I’m often asked, Don–when will you address the Covid crisis? Is there a REAL wellness angle that could mitigate risks of this affliction? What can individuals, and what can societies do, to prevent or lessen future pandemics?
I think there are two approaches that should be emphasized that are ignored or hardly mentioned by WHO, the CDC or medical experts. No, I’m not thinking about ultraviolet light or ingesting bleach or other disinfectants. Unlike the president’s suggestions, neither of my two strategies involves ultraviolet light or ingesting cleansing agents.
STRATEGY ONE: ATHLETICISM
The first suggestion features the REAL wellness dimension of Athleticism–exercise and nutrition. Fitness and diet reforms as part of an overall personal commitment to wellbeing represent a way to lower one of if not the most hazardous pandemic comorbidity–old age.
While there is no way short of dying early to prevent old age, the comorbidy factor that makes old age such a risk with pandemics is frailty associated with long life. Remaining younger longer (i.e., less frail) through optimal diet and exercise is as sound an investment in your future as there is.
Premature frailty is a grave danger–so everyone should seek to age as physically fit as possible. More is possible than most Americans realize. You can do it on your own–no need for federal, state or local assistance; no medical doctors need be involved. Ask not what the health care system can do for you; ask what you can do to reduce your need for the health care system.
Major risk factors that render people susceptible to the Corona virus, besides old age, are obesity, heart conditions, kidney disease and diabetes. These and other risks are related to the other feature of Athleticism–the foods you eat.
Everyone fortunate to live long enough to gain eligibility for Medicare, Social Security and theater discounts will eventually become frail, no matter how diligent the diet, how ambitious the fitness routine. But, better to hold declines at bay until 80 or 90, rather than 60 or 65. Do it right and, with a little bit of luck, you might discover that 80 is the new 39. Well, maybe 69.
Adults 65 and older account for 16% of the US population but 80% of COVID-19 deaths. Fatality rates for those who contract the Covid virus over age 80 are five times the overall global average. Additional risks at this age derive from neglect in care facilities, increased poverty and stigmas associated with discrimination and isolation.
Becoming as fit as you can manage with exercise and optimal diet choices are the two initiatives you can embrace that have not been promoted during this year of the Covid_19 pandemic. Figure out ways to participate in a sport (s) you love or activity you enjoy–and add to that by becoming an expert in the selection and enjoyment of whole food, plant-based diets–or other diet patterns that, after thorough investigations, you believe are most healthful and enjoyable.
In addition, attend to other lifestyle arts, especially resilience, positivity, an active social life, community involvement, your personal liberties, critical thinking and all else that promotes exuberance, love, meaning and bouts of happiness.
Strengthen your immunity now–it will protect you later. Seek to become and remain in super top-form as long as possible. The next pandemic is likely to be more pernicious than this one. If fortunate enough to become old, you’ll enjoy being so more, and probably longer, as well. In so doing, you’ll lessen the burdens on loved ones and society.
STRATEGY TWO: DON’T EAT ANIMALS
Viral infectious diseases originating from animal consumption are known as zoonotic diseases. They are not always due to exotic animal consumption in live markets, such as Wuhan, China, but are traced to domestic livestock. Such transmissions factor in measles, tuberculosis and AIDS. Michael Greger, M.D., author of How to Survive a Pandemic, identifies consumption of food products rendered toxic at concentration camp-worthy slaughterhouse factories as a primary source of pandemics.
Livestock (beef, pork and poultry) are bred, raised and killed in what are euphemistically called concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), or industrial-scale factory farms. Thousands of genetically similar animals are packed in unsanitary cages, pressed together body-to-body. This invites disease due to the extreme stress on animal immune systems. Factory farms are ideal environments for viruses and other pathogens that mutate and evolve to cross over to human populations. (Source: Matt Wellington, US Public Interest Research Group.)
The suggested idea is to promote changes in the nation’s food preferences in order to dramatically reduce or eliminate consumption of beef, pork and poultry.
This will take decades if not generations, but a trend in the desired direction is already underway and should be supported.
Major animal protein companies, including Smithfield, Cargill, and Hormel, among others, recognize the need to transition away from current practices.
Strengthen your immunity to pandemics and other misfortunes with a REAL wellness lifestyle. Harden your resistance to the frailties of long life with exceptional attention to athleticism. Being in super top-form is inestimably valuable at all stages of life, but it is more equally inestimable (thanks George Orwell) in the twilight years. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, speaking at the virtual Democratic National Convention, described the current pandemic as a metaphor, suggesting that a virus attacks when the body is weak and when it cannot defend itself. While the governor referred to the body politic, it’s also true that only a strong human body can fight off a virus.
Strong bodies of all ages, including perennials and evergreens of impressive longevity, are more likely to thrive and flourish when the next pandemic arrives, which could be even more pernicious than this one.
Good luck. Live long and well.