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Your Health Can Keep You Safe

by Beth on October 16th, 2020

One of the most important things you can do to keep from getting sick from the coronavirus is to avoid exposure. Wearing a mask, physical distancing, gathering outdoors, and hand washing are the best ways to do this. I bet you hear about one or more of these almost every day.

Unfortunately, you don’t hear nearly enough about the importance of your health for reducing the likelihood of becoming sick if exposed to the virus. The underlying conditions that increase the probability of hospitalization and death are all related to our metabolic health. Sadly, only 12% of Americans are metabolically healthy.

The good news is that your health is determined in large part by your lifestyle. Studies have shown that lifestyle changes can significantly improve your metabolic health in as little as 21 days. That means you can take steps right now to reduce your risk of getting sick from COVID19.

The 5 keys to improving metabolic health are: diet, exercise, sleep, stress management, and social connection.

  • Diet is most important, because it’s the only one of these interventions that has been proven to reverse metabolic health on its own. Eating a wide range of fruits and vegetables will ensure that you get the fiber needed to feed the healthy bacteria in your gut. Legumes, nuts, and seeds are healthy sources of protein. And sugar and processed foods should be minimized, because they suppress your immune system.
  • Exercise enhances the immune system’s ability to function and fight infection. Aim for 20 to 30 minutes of moderate activity, like walking, each day, as well as some form of strength-building exercise, like yoga, a couple of times a week.
  • A minimum of 7 hours of sleep is critical for good health. Some recommendations for sleeping better include a quiet, dark, cold room and bedtime routines like avoiding blue lights from screens and putting your phone to sleep in another room.
  • Stress suppresses your immune system, so you need to find ways to reduce it. Breathing exercises are a great practice. Just 10 to 15 minutes a day can make a difference. You can download a meditation app to get started. Practicing gratitude can minimize stress by helping you to focus on the positive. Other options include yoga or listening to music. Limiting the amount of news you consume, especially these days, can also reduce your stress.
  • Our social connections have a strong impact on our metabolic health. It’s critical to stay in touch with friends and family during the pandemic. We should be practicing physical distancing, not social distancing. Connecting virtually is a great option, but also look for safe ways to meet people outdoors for some mask-to-mask interaction.

You have the power to minimize the potential impact of coronavirus by making lifestyle changes to improve your health. Eating a healthy diet, keeping active, getting enough sleep, managing stress, and staying connected can all make a real difference.

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