How To Prepare For The Next Pandemic: Why A Holistic Approach To Health Is Our Best Defense

Holistic, Lifestyle, Wellness, Health, Doctor, Pharmacist, Lifestyle, Medicine, Healing, Pandemic, Nutrition, Exercise
Curated By
Dr. Richard Harris

Born in Cleveland, Ohio but raised in Houston, Texas, Dr. Richard E Harris II is a board-certified internal medicine physician and pharmacist. Dr. Harris attended the University of Texas at Austin for pharmacy school then pursued medical education at the McGovern School of Medicine in Houston. Dr. Harris completed his residency in Internal Medicine at UTMB in Galveston. After finishing residency, Dr. Harris worked for a large group in Houston but left that practice to pursue holistic medicine. Dr. Harris has a client-centric view focusing on building relationships and trust through a comprehensive lifestyle medicine system combined with genetic and micronutrient testing. In his spare time, he is an avid reader, weight lifter, video game enthusiast, and author. Dr. Harris also enjoys sports, traveling, philanthropy, church, and keto donuts.

He or She Might Be Thinking About...

  • What can I do to help myself and my family?
  • Where should I turn for advice?
  • What should I keep at the house just in case?
  • Will there be a medication I can take?
  • What will happen at the hospital?
  • Who is at the highest risk for the disease?
  • Should I self-quarantine?
  • Will there be government quarantines?
  • How serious is this disease?
  • What can I do to prevent getting the disease?
  • What should I do if I contact it?
  • Where should I look for news about what is going on?
  • Did we take enough precautions?
  • How many people will get sick?
  • How many people will die?
  • Am I high, medium, or low risk?
  • What can I do to protect my family?
  • What are the symptoms I should watch for?

Words That Might Be Encouraging

  • The best thing you can do to protect yourself in the event of another pandemic is to make daily investments in your health.
  • Chronic diseases like diabetes, chronic kidney disease, lung disease, autoimmune disease and being on medications that weaken the immune system are all risk factors for more severe infections.
  • Certain nutrient deficiencies can increase the risk of severe infections. Vitamin D is very important for our immune systems. 42% of the population is Vitamin D deficient (up to 82% in African Americans and 69% in Hispanics). You can ask your doctor to check your Vitamin D levels.
  • Herbal remedies can help boost the immune system when it is under attack. Elderberry, Astralugus, and certain mushroom extracts all have immune-boosting properties.
  • Regular exercise helps keep your immune system in balance. and prevent severe infections.
  • Obesity is a major risk factor for severe infections. Obesity increases the amount of bad inflammation which lowers the ability of our immune systems to fight infection.
  • Follow the CDC and trusted health professionals like Chris Kresser during these times. Joe Rogan will also interview experts who can give key information.
  • Do not succumb to fear, but trust in the Lord to guide us. “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
  • The media may spread information that is false or erroneous before it has been verified.  
  • Sleep is essential to making sure the body is functioning optimally. 7-9 hours of sleep a night is ideal.
  • Nutrition is a strong defense against infection. Eating whole foods gives us the nutrients needed for our bodies to function optimally and our immune systems to do their job. Excess processed food intake can lead to gut inflammation which leads to overall body inflammation. This prevents the immune system from working properly.
  • Mangaging stress helps keep the immune system functioning properly. Elevated levels of cortisol dampen the immune systems ability to fight infection.
  • Elevated blood sugars and diabetes are a major risk for severe infections. elevated blood sugars prevent the immune system from working properly.
  • Respiratory infections are more dangerous in those with underlying lung conditions. The number one cause of chronic lung disease is smoking.
  • Follow the physicians, infectious disease experts, and epidemiologists from the CDC.
  • More data will come out daily about what we are dealing with as scientists work fervently for answers. Be patient and rely on prayer in those times.
  • Personal hygiene is imperative to stop any pathogen. Hand washing is the best defense against any pandemic.
  • When in doubt use common sense and logic. 
  • The most at-risk populations are usually the young and the elderly. People with certain medical issues are also at high risk. That doesn't mean everyone else is immune, usually, a small percentage will have severe, possibly life-threatening infections. 
  • We have a responsibility to do what we can to best protect ourselves and our families. Our leaders will do their best to help the population at the population level.
  • During times of crisis, the flow of information is extremely important. Take the time to fact check things you post online in order to prevent the spread of false information. The spread of false information can do as much damage as the pathogen.
  • It can help to only spread information from trusted sources and professionals with the right credentials.

Words That Might Be Discouraging

  • This is no big deal.
  • Whatever this is, it was engineered by some other country.
  • The media is intentionally lying to us.
  • The media is holding things back.
  • The media isn't reporting the truth.
  • Most people who get sick will recover so there's no cause for concern.
  • It will just blow over.
  • Nobody needs to prepare.
  • There is nothing to prepare for.
  • Holistic medicine can't help.
  • Your health doesn't make a difference when dealing with a pandemic.
  • I don't see how any chronic disease links to an infection.
  • Why bother, we all will die someday.
  • Everyone is just overreacting.
  • I expect the government to just take care of everything.
  • It's not that big a deal.
  • Only vulnerable people get sick and die.
  • I'll be just fine.
  • I don't need to worry at all.
  • I'll just get all my information from Facebook and Twitter.
  • There's no need to fact check anything.
  • Social media gest the right information out at the right time, all the time.

It's Time To Get Defensive!

The main issue with our healthcare system is that our response is offensive, not defensive; we react to when things happen instead of preparing a stout defense. In sports, you often hear defense wins championships. The greatest risk factors for death or serious complications from infection are age (non-modifiable) and comorbid medical conditions. It is estimated that we spend 75% of healthcare expenditures on chronic medical conditions that are preventable. Total healthcare spending has reached about 17% of our GDP (approximately 3.6 Trillion dollars or 11,000 dollars per person). 80-90% of heart disease is preventable, 40% of cancers are preventable, 80% of diabetes is preventable. Holistic health interventions are the key to turning this tide of chronic disease. The 5 pillar lifestyle system is the backbone of a healthy lifestyle; it is the guide to make a significant investment in your health and future. It is a behavior system designed to give everyone the best opportunity to live a healthy life full of joy. The system can be used to prevent disease and also as the linchpin for any treatment plan. We are proud to partner with EncourageX to offer the 5 pillar lifestyle system. Pillars 1 through 5 are available as life events.

Our healthcare systems are constantly running near full capacity. Our providers have extremely high burnout rates and often work immensely long hours. The strain that a pandemic would place on our healthcare system is a cause for concern. The burden of chronic disease is at an all-time high. We are an extremely sick nation from the chronic disease perspective (1 in 2 Americans have a serious chronic disease). These chronic issues often put people at high risk for worse outcomes via infection. For example, obesity is a risk factor for severe infections, diabetes is a risk factor for severe infections, chronic inflammation and stress are risk factors for severe infections, renal disease is a risk factor for severe infections. Why am I saying all this? We are progressively getting more biologically fragile and thus susceptible to crisis level infectious disease events.

We must take preventative healthcare seriously. We must start to play defense. We must prepare ourselves to handle the next COVID-19 because there will be another pandemic. The best way to do this is to stem this overwhelming tide of chronic disease. That will put us in the best possible place to withstand the next global pandemic and come out triumphant. 

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