The novel coronavirus—now being called COVID-19—has already killed 3,200 people (mostly in China) and has infected over 94,000 people worldwide. In the U.S. at least 11 people have died from the virus and about 130 have been infected. In the wake of the rising numbers, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and several other U.S. cities have declared a health emergency.

Sounds terrifying, right?

Everyone is looking for ways to reduce their risk of developing COVID-19, but with all the hand-wringing about the outbreak, there’s one thing the media is neglecting. Did you know that having a mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety, weakens the immune system, decreases your ability to fight off illnesses and makes you more vulnerable to common colds, flu, and other viruses?

The connection between psychological well-being and physical health is real and experts call it “psychoneuroimmunology.” What are the mechanisms behind it?  Research shows that depression ramps up the production of proinflammatory cytokines while compromising immune response. Anxiety and stress can trigger the body’s fight-or-flight response, which increases cortisol levels and alters immune system responses. And other mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder, have long been associated with immune system dysfunction.

Seeking treatment for mental health issues is a critical step in shoring up the immune system. Here are 10 additional recommendations to strengthen your body’s ability to fend off viruses.

10 Ways to Boost Immunity


Staying adequately hydrated is critical for fending off viruses. Water oxygenates your brain and body so they can function at optimal levels. When your cells are operating at full capacity, they are better able to perform their primary functions. And when your brain is well-hydrated it helps you handle stress more effectively and allows you to make better decisions to help minimize your exposure to illness. For proper hydration, drink half your body weight in ounces of water. For example, if you weight 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces of water a day.


Excessive drinking disrupts immune pathways and, according to a 2015 review of alcohol and the immune system, increases susceptibility to pneumonia and other illnesses. Chronic alcohol abuse also reduces the number of virus-fighting T-cells in the body, which lowers your ability to keep illnesses at bay. And a study in the journal Alcohol found that a single episode of binge drinking significantly disrupts the immune system.


Mom was right when she told you to get quality rest to avoid getting sick. A 2015 trial in the journal Sleep found that compared to people who sleep more than 7 hours a night, those who get only 6 hours or less of shut-eye are 4 times more likely to catch a cold after being exposed to the virus. Other research shows that chronic sleep deprivation suppresses the immune system. Be sure to seek help for sleep disorders, aim for 7-8 hours a night, and stick to an evening routine that encourages relaxation and restful sleep.


2014 study shows that probiotics support gut health and boost the immune system, which can help you fight off viruses. Include fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, or kimchi in your daily diet for added immunity support.


Increase your intake of colorful fruits and vegetables. These antioxidant-rich foods have anti-viral properties that act as an army against foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria.


The unique and diverse compounds in these fungi, not found in other plants, have been found to have immune-enhancing effects.Eat and cook with mushrooms and consider taking them as supplements. Among the most researched therapeutic mushrooms are Lion’s mane, shiitake, reishi, and cordyceps.


Consuming garlic can increase the number of T-cells—the body’s natural virus fighters—in the bloodstream. Findings from a 2012 study in Clinical Nutrition show that taking aged garlic extract minimizes cold and flu symptoms and shortens the duration of viral illnesses.


Often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D is actually a hormone that should be called the “immunity vitamin” thanks to its positive effects on the immune system. A 2009 report analyzed vitamin D levels in American adults and found that over 75% had low levels of this important vitamin. Get your levels checked and optimize them if necessary.


This potent nutrient supports the immune system and helps your body defend itself from invading viruses and bacteria. Fuel up on zinc-rich foods like beef, oysters, lamb, asparagus, spinach, and pumpkin seed and consider taking zinc supplements.


Doing moderate exercise on a regular basis has been scientifically proven to enhance the immune system and reduce the risk of illness. It appears that even a single workout can give the immune system a boost. Going overboard with highly intense exercise, however, may have a negative effect on your ability to fight off viruses. A healthy approach is to walk fast—like you’re late for an appointment—for at least 30 minutes a day.

Source: https://www.amenclinics.com/blog/how-mental-health-affects-your-risk-for-coronavirus/


Dr. James A. Robb is an American pathologist and molecular virologist.  I am passing along his info concerning the coronavirus.  Please share it with friends and family.

“Dear Colleagues, as some of you may recall, when I was a professor of pathology at the University of California San Diego, I was one of the first molecular virologists in the world to work on coronaviruses (the 1970s). I was the first to demonstrate the number of genes the virus contained. Since then, I have kept up with the coronavirus field and its multiple clinical transfers into the human population (e.g., SARS, MERS), from different animal sources.
The current projections for its expansion in the US are only probable, due to continued insufficient worldwide data, but it is most likely to be widespread in the US by mid to late March and April.
Here is what I have done and the precautions that I take and will take. These are the same precautions I currently use during our influenza seasons, except for the mask and gloves.:
1) NO HANDSHAKING! Use a fist bump, slight bow, elbow bump, etc.
2) Use ONLY your knuckle to touch light switches. elevator buttons, etc.. Lift the gasoline dispenser with a paper towel or use a disposable glove.
3) Open doors with your closed fist or hip – do not grasp the handle with your hand, unless there is no other way to open the door. Especially important on bathroom and post office/commercial doors.
4) Use disinfectant wipes at the stores when they are available, including wiping the handle and child seat in grocery carts.
5) Wash your hands with soap for 10-20 seconds and/or use a greater than 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer whenever you return home from ANY activity that involves locations where other people have been.
6) Keep a bottle of sanitizer available at each of your home’s entrances. AND in your car for use after getting gas or touching other contaminated objects when you can’t immediately wash your hands.
7) If possible, cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue and discard. Use your elbow only if you have to. The clothing on your elbow will contain an infectious virus that can be passed on for up to a week or more!
In preparation for the pandemic spread to the US:
1) Use Latex or nitrile latex disposable gloves when going shopping, using the gasoline pump, and all other outside activity which brings you in contact with contaminated areas.
Note: This virus is spread in large droplets by coughing and sneezing. This means that the air will not infect you! BUT all the surfaces where these droplets land are infectious for about a week on average – everything that is associated with infected people will be contaminated and potentially infectious. The virus is on surfaces and you will not be infected unless your unprotected face is directly coughed or sneezed upon. This virus only has cell receptors for lung cells (it only infects your lungs) The only way for the virus to infect you is through your nose or mouth via your hands or an infected cough or sneeze onto or into your nose or mouth.
2) Disposable surgical masks can prevent you from touching your nose and/or mouth (We touch our nose/mouth 90X/day without knowing it!). This is the only way this virus can infect you – it is lung-specific. The mask will not prevent the virus in a direct sneeze from getting into your nose or mouth – it is only to keep you from touching your nose or mouth.
3) Hand sanitizers and latex/nitrile gloves ( in the appropriate sizes for your family) must be alcohol-based and greater than 60% alcohol to be effective.
4) Zinc lozenges have been proven to be effective in blocking coronavirus (and most other viruses) from multiplying in your throat and nasopharynx. Use as directed several times each day when you begin to feel ANY “cold-like” symptoms beginning. It is best to lie down and let the lozenge dissolve in the back of your throat and nasopharynx.
I hope these personal thoughts will be helpful during this potentially catastrophic pandemic. You are welcome to share this email.”

-James Robb, MD


My mind and my heart have been filled with the idea of walking el Camino de Santiago (the Way of Saint James) for a couple of years.  I decided to do it out of love, in celebration and gratefulness during this sixtieth year of my life, 2008.

Preparing means to ready yourself.  The last eight months have been of intense preparation for a physical and emotional challenge at a time in my life when it would be delightful and infinitely easier to stay home enjoying my family, visiting with friends and reading good books.  But, do I do the easy thing?  Of course not!  I love pushing beyond the comfort zone.  It’s the only way that I have found to grow.

Readying myself meant reading all I could find about the pilgrimage; learning about blister prevention and hiking  socks and boots; deciding on technical clothing that wicks away sweat from the body and dries off quickly; trying on multiple backpacks, day-packs, and lumbar packs; getting familiar with trekking poles and wind-resistant jackets; trying on dozens of hiking sandals; struggling to understand a digital compass/altimeter/barometer/dual-zone alarm watch; and, most amazing for a non-athlete like me, getting up at 5:30 most mornings to hit the gym, the treadmill, the Pilates reformer or the Yoga mat before starting my day at the office.  I have been invigorated by the effort.  My body is stronger that it has been in years, my gear is ready, and I feel excited and fearful as the trip gets nearer.

I am ready physically, but, am I ready emotionally?  I forgot to prepare for this.  I don’t know how.  I am coming, because the Camino calls.  Is that enough?  I go in search of a me that got herself lost amid being too busy and accepting too many obligations.  Will I find a different me along the way?

I  have done a lot in the years I’ve been given.   And I have never regretted the things  I did; only what I was too afraid to do.   I am scared about the journey ahead.  But I’ll be darned if I turn my back on an opportunity as juicy as this one.  No, I will not decline life’s invitation to participate in a thousand-year-old ritual of pilgrims seeking something larger than themselves.  For me, the journey is about love and gratefulness: love for the Energy that gives me life; love for the Maggie that works too hard; love for the people whose pain and joy intersect with mine every day.  And gratefulness for the God that lives in me, and for all the goodness and hurt I have experienced.  And most of all, this pilgrimage is a celebration of my being alive.  It isn’t every day that a 60 year old grandmother gets the chance to go meet herself.


I’m writing this as I ride in a van, surrounded by 17 other neophyte peregrinos, all excited to start our journey to Santiago. We are going to the border with France to begin walking from there, each at our own pace, although we will meet again as a group for dinner later tonight.

The weather is overcast and rainy; it is cold too.
I will write more tonight.
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Subject: May 1 – Najera to …. Where am I? I think Santo Domingo de la Calzada

I can’t even think straight. Did 16 kilometers today, which seems a short
distance compared to the last two days, but it was hot and sunny, and no shade
at all. Had to pee behind some brush!!
The views were quite beautiful, mostly farmland with snow capped mountains to
the southwest. Green rolling terrain except for two steep uphills, which I
managed well. My legs and lower back are sore, as are the backs of my upper
arms, from using the walking sticks. My hips are stiff and it is difficult to
bend down to pick up anything that happens to fall down, which happens a lot
while I’m unpacking, tired and sweaty.

Fell asleep while taking a bath, and still had to wash clothes in the sink, but
after a little rest had enough energy to go into town to see the Cathedral and
have dinner. Nice food and great wine in this region of Rioja.

Today I dedicated the walk to my first serious boyfriend, Juan Perez Bouza, a
Spaniard from La Coruna, who was killed during student riots in Paris on May 1
around 1965 or 66. My plan is to look for his tomb after I finish my pilgrimage
in Santiago, since La Coruna is just an hour away.

Carried Hugo’s stone, which I will carry again tomorrow. And I left Susan’s
crystal at the cave of the Virgin in the Monastery at Najera. This particular
virgin sits with white lillies, a candle and soft bells ringing, because
according to legend, a famous king found her like that in that same cave and she
gave him strength to win a big battle against the Moors, considered then the
dark forces. The king dedicated the monastery to the virgin, and now Susan’s
crystal is there to gather strength for the battles ahead.


Did a bit more than 22 km today. That’s about 13, 14 miles. It was pretty easy terrain, gentle slopes and cooler weather. My leg held out OK and by the end I could not feel any pain at all. Thank you all for your prayers and healings. I couldn’t have done it without you.

Left stones I carried for Lisbeth, Ruth, and Vanessa Ch., on marker along the way. Carried the stones I brought from Colombia and Miami, and a stone for Fred, plus the ones given to me by Julian, Alexandra, Dorothy, and Mikael, to the top of the Iron Cross. Emotional.
Went to Mass today. Its Mother’s Day in Spain, so had thoughts of love for my mother and all the women and men I know who are so nurturing and loving. There are two nuns, a priest and a retired bishop (all fron Canada) in our van group. It’s very nice.

Tomorrow is the climb to O’ Cebreiro. Pray for me!
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Subject: May 5 – Ambasmestas to O’ Cebreiro and Samos Casa de Diaz

I had been looking forward to the climb to O’ Cebreiro and had also been afraid
of it. Many accounts of the ascent describe its difficulty. And it was very
hard, but it was also glorious!

We climbed for about 4.5 hours, from Ambasmestas, which is at about1200 feet
high, to O’ Cebreiro, at 3900 feet. The day was cool and clear, so the ground
was dry in most places, which made it easier to climb. My lungs are still at
sea level mode, but my legs are stronger, even with my recent injury.
Something strange happened to me yesterday and today; aches and pains stopped
hurting after a while of walking. When there is no option to call the rescue
vehicle, like today on the mountain, the only choice left is to keep going.

There were birds, insects and streams accompanying me on the ascent, along with
the occasional cow bell and the faraway barking of dogs. The mountains were
covered in purple heather and green grass. White and yellow sprays of wild
spring flowers spread their aroma into the pure, clean air. Each time I looked
up and saw the unending path continuing to rise, I would turn around to see how
very far I’ d come already. The views were spectacular. There is a most
special feeling to know that your feet have carried you such a long distance.
Just like in life: how far you’ve come is how far you’ve carried yourself.

We had a great communal lunch at O’ Cebreiro. Everyone was happy and feeling
good about having accomplished the climb. There was much laughter, and animated
conversations sprung everywhere like the spring flowers on the path. The food
and the wine kept coming, brought out by the friendly relatives of the priest
who brought back the culture of the Camino fifty years ago.

There is a small, simple church at the summit, called Santa Maria la Real. God lives there.



We walked directly from our hotel, Casa Diaz, a beautiful casa rural, after a breakfast of cafe con leche, peasant bread, three different types of home made jams, soft cheese, flourless amazing cakes, and fruit.

Did about 7 miles to Sarria. I reinjured my right leg on a missed step and had to rest this afternoon, but was able to get a massage and some tips on stretching. Plan to walk tomorrow’s 24 km. From now on, no van is used except in emergencies, more info

because the last 100 km must be walked without assistance. Pray that my leg holds up!

Yesterday, on my way to O’ Cebreiro, I carried stones for Marina and Jill and placed them on a marker. This morning I carried a stone for Sandy, which I will place tomorrow.

I realized today, because it was the first time I could access internet on a PC, that my blogs are posting scrambled. Sorry about that. Please read the comments.
More tomorrow.
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What a day! 25 kilometers, eight long hours, beautiful farm country and rain for the first time!
Glad I carried my poncho. I thought it would be hot under it, but it was actually pleasant to walk under the cool rain after so many hours in the hot sun.
My hands and the back of my neck are turning a very dark brown, and I can already see sun spots on my face, in spite of heavy sunscreen. I sweat so much, it doesn’t last very long.. Not pretty! But I guess it is what pilgrims look like.

Today was hard, but it feels good now, after a hot bath and a self healing BodyTalk session and a leg and lower back rub (also self administered) with Voltaren gel, whiich I discovered here in Spain and has helped a lot!

Each day, the routine gets easier. Get up at 7, pack, decide what goes in the pockets and hanging from carabiners (metal loops) from my belt ( each day I numberswiki.com

try to carry less). Must have three liters of water, sunscreen, energy bars, some fruit, my US passport and my Pilgrim’s passport, some money, my Tilley hat, a bandana, toilet paper, and my walking sticks. Also carry a pedometer, a camera, and a compass watch. And, of course, the day’s route mapped out. It is a lot to carry, but I’m getting the hang of it.
Breakfast is usually cafe con leche, yogurt, fruit, and bread. Then, a quick bathroom trip, because it will be hours before the next toilet is found (had to go in the bushes once), and off I go.
Lunch around 1:30 or 2, and more walking untill 4 or 5. A place to stay, a hot bath, washing the day’s clothes and finding where to hang it so it is dry by morning, followed by tending to the feet and legs, something to eat, blogging about the day, and bedtime. Not a lot of time for anything but walking. That’s my day!

Copyright 2016 - Dr. Maggie Mauer. Developed by Active Mill