Besides Washing My Hands, What Can I Do To Protect Against The Coronavirus?

March 8, 2020

Q. Besides washing my hands, what can I do to protect against the coronavirus?

A. As the coronavirus spreads around the globe, and most recent reports have indicated cases right here in Westchester County, we all need to ensure we are taking the proper precautions to protect ourselves, our families and the community.


1. Protect yourself by following FLU PREVENTION guidelines

Just like the flu, the coronavirus spreads from person to person.  If an infected person coughs or sneezes in your proximity, you are at risk for being infected.  Aside from person to person contact, the virus can also be present on doorknobs, staircase handles, elevator buttons, gas pumps, etc.  Touching an infected surface and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth, can spread the infection to you. So use a barrier whenever
possible, like a glove or a tissue.

2. Protect yourself by practicing GOOD HYGIENE

  • The CDC has recommended everyday preventive actions to help stop and prevent the spread of flu-like respiratory illnesses such as the coronavirus. This includes:
    • Washing hands often.  Use a disinfecting soap and wash for at least 20 seconds. Remember to wash after using the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • Sanitize and disinfect often.  Keep a travel sanitizer like Purell handy for those times you can’t wash your hands.  Clean surfaces such as your desk, doorknobs and staircase handles often with disinfecting spray.  Also, consider keeping hand sanitizer on your work desk and in your home.  Because hand sanitizer is now hard to come by, you can consider alternatives such as alcohol and diluted bleach solutions. In my foodservice kitchen in-service training on infection control, bleach dilutions were always part of sanitation.
    • Changing clothes and showering.  I personally recommend changing your clothes and showering as soon as you get home from a busy day.


  • To prevent disease from occurring, it is important to remember to practice good nutritional habits.  Focus on getting in nutrients that help support your own immune system to fight against disease:
    • Probiotics & fermented foods - 70% of your immune system is in your gut. Researchers have concluded that gastrointestinal flora is essential in the
      development of healthy immunological systems.
    • Vitamins and Minerals - Vitamins and minerals work in metabolic pathways that help our immune systems fight infection and disease, as well as detoxifying harmful compounds and removing them from our bodies.
    • Vitamins A, E, and minerals like zinc and iron specifically help optimize our immune systems.
    • Vitamin D has many functions including immune system support, reducing inflammation and antibacterial and antiviral properties and can be found in pill or liquid form.
    • Vitamin C may not prevent an illness from occurring, but studies show it will shorten the number of sick days.
    • Chicken Soup - This is a great way to get many of the 5 servings of vegetables and fruits recommended for daily for immune support.  Rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, researchers have also found that chicken soup's mix of ingredients reduces inflammation, calming all the irritation that accompanies illness.
    • Coconut oil - Coconut oil has broad spectrum antimicrobial properties and is delicious to include in recipes throughout the winter.
    • Fish oils - Cod liver oil can often a good source of Vitamin D as well as Vitamin A along with Omega 3 fatty acids that can reduce inflammation as well.
    • Low sugar & alcohol intake - Sugar can feed some of the microbes you are trying to fight while also weakening some of the good bacteria that is working to keep you healthy.


  • There are ways to supersize your immune system and actually activate it to fight a little harder.  These include compounds that have been found to contain antimicrobial properties.* I generally recommend rotating these rather than relying on just one or the other throughout the cold and flu season:

5. Remember the 3 A’s – Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant and Alkaline

  1. Anti-inflammatory – chronic inflammation can lead to disease.  Some foods to protect against inflammation include colorful organic fruits and vegetables such as berries and broccoli, health fats such as avocado and fish oil, and spices like turmeric.
  2. Antioxidant – Antioxidants are substances that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals, unstable molecules that the body produces as a reaction to environmental and other pressures.  Some foods that offer antioxidant protection are again, colorful organic fruits and vegetables such as cherries, berries, kale and spinach.  If you have a hard time reaching your daily antioxidant potential,
    consider Juice Plus+.  To learn about Juice Plus+, visit:
  3. Alkaline – processed foods, dairy, alcohol, as well as refined sugar and simple carbs, are considered acidic and contribute to inflammation in the body.  Diets rich organic fruits and vegetables, nuts, and seeds create a more alkaline environment in the body, which helps to prevent disease.

The World Health Organization recommends if you are not feeling well, it is best to stay home. If you develop a fever, cough and have difficulty breathing, seek out medical advice promptly. Call your doctor or local hospital in advance and share any information of recent travel or contact with travelers / sick individuals, so you can be directed to the correct health facility.

Individuals with autoimmune disease that are currently on immunosuppressive medications should especially be making wise choices regarding immune support that work with their medications, not in opposition. More about this in this is next week’s blog.   

To schedule a brief immune support consult to personalize your current support regimens, email or call 914-864-1976.
This blog was created with the assistance of Rosemarie Dias, MA DTR CHES