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Stay Healthy

Yesterday, whilst trawling social media I sprung across an article (link/clickbait/conjecture) that claimed that gargling with warm water mixed with vinegar will kill the coronavirus germ!

Amazing, I briefly thought, there must be enough warm water and vinegar in this world to stop this virus dead in its tracks! But then, assuming there is plenty of warm water and vinegar then the question as to why this virus is so virulent has to be asked (as does the question as to why my local Asda had plenty of vinegar on its shelves yesterday morning!).

This is one of many falsehoods out there and let me start by saying that “I am NOT a specialist in infectious diseases.” I think that companies have a social responsibility to not spread fear or falsities in this time of global anxiety, and therefore PEAK will not be sharing anything on this matter which is not factually correct.

This article is merely about encouraging people to live healthily, whether you are in self-isolation, working from home, worried or not about the pandemic. We want to merely provide some advice as to how to stay healthy in these worrying times. So here are our top tips for people, young or old, to consider:

• Keep your stress levels down. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle, of course: The more you stress about the virus, the more likely you are to suffer from it. “Stress can certainly hurt your immune system,” says Morgan Katz, an assistant professor of infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University. “Do not panic, try to minimize stress.”

Andrew Diamond, chief medical officer of One Medical, an American network of primary-care providers, says the stress hormone cortisol turns off cells in your immune system. He recommends engaging in activities that people find relaxing, such as meditation.

• Exercise. Low- and moderate-intensity exercise naturally lowers cortisol levels and helps with immune-system function, says Dr. Diamond. One Medical recommends 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day. If you’re apprehensive about germs in the gym, walk or run outside.

But it is important not to go overboard. A recent study found high-performance athletes have an increased risk of infection, says Elizabeth Bradley, medical director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Centre for Functional Medicine. “Exercise helps boost the immune system, but we have to be careful not to over-exercise because it can weaken your immune system,” she says.

• Get adequate sleep. For adults, that means getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Children should get more, depending on their age.

• Make sure your vaccines are up-to-date, especially the flu vaccine.

• Watch your diet. Stick to a healthful, balanced diet filled with lots of colourful fruits and vegetables to ensure you’re getting enough zinc and vitamin D and other important vitamins and minerals. Most experts say you should be able to get enough of these vitamins and minerals through your diet, and extra supplementation isn’t necessary. But because vitamin D deficiency is relatively common, experts do recommend supplementation if levels are low.

Dr. Bradley recommends eating lots of dark green, leafy vegetables and berries, as well as nuts and seeds, and to minimize foods with sugar and trans fats, which aren’t as nutrient-dense.

Your immune system needs fuel, so avoid ultra-low-carbohydrate diets, experts say. In addition, drink lots of water and reduce alcohol consumption, which can disrupt your sleep.

• Stop smoking. Smokers and those with respiratory disease have a higher rate of serious illness and complications from coronavirus. “Anything that is challenging to your lungs is going to work in the wrong direction,” says Dr. Diamond.

So, eat well, remain active and try to not get too stressed by the pandemic (easier said than done we know!).

Usually I would end a blog post with an insightful comment or conclusion but I thought I’d leave the summing up to a man who died approximately 2 and a half millennia ago, Hippocrates, the founder of the concept of food as medicine: "if we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health."

Stay safe everyone and be healthy.

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