Novel coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has the world in its clutches.
Since I wrote the first part of the “What to do when you panic about coronavirus” series a couple of weeks ago, the number of infected people has risen to more than 1.4 million worldwide and over 80,000 more have died from COVID-19.
The number of new cases surges at a terrifying pace. With the global panic pandemic spreading faster still.
And all we can do is delay the inevitable. Wait out the storm. Hoping for the best while fearing the worst.
Because we have no treatment for the new virus strain.
And we feel out of control. Powerless. At the mercy of a ruthless enemy, with no pharmacological weapon to slay it.
We are defenceless.
Or are we?
In the current unprecedented situation, it is easy to become overwhelmed by all the panic and rapidly changing information.
It is crucial right now to protect ourselves and others through social distancing, self-isolation and careful infection control.
But what if we do catch it?
Somehow, hyped up by all the media and social media coverage, we tend to believe that, if we do catch COVID-19, we are doomed. Especially if we are over 65 years old.
Because there is no cure. And no help.
Which causes unspeakable anxiety and fear in many people.
But we forget that everyone of us has an army at our disposable. A massive, highly trained, specialised and deadly militia. Armed with powerful weapons of mass destruction.
And charged with one vital task: to protect our body from invaders and defend it against foreign attacks.
So, no matter what comes our way, we are never defenceless.
Because our immune system is ready to fight for us.
We are all obsessed with washing and sanitising our hands at the moment.
Because we know that coronavirus can live for a few hours on any surface an infected person touched. And be transferred to us if we get it onto our hands when shopping or at work.
And hand washing, as part of effective infection control, is crucial to save lives in this delay phase of the current pandemic.
So, we all must keep it up.
But coronavirus is not the only germ out there.
Every day, our hands pick up viruses, bacteria, fungi that plaster every surface we touch. Some viruses even remain airborne for a little while and we breathe them in. So, we get in contact with infectious agents wherever we go, whatever we do.
Every single day of our life.
And most of the time we don’t even know it. Because our immune system takes them out before they even have a chance to cause damage.
You see, like any living creature, germs just want to survive and multiply. And the human body, with its 37 degree Celsius temperature, is like an incubator.
The ideal environment for pathogens to thrive.
So, germs, like coronaviruses, strive to enter our body through our mouth, nose or eyes. Once in the body, they infiltrate innocent body cells.
Where they hide out.
And force the hijacked cells to abandon whatever they did before and manufacture more virus cells instead.
And once the virus army is strong enough to take on the immune system, they strike. With one sole purpose. To cause symptoms.
So, they can spread. From one incubator to another.
So, cold viruses coerce us to sneeze. Respiratory viruses make us cough. And tummy bugs force us to vomit.
Simple because the virus needs a vehicle to move from one person to the next.
But, coronavirus, like most viruses, is not out to kill us. For a virus, a dead host is a dead end.
Unfortunately though, for some people’s bodies, the viral infection can be too much to cope with. Especially when they are frail or suffer from other health conditions that weaken the body.
But that’s not only because of the virus attack. It’s also due to the immune system’s reaction to it.
Which is no mean feat.
You see, in order to annihilate the virus, our immune systems kills the body cells that are under virus control. It releases chemicals to neutralise the virus and signals its troops to assemble in the infected tissues (like the lungs).
The following deployment of ever more immune cells and the release of a massive amount of signalling proteins (called cytokines) cause inflammation, including swelling, pain and fever.
So, the virus is the reason for the immune response.
But it’s the fierce battle between the virus and the immune system that kills people. Especially if their bodies are already fighting on other fronts (e.g. when they suffer from lung disease, cancer or heart disease).
It’s therefore imperative to boost your immune system. So, it is energised, fit and hypervigilant. And it can slay the virus while it is still replicating in the cells.
Thus eliminating the need for the potentially devastating battle.
People whose defences are weakened are more likely to develop severe disease when infected with COVID-19. But even if you are fit and healthy, it is crucial to boost your immune system.
So, your symptoms are as mild as possible and you defeat the virus as quickly as possible. Which gives it less time to be spread by you.
So, to protect yourself and others, do these 3 things to boost your immune system:
The immune system is the body’s defence shield and weapon system. A healthy immune system effectively battles pathogens, like viruses and bacteria, slaughters them all and gobbles up their corpses.
But, in order to do its gory task, the immune system needs nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids (the building blocks for proteins).
The problem is though that, while many of us struggle with overeating, the foods we do eat are low in nutritious value.
Bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, cereals are mainly starch which the body turns into sugar. But few nutrients.
Sweets, cakes, yoghurts are full of sugar and calories. But hardly any nutrients.
So, most people’s bodies are starving for nutrients. And when you hardly have enough fuel to keep life support running, the last thing you want to waste energy on is the weapons.
Which is why we take it for granted that we get 2 or 3 colds a year. Because our immune systems tend to run on emergency power only.
Even when we are healthy.
So, to support your immune system in the fight ahead:
The body requires rest and sleep to function properly. And lack of sleep not only damages your health, it also disrupts your immune system. Because a fatigued body has no strength to fight.
If you would like some help finding time to rest and look after yourself, you can sign up for free now for the 12-Day Self-Care Challenge online course:
Life is chaos at the moment. And the physical threat of the disease is only one factor to cause stress.
We are locked in at home, trying to adapt to a new working environment with the children off school. Queues await us if we want to get into the shops to face another week of bare shelves. We suffer from fear, anxiety, cabin fever.
We feel worthless just sitting at home. And worry for our job, our livelihood. Our family drives us nuts. And our brain is in a constant state of overdrive.
And I don’t know about you.
But today alone I had to swallow 26 million emotions. Trying not to get upset, angry or frustrated with my husband, my daughter and the situation in general.
And all this stress and suppressed emotion increase our internal pressure and causes anxiety.
Which throws our energy system off kilter. It keeps us up at night because we worry about the future. And we either can’t eat at all because our stomach feels funny. Or we overeat on greasy, sugary comfort food.
All of which sabotages our immune system’s ability to protect us.
So, to boost your immune system, it’s crucial to reduce stress and anxiety.
If you need some help to beat your anxiety (and boost your immune system), try this guided meditation specifically designed to calm your nerves in the current crisis:
Immerse yourself in this calming guided meditation whenever you feel anxious or panic creeps up on you.
There isn’t much we can do about the situation at the moment.
Of course, we all feel restricted.
Many of us struggle to cope. Which makes us crave chocolates, cakes and sweets. We feel scared, angry, frustrated, upset. Which may affect our sleeping patterns. And we may consider numbing all the pain and anxiety with alcohol and sugary treats.
And we battle with the stresses of an imploded comfort zone, financial difficulties and health worries.
But it is imperative to realise how all of this weakens our immune system. We need to look after our main defences against germs like coronavirus.
You must do your utmost to boost your immune system against coronavirus.
This situation will pass. In a year’s time it will be a distant memory.
But right now, you must ensure self-care is a priority. Eat healthily, rest and sleep well, and reduce stress and anxiety.
And you will make it through this. With your body, mind and soul intact.