We are living a stressful existence right now. Anxiety levels are high and while it can certainly feel like we are not in control, there are small ways we can all help ourselves and those around us. It is all about personal decisions and actions. Besides following common sense advice from the World Health Organization to wash your hands, practice social distancing and staying home when sick, there are other ways you can take control. Take extra care of yourself. Self-care and compassion towards others has never been needed more. Taking it one day at a time, we can boost our immune system and try to get answers to some of our pressing questions.
The wellness and beauty communities have taken their own actions by putting in extra effort into either shutting doors or taking time to clean spaces more vigorously. Some have taken to social media, creating online workshops on health, exercise, even hobbies to occupy our time. Greetings at spas have changed from handshakes to Buddha greetings, but many spas and beauty shops are seriously considering closing. This may seem alarming, but it is the right thing to do for prevention. If you are a skincare and makeup shopper, stores like Sephora sent out emails listing the ways their company plans on tackling the issue in their many locations. Makeup services and classes have been cancelled, but for now, professionals will still be available for tips and advice. The stores will pay close attention to cleanliness. What if you want to try on makeup? For answers we turned to Dr. Gretchen Frieling, Triple Board-Certified Dermatopathologist.
Is it safe to try on makeup at a store like Sephora?
Dr. Frieling: In a word – no. Just few days ago one Ulta Beauty employee told the media outlet Insider she finds it “astonishing” how many people are willing to use product testers in the store she works at.” A number of beauty retailers don’t seem to be removing testers from their displays or eliminating mini-makeovers where the same brushes and products are being used on the same customers. Costco has revoked handing out food samples which is much less risky than sampling a lipstick that 50 other people have already dipped into that same day! The only item that is safe to try are fragrances that are sprayed from a sealed bottle. Roll-on fragrances or any other kind that involves skin to skin contact are not safe. Just because a beauty retailer offers samples does not make it safe and they are not safe during this time.
What about using sanitizer without alcohol. Are they effective?
Dr. Frieling: If you choose hand sanitizers with less than 60-95% alcohol, you will not eliminate many types of germs, and depending on the percentage of alcohol, you may only reduce the growth without actually killing the harmful bacteria. It is best to use hand sanitizer with alcohol.
And there you have it. Use sanitizers that are effective, but it has come to light that hand washing is most effective in killing the virus. Read New York Times “Why Soap Works”. Save the sanitizer for those times when you can’t get to a soak with soap and water. There is more to washing your hands than one might think. The World Health Organization shows us how it’s done.
With all the hand washing and sanitizer use, how can we keep our hands moisturized?
Palmers Cocoa Butter is phenomenal. Other products to consider are vanicream and aquaphor.
BOOSTING YOUR IMMUNITY
What about lifestyle changes? For answers we sought out Dr. Pedre, a well-known Internist focusing on gut-health.
Dr. Pedre recommends getting enough sleep and lowering stress.
Make sure to get enough sleep, at least 7 to 8 hours nightly.
“Keep your stress levels under control. Getting adequate sleep is an immune booster, and stress often disrupts sleep. Everything is interconnected. So, managing your stress is an important factor for keeping your immune system strong.”
What types of food should be avoided?
AVOID SUGAR, AVOID ALCOHOL, And AVOID DAIRY
WHY DAIRY?!?! Dairy products increase mucous production, which prolongs your sick symptoms. They also make it easier to catch a cold. I’m recommending that everyone go off dairy until this viral pandemic passes. Dairy can also exacerbate the pulmonary consequences of an airborne infection or even a secondary bacterial pneumonia that may develop after the first infection. If you don’t like coughing, then dairy’s your enemy.
For more of Dr. Pedre’s tips, recipes and insights visit Happy Gut.
American’s #1 organic meal delivery service, Fresh n’ Lean, had excellent tips to share with us as well. A registered dietician consultant with Fresh n’ Lean, Randy Evans, MS, RD, LD, gives us detailed tips that you can easily apply to your next grocery outing.
Eat the rainbow
“We often think of nutrition and how to support the immune system when it comes to the flu season, but our body’s defense systems operate every second of every day, fighting off foreign bacteria, viruses, and keeping us healthy. Our goal should be to think of this daily, how best to support our bodies proper metabolic function.”
Focus on the colors in your diet — green kale and cucumber, orange sweet potatoes and carrots, purples and blue hues of plums and blueberries. “The colors in healthy foods are actually a part of the plant’s immune system, so eating the rainbow in your diet boosts your phytonutrient intake and boosts nutrients to help support your immune function,” Evans said.
Eating whole foods reduces the intake of chemicals, additives and artificial sweeteners often found in processed foods, improving the body’s detox system. Beyond veggies and fruits, healthy fats — those found in extra virgin, organic, and cold-pressed coconut or olive oil, avocados, raw nuts and seeds, and range-fed or wild-caught animal products — are also a smart addition for meals and snacks.
Eat your medicine
Nutraceuticals represent the perfect balance of food and medicine — they provide nourishment as well as medical benefit. The supplements “might aid prevention and control” of viruses like COVID-19, according to a research article published in February by the journal “Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases.” Key nutraceuticals highlighted in the study include:
- Ferulic acid
- Lipoic acid
- Yeast Beta-Glucan
The nutrients are often found to be low or very low in unhealthy patients, Evans said, meaning the body is weak and unable to respond to viral threats.
Soak up some sun
Make sure to stay on the sunny side. Vitamin D — which is produced when the skin receives sunlight, and is also found in fresh fish and eggs — has many important functions in the body, including bolstering bone and overall health.
“It’s actually more of a hormone than a vitamin in function,” Evans said. “Research suggests Vitamin D has both antimicrobial and antiviral potential in the body. The most potent impact is shown when Vitamin D levels are boosted when found low.”
The most effective way of measuring the body’s Vitamin D levels is through the amount of the serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the blood, and experts recommend a concentration of 50 nanomoles per liter.
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