The nutritionists at Starkel Nutrition put our heads together to offer our thoughts on the coronavirus. These are some of our recommendations regarding the current outbreak amidst the abundance of information already available, as we know we take a different approach to health in general. Please talk to your nutritionist or physician for more personalized suggestions.
The coronavirus, more specifically the COVID-19, started in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China late last year. It has proven to be a fast moving, hardy virus. It is in the same family as SARS and MERS, two other regionalized viruses affecting people in the last couple of decades, and all three originate in bats. The symptoms of the current coronavirus initially mimic the flu with fever, headache, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue and muscle aches. This virus cannot be detected by physical appearances, and it is certainly not skewed to any one race.
As of March 1, there are 472 confirmed cases in the United States. As of this day, there has been one confirmed death, in the state of Washington, and several more quite ill. Unfortunately, it seems those worst affected are the elderly or have underlying health issues. However, the first diagnosed person in the US was also here in Washington, and that person is now at home recovering. Most people with strong immune systems and good health seem to be able to fight it off. The virus has been detected in nearly every country of the world. Mortality rates, as reported by China, are 3.8% but this number may change with more data. The World Health Organization estimates the death rate at 2%, but also says it is too early to tell.
The name coronavirus actually refers to a large family of viruses, including ones that have been around for a long time which affect both humans and animals. Most strains of coronaviruses are relatively mild, but the two mentioned above, MERS and SARS, were more severe, along with this version, COVID-19.
Although the CDC says there is still a lot to learn, COVID-19 seems to spread mainly by respiratory transmission, by being sneezed or coughed on, or by being within 6 feet of an infected person. An infected person is more contagious before they show symptoms, unfortunately. The CDC estimates that the incubation period is about 2-14 days, and that is the time symptoms start to occur after exposure. The virus can be transmitted before a person shows any signs or symptoms of illness- which is the same with other strains of colds and flus. This simply underscores the importance of basic disease transmission prevention practices.
What Can You DO?
As you know, we nutritionists prefer to prevent disease from occurring if at all possible. Prevention is our tool. There are very few effective antiviral medications, but there are quite a few nutrients that help us fight viruses. Most medications suppress symptoms, which can result in relief, but most often do not support healing. With that in mind, here are our thoughts on staying healthy.
- Wash your hands frequently – This is one you will hear from every healthcare practitioner. Simply running your hands quickly under water does not work. Get your hands wet with warm water, apply soap, and scrub for as long as it takes you to sing the well-known song, Happy Birthday (20 seconds), then rinse and dry. Also, greet others with a fist bump instead of a handshake right now. Carry hand-sanitizer. We prefer the natural, essential oil-based ones, but alcohol based are great too. EO has a lovely spray version.
- Stay hydrated – We always hear that hydration is important, but why? Of course the body runs better when we are hydrated in general, but specifically with fighting infections, more water hydrates our mucus membranes which can catch microbes and direct them toward digestion and destruction rather than into the lungs. When traveling, this is even more important as air travel dehydrates us. A good rule is to have 6 oz of water for every hour of flight and to avoid alcohol and caffeine in the air as they are diuretics. When traveling by other modes of transportation, bring a water bottle (so as not to use single-use plastics) and aim to have a bathroom break once per hour or 90 minutes where you can refill. When at work or home, try to get at least 2-3 quarts of water per day or drink half your weight in oz. For example, a 150 lb person would drink about 75 ounces. And if you do get sick, maintain this level.
- Maintain good immune-supporting practices –
- Sleep enough. Nothing replaces the body’s innate ability to heal when properly rested.
- Wear a hat outside when it’s cold; we lose most of our body heat through our head. If your immune system is vulnerable, this may make a difference.
- Wash your food thoroughly; many hands have touched it.
- Cough and sneeze into a tissue, or if you don’t have one, your elbow, not your hands.
- Use anti-microbial essential oils (see below) which can kill airborne pathogens.
- Maintain exercise, but consider wearing workout gloves at the gym.
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Eat protein and vegetables – This is foundational to a healthy body and supplies many of the nutrients needed to fight infection.
- Avoid sugar and refined flours – Sugar and flour (basically sugar that is not sweet) is a known immune suppressant, plain and simple.
Supplements – Antiviral Kits* available at Starkel Nutrition
- Maintain optimal levels of nutrients – This means to take your multi-vitamin/mineral daily, and during the flu or ‘viral’ season, consider extra vitamins A, C and D. Vitamins A and C have antiviral properties and help your immune system when under a viral attack.
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C is required in many chemical reactions in our body for general functioning. It is also helpful in preventing illness. At higher doses, it can be a very effective antiviral.
- Epicor – Epicor is a mushroom/fungal based supplement that we find works so well at preventing illness. Our clients have reported that they no longer acquire illnesses after flying on long flights.
- Silver – We at Starkel Nutrition are big fans of aqueous silver. Silver is antimicrobial, including bacteria, virus, and other pathogens. In contrast to colloidal silver, which we do not recommend, aqueous silver passes out of your body within 48 hours. In the meantime, it enters cells and kills pathogenic bacteria and viruses. We never travel without it (most of us have our own personal stash in our offices.) It is conveniently in a 4 oz spray bottle and you can take it orally and spritz your face, nasal passages and eyes (we like to put it in smaller < 3 oz bottles for airplane carry on). Refills are also available in 16 oz.
- Essential Oils – Ravintsara essential oil can help prevent pathogens from lodging in the respiratory tract. Wash hands first. Place one drop in the palm of one hand, gently rub hands together and hold cupped hands over the nose and mouth and inhale (also called ‘cupped hand inhalation’). Or use it in a diffuser which can help disinfect a whole room *not included in our Antiviral Kit but can be purchased through our online supplement dispensaries via Wellevate or Fullscript, and most health food stores.
When illness strikes:
- Vitamin A is a natural antiviral as well. In higher doses for short periods of time, it can be extremely effective at fighting off viruses within the body. The form of vitamin A is important, and it has to be the retinol form (not beta-carotene) which is the active form of the vitamin.
- Vitamin D is also very important in fighting infections and general immunity.
- More vitamin C
- Iodine is also extremely helpful for fighting off an infection and is important for normal immune system functioning. No known pathogen thrives in iodine which is why it was used for years to sterilize skin abrasions and prior to surgery.
For an Antiviral Kit* along with our recommendations for dosing, please see the contact information below.
We hope you find this short blog on the corona virus helpful. For more information, please go to the Center for Disease Control’s site on the virus.
Starkel Nutrition has prepared discounted Antiviral Kits* with the above nutrients for purchase. Please talk to your practitioner, give us a call at 206-853-0534 or email email@example.com and we can save one for you.
Our Antiviral Kit contents:
- Epicor Plus Immunity
- Vitamin A (retinol) 25,000 units
- Vitamin D3 with Vitamin K2
- Vitamin C
- May also consider:
*These are recommendations only. As registered dietitians/nutritionists, we do not diagnose or prescribe. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your physician or healthcare professional.
1] https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6908e1.htm accessed February 26, 2020.
 https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/us/coronavirus-us-american-treatment-trial/index.html accessed February 26, 2020.
 https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/coronavirus-death-rate/ accessed February 27, 2020.
 https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html accessed on February 26, 2020.