The recent, frightening outbreak of the Ebola virus has been all over the news, and people are understandably worried.
While your chances of contracting Ebola are virtually nil unless you have had contact with an infected person (as the virus is spread through blood and bodily fluids such as urine, feces, saliva, vomit, sweat, and semen,) there are still other dangerous viruses and bacteria lurking in various parts of the world, and it’s important to be as protected as possible.
In the face of such a global health crisis, it is prudent to remember that the spread of many diseases can be avoided through proper hygiene. While it may seem like a highly overstated point, the statistics on how many people still do not wash their hands after visitng a public restroom are frightening. Washing our hands often is the first step in avoiding a nasty bug.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend washing hands with soap and water and lathering for at least 20 seconds, making sure to wash your entire hands, including underneath your fingernails.
They also state that hands should be washed before, during and after food preparation, after using the restroom, changing a diaper, handling garbage, after coughing or sneezing and after contact with sick individuals and pets.
The second thing you can do to raise your chances of avoiding an infection by invading pathogens is to pay special attention to the health of your immune system. This starts with taking a close look at your diet. Fill your plate with a rainbow of fruits, veggies and legumes, along with healthy fats and proteins. Avoid sugar, refined flour, processed foods and anything with trans fat.
Support healthy gut bacteria, which are crucial to overall immune health, with probiotic foods, such as organic yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi. There are also certain foods, herbs and spices that can greatly benefit immune health by fighting pathogens and reducing inflammation. These include onion, garlic, lemon, cayenne pepper, cinnamon and turmeric.
The herbs astragalus and licorice root have also been used traditionally to boost immunity, but talk to a natural health professional before starting a regimen with these, to determine the proper intake for your individual health and needs. Also, check out our recipes for immune-boosting fall soups, to get your body’s defenses into top shape this season.
On top of that, be sure to get as much sunshine as you can. If it is limited where you live, talk to a health professional of your choice about potentially supplementing with vitamin D – which is highly important to immunity, along with many of the body’s other processes. And, be sure to keep your stress in check, through yoga, meditation and exercise, as chronic stress can lead to inflammation, which can dampen immune response.
While there is no reason to stay awake at night worrying about Ebola and other dangerous diseases, taking the steps to make sure your body is in top defensive shape may help you to rest easier.
-The Alternative Daily
UPDATE: October 29, 2014
The CDC has now informed Americans that the Ebola virus can be spread through droplets up to 3 feet.