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As more states begin to ease lockdown mandates and everyday businesses reopen doors, Americans still have concerns about the coronavirus. In fact, 71 percent are worried that local governments are lifting shutdowns too early, according to a recent survey from the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project.
Despite how some may feel about reopening, staying healthy is a top priority. Here are tips from professionals who are knowledgeable about immunity and infectious diseases and how you minimize your chance of contracting COVID-19.
Minimize stress and get enough rest.
“One of the most significant issues that we will be facing is everyone’s mental health as we move forward," Dr. Ken Perry told FOX Business. "The ‘flight/fright/fight’ reflex is not meant to be a long-term response. It’s supposed to help you out of danger and then recover. We have been on alert, and scared for the most part, for months now,”
He went on to explain that increased stress and anxiety can lead to sleeplessness or increased fatigue, which ultimately hinders immune systems. Perry advises concerned parties to remain as calm as possible and get enough sleep daily in addition to regular hand-washing.
“People need to take precautions but also need to live not in fear. Respect the virus, but also find a way to still live,” he added. “If you choose to wear a mask, please be cognizant of the fact that it doesn’t help if you contaminate it with dirty hands. Put the mask on, leave it on, and don’t touch it until you take it off. And you should wash your hands before you take it off as well.”
Eat healthy foods and boost your immune system.
“You want to focus on gut-healthy foods right now. Seventy percent of our immune system resides in our gut,” Jayne Williams, a certified integrative health and nutrition expert, told FOX Business. “By choosing foods that support and build our immune system we are better able to navigate a virus if exposed.”
Foods she recommends people stock in their refrigerators include probiotics, fiber, protein and healthy fats, antioxidants and whole grains. She also said adequate hydration is important to keep viral infections at bay.
“Coronavirus or not, you want to keep your immune system operating at ‘optimal speed’ because it supports so many things in the body, including brain health, digestive health, inflammatory response and of course immunity,” Williams explained. “If we ‘prime’ the immune system, there has been clinical research that has shown you will overall feel better.”
Williams added, “Responsive immune systems contain diverse immunological memory, meaning it actually remembers the bad pathogens that it has antibodies for and it creates new ones to fight those bad guys. This is how vaccines work in the body.”
Practice enhanced sanitation and precaution.
Carla Tardif, the CEO of Family Reach – a national organization focused on providing financial support to families facing cancer – said immunocompromised households have implemented heightened sanitation and precautions before the coronavirus, and even more so now.
“As cancer treatment weakens the immune system, heightened concern for spreading germs becomes second nature,” Tardif explained. “Beyond diligent hand- washing and social distancing, families facing cancer have mastered the behavioral changes required to protect them from germs and viruses.”
Tardif offered five tips people can use to protect themselves and others from coronavirus.
- Have a spare set of clothes by the back door and change when you walk into the house.
- Wash all produce from the grocery store; wipe down all cans, boxes, bottles and jars before putting them away.
- Give each family member his or her own labeled water bottle. No more glasses sitting around to avoid picking up the wrong one!
- Use reusable grocery bags as your shopping cart. That way, you’ll be filling up your own bags rather than touching grocery store carts or handheld baskets.
- Run your sponges through the dishwasher with your dishes each day to keep them free from bacteria.