Lifestyle Medicine Approach to COVID-19

The Corona virus COVID-19 has disrupted the order and relative peace of our world with a vicious velocity that has caused many to feel vulnerable and anxious. However, notwithstanding this pandemic, we believe that the challenge can be met through the collective power of scientists and health care professionals and increasing personal responsibility around the world. And in the end, it may result in improved public health education of general hygiene, hand washing with soap (20 sec.) and better health habits.


Here are some recommendations for a Lifestyle Medicine approach of strengthening the immune system to give it a fighting chance against the virus. I put these 8 recommendations together under the acronym NEWSTART.




Move as far toward a whole-food, plant based diet as you can. Eat lots of green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, kale and bell pepper. Eat plenty of fruits, such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries and pomegranates. Enjoy high fiber foods, such as whole grains, beans and lentils, fruits and avocados. These foods are all high in nutrient content that will help the body develop a healthy micro-biome, reduce inflammation and give you a spectrum of micronutrients to maximize health.  Eliminate animal products, such as meats, hamburgers, eggs, and dairy. And let go of these processed and engineered taste sensations, high in sugar, fat and in calories yet poor in nutrition and fiber. At the same time include more garlic known for its anti-bacterial and anti-viral effects. And daily use some Zinc tablets (15 mg)




Exercise daily, aiming for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity  a day. Make sure you work up some sweat! This virus has the highest impact on people’s hearts and lungs




Plenty of it! 10 glasses a day would be perfect. You need plenty of hydration, plenty of fluids, especially in case of a fever. Plenty of hot soups and broths – broths and soups are high in electrolytes.  And when taken in steamy hot, they are also a natural decongestant clearing the sinuses of mucus.




Spend time outdoors, especially in the middle of the day.  Walk your dog. Walk with a friend and still maintain social distancing of some 6 feet.




Be balanced, feel supported, and don’t fall for extremes. Learn how to handle your stress, especially right now. Here are some ideas to reduce stress: talk with friends and family; practice mindfulness and meditation; do deep breathing exercises.  Seek support from friends. Feel supported by people you love.  Express your feelings and listen to the feelings of others.



Air, Fresh Air

Do spend some time every day outdoors. At night, try to sleep with open windows if possible. Do deep breathing. Keep those lungs in good shape. These are the do’s!

Avoid bad air such as tobacco smoke. Avoid vaping.  Avoid inhaling any substance which can be toxic to your lungs. Keep those lungs in good shape.




Rest and sleep are critical for maintaining a strong immune system to fight the virus. Aim to get 8 to 9 hours of sleep every night.  De-stress your body – Establish regular times for going to bed and when you get up. Avoid TV or screens at least 60 minutes before bedtime.  Also become more regular with your meals. Avoid snacking. Give the digestive system 4 to 5 hours of rest between meals. For some seniors, two meals a day may work well. 


The last letter of NEWSTART is:


Trust in yourself, Trust in your friends, and Trust in God.  It is a time of reflection– reflecting on Meaning and Purpose. Reflecting on good things that happened, finding joy and expressing gratitude. It’s better to light a candle than to curse the dark. Let us be that candle. This is also time for reflective prayer and meditation. And smile and laugh when you can. Your immune system will thank you!


PS: People and parents in particular, now sequestered in their homes, have written in asking for simple, easy, healthy and good tasting recipes.  We are glad you asked. May we recommend the OPTIMAL DIET COOBOOK. You will find it on under “Resources to OWN” on special!


Written By:

Hans Diehl DrHSc, MPH, FACN

Clin. Professor Preventive Medicine

Loma Linda University, School of Medicine

(Parts adapted from Rochester Lifestyle Medicine Institute)

Our First Defense

When we face a major crisis in our lives what is the first thing that we do? Some of us talk to a trusted friend or family member, some of us meditate or go to therapy, some of us pray to God to get us out of, or relief from the situation. But, what do we do when we’re not facing a life threatening crisis, what if we’re struggling at work or having trouble communicating with our spouse, or are barely making rent? These are everyday life issues that people everywhere are dealing with but our response to those issues sometimes differ to how we respond in moments of extreme difficulty. May I suggest that when we face problems, big or small, our response should be the same. Our immediate response, our first defense against all of life’s hardships, should be prayer. Prayer in the Hebrew Bible is an evolving means of interacting with God, most frequently through a spontaneous, individual, unorganized form of petitioning and/or thanking. 

The National Review’s article, What Prayer is Good For-and the Evidence for It says “A number of studies suggest that prayer is positively associated with well-being and physical health. For instance, a nationwide survey of older adults found that the negative effects of financial problems on health were significantly reduced among those who regularly prayed for others. Religious practices such as prayer also contribute to perceptions of meaning in life, which promote psychological well-being.The benefits of prayer extend to social bonds. A willingness to compromise and make personal sacrifices is critical to healthy close relationships. Married couples who are happy to sacrifice for each other experience less marital distress. More broadly, sacrifice promotes trust, which strengthens relationships. Researchers found that prayer helps promote the value of sacrifice as well as the strength of a relationship.For most believers, prayer isn’t a substitute for data-based solutions. It is a personal resource that complements and may even help facilitate other thoughtful action.”  I believe that continual communication with God helps keep joy in our hearts, peace in our minds, and love overflowing for others. Integrating it in our daily lives can change our outlook on the storms of life will bring us and challenge us to approach it with an attitude of grace and victory.

Understanding Anxiety Disorder

It seems that most people nowadays are struggling with anxiety in some shape or form. Low levels of stress and anxiety are a part of most people’s lives. In turn, experiencing these feelings does not necessarily mean that you have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders occur when anxiety interferes with your daily life, halting your ability to function, and causing an immense amount of stress and fear. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) reports that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. today. According to the organization’s report, anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults over the age of 18, yet only one-third seek and receive treatment. Anxiety disorder types can include (but are not limited to):
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Constant, severe anxiety that interferes with day-to-day activities.
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Unreasonable thoughts, fears and obsessions that lead to repetitive behaviors or compulsions
  • Panic Disorder: Characterized by frequent sudden attacks of terror, panic, and constant fearfulness.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): A condition triggered by experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder: A disorder in which everyday interactions cause irrational anxiety, fear, self-consciousness and embarrassment.
I’ve dealt with some anxiety in my life as most people have, but it has not been severe to the point in which it would be classified as a mental illness. However in the middle of an anxiety attack somewhere on the spectrum of panic disorder, it did feel incredibly serious. But there are more than a few ways to combat the effects before they set in.  Take a time-out. Practice yoga, listen to music, meditate, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques. Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head. Eat well-balanced meals. Take deep breaths. Count to 10 slowly. Do your best. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn’t possible, be proud of however close you get. Accept that you cannot control everything.