Inspiring people to lead healthier lives is at the heart of all we do at Lifeplus. In light of the various questions circling around viruses, particularly Coronavirus, we wanted to remind you that we’re all in this together and share some advice from our very own Dr. Dwight McKee.
Perspective is key. Remaining calm whilst looking after our wellbeing should be our focus. The last thing we all need to do is increase our levels of stress. High stress leads to cortisol levels being high in the body which reduces our natural immunity.
That’s not to say we’re not taking this seriously, of course we all are at Lifeplus. We can all take basic precautions so we wanted to share Dr. Dwight Mckee’s suggestions that address the most important thing – how to help you keep healthy.
Why your hand washing technique is important
Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands – did we mention the importance of washing your hands? Many germs can hang around on surfaces for almost up to a week. You may be surprised to hear that you should spend at least 20 seconds washing your hands (probably more time than you’re used to!) and yes, technique is important. There is a correct way to wash your hands to tackle those germs. Click here to see the World Health Organisation’s guidance on hand hygiene.
How can germs spread?
The more people there are together, the more germs spread. Here’s a few tips on what to do when you’re in a public space.
The power of touch – When you go to public spaces, use your knuckle to touch elevator buttons, light switches, credit card buttons and screens. Think about wearing nitrile or latex gloves when you go to the shops – at least on one hand to protect it from touching surfaces that are touched by many people. Oh and wash your hands immediately when you get home and sanitise as much as possible.
Masks – The main value of masks is that they keep you from touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Wearing surgical masks will not protect you if someone who is infected directly coughs or sneezes on your face, but it will protect you from unconscious touching of nose or mouth. If you are elderly or have an underlying health condition then wearing a mask when out in public is good practice.
Putting in fuel – When you fill up your car, lift the fuel dispenser with a paper towel or wear a disposable glove. This is also good advice when touching credit card buttons or screens on fuel pumps. Some screens require direct skin contact to work, in which case use a knuckle rather than a fingertip. You’re less likely to touch your face with a knuckle than you are with a fingertip.
Disinfectant wipes – Use disinfectant wipes at stores wherever possible including wiping child seats and handling grocery carts. Hand wipes should contain 60% alcohol (of any type) to be effective. Tip! If alcohol and disinfectant wipes become unavailable, you can put the highest proof vodka you can purchase into a spray bottle and spray on any sort of tissue, towel or cloth to make your own disinfectant wipes.
Opening doors – Open doors in public places, especially rest rooms, with your closed fist or hip, rather than taking a door handle with your hand. If there is no other way to open the door, it’s good to have a disposable glove handy. After washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, dry your hands with paper towels and keep a towel in your hand to open the door to go out and then throw it away. Avoid public bathrooms (when possible) that use high powered heated forced air, as these create tiny droplets that can cover many surfaces. If you are carrying a virus and you don’t use adequate soap or wash for long enough and then dry your hands, these are widely dispersed by such hand drying devices. If there is an option between such devices and paper towels, always choose paper towels.
With so many cultural differences in greetings that vary from hugs to kisses, how do we greet people without spreading germs? It’s an opportunity to get creative and find new ways to greet one another without compromising our health. Try to limit handshakes, kisses and hugs and instead greet with an elbow bump, foot shake, a Namaste or respectful bow.
“Focus on your surroundings. When you come home from being in public places and before you touch things in your home, wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds and/or use a greater than 60% alcohol-based hand sanitiser. Keep a bottle of hand sanitiser (bought or home made with vodka spray) at home, work and even in your car.” – Dr. Dwight McKee
If you get sick with anything that’s infectious, whether it’s a cold, influenza, or Covid 19 coronavirus, it’s vitally important to stay home and avoid exposing others as much as possible, unless hospitalisation is required for difficulty in breathing.
Bin those germs! Cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue and throw it away. Using your elbow contaminates the clothing or skin of your elbow which can be infectious for a week. Change your clothes regularly and wash them in hot water with soap.
Can my diet stop me from getting ill?
There are a number of foods that are known to help boost your immune system1. Be mindful of having good nutrition – avoid sugar and all refined carbohydrates which stress our immune system. Maintaining a healthy intake of vitamin C2, vitamin D3 and/or zinc4 has been known to contribute to the normal function of the immune system. By focusing on eating a healthy and nutrient-rich diet, staying well hydrated and getting enough sleep, you’re taking those important steps to maintaining a happy and healthy version of yourself.
What else can I do to boost my immune system?
Regular exercise, regular relaxation (such as meditation or mindfulness training), staying socially connected and spending time in nature are all things that can support your immune system. Exploring ecotherapy and getting exposed to natural sunlight on a regular basis are all good for our immune systems. Connect with others and walk in the fresh air – it’s a great way to stay active.
And lastly – think positively. Try to have a pragmatic and positive mind-set – just keep reminding yourself of those wise words from Bob Lemon – “keep your focus on what you do want”. Together let’s do all we can to help others and ourselves to stay healthy.
1 Healthline: Foods that boost the immune system
2 NCBI: Vitamin C and Immune Function
3 NCBI: Vitamin D and Immune Function
4 Advances in nutrition: The role of zinc in antiviral immunity