COVID-19 Conversations and Tools for Bolstering Your Immune System
COVID-19 Conversations and Tools for Bolstering Your Immune System
The question on everyone’s mind right now seems to be: How can I stay healthy? With flu season in full swing and more developments coming every day on the novel coronavirus, it’s helpful to be informed, prepared, and vigilant for your health and for the health of those around you. While you may want to get some basics (canned foods, groceries, hand sanitizer), we don’t necessarily recommend buying out your local Costco’s toilet paper supply to plan for Armageddon. What doesn’t hurt: following preventive guidelines to stay healthy and doubling down on your immunity arsenal.
We rounded up some tips and tools that can generally support our well-being, along with resources from the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that you can turn to for more timely updates.
What We Know So Far about COVID-19
COVID-19 is a form of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. It is a respiratory disease that was first detected in China and has now spread across the globe, with over 462,000 confirmed cases globally and more than 20,800 global deaths as of March 26 (see the WHO situation reports that are released daily).
- •How it spreads: COVID-19 spreads from person to person through close contact or droplets that are produced when a person coughs or sneezes. People are most contagious when they have symptoms; however, it may also spread before people are symptomatic (CDC). That’s why it’s important to practice social distancing—limiting contact with others (Johns Hopkins).
- •Symptoms: Two to fourteen days after exposure, symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath may appear (CDC). Other, rarer symptoms such as sore throat and diarrhea have also been reported.
- •What to do if you are sick: If you are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19, stay home and isolate yourself, avoiding contact with other people and pets. If you live with another person, practice rigorous hygiene, disinfect surfaces regularly, and avoid sharing items. Call your doctor, tell them that you may have COVID-19, and ask them to alert your local or state health department. Have your doctor determine when it is safe to end home isolation (CDC).
- •How serious is COVID-19: Most reports of COVID-19 are generally mild. However, older adults, those with existing health conditions, and people who are immunocompromised are more likely to develop a serious form of illness that may be fatal (CDC). This is why it’s especially important to isolate yourself if you have symptoms so that you do not spread it to susceptible people.
- •How to protect yourself: There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19, although there is one in development that may be available in one to two years. To protect yourself from infection, wash your hands regularly for at least twenty seconds or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Avoid touching your face (read this New York Times article for tips on how to resist the urge). Disinfect items you touch often, such as your phone or laptop, with EPA-registered household disinfectants, since COVID-19 can stay active anywhere from a few hours to a few days on surfaces (NIH). Avoid close contact with others and practice social distancing (CDC).
- •Flattening the curve: Staying at home and limiting contact with others can save lives. Social distancing limits the spread of germs between people so that less people become sick, which can overwhelm our healthcare system and limit the number of resources available to treat everyone who gets sick. Read more about flattening the curve in this NPR article.
- •The flu versus COVID-19: Both the flu and COVID-19 have similar symptoms, are contagious, and can be mild or severe depending on the person. However, COVID-19 has a higher case-fatality ratio than the flu—meaning it’s more deadly (CDC). And while scientists know a lot about the flu, their knowledge of COVID-19 is still developing as they gather information. There is a vaccine for the flu; there is not an available vaccine for COVID-19.
We’ll be sharing new interviews and stories that feel relevant right now in our newsletters and on special episodes of The goop Podcast. Every night at 6 p.m. PT/9 p.m. ET, we’ll have office hours on Instagram, where different wellness practitioners and experts will cover a range of topics, including stress, food, movement, and managing relationships in our current climate. If you want to learn more about how we’re navigating our shops and team, we’ve posted a separate note about that. And if there are questions you have that you want us to be asking or other stories you’d like to read, please drop us a line at [email protected].
We can do our part by supporting others in our communities—and worldwide—who need additional help during these difficult times.
In this special podcast episode, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Matt Richtel highlights what he learned about the immune system while researching his latest book, An Elegant Defense. And host Elise Loehnen asks him how these lessons apply to us today as we try to slow the spread of the coronavirus and stay healthy.
From beans and lentils to noodles and canned foods, these are the recipes we’re coming back to make use of all the odds and ends in our pantries during this time at home.
Family counselor, school consultant, and educator Kim John Payne shares tips, guidelines, and resources to help parents and children adjust to this new normal. Kids feel safe, says Payne, when they sense their parents are in charge—even, and perhaps especially, in uncertain moments.
Foods and Supplements to Nourish Your Body
If you’re looking for foods to generally support your health, these are some of our favorite recipes as well as nutrition advice from experts that’s helpful any time of year. As far as supplements go, we’ve got two on our radar: zinc and vitamin D. Zinc may help shorten the duration of the common cold, and vitamin D may protect against respiratory infections. And while you’ve probably been told that you should double down on vitamin C, the research is slightly mixed—some studies have shown it’s beneficial at shortening the common cold, while other studies have found it isn’t. It’s possible that vitamin C is helpful for some people and also that taking an extra supplement may give some of us peace of mind.
Gerda Endemann, our senior director of science and research, gave our food editor, Caitlin O’Malley, a list of immune-supporting ingredients. And Caitlin came up with four new feel-good soups: a creamy chicken stew that gets its richness from peanuts, a sweet and spicy coconut parsnip purée, a lighter goulash with root veggies, and a clam stew with spinach.
For this episode of goopfellas, cohosts Seamus Mullen and Will Cole, DC, sat down with functional medicine practitioner Steven Gundry, MD. Gundry, who is the author of The Longevity Paradox, shared his perspective on foods, habits, and supplements that may keep us healthier, longer.
What’s the deal with elderberry? Should I use a humidifier? Is hand sanitizer as effective as handwashing? We turned to the latest research to find answers. Plus: a Q&A about the importance of vaccinations with Jennifer Zavolinsky, MHS, the director of Vaccinate Your Family.
Our research scientist Leah Bedrosian, MPH, looked into some of the most informative new studies on flu prevention and highlighted the key takeaways that we can implement right now.
When a person doesn’t get vaccinated, they put themselves—and their entire community—at risk. This is because of something called herd immunity. And the science boils down to this: Vaccination works when we all work together.
Managing Stress and Anxiety
Stress can impact our mental state and our physical health by creating excess tension in the body and limiting the powerful work of the immune system. The mental and physical are intricately connected: To take care of both, we lean on rituals and tools developed by experts to cope with stress, anxiety, and difficult emotions. (If you’re looking for guided meditations head to our YouTube page.)
Psychiatrist Ellen Vora, MD, has a gentle approach to anxiety: We are all somewhere on the anxiety spectrum, she says. Learning to cope with those emotions when they spiral out of control is key. Here are her favorite tools to help work through anxiety. And you can also listen to Vora on The goop Podcast, talking to Elise Loehnen about what our anxiety can tell us.
Our Immunity Arsenal
Nothing here is a cure (clearly), but we do like popping Perfect Attendance chews as if they were candy, and there are a few things that make the common cold more bearable in our experience (like a certain bath and manuka honey). Over the years, we’ve also asked herbalists and holistic practitioners to share their wellness toolboxes with us.
No one’s as chipper, energetic, or productive as our director of wellness strategy, Kelly Burke. We decided to cherry-pick immunity tips from her wellness regimen.
There are a lot of herbal supplements out there. Some have anecdotal evidence behind them, some have research behind them, some have both, and some have neither. So: Which ones are worth trying? We asked experts with slightly different perspectives to weigh in on a dozen herbs we’re curious about.
We asked our senior director of science and research whether we should be taking a vitamin D supplement. “We need vitamin D for healthy immune cells,” she explains.
This article is for informational purposes only, even if and regardless of whether it features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The views expressed in this article are the views of the expert and do not necessarily represent the views of goop.