Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Decisions to make 2022 a better and healthier year

At the same time, we are slipping into our third year, where we are fighting a new coronavirus that continues to keep the world in pandemic mode.

That’s why it’s more important now than ever – as the Delta variant is being pushed out by Omicron in this country and around the globe, and as Covid – 19 stops evolving from pandemic to endemic – to think about making decisions that will help us stay healthy and strong enough to see us through the coming year.

In other words, resolutions that will pandemic us as much as possible.

That means we need to be proactive rather than reactive: we need to learn from the past, fix things before they break down, and optimize ourselves and our ways. As the former creative director of fashion house Lanvin, Alber Elbaz, said when I interviewed him in 2014: “You know there’s a saying in America, ‘If it’s not broken, do not repair it.’ And I think if it’s not broken, then fix it before it breaks. “(Elbaz tragically succumbed to Covid-19 in April 2021.)

With that in mind, I have put together a short list of simple and universal decisions that you should consider including among yours. I know I will follow the list.

Resolution short list

Get vaccinated

At the very top of my list is get vaccinated! The vaccines have been around for more than a year, but at the moment only about 62% of the country is fully vaccinated and 33% of Americans have been boosted.
I can not stress this enough: getting vaccinated is the best way to lower your risk of getting a bad result if you develop Covid-19. According to one latest estimates from the Commonwealth Fund, U.S. vaccine deployment efforts have prevented 1.1 million Covid deaths, more than 10.3 million hospitalizations and nearly 36 million infections by November 2021. Yet too many preventable deaths occurred at a time when vaccines were already available.
They are very effective against the Delta variety, which still feeds on some outbreaks in parts of the United States. And while preliminary studies show that certain vaccines may be less effective at preventing infection with the Omicron variant, they still help prevent hospitalizations and deaths, especially with the booster. So if you have not received your photos yet, now it’s time to do it.

Pandemic your body

In addition to the vaccine, there are other important ways to pandemic your body. We are often motivated to stay healthy for fear of future illness: Eat right to ward off cancer or dementia in old age, exercise to avoid cardiovascular disease later. The pandemic has taught us that being healthy can be very protective against serious illness right now, not just in the coming decades. Getting yourself in the best possible shape, within what is reasonable, prepares you to better fight the virus should you become infected.

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If you smoke, try to quit – you do not have to let me tell you that it’s bad for you in so many ways; with the pandemic adds one more. If you do not train, start. Physical activity is essential for good health – even something low-key like walking can do wonders. If you have a chronic health condition such as liver, kidney or heart disease or diabetes – all of which have been shown to lead to poorer results in people fighting the virus – try to deal with these conditions as closely as possible.
Another condition that is strongly linked to worse Covid-19 results is obesity and overweight, a problem that almost affects three-quarters of Americans over 20 years. One of the most common questions I got was about the link between being overweight and severe Covid, so here’s a look at what’s going on with your body.

Not surprisingly, weight loss is a popular New Year’s resolution. I will not lie, it is a very challenging goal that many people struggle with and it is not often achieved quickly.

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So in the coming year, a different mindset might help. Instead of going on a diet to lose weight, decide to eat right to strengthen your immune system. What does it mean? Researchers have found that about 80% of your immunity lies in your gut microbiome – the trillions of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other organisms found inside your gut and play a key role in digestion, nutrition and immunity (among other vital activities). ) Food is one of the clearest and fastest messages you send your body on a daily basis, a signal to the trillions of microorganisms that are ready.

To put it simply, what you eat for breakfast can affect your immunity at noon. And the healthiest microbiomes are the most diverse. This means that you should also eat a wide variety of foods; The colors of the rainbow (like fruits, vegetables and fermented foods) should fill your plate. Focusing on a single superfood misses the point. The wider the range of healthy food, the better, because it will diversify your microbiome, which in turn will improve your immune system.

Although developing and maintaining a healthy microbiome will not inoculate you from Covid-19, it will reduce your risk of getting serious illness. (I explain this in more depth in my latest book, “World War C. “)
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And let’s face it: making healthy food choices every day is more realistic than throwing away 10 or 100 pounds overnight.

You may also notice other health benefits, just like I did. One scientist I talk to regularly recommended that I keep a detailed food diary along with a few points that I wanted to measure, such as mood, creativity, willingness to work, and exercise. It became really clear to me that when I wanted to eat pickles, my goals would always be high: I could sit down and write a paper, I could run, I felt good, my mood was elevated, and I had high energy .

Pickles and other fermented foods, it turns out, are a great food to feed your microbiota. Now pickles may not work the same way for you as they do for me, but you can experiment the same way I did to find out what gives you an advantage.

Pandemic your home

The next step is to pandemically secure your home. All it means is to follow basic recommendations for public health. Things like making sure everyone in your household is up to date with their immunizations and – to avoid a twindemi – also their annual flu shot.
Other action points include keeping hands and high-touch surfaces clean and making sure you have a supply of face masks to wear in common indoor spaces – such as elevators, supermarkets and malls – especially if you live somewhere with high societal transfer. Social distance whenever possible and if you decide to gather indoors, make sure there is adequate ventilation by opening windows or turning on a portable HEPA air purifier. One way to get an impression of the ventilation in your home is to use a CO2 monitor.
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Consider having an over-the-counter quick test at hand. Research shows that although these antigen tests are less accurate than PCR tests to detect an infection (especially early and in asymptomatic people), they are particularly good at determining if anyone is contagious at the moment. This means that they can be used to screen a large number of people or before a large event. Although you may have a hard time finding them right now, the tight supply should ease.
It is important to think about the Swiss cheese model: No single measure will be 100% effective in protecting you from infection in any situation, but with each extra layer you will achieve more protection.

Pandemic secure your mind

My last solution recommendation is to pandemic your mind. It will come as no surprise to hear that mental health problems have increased over the last few years, including among children. Take the time to resolve any issues you may have to avoid adding insult to an already difficult time.
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An important way to do this is by maintaining our ties to each other. We humans are social by nature and we thrive when we are connected. Ironically, it took the pandemic to remind us that it’s not just a luxury to be social, it’s a necessity – even if it stole from us the very contact we need to flourish. So take the time to reach out to family, friends and colleagues to cultivate and nurture relationships. Even a brief but positive exchange with a random stranger, like a smile on the street, can have lasting effects and wave outward.

It is also important to get outside our own silos to connect with and understand those who think differently – be it our neighbor, a teacher, our sister-in-law or our very own parents. We evolved to cooperate with each other, otherwise we could not possibly survive as a species; caring for each other is encoded in our DNA.

Covid was the third most common cause of death in 2020 in this country – the way to mitigate its impact is to start listening so we can start working together. Let’s fight for our future together. I want to be right there next to you. That’s my decision for 2022.

Happy New Year to you and your loved ones.

CNN Health’s Andrea Kane contributed to this report.

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