By Dr. Kirt Tyson
AFRO guest editor
Stay hydrated: Many COVID-19 patients in the ICU are developing blood clots, including clots in small vessels, deep vein thrombosis in the legs, clots in the lungs and stroke-causing clots in cerebral arteries.
Nature’s natural blood thinner is water. It thins the blood and makes it less likely for red blood cells to bump into each other and stick together to form a clot. Unfortunately many aren’t drinking enough. The goal is to drink half of your body weight in ounces per day, so if you weigh 200 lbs, ideally you should be drinking 100 ounces of water per day. So that person should be drinking 20 oz of water five times per day.
Replacing water with other fluids can actually increase your risk of clots by as much as 46%.
Exercise: If you were diagnosed with COVID-19 check with your doctor to see when it is safe to restart an exercise routine.
Exercise is beneficial for the body as you build up endurance. If you haven’t worked out in a while and you start off with too much intensity, it can actually be harmful for your body by creating too much inflammation. When you exercise your body creates reactive oxygen species (ROS), which damages the body and causes aging. The body is able to counteract ROS by using mechanisms to generate antioxidants. If you haven’t been exercising regularly your ability to produce antioxidants may be low and unable to counteract the inflammation generated from exercising.
Instead, work your way up to walking one to three miles per day. As your endurance improves, so does your antioxidant capacity which will reduce your aging and help your body to recover faster. Also be sure to lift weights to build muscle. Your body still benefits from lifting a 10 to 15lb weight 30 to 50 times a day.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is actually a hormone the kidneys produce that controls blood calcium concentration and impacts the immune system. Vitamin D is produced by the kidneys when exposed to the sun from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on a clear day with most of your body exposed with just a tank top and shorts. If sun exposure is needed for 10 minutes in people with less melanin and as much as 30 minutes for people with higher melanin. Most of us are indoors and clothe during that time of day so we are often deficient in vitamin D. Vitamin D levels improve but it takes high doses of vitamin D over several months to get into an optimal range. Low vitamin D levels have been linked to increased inflammation, blood clots, pneumonia, and viral upper respiratory infections.
Having proper levels of Vitamin D may help to regulate your immune’s response to COVID-19 and other viral infections.
Diet: The saying goes “you are what you eat.” That saying is true because what you eat becomes a part of your body. You build muscle from proteins, most people think of eating meat for protein. However there are plant sources for protein as well. Edamame, lentils, and chickpea contain greater than 14g of protein in each cup.
It’s true the body needs protein to build muscle but it is even more true that those muscles need vitamins and minerals to function. A diet high in raw vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds will give your body the additional nutrients it needs to function. Once you cook your foods, you lose a lot of the nutrients found in those foods. So keeping them raw helps you to get the nutrients out of them.
Adopting these suggestions may help to keep you healthy for the long term!