A recent Harris Poll commissioned by the Samueli Integrative Health Foundation found that 80% of the more than 2,000 representative adults surveyed in the U.S. say they intend to become more mindful about practicing self-care as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It seems that COVID-19 has been a wake-up call for most Americans.
For many years the medical-pharmaceutical establishment has cultivated an unhealthy dependency on doctors and their prescriptions or surgeries to get us well when we get sick. What patients can do for themselves in terms of building health with good diet and healthy lifestyle is often minimized and even actively discouraged by doctors. Thus, cancer patients are told it doesn’t matter what they eat—that they can eat sugar, and they’ll be fine as long as they get their chemotherapy or radiation. Heart patients are told by their doctors to skip vitamins and rely instead on harmful medications.
But with COVID-19, we’re seeing a wide range of responses to infection, from having no symptoms at all to death—all depending in large part on the pre-existing health of the host. In other words, how healthy you are when you meet up with the coronavirus makes all the difference—even sometimes between life and death.
So it’s not too surprising that Americans are determined to be more pro-active when it comes to their health.
Of course the same medical establishment that discourages pro-active self-care promises that a vaccine will be our salvation. But even a successful response to a vaccine depends on the pre-existing health of the patient.
For example, a decline in immunity that often accompanies aging called immunosenescence is a major risk factor for doing poorly with COVID-19. It’s also a major predictor of a poor response to vaccines.
Obesity is another risk factor for having major difficulties with the coronavirus. A recent article in The New York Times on obesity’s role in COVID-19 notes that obesity deregulates the immune system. This makes the immune system less effective in fighting off the virus, and it also makes vaccines less effective.
Fortunately not all doctors are stuck in the old mindset. Innovative doctors like Wayne Jonas, MD, executive director of Samueli Integrative Health Programs, are taking a more holistic approach. “As we adjust to a new normal,” he says, “we need to foster a robust, patient-centered healthcare system to better promote self-care.” Dr. Jonas believes in empowering patients as they work to improve their health habits, including good nutrition, exercise, and stress reduction.
If you have a doctor who doesn’t support you and your self-care efforts, the prescription is simple: find a new doctor! One place to start is the Institute for Functional Medicine. Another is the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.
Meanwhile, if you’d like our recommendations for fortifying your immune system to deal with COVID-19, see COVID-19 and Your Immune System and Your Internal Armor against COVID-19. And see our blog in general for help in addressing all kinds of health issues.
- Stewart K. Majority are more mindful of practicing self-care in post-pandemic world. Today’s Practitioner. June 9, 2020.
- Wu KJ. Studies begin to untangle obesity’s role in COVID-19. The New York Times. September 29, 2020. A side note: The medical establishment’s disregard for the pre-existing health or ill-health of the patient is so pervasive that when this article’s author asked five large pharmaceutical companies currently developing vaccines if they were addressing the special needs of overweight people by including people with obesity in their clinical vaccine trials, only Johnson and Johnson said yes, they were.