2012), Ebola (2014), Zika (2016), and Ebola part deux (2018). Now COVID-19 is the new challenge. Each flu season, tens of thousands die, especially those with pre-existing health challenges (smoking, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and more.) Yet as of this writing, we have seen only 302 U.S. coronavirus deaths. For the United States, there remains an “unknown denominator” because reliable testing kits were largely unavailable during the first 4 months of the COVID-19 outbreak. That is, a small percentage Americans, thus far, have been tested for the pathogen.2 Regardless of the potential for increased virulence, resistance and proliferation of this virus, following government recommendations for social distancing and hygiene will of course buy us time and “flatten the curve.” However, optimizing the immune system by reducing  fear and stress, and improving lifestyle while optimizing nutrition is more important than ever. Immune processes and adjustment behaviors powerfully regulate each other.3 Thus, it is plausible that healthy food, quality sleep, sunshine, exercise, music, meditation, pets, and supplementation result in improved immune performance. Conversely, stress has been shown to lower immune competence in patients with cancer.4 Meta-analytic reviews have summarized results from the large number of studies using the “stress/non-stress” paradigm, revealing consistent immune changes in the presence of psychological stressors.5-8 Overly stressed individuals exhibit poorer sleep, exercise less, and have poor dietary habits, as well as habitual drug and alcohol use, all of which depress immune competence.5-8 Central activation of the sympathetic nervous system, even via non-adrenomedullary pathways such as sleep deprivation, has been shown to have a pivotal role in the regulation of inflammation and innate immunity in astronauts in hyper-stressed environments.9 We know that the brain controls immune responses. Stress also increases the need for vitamin C from the diet or supplements.10 Read more: Source: Optometry Times

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