10 Tips for Avoiding Viral Infections in 2022
The 2022 and 2023 winter cold-and-virus season is upon us, and many cities are experiencing alarming spikes in flu and coronavirus cases.
Even those with no concerns about Covid will want to protect their families from the annual germ and virus festival brought about by overheated indoor conditions, dry wintry air, wet chilled clothing, and close exposure to sneezes and snot.
If you implement the following tips, you may be able to protect yourself and your family from flu germs, colds, and other airborne diseases.
1. Understand the danger and follow health guidelines.
It is now understood that even people without symptoms can spread a disease — any disease, including colds, flu, bronchitis, pneumonia and whooping cough — so even if you feel healthy and invincible, be responsible and aware that you could be a carrier.
When shopping, handle food products and retail items as little as possible. Wash your hands when you get home. It’s not just about coronaviruses, it’s about exposure to multiple germs, bacteria and viruses that are trapped in close quarters in wintertime.
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If you choose to wear a mask, or are required to wear one at work, wear your mask correctly. Many common winter diseases set up housekeeping in mucous membranes — and that means your nose. If you’re not going to cover your nose then just remove the mask, because a) you look like an idiot, b) you’re already breaking the rules and c) the only thing you’re protecting the public from is halitosis.
It’s the equivalent of droopy drawers over boxers. Please don’t. Either pull ’em up, or pull ’em down.
Don’t discard used masks on sidewalks or in parking lots.
2. Buy groceries in advance.
Most viruses, including a coronavirus, typically degrade completely in 3–4 days or less on most surfaces. If you’re concerned about contracting any winter disease, buy groceries in advance and allow 2–4 days to store items in the pantry or freezer before touching them again. Wash fresh produce in a full sink of water with a capful of bleach. Food is a fairly safe product because of high food safety standards, but you should keep in mind that shoppers and employees are touching, talking, laughing, sighing, sneezing and coughing on your future food.
3. Soap is soap.
When the pandemic first hit, hand soap and hand sanitizers in my local stores were completely sold out.
However, when I turned around and looked at the shelves directly across the aisle, they were fully stocked with shampoo. I watched angry shoppers sweeping up armfuls of hand sanitizer and grousing about shortages, while completely ignoring full shelves of apple and coconut-scented soap right behind them.
I bought 10 bottles of Suave Green Apple shampoo at $1 each (bulk price credit), and when I got home, I compared the ingredient list to my last remaining bottle of hand soap. The ingredients were nearly identical — but the cost of hand soap was around $3 for 8 ounces, while shampoo was only $1-2 for 12 ounces.
Now I just refill my hand soap and dish soap dispensers with shampoo. I’ll probably never go back to buying use-specific soap. Why be overcharged for branding hype?
The point is to wash, wash, wash. Cleanliness will protect your family.
4. Choose the right mask.
If you do choose to mask up, make a smart choice and invest in an effective mask. Paper masks are one of the worst choices — they are flimsy, ineffective and don’t fit snugly.
According to studies, the most effective non-medical masks for personal use are double-layer, accordion-pleated cloth. Most online patterns also include a “pillowslip” opening so you can insert extra filtration material into the mask (cotton quilt batting, paper towels, even coffee filters will work). Cotton masks are softer, larger, more comfortable to wear, and generally fit better. The size and shape of most cloth patterns will easily accommodate larger faces and strong features, providing consistent coverage from the top of the nose to well under the chin.
Look around locally and you may find someone who is making fabric masks as a cottage industry.
Heads up: Always launder a mask you have purchased online before wearing it.
5. Increase humidity in your home.
Studies show higher humidity levels suppress the infectivity rate of most viruses. Humidity helps through two actions: one, it traps airborne particles carrying the virus and drops them out of the air; and two, it helps keep your mucous membranes moist and healthy so they can catch and filter viruses.
In the wintertime, I keep a pot of simmering water on the stove, with antiviral ingredients and essential oils added. Suggestions:
- Cinnamon-orange: Cinnamon and cloves are two of the strongest antiviral essential oils out there. Throw in some cinnamon sticks, whole cloves or essential oil with some orange rinds.
- Seaside: I put Hawaiian sea salt, sandalwood essential oil and wakame (edible seaweed) in the pot for a fresh oceanside scent.
- Italian nonna: All of these essential oils are known for their antiviral properties. Use singly or in combination: oregano, thyme, basil, lime, marjoram, rosemary.
6. Utilize virgin coconut oil as a natural barrier.
Coconut oil contains lauric acid and laurine — well-known antiviral agents. (Coconut oil is also antibacterial and antifungal.)
I have a small cup of coconut oil blended with lavender essential oil on my desk and before going out, I swab my nostrils, mouth and ears with coconut oil, in addition to covering up. Athletes and people who work outdoors will definitely benefit from the moisturizing and antiviral properties of a swab of coconut oil.
Taking at least one spoonful a day of coconut oil will also protect, moisturize and nourish your gastrointestinal tract — which is where mucus is produced and also a favorite spot for viruses to grab hold. Put a spoonful in your morning coffee and you’re good to go.
7. Get a salt inhaler and use it regularly.
Based on the theories of halotherapy and speliotherapy, salt inhalers are simple ceramic pots containing coarse Hawaiian or Himalayan salt. You shake the container to stir up the salt and mineral dust, and then inhale through the mouthpiece. It mimics the effect of walking on the beach or camping in salt caves.
Personally, I love my salt shaker. I keep it on my desk and gifted one to all my loved ones. In my experience, it can instantly settle and relieve dry coughs and lung wheezes.
There are no claims that salt therapy repels viruses, but there are anecdotal reports that it reduces inflammation in the trachea and lungs, which will help to protect your overall health and immune system. So why not hop on it early and enjoy the salty benefits (without the sand) of a Hawaiian salt therapy “vacation” at home?
8. Consume lots of turmeric.
I was first turned on to the powerful benefits of turmeric as both a muscle liniment and a health food by a physical/sports therapist. The beneficial effects of turmeric have been studied for over 40 years.
Multiple peer-reviewed studies show that turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Curcumin, the active agent in turmeric, is also being explored for its effective immuno-modulatory properties. Scientists say that “curcumin at low doses can enhance antibody responses.” It also modulates immuno-response, and may help prevent the “cytokine storm” that is fatal to so many Covid patients.
The key here, however, is to keep it real. French scientists warn that loading up on high doses of curcumin can actually have an adverse effect on immune response. Slow and steady is the way to consume turmeric. Avoid the high-dose capsules and curcumin-rich supplement powders, and opt instead for recipes and a diet that incorporate turmeric naturally.
Turmeric is more bio-available if it is mixed with oil and black pepper. I do order cucurmin as a powder in bulk (to save money), and then use it to create my own spice blends, as well as turmeric oils which can be added to baked or fried dishes, homebaked bread, poured over baked potatoes, mixed into salad dressings, or stirred into curry dishes. You can also drink it as a tea — delicious with honey and cloves (which are also antiviral).
9. Surround yourself with negative ions and fresh air.
Negative ions are the new big health trend, but guess what? They’ve been around forever. That euphoric feeling you get from walking in nature and braving the elements? It’s not just psychological. Your body is literally getting recharged. Crashing waves at the beach, pounding thunderstorms, waterfalls, even a long shower release waves of negative ions which boost your health, immunity to disease, and mood.
Negative ions are created when water and oxygen collide, separating molecules into positive and negative atoms and ions. The human body responds to negative ions by producing serotonin and endorphins.
Open your doors and windows as frequently as possible — especially when it rains. Walking in nature, particularly forest or river trails, is also a good way to gather negative ions.
(Mechanical ionizers are available for sale, but research on their efficacy is inconclusive, and anecdotal evidence is slim.)
10. Let ‘snot and say we did.
In other words, let’s talk about snot.
Your mucous membranes — in effect, your snot and throat phlegm — are your primary defense against pathogens. A healthy mucosal environment catches all kinds of pathogens — dust, mites, pollution, bacteria, and viruses — and washes it out of the human body.
This is one occasion where you do not want to “suck it up”. Don’t sniff that bacteria-laden waste back up into your sinuses. And don’t let your kids lick, eat and swallow it. Snot, like poop, is meant to leave your body.
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Coronaviruses target mucosal membranes. But the key word here is “membrane”. You don’t want those spiky velcro-like viruses to dig into your cells. So the best protection against pathogens in general — and particularly those spiky coronaviruses — is to have a healthy, thick, semi-liquid snot environment. Like those science fiction movies where alien spaceship interiors are covered in green goo.
Healthy human snot has a high pH, almost as strong as stomach acid. It will kill or neutralize many common pathogens. But the problem is that these days, most people don’t have a healthy respect for snot.
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Unfortunately, snot is not considered socially acceptable, so most people try their darndest to dry out their noses and sinuses, with over-the-counter cough remedies and nasal sprays. Plus, many people work in overly dry environments in the winter time — overheated houses, rooms with fireplaces, office complexes. This can lead to dry, fragile sinus tissues; crispy, painful boogers; and even nose bleeds. This is the environment that coronaviruses seek and can easily penetrate.
Note: Don’t sniff when you have a drippy nose. Blow those bacteria and virus-laden boogers out!
Tips for keeping your snot healthy:
- Keep your indoor environment humidified.
- Get outdoors and enjoy those negative ions and some snot-inspiring cold.
- Use salt inhalers to ward off coughs instead of prescription cold medicine and sprays.
- Eat lots of spicy food. Make that nose run and give it a workout.
- Blow your nose!! Sneeze hard! Celebrate your snot.
Bonus: Covid Tips
Finally, if you are concerned — or even curious — about Covid infection, here are some things you should know:
The “herd immunity” theory is not holding up, as studies have shown that naturally induced immunity disappears about 90 days after infection — which means that people who survived a mild illness once can become infected again, and become carriers again.
In a chain of alarming news in the last few weeks:
- Delta variant has 300x the viral load and is twice as contagious as the original.
- Lambda variant (Peru) may be vaccine resistant.
- The number of young children sick with Delta is rapidly increasing, especially in hotbeds like LA and FL.
- Don’t be complacent! No matter what precautions we take, humans have no natural antibody resistance to this new coronavirus. Over thousands of years, our immune systems have built up complex resistances to many flu and virus strains — but we are as yet completely naked when it comes to SARS-CoV-2.
- SARS-CoV-2 is a very nasty bug. Shaped like spiky molecules made of Velcro, the virus digs into your mucous membranes, then drills through into your cells, where it replicates like crazy, overwhelming your bodily defenses.
- USAMRIID considers it a Level 3 Biohazard.
The best defense is to avoid contracting it at all.