Unless this is your first day back on the grid, fresh off an isolation experience in a yurt, you already know that the word virus is top of mind. Google search trends show us that interest in the word often peaks during the winter months when upper respiratory viral infections are common. But this winter season, the word virus is shattering the historical spikes in search trends. In fact, interest in the word virus now rivals top search words like “movies.”
And this winter, people are especially concerned about new viruses. “While the world is focused on a cure, not enough of the conversation is focused on the things people can do to avoid contracting the disease,” says naturopathic doctor Steven Katz.
Whether new variants of sick-making viruses, or the types that cause the so-called “common cold,” there are proven public health strategies that help stop the spread of upper respiratory viral infections.
Stop the spread:
To stop the spread of health-compromising viruses, public health officials offer important advice that we should all follow: wash hands frequently, maintain social distance when coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a bent elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing, and self-isolate when sick.
Researchers are also focused on susceptibility—that is, factors that influence the risk of catching a virus. Remarkably, the gut microbiome may have influence on viruses that wreak havoc on the respiratory tract. This is one of the reasons why oral (encapsulated) probiotics have been so successful in lowering upper respiratory tract infection rates and associated sick days.
A healthy diet with some key nutrients can help to promote a strong immune system. Basic advice tells us to eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and healthy fats and avoid processed, sugary and non-nutritious foods. Some key nutrients, like vitamin C and zinc, echinacea, garlic and elderberry can help to fight off infections.
There’s also a lesser-known nutrient that has amazing anti-viral potential. Recently, Canadian scientists announced that they are collaborating with Chinese scientists in a massive 1000-subject trial to examine the anti-coronavirus properties of quercetin. Quercetin, found in healthy plant foods, already has proven anti-viral properties as it has been studied with both Ebola and Zika viruses.
Since greens+ is rich in colourful plant foods, it is perhaps unsurprising that University of Toronto scientists determined that quercetin is one of the dominant phytonutrients found in greens+.
For many years, researchers have made connections between lifestyle and winter viral infections like the common “cold.” Stress, lack of sleep, excess alcohol, and notably, unhealthy dietary patterns, have been linked with winter viral susceptibility. In addition to critical public health measures, those known to stop the spread, don’t forget about your inner terrain.
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Wijnkoop, I et al. The Clinical and Economic Impact of Probiotics Consumption on Respiratory Tract Infections: Projections for Canada. PLoS One. 2016; 11(11): e0166232