Georgia made national news when Brian Kemp, Georgia’s governor made the decision to lift restrictions on the shelter at home order. Businesses were given the green light to re-open if they choose to with restrictions to the way they conduct business. There has been heated debate about when and how the country should be opening again, but ultimately the decision has been made and now we have personal choices to make. Businesses that are opening will have mandated regulations to adhere to keep their staff and customers as safe as possible. The reality is we come into contact with germs and viruses all the time, the best way for us to protect ourselves from this virus or from anything (according to the CDC 80,000 people died from the flu last winter) that could make us sick is to boost our own immune system.
How the immune system works
The immune system is made up of cells, tissues and certain organs that work together to combat pathogens. Pathogens can be viruses, bacteria, and parasites. When working correct the immune system can prevent sickness even if we are exposed to germs. There are factors such as sleep, diet, stress and hygiene that boost or detract from the immune system.
Factors that weaken the immune system
The immune system can compromise by taking certain medicines so checking in with your doctor about any medications you is worth making a call. Smoking can be a factor in a weaker immune system as well as alcohol, poor nutrition, stress, and a lack of sleep. Most of these factors are completely within our control and even small modifications can make a difference.
Boosting the immune system
The same factors that can be negative for the immune system when changed are the same factors that boost the immune system. The best ways to boost the immune system are to not smoke, only consume alcohol in moderation, get at least 7 hours of sleep, get regular exercise, reduce stress, and maintain a healthy diet. There are many items on this list but today we are going to focus on two of the easiest and simultaneously hardest items from this list.
Changing eating habits
There are a thousand meme’s joking about the “Corona 15” circulating on social media right now. They are referencing all the food people are eating while sheltering at home. Although this is meant to lighten the mood, the truth is overeating junk food is the worst thing you can do for immune system right now. In addition to diminishing the immune system, diabetes is one of the underlying diseases that are leading to deaths impacted by the Corona virus. Focusing on what to eat is always a better way to modifying your eating habits. There are foods (more than just citrus fruits) that enhance the immune system and can be easily added to average diet.
Mushrooms are high in B vitamin, riboflavin, niacin, and selenium. In addition to these minerals and vitamins that help the immune system work they are also high in polysaccharides a sugar-like molecules that boost immune function.
One 3-once serving of oysters contains selenium, iron, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin C. The oyster is also a great source of protein and its easy to see why the call them the superfood of the sea.4
Not that anyone needs an excuse to eat watermelon, but there are many good reasons to do so. Potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and glutathione can all be found in just 2 cups of watermelon.
Yogurt has more benefits than just the vitamin B12, vitamin D, and riboflavin found within it. Probiotics help boost the immune function, but they also provide beneficial gut flora that increase digestion, fight bacteria and detoxify the system. There are many ways to use yogurt in savory dishes if mixed with fruit is not favored.
Spinach has earned its reputation for being a superfood due to high content of iron, fiber, magnesium, vitamin A, folate, vitamin C. All of these work together to aide cell division and DNA repair and boost immune function.
Garlic has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties and antioxidants that combat free radicals that cause Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease cancers and other conditions.
How to quit smoking
In a list of easy changes to make this one seems so simple and yet it is the hardest item for most people to achieve. The many benefits of this daunting task outweigh the challenge. Quitting smoking increases oxygen levels, lowers inflammation and improves circulation. The good news is there are so many resources available to smokers now if cold turkey is not a viable option.
The FDA has approved 7 types of medications to help people quit smoking and they should all be discussed with a health care provider. The medications include: nicotine gum, patches, lozenges, inhalers, nasal sprays, Zyban (an antidepressant) and Chantix which blocks the effects of nicotine in the brain.
Smokers who want to quit can improve their chance of success by asking for support from their co-workers, family and friends. By telling your network about your plan and ask them to hold you accountable. There is in-person counseling from doctors or health care providers and support groups. All 50 states have telephone quit lines and the American Cancer Society can supply the numbers, they can be reached at 1-800-227-2345. The National Cancer Institute has a quit smoking app that can provide encouragement 24 hours a day.
While some people continue to shelter at home most of us are either still working or heading back to work. People are starting to go public places again and doing their best to find a new normal. Taking care of ourselves should always be a priority not just for ourselves but for the people who care about us. There is more information on the websites for the American Heart Association and the National Cancer Institute.
The spread of Covid-19 has forced many businesses to close or send employees to work from home. Essential businesses must remain open for the health and safety of the American people. Each of these essential businesses have different policies in place to product their employees. As the country looks to reopen in the next few weeks these best practices will ensure the safety of their staffs.
Outsource Logistics is an essential business and has remained opened during the pandemic. They have taken multiple measures to keep their staff and drivers safe. They have hired additional janitorial staff to deep clean and disinfect their facilities. Outsource modified their procedures so that when drivers arrive with loads, they wait outside, and the truck is unloaded by internal staff. In order to make sure the drivers stay safe on the road they are given goody bags with sanitizer, wipes, and snacks so they do have to stop on the road. Here are some simple tips to keep your staff safe during this time:
Stop the spread by stopping contact
If it is possible for employees to work from home that is ideal, but in most cases not possible. Businesses might extend the days and hours they operate to rotate staff to maintain distance between employee. Keeping employees informed and engaged in the process is crucial. Stop handshaking, high fives, and fist bumping. We may never see a return of handshaking in the workplace and we may see a rise in employee attendance. Even the common cold or flu is easily transmitted though hand contact. Discourage employees from touching their faces and reinforce proper hand washing guidelines. If employees are wearing gloves make sure they change them often and continue following best practices.
If possible, eliminate meetings or use video conferencing. There are several easy to use platforms such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, UberConference, Skype or FreeConference. If an in-person meeting is vital hold meetings in open, well-ventilated spaces.
Increase ventilation by opening windows and sanitize surfaces such as door handles, handrails, desktops, chairs, tables, desks, and any other surface touched by staff. Keep sanitization supplies handy to respray though out the day.
Educate and Inform Employees
While it seems like common sense remind employees that if they feel sick or have sick family members they should stay home. Supervisors and managers should be on the lookout for employees who ignore this advice and send them home. Encourage employees to self-monitor their behavior at home and to practice the same procedures at home. Post information and resources in break rooms from reputable sources to combat misinformation.
Keeping ourselves healthy
There is an expression that we must put our own masks on first. This is a reference to when the oxygen masks drop in an airplane and we must attach our own so we can help others. In this case it is imperative that we focus on staying healthy ourselves to best help our staff. Immunity starts with our habits. We need to get an adequate amount of sleep; it is the number one factor in immunity. In addition, eating healthy nutrient filled foods, getting plenty of exercise and reducing stress all factor into our immune systems.
Many states are looking at lifting restrictions by May 1st and keeping our eyes on safety will ensure a smoother transition to workers being back in the workplace. There is further information on the websites for OSHA and the CDC. Our perspective as a nation has shifted and our ensuring the health of our staff will be a top priority.