What Can We Do?
So, the biggest questions are: What can we do to protect ourselves? And, what can we do to promote health during this time? Let’s look at this in two phases. First, prevention and secondly, building our immune system.
As we saw earlier, wearing a routine mask should not be depended upon and considered a preventive measure against becoming infected. The reasons are that the portal of entry includes the eyes and when one wears a mask there is a tendency to touch the face more as we adjust the mask and the touching of the face provides a portal of entry. But all masks are not created equal. As many are aware there are the routine surgical masks and N95 respirator masks. The surgical mask does not provide as much protection against respiratory pathogens as the N95. The surgical mask filters those large droplets we spoke of earlier, however not the small particles from the air. They have a loose fit and as such, leak all around the edges making it difficult to prevent inhalation of these infectious droplets when we, the wearers, inhale. On the other hand the N95 mask is a tight fitting ‘respirator” mask which reduces the wearer’s exposure to the large droplets and particles as well as the small particles and droplets that become aerosolized during medical treatment. They filter out greater than 95% of small and large particles.
What is the best preventive measure then?
Impeccable hand hygiene is a must. Wash with soap and water for 20 seconds, or to make it easier count to 20 slowly as you are scrubbing your hands! If you blow your nose use a disposable tissue and place it in the trash can promptly, do not store it in your pocket. Avoid touching your face – particularly your eyes, nose and mouth. Carry hand sanitizer with you and use it often. Use disinfectant on all solid surfaces, including doorknobs and the toilet handle! Keep your distance from people. As we mentioned, droplets from sneezing or coughing travel 3 feet so allow 6 feet between you and another person. If you have any fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, headache or muscle ache or other symptoms stay home and rest.
Although we may not be able to avoid getting sick with the Coronavirus, we can put our immune systems in the best possible position to fight it. It may be some time before it is eradicated but we can do everything we can to both avoid it and strengthen our immune systems to combat it if we get it. To illustrate the importance of immune building we’d like to share a remarkable story with you…
A Remarkable Story
In 1918 – 1919 the world experienced another pandemic – the Spanish flu. This devastating disease afflicted tens of millions of people and killed between forty and eighty million. Like the coronavirus, it was also an airborne pathogen. And as in the coronavirus, when a person sneezed, and you breathed in the microscopic droplets through the nose or mouth or absorbed them through the eyes you would become susceptible to the disease.
There was a Seventh-day Adventist Seminary in Hutchinson Minnesota with 180 people on the campus. One hundred and twenty students lived in the same dormitory. The story is remarkable. Ninety of these students were afflicted with the Spanish flu. Surprisingly, there were no deaths. In fact, very few of the students even became extremely sick. In a report of this experience in an Adventist publication from 1918, the report states,
“On the authority of Dr. Fred Sheppard, Health Officer. It may be stated that no public institution in the state of Minnesota has, up to this date, made a record in the handling of the influenza, the worldwide epidemic that swept millions into their graves, like that to the credit of the Hutchison Seventh-day Adventist Seminary.”
So, here are just a few of the comments by the Health Officer, Dr. Fred Sheppard, of what Adventists did once people got this virus (the Spanish flu) in 1918. Dr. Sheppard states,
“The Seminary, with 120 of its 180 students and teachers housed under one roof, was invaded with the malady that is the Spanish flu three weeks ago. Symptoms of the malady developed, with some 90 of these under the direction of Dr. H. E. Larsen, a graduate physician”
The report states the remedial steps Dr. Larsen took to combat the disease. First when they began to get the first symptoms of fever or they began to sneeze or cough, he isolated them and placed them in quarantine. If the symptoms persisted, he put them on total rest. We know with the coronavirus, if you are diagnosed early and get adequate rest, your recovery rate is much faster. Dr. Larsen encouraged them to drink large quantities of water. He put them on a nutritious diet that was predominately a plant-based diet, free from large amounts of sugar and animal fat. He placed them on as fresh and natural a diet as possible. Once the doctor isolated his patients and put them on the best diet possible, he used hot and cold treatments to stimulate the immune system. Along with complete rest and a good, carefully regulated diet, they had fomentations applied to the throat, chest, and abdomen. In other words, he put these hot fomentations to the chest, then cold rub down, then hot again. This doctor was able, miraculously, to get these people back to health in a few days. If they noticed symptoms again after they were better, he had them rest again so they would not have a relapse. The article ends this way: “As a result of this system of handling the disease that is soaring and scoring thousands of victims every day, there has not been one case that could have been called serious, or not one single death in the seminary although there were more than 90 persons affected. This record is remarkable.”
God has given us so many amazing health principles to keep us in good health. “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” – 3 John verse 2.
Ways to Build your Immune System:
1. Get Plenty of Rest: One of the guidelines God gives us is rest. When we are ill our bodies recover best when we rest. Even when we think we have recovered it is best to take 2-3 additional days to rest. This may be particularly important with COVID-19 because we don’t know for sure when recovery occurs. Genetic material from the virus may be shed from the nostrils for up to 2-4 weeks. So, rest.
2. Eat Healthy: Nutrition is key in any illness both as prevention and assisting in the cure. Fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, reduce inflammation and improve blood vessel function. Plant foods are loaded with health-promoting, protective phytochemicals that neutralize the oxidative stress of infections and other diseases. They reduce inflammation which is going on in the lungs of COVID-19 patients and they enhance the health of the blood vessel lining to assure needed blood supply. Animal protein has inflammatory substances one of which is a foreign inflammatory molecule called Neu5Gc. The name of this molecule is not as important as the fact that plant foods such as kale and other green leafy vegetables provide the building blocks to produce the substance that makes blood vessels work well. We also suggest a rainbow of colors on your plate, assuring that all the protective nutrients are included in your diet both as prevention and as adjunct to cure if one gets the disease. Of course, avoiding sugar is a must as sugar impairs white blood cell function which is vital in fighting off foreign substances in our bodies.
3. Drink Lots of Water: Water protects the body from dehydration allowing every cell to function and fight at peak performance. Therefore, it is a key element to enhancing our immune system. So, drink lots of water! How much? At least eight (8-ounce) glasses a day. Another way to monitor if you are getting enough is to drink enough so that you have at least one clear urine per day. Helpful note: Make sure to consume adequate water before 6 pm so that your sleep is not interrupted and vital rest compromised.
4. Get Adequate Fresh Air & Exercise: The issue of exercise is also important, and we recommend, whenever possible that it be out in the sunshine even if it is cold. Exercise is profoundly helpful in warding off disease. “Deep breathing of crisp, outdoor air stimulates the circulation, brings oxygen to the blood, and helps throw off waste matter.” (Ministry of Healing p. 272) “The pure air, the glad sunshine, the flowers and trees, the orchards and vineyards, and outdoor exercise amid these surroundings, are health-giving, life-giving. Physicians and nurses should encourage their patients to be much in the open air. Outdoor life is the only remedy that many invalids need. It has a wonderful power to heal diseases…” (Ministry of Healing p. 263-264) “Exercise in the open air should be prescribed as a life-giving necessity.” (Ministry of Healing p 265)
5. Hot & Cold Treatments: The exposure to cold is another key to recovery from infectious diseases. We recommend a hot shower for 3-5 minutes, followed by a cold shower for about 30 seconds. Alternate these three times ending with cold. Cold stimulates the immune system. Some may struggle with tolerating the cold at first so our suggestion is to stand in the shower with the hot water for the 3-5 minutes then slowly turn the shower to as cold as you can stand. It is surprising how quickly our bodies allow us to tolerate quite cold water for 30 seconds.