You might be seeing images of people walking through the streets in face masks. The U.S. government is weighing the potential of recommending them, while Canadian experts have said most people should not bother with them.
With unclear messaging, what should you be doing? If you’re at high-risk for complications from COVID-19 due to a condition like heart disease, type-2 diabetes, or advanced age, you’re probably looking for answers.
For most, masks are unlikely to help protect against COVID-19. In fact, some doctors suggest they can present a risk by offering a false sense of security. Although they are effective at catching droplets—the main way the virus is spread—it is contextual.
Think of the image you see of healthcare professionals treating COVID patients. They’re outfitted with eye masks and gloves in addition to the face mask, and they are also working close to infected individuals.
The virus can also be transmitted through the eyes, which are not protected if you’re covering your nose and mouth. Further, healthcare professionals suggest that wearing a mask leads to a lot of face touching—one of the things you should be avoiding.
A quick trip to the grocery store yesterday allowed me to observe this—people could not keep their hands away from the mask. Further, many of the masks people are wearing are not fitted properly.
Unless you’re in close quarters with someone infected with COVID-19 or you have it yourself, a mask may be more of a risk than a protective measure. Some officials, however, do believe that wearing a mask could play a key role in preventing the spread of the virus.
In the case where you have a health condition that boosts COVID risks, your best defense is to stay at home, regularly wash hands, and keep up with your regular treatment. This can include managing blood pressure and blood sugar through dietary measures.
One method to manage these conditions and potentially improve health is a Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet has been shown to work at lowering inflammation, boosting immune strength, improving heart health, mental health, and more.
Eating for immunity might seem difficult these days. But fresh produce can be delivered and frozen, or you can opt to use frozen vegetables. Canned or frozen salmon and tuna are easy to store, as is olive oil.
It might be more difficult to have the diversity in your diet you may otherwise enjoy, but healthy Mediterranean-friendly foods are likely available. It may turn out that nutrition may play a major role in helping you stay healthy through the pandemic.
So, before thinking about buying a bunch of masks, it might make sense to look at some of your other options to reduce the risk and severity of the virus. But, of course, like everything else these days, the current recommendations for masks may change.