Coronavirus and the Art of Natural Immunization

Longevity requires certain outstanding habits, and one such habit is excelling at the art of natural immunization!

My goal is to share one of the most important secrets of longevity as it relates to respiratory diseases. Let us begin with one of my most memorable life experiences.

In the fall of 1994, I was invited by students of a Caribbean medical school to provide a series of lectures on national medical board exam preparation. En route, I spent one day in Antigua, an island that is about 100 square miles that has so far housed up to three private medical schools. In contrast to the US medical schools that primarily serve people within their jurisdiction and allotted coverage areas, the offshore medical schools, including those in Antigua, are primarily established to import doctors to the US.  

That day, I hired a cab driver–who happened to have a pleasant sense of humor, to provide me with a tour of the island. At one point during my ride I asked him “how often do the islanders get sick, and if any of the Antiguan medical graduates works on the island?”

He responded with “we never get sick, and we need no doctors here! Our ocean cures all diseases! Tourists come here on wheelchairs and walk back home on their feet!” I responded that I had only seen tourists and no native islanders swimming in the ocean. To which to my surprise he replied, “we bathe in the ocean before daybreak!”

That night as I retired, I realized why the driver believed that the islanders do not get sick. My cabin did not have any sealed glass windows. It only had shutters that were allowing fresh air to freely come in, diluting and picking all the germs, and moving them out onto the ocean. It occurred to me that the lack of sealed windows must have been the underlying reason for his belief that no one gets sick on the island. Use of shutters reduce the likelihood of sharing airborne germs among co-habitants.  The talk of parasitic and sexually transmitted diseases did not come up in our conversations, but as you can guess, proper ventilation plays no role in dissemination of these other types of diseases. At the time it also occurred to me that people have the tendency to reduce almost all illnesses to respiratory ailments. You may appreciate this better if you note how terms such as cold, common cold, and flu have infiltrated our everyday conversations. This tendency to measure all ailments by the respiratory standards is so permeating that we even refer to all viral gastrointestinal diseases as “the stomach flu”. To better help you appreciate this, I should remind you that flu is truly the shortened version of influenza.

From Island dreaming about the mainland!

How is it all related to natural immunity? It is not just the exposure to viral particles that makes us sick, it is rather exposure to a higher load of infectious particles that overwhelms our immune systems.  Exposure to a few viral particles often act as natural immunization and helps to boost our immunity against further invasion of higher loads of the same viral particles. Also remember that we often acquire diseases unexpectedly and when we let our guards down. We protect ourselves against people who cough, puff, sneeze, emanate heat and look miserable by maintaining a reasonable distance from them. What most of us often fail to appreciate is that our vulnerability to respiratory diseases is at its peak several hours and up to a day before the infected individuals show their classic symptoms. In these times we don’t safeguard ourselves and allow the airborne bugs to readily target and invade our respiratory mucosa.

Ventilation, ventilation and more ventilation! Those who know me well, know that if I host a big party, they should expect my ritual of opening the windows in my home, at least for a short time (even during the cold winter months in Michigan). Some would mistake my behavior for a lack of sympathy.  On the contrary, I bring in fresh cool air into my home only to express my utmost respect for the wellbeing of my friends and associates. I bump-up my electrical bills in order to reduce their medical bills!  My classic rebuttal to those who believe that cold air exposure promotes catching a cold is this: “if cold weather is the cause of the common cold, Eskimos must constantly be suffering from the common cold!”

You must maximally guard yourself against airborne bugs in crowded situations like this!

Dr. E’s Recipe for Healthier Longevity: The top 3 precautions that minimize your exposure to viral particles and boost your immunity!

  1. Whenever you hop into a car or taxi, turn on the fan or open one of the windows to ventilate the cabin. You never know if the person who is in the car or has just left it, might have been an asymptomatic carrier of a respiratory bug.    
  2. Before you get cozy on the plane, open your designated air vent.  If you are one of those lifelong pampered individuals who can’t even tolerate the blow of airflow, then you may at least act a little wisely and have an extra jacket or windbreaker handy!
  3. Whenever you have a big party at your home, even during cold winters, keep the windows open every now and then for a short time to invite fresh air into your house. This serves three outstanding purposes: dilutes respiratory bugs, reduces the accumulation of carbon dioxide in your crowded premises, and brings in more oxygen to your home.

It’s time to become health-smart: Whenever you are in the company of others in closed environments it is only fair to assume that some of them may be harboring a respiratory bug asymptomatically. The likelihood of such assumptions is further strengthened by reports of viral respiratory epidemics in your geographic areas.

Do not become obsessive on this matter:    I don’t want you to have phobia to germs or become obsessive about them. Absolute lack of exposure to germs may have catastrophic consequences for you as it weakens your immune system. All I want you to appreciate is how exposure to a well-controlled level of germs translates into stronger immunity for you

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the art of natural immunization: To what extent following my three cardinal precautionary steps would have minimized exposure to the COVID-19 for those who have already been diagnosed with the disease? Did they acquire it from asymptomatic infected individuals? For all I know, I will keep on practicing my cardinal rules for keeping respiratory ailments including the COVID-19 at bay. Do I believe this will reduce my chances for getting infected? Of course, I do! More importantly, I even know what you will most likely do if an outbreak of coronavirus hits your area. This time you will minimize your exposure and maximize your natural immunity by following my cardinal 3 rules —don’t you?

Dr. Eftekar (Dr. E) is the founder and head coach of the Center for Conquest of Longevity and Northwestern Medical Review. A unique attribute of Dr. E is his well-rounded academic background that, in addition to the science of medicine, extends over several other disciplines such as physiology of aging and longevity, philosophy of science and medicine, and integrated kinesiology.

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