By Dr. Teryn Clarke
One afternoon on the beach, after a particularly bad storm, a little girl could be seen picking up stranded starfish and throwing them back into the ocean. People looked on, shaking their heads at the absurdity of her project. Finally, a man called out to her, “Don’t you see how silly you are? There are thousands of stranded starfish. You can’t save them all. You’re not making a difference.” Carefully, the little girl picked up another displaced creature, looked the man straight in the eye and threw the starfish back in the water. With her chin in the air and hands on her hips, she replied, “Well, I made a difference for that one!”
I can’t save all the stranded starfish or convince all Americans to improve their health. But this column is for those of you who realize that preventative healthcare starts at home. Preventative health is the practice of keeping you strong so you can best tackle the Covid-19 virus. It includes patterns of behavior that effect what you eat, how you sleep and how you manage stress. It’s never too late to change course and embark on a healthier path. If you are already pursuing a holistic path in life, there are probably some tweaks we can make.
By Spring of 2020, we knew a lot about SARS-CoV2, the seventh coronavirus to infect humans. Most importantly, we learned which humans fend off the virus more easily, and which were more likely to become extremely sick. Doctors and scientists found that older age, diabetes, and obesity were major risk factors for developing severe health issues. Armed with this knowledge, Americans should have dramatically changed their habits to prepare for upper respiratory infection. Instead, they hoarded toilet paper.
We had eight months to optimize our health before the big surge in disease hit most states. We could have used this time to lose weight, to supercharge our immune system so we were ready for the fight. A few did but most did not. Even those who had an excellent exercise habit were suddenly divorced from their group training and exercise communities as gyms, parks, playgrounds, beaches and trails closed. Not surprisingly, alcohol consumption and screen time soared. Depression, anxiety, and isolation crippled us. Americans gained a collective 5 billion pounds.
We have a problem in our culture because we believe that preventative medicine and good health starts with medication, not with healthy lifestyle. It is a fallacy that medications and vaccinations cure all illness. Many issues we face are connected to poor lifestyle choices. We must remember that individual accountability is a fundamental starting point. Obesity and high levels of chronic disease plague us. Attempts at honest dialog about our life choices are frequently met with hostility and censorship.
I can’t save all the stranded starfish but every week I’ll cover a different topic relating to the ways we can improve our immune health. I’ll provide some background and explanation along with resources for more detailed research so you can dig deeper. I will share actionable information you can incorporate in your daily life. We will explore many of the supplements associated with better health; specifically, how they help us conquer SARS-CoV2 and other viruses. Let’s stay well. Together.