In my writings and presentations I have made a concerted effort to avoid using the terms “prevent or prevention” in making recommendations about longevity and remaining youthful.
My recommendations focus on reducing risks such as the 5 S’s in the Power of 5. I present my ideas to help reduce a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease, cancer, or neurodegenerative diseases.
As the veil of Coronavirus has descended upon our community, I started reading about what each individual can do to “reduce their risk” of becoming ill from this virus. As I read more about the most vulnerable population, it became apparent that this group includes those whose immune systems are suppressed. Those individuals are unable to, or have limited reserves, to respond to the virus and the resulting cascade of events which happens within our bodies.
Immunocompromised individuals, the most vulnerable, are likely to have greater levels of preexisting inflammation in their system due to their underlying medical condition. We have heard about the population at risk: those over 60 years old and those with chronic illness such as diabetes, heart, liver, or kidney problems. This is exactly the population I address with my formula and strategies in the Power of 5.
Here’s a bit of nerdy science, simplified …
I recently read an article about how COVID-19 becomes so lethal.
Studies from China suggest that many of the patients who die from this illness may have done so due to a malfunction in their own immune system rather than because of the virus itself. As a result of the infection, these patients develop what is called cytokine storm. This produces an excessive immune response which ravages healthy lung tissue and leads to acute respiratory distress syndrome and multi-organ failure. Unrecognized and untreated, this results in fatal outcomes.
Physicians and scientists have been working on the diagnosis and treatment of this syndrome for years; I even recall a presentation from my years in medical school.
Treatments are not entirely clear, but it is important that our medical professionals recognize and are prepared to treat cytokine storm early in the presentation of those who become seriously ill.
The bottom line is that Power of 5 and the 5 “S’s” address how we should be preparing ourselves to reduce our risk of succumbing to illness.
Avoid Stress — It has negative effects on our immune system by increasing cortisol levels.
Avoid Sweets — Eat a healthy diet, especially avoiding sugars and carbs.
Get more Sweat — Exercise, maybe more on an individual basis (rather than in group classes or crowded gyms).
Get adequate or more Sleep — It allows our immune system to recover from our daily activity
You might be waiting for the 5th “S,” which is Sex, but I have a departure to a different “S.”
I will call it Separate — avoiding contact with others, especially if there is a suspicion of exposure.
I have heard recommendations about isolating and sleeping in a different room than a significant other, spouse or partner to reduce the risk. Just like what I learned from martial arts and what is taught in self-defense classes: the first option is always avoidance of the threat.
The key point is to avoid exposure to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.
Whether you can incorporate the elements of the Power of 5 Formula or not, we can all isolate ourselves or self-quarantine to reduce our risk of becoming very ill and spreading the virus.
To a long, healthy, and Coronavirus-free life,
David Bernstein MD