Pandemic panic: How to protect yourself and your family from coronavirus

There is much information going around on how to stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic. Our nutritionist presents the most important ways you can protect yourself from the deadly coronavirus
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Every day, my son comes home from school and shares information on the Coronavirus. On social media, news channels, Whatsapp groups and school discussions, there is a lot of panic. Have you been scared for yourself or your family? Are you being extra cautious? Are you jumping to the big guns and arming your children and yourself with hand sanitisers? What can you actually do to protect yourself and your dear ones?

What exactly is COVID-19?

Coronaviruses are a group of viruses found in many species, including camels, cattle and bats. A new strain of this virus, known as COVID-19 is the reason for the outbreak in respiratory disease.

While there is a lot of panic regarding this outbreak, and many uncertainties, there is a lot that you can do for your immune system and your health, which can create a strong defence against any virus.

Masks can help keep you safe in crowded places during a pandemic (Source: Shutterstock)

Your immune system is a strong protection against any intruder. By boosting immune activity, you strengthen this line of defence. This is done in two ways. The first is to avoid immune weakening food and habits, and two is to add immune superstars.

What you don’t want to do!

When it comes to protecting your immune system against a virus like COVID-19, there are a few immune stressors that you have to safeguard yourself against.

1.  Avoid keeping your body in a state of inflammation which can weaken overall immune activity, especially when you need it to be extra strong. Stay away from inflammatory foods like processed food, dairy, white sugar, trans fats and farmed meat.

2.  Avoid missing sleep or having disrupted sleep. Poor sleep is one of one most critical immune stressors, weakening your immune system the very next day. Make sleeping early and getting a full night’s sleep a non-negotiable.

3.  Avoid chronic stress. Chronic stress elevates cortisol, weakening your immune system, and making you vulnerable to virus.


4.  Avoid excessive hand sanitiser usage. While it is common to arm yourself and your children with that little bottle of hand sanitiser, remember that those with triclosan can be hormone disrupting and immune stressing. Stick to washing your hands well with soap and water.

5.  Avoid lack of movement and exercise. Lack of movement makes your lymphatic system, which is the waste clearance system of your immune system, sticky and toxic, putting you at risk for virus attack. Keep your body moving with exercise, which also boosts your immune system.

6.  Avoid frequently touching your nose, mouth and your face. Since virus entry is through these areas, touching your face frequently makes you more vulnerable to passing on germs.


7. Avoid crowded and enclosed spaces. Staying away from social gatherings within closed spaces, is advisable, given that germs breed and spread within enclosed spaces. Try to stay in spaces which are well ventilated instead.

How can you boost your immune system with food and supplements?

1.  Eat an immune boosting diet. Eat plenty of fresh and organic plant-based vegetables and fruits. Try to increase your daily consumption of colourful plant-based foods, rich in antioxidants to combat oxidative stress and boost your mitochondrial or cellular function. Reach for pomegranate, cherries, mulberries, beetroots, carrots, yellow pumpkin, sweet potatoes, broccoli, left greens, cabbage, purple cabbage, fresh turmeric root, ginger and mushrooms.

2.  Include oil pulling daily as part of your oral hygiene. Gargle forcefully for twenty minutes with a combination of sesame oil, pink salt, turmeric and tea tree or neem essential oil. This strengthens your oral microbiome, and protects you against entry of pathogenic virus that cause respiratory attack.

3.  Include specific supplements for a month. See that you are not deficient in the vitamins and minerals that are part of a robust functioning immune system. These include vitamin D, C, Zinc and Vitamin A. Even if you are eating a diverse diet, it would be helpful to you at this point, to add some of these as supplements.

4.  Include herbals. Add some immune strengthening herbals and teas. At the very least, add a spoonful of amla powder twice a day and drink tulsi tea throughout the day. This is probably very basic and will not harm anyone.

5. Add Probiotics. While most people associate fermented food with a robust immune system, it is also common to have sensitivities to fermented foods. If you know that you have a reaction to foods like kefir, sauerkraut and kombucha, reach for a good probiotic instead.

6.  Spices! Spices are hugely anti-inflammatory and immune protective. Have a tea with boiled ginger, fennel, cumin, coriander and pepper. Include generous sprinklings of clove, cinnamon and cardamom in your food. Include a lot of ginger and garlic.

The COVID-19 Supplement List:

Here’s my personal COVID-19 Supplement list, which I use to protect my family, clients and friends. If you need to test some levels before you add these, please go ahead and do that.

1.  Vitamin D 60000 IU - Take this high dose Vitamin D, one or twice this month

2.  Vitamin C 1000 mg - Take this once daily

3.  Amla powder - Take one teaspoon in warm water once, or twice daily

4.  Tulsi Turmeric Ginger Tea - I drink this throughout the day

Do what you can do, in whatever way you can. Don’t panic and cause yourself adrenal dysfunction, which can in fact make you more susceptible to COVID-19. Begin the work today.