Archive for Nicholas Veliotes

Foods High In Antioxidants

There’s a huge variety of foods that eliminate cancer-causing free radicals and lead to better health. Antioxidants remove free radicals from the body which can run rampant and actually damage cells, causing serious illness. Many health professionals use them for treatments of stroke and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. They have also been helpful in treating brain injury and may slow and even prevent development of cancers.


There are numerous choices for antioxidant-rich foods: small red beans, wild blueberries, pinto beans, cultivated blueberries, cranberries, artichokes, blackberries, prunes, raspberries, strawberries, red delicious apples, Granny Smith apples, pecans, sweet cherries, black plums, russet potatoes, black beans, plums, gala apples, dark leafy greens.

Don’t like any foods on the list? Not to worry. The American Dietetic Association has jumped on the band wagon with their comprehensive guide to foods highest in antioxidants arranged by food groups:



Fruits.

Many fruits are high in antioxidants, packed with vitamins, and beneficial in a myriad of ways. These include cranberries, red grapes, peaches, raspberries, strawberries, red currants, figs, cherries, pears, guava, oranges, apricots, mango, red grapes, cantaloupe, watermelon, papaya, and tomatoes.


Dried Fruits

With the water removed, the antioxidant ratio is higher in dried fruits than in fresh. They can easily be carried with you in your purse, briefcase or car and they make a quick healthy snack. Consider taking along dried pears, plums, apples, peaches, figs, dates and raisins. However, be careful of sugar content; avoid dried fruits that have processed sugars added to them to make them sweeter.


Vegetables


Didn’t your mother always tell you to eat your vegetables? Broccoli, spinach, carrots and potatoes are all high in antioxidants, and so are artichokes, cabbage, asparagus, avocados, beetroot, radish, lettuce, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin, collard greens and kale.


Spices and Herbs


Using lots of spices in cooking is good. Many are loaded with antioxidants, like cinnamon, oregano, turmeric, cumin, parsley, basil, curry powder, mustard seed, ginger, pepper, chili powder, paprika, garlic, coriander, onion and cardamom. Herbs include sage, thyme, marjoram, tarragon, peppermint, oregano, savory, basil and dill weed. All contribute complexity and flavor to your meals, but also are high in antioxidants.


Cereals and Nuts


Your morning corn flakes, oatmeal and granola bars pack a healthy punch, as do walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachio nuts, almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts and even that peanut butter sandwich.


Beverages


Contrary to popular belief, most of our antioxidants come from beverages. Apple juice, cider, tomato juice, pomegranate juice and pink grapefruit juice seem obvious, and green tea has become very popular as a source, but black tea and plain tea have high levels also. Here’s good news for those who love that cup of joe in the morning: coffee is high but should be consumed in moderation. Note that adding milk to coffee or tea blocks antioxidants. Speaking of moderation, red wine and especially beer (since it comes from grains) provide a big dose, and the healthy effects of moderate alcohol consumption have been well documented.

“Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables in a myriad of colors. Don’t just focus on the top 2 or 3 choices. Foods with darker, richer colors like orange, yellow, blue, and red tend to be higher in antioxidants, and with all these choices, you’ll never become bored or run out of delicious, nutritious options. Variety is the spice of life.”

The Mediterranean-style diet offers a lot of health benefits

A distinct version of the Mediterranean diet is followed on the Blue Zone island of Ikaria, Greece. It emphasizes olive oil, vegetables, beans, fruit, moderate amounts of alcohol and low quantities of meat and dairy products.

Consume Fish in Abundance

Seafood fans will rejoice over a diet that recommends a minimum of 2 to 3 servings of fish each week! The benefits are right there in the filet. It’s a fact that most fish—including fresh salmon, mackerel, herring, blue and albacore tuna, sardines, and even anchovies—is a rich source of omega-3 healthy fats.

While the Mediterranean diet puts more of an emphasis on fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel, Eating Well says lean fish like cod and tilapia are still viable options. If you’re not used to eating a lot of fish, no worries. Aim for at least one fish night a week. There are tons of easy, no fuss, no mess ways to cook fish. If you don’t like eating it on its own, you can always incorporate it into other foods like a soup, salad, taco, or stir-fry.

Pour on the Olive Oil

Sure, the Mediterranean diet allows fats—if they come from heart-healthy olive oil rather than from artery-clogging saturated fats from butters, margarines, red meat, and cheese. Instead of cooking with vegetable or coconut oil, the Mediterranean diet has people using olive oil or extra-virgin olive oil.

According to Eating Well, olive oil is “rich in monounsaturated fatty acids which may improve HDL cholesterol, the ‘good’ type of cholesterol.” The best ways to incorporate olive oil into your diet is with salad dressings and vinaigrettes. You can drizzle it on dishes like chicken and fish to boost the flavour or simply swap it out in recipes of mashed potatoes, pasta, etc.

Be Moderate with Dairy

Low fat dairy products can be very healthy on a limited basis. That’s why the Greeks dismiss most high fat cheeses and cream sauces from the table in favor of Greek yogurt, which they consume in small quantities at breakfast or for snacks (i.e., tzatziki).

The problem with non-fat and low-fat dairy is that it tends to have sugar in it which is how it’s able to taste as good as those full-fat products that it’s competing with. Sydney Greene, MS, RD, talked to Eat This, Not That! and said the best thing to do is limit dairy intake to only a few times a week and choose plan, full-fat options that contain gut-friendly probiotics. “A whole-milk Greek yogurt will keep you more full than 0 percent yogurt, so you will be less likely to snack on less healthy options. Not a fan of plain yogurts? Flavor them with cinnamon or vanilla bean powder.”

Avoid Anything Processed

We’ve already established that the Mediterranean diet focuses on fresh, local, whole foods, which means anything packaged, canned, or boxed is avoided due to excess sodium, sugar, fats, and artificial additives that really do more harm than good to our bodies.

Only Healthy Whole Grains

Sure, pasta, bread, and rice can be part of your Mediterranean diet experience, as long you eat the kind that’s made using whole grains—and not the kind that’s manufactured using bleached, processed flour. Refined carbs are terrible for blood sugar, which is why the Mediterranean diet has people opting for whole grains.

Aim for about four small daily portions of whole-wheat bread, pasta or quinoa. The same source encourages eating these whole grains with some healthy fats and a protein. When it comes to eating pasta, using either whole grain pasta or legume-based noodles made out of black beans, lentils and chickpeas.

Shun Sugar

One of the most difficult parts of the Mediterranean diet is cutting out sugar. Suddenly, everything from your favorite cookie to your bar of chocolate of choice will be off limits. Focus on whole, natural sugars from sources like fresh fruit, fruit salads, and honey.

Cheers to Wine

Drinking wine, in moderation, is a big part of the Mediterranean diet. However, keep in mind that this is not an open invitation to over-imbibe. The Greeks consume only 1 to 2 glasses of wine per day, and typically only with meals. Women should only have a three-ounce serving of wine a day and men a 5-ounce serving per day.

Enjoy Regular Activities

The lifestyle portion of the Mediterranean diet focuses on a favorite physical active every day. It doesn’t matter what the activity is — biking, walking, gardening, yoga, running, or swimming — the idea is to enjoy working and moving every day.

Pass on Red Meat

If your diet consists mainly of unhealthy animal fats (i.e., beef, lamb, and pork); you’re bound to end up with high cholesterol, weight gain, and heart issues down the road. That’s why the Mediterranean diet allows small portions of lean, red meat purely in moderation. Instead, stick to white meats like fish, chicken, turkey, and seafood for lower fat, healthier meat protein sources in your meals.

Healthy Fats

Most people hear the word ‘fat’ and run in the other direction! While it’s true we don’t want to eat fatty foods, but there is such thing as healthy fats and the Mediterranean diet encourages people to make smart choices about the fats they eat. Stay away from saturated fats and hydrogenated oils (trans fats) which contribute to heart disease, and eat more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which can reduce LDL cholesterol levels.

Eat more healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocados, and avocado oil. The Mediterranean diet also encourages eating more foods with omega-3 fatty acids which can help “lower triglycerides, decrease blood clotting, are associated with decreased sudden heart attack, improve the health of your blood vessels, and help moderate blood pressure,” writes Mayo Clinic. Since the Mediterranean diet eats lots of fish, we can’t forget those fatty fish, says Mayo Clinic, like mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon, which are all rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Eat Lots of Fruits and Vegetables

The main components of a Mediterranean diet includings fruits, vegetables, pasta and rice. While lots of pasta and rice aren’t necessarily healthy, the majority of their diet is actually fruits and vegetables which as we all know are the best foods for us. The Mayo Clinic points out that people who live by this diet, primarily Greek residents, tend to eat meals with very little red meat and an average of 9 servings of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables a day! So if you’re planning on trying this diet in 2019, you’ve been forewarned that you’ll be eating lots of fruits and veggies!

Healthline suggests loading up on more tomatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, onions, cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and cucumbers. When it comes to fruits, try eating more apples, bananas, oranges, pears, strawberries, grapes, dates, figs, melons and peaches.

Drink Lots of Water

Possibly one of the biggest selling points about trying the Mediterranean diet is the ability to drink red wine (in moderation!), but what’s more important on this diet is drinking lots and lots of water. You may also drink coffee and tea, but do not indulge in any sugar sweeteners or beverages that are high in sugar like fruit juice and soda.

Eat More Nuts and Seeds

Usually we’re told to be cautious with nuts because they are high in fat, but they also have some awesome health benefits. The fat that they do contain is not saturated, says the Mayo Clinic, and the Mediterranean diet encourages people to eat more healthy unsaturated fats. Healthline suggests incorporating more almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds. Even though nuts and seeds are an important part of the Mediterranean diet, do not eat them in excess because they are high in calories. No more than a handful a day, says Mayo Clinic.

You can also add some extra flavor to meals by eating more herbs and spices like garlic, basil, mint, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, and pepper.

It’s Not About Counting Calories

Most people don’t like diets because they tend to focus a lot on counting calories, food points, food diaries, all that nonsense. The nice thing about the Mediterranean diet is that people who are on it don’t have to count their calories or feel like they are starving themselves. It’s more about making healthier choices than it is about limiting food. People who are on this diet are required to eat more plant-based foods and healthy fats and less processed foods which seems simple enough, and quite frankly, makes the most sense!

Another thing that is important about this diet and a good thing to keep in mind while on it is that it’s not a fad diet, it’s a lifestyle. This is a diet that could be maintained long term. “First, to set fears aside, the Mediterranean diet is not a ‘diet’ in the sense that its purpose is not to help you lose weight. Rather, it’s a style of eating that emphasizes a well-balanced eating plan,” says NYC-based registered dietitian, Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD to Eat This, Not That. It’s not about restricting a person’s diet. It’s more about living a healthier lifestyle.

The European lifestyle is known to promote good health, and it seems like a good portion of Europeans having lean bodies that can make you green with envy. Like many other European diets, the Mediterranean-style diet offers a lot of health benefits, and is worth considering incorporating into your own diet. What makes the diet so healthy is a combination of things, from fresh produce to olive oil and specific meats. When combined with the fact that Europeans tend to get regular exercise from walking pretty much everywhere, you have a complete healthy lifestyle that if mimicked, could leave you with lower risk of many serious health conditions and better overall health.

1. Lower Risk of Heart Disease

A main ingredient in Mediterranean cooking and flavoring is olive oil. Olive oil contains monounsaturated fats, which is a good component for a healthy heart. On the other hand, consuming foods high in saturated fats contribute to heart disease. Many Mediterranean dishes are cooked using oil instead of butter, and sauces and dressings include olive oil as one of the main ingredients.

Mix in different types of balsamic vinegars—whatever flavors you like—with oil, and you have a healthy salad dressing. There’s no need to buy pre-made salad dressings full of unnecessary fats when you can create a simple and easy healthy dressing with only a couple ingredients. Plus, the fresher the better, and a bit of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar makes a tasty salad topper.

2. Lower Risk of Diabetes

Olive oil has many health benefits. Since Mediterranean-style diets use olive oil in a number of ways, you’re likely to benefit from it if you follow the diet. Research studies have shown that olive oil, and specifically the Mediterranean diet, could help lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Researchers believe the high amount of rich minerals and phytochemicals found in a Mediterranean-style diet can reduce inflammation and insulin resistance. Your body needs to successfully break down sugars. If it can’t do this properly, you can be at increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

3. Prevent High Blood Pressure

What you eat directly impacts your blood pressure, and the Mediterranean diet has food that can lower your blood pressure. On top of this, the diet consists of healthy foods that won’t increase your blood pressure either. Genetics can play a role in whether or not you have high blood pressure, but an unhealthy diet containing lots of fat and salt can also greatly increase it.

With next to no processed foods in the Mediterranean-style diet, you won’t be consuming unnecessary sodium that will raise and keep your blood pressure up. High blood pressure can lead to hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases, so this diet could help prevent these serious health risks.

4. Prevent Fatty Liver Disease

Many North Americans follow a diet full of processed foods that contain unnecessary fats, sugar, calories, and sodium. When following an unhealthy diet like this, there’s a greater risk of developing obesity, a main cause of fatty liver disease. The amount of olive oil in the Mediterranean diet helps rid a lot of saturated fats from your diet, which can help reduce the risk of fatty liver disease.

The diet also doesn’t include much red meat, since it’s full of saturated fats. Instead, chicken and mineral-rich fish are the meats of choice. And what and how much you eat of something that’s hard for your liver to process (like red meat) can lead to other liver diseases.

5. Potentially Longer Lifespan

Some studies link a longer lifespan to the Mediterranean-style diet. The diet can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, which could ultimately contribute to people living longer lives. So start eating more fresh produce, nuts, seeds and olive oil to reap the health benefits, including the potential to live longer and lower your chance of heart problems.

While it would obviously be ideal to start this diet when you’re young and follow it throughout your life, research has shown that it can still positively affect those who are later in life. In fact, one study focused solely on people considered high risk for heart disease experienced a lower risk when they changed to the Mediterranean diet.

6. Improved Brain Function

Research suggests there is a correlation between the foods found in the Mediterranean-style and improved brain function, as well as a lower rate of mental health decline. As you age, your cognitive function declines, sometimes leading to serious conditions like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

It’s also normal for slight memory loss and confusion to occur when you’re older that is not considered a symptom of a cognitive disease. The Mediterranean diet could help you stay intellectually spry as you age, so you can enjoy life to its fullest and potentially slow down the natural effects of aging.

7. Lower Risk of Cancer

On top of all the other serious conditions and diseases that the Mediterranean diet can help lower the risk of, it’s also been linked to reducing the risk of developing and dying from certain cancers. Eating a lot of fruits and vegetables is a main component of the diet, which is one of the reasons it may lower your risk of cancer—many fruits and veggies are rich in antioxidants.

Antioxidants are known to be anti-carcinogens. The nuts and oils prevalent in the Mediterranean diet also play a role in reducing inflammation and insulin, which could be a deterrent for development of some types of cancer.

8. Reduced Preservatives and Chemicals

The Mediterranean diet is full of fresh produce—vegetables, fruit, meat directly from the butcher and fish right from the ocean. This ensures you aren’t eating pre-made and processed foods that usually contain a lot of chemicals and preservatives that just aren’t good for anyone.

If you look at something as common as a box of frozen chicken, the ingredient list is usually several lines long—you aren’t just eating chicken. Pre-made foods put a lot of potentially harmful ingredients into your system, as well as extra sodium, fat, sugar and calories. By following the Mediterranean-style diet, you’ll avoid these ingredients that can be harmful to your health.

9. Increased Antioxidant Consumption

Antioxidants are all the craze right now. List after list of superfoods contain items that are high in antioxidants. They’ve been linked to reducing the risk of certain cancers but the benefits don’t stop there—they have natural anti-inflammatory properties, and may help prevent heart disease, lower the risk of developing diabetes, give the immune system a boost, and have anti-aging effects.

Healthy Foods High in Antioxidants

  • Dark Chocolate.
  • Pecans.
  • Blueberries.
  • Strawberries.
  • Artichokes.
  • Goji Berries.
  • Raspberries.
  • Kale.

That’s a big list of potential benefits, and all you have to do is eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Try different kinds and things you’ve never had before. There’s no reason you can’t explore new foods!

10. Reduced Chance of Parkinson’s Disease

There’s some controversy about whether or not a Mediterranean-style diet could reduce your chance of developing Parkinson’s disease, but there are enough scientists out that believe there is a connection that it’s worth considering.


BLUE ZONES DIET

The five places in the world – dubbed
blue zones – where people live the longest, and are healthiest: Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica;
Ikaria, Greece, and Loma Linda, California.

People in the blue zones eat an impressive variety of garden vegetables when they are in season, and then they pickle or dry the surplus to enjoy during the off-season. The best-of-the-best longevity foods are leafy greens such as spinach, kale, beet and turnip tops, chard, and collards.  Combined with seasonal fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and beans dominate blue zones meals all year long.

Many oils derive from plants, and they are all preferable to animal-based fats. We cannot say that olive oil is the only healthy plant-based oil, but it is the one most often used in the blue zones. Evidence shows that olive oil consumption increases good cholesterol and lowers bad cholesterol. In Ikaria, we found that for middle-aged people, about six tablespoons of olive oil daily seemed to cut the risk of dying in half.

People in four of the five blue zones consume meat, but they do so sparingly, using it as a celebratory food, a small side, or a way to flavor dishes. Research suggests that 30-year-old vegetarian Adventists will likely outlive their meat-eating counterparts by as many as eight years. At the same time, increasing the amount of plant-based foods in your meals has many salutary effects. Beans, greens, yams and sweet potatoes, fruits, nuts, and seeds should all be favored. Whole grains are OK too. Try a variety of fruits and vegetables; know which ones you like, and keep your kitchen stocked with them 

RETREAT FROM MEAT

Averaging out consumption in blue zones, we found that people ate about two ounces or less about five times per month. And we don’t know if they lived longer despite eating meat.

The Adventist Health Study 2, which has been following 96,000 Americans since 2002, has found that the people who lived the longest were vegans or pesco vegetarians, who ate a plant-based diet that included a small amount of fish.

So, while you may want to celebrate from time to time with chicken, pork or beef, we don’t recommend it as part of a Blue Zones Diet. Okinawans probably offer the best meat substitute: extra firm tofu, high in protein and cancer-fighting phyto-estrogens.

GO EASY ON FISH

If you must eat fish, fewer than three ounces, up to three times weekly. In most blue zones, people ate some fish but less than you might think—up to three small servings a week. There are other ethical and health considerations involved in including fish in your diet. It makes sense, for example, to select fish that are common and abundant, not threatened by overfishing. In the world’s blue zones, in most cases, the fish being eaten are small, relatively inexpensive fish such as sardines, anchovies, and cod—middle-of-the-food- chain species that are not exposed to the high levels of mercury or other chemicals like PCBs that pollute our gourmet fish supply today.

People in the blue zones don’t overfish the waters like corporate fisheries that threaten to deplete entire species. Blue zones fishermen cannot afford to wreak havoc on the ecosystems they depend on. Again, fish is not a necessary part of a longevity diet but if you must eat seafood elect fish that are common and not threatened by overfishing.

REDUCE DAIRY

Milk from cows doesn’t figure significantly in any blue zones diet except that of some

Adventists. Arguments against milk often focus on its high fat and sugar content. The number of people who (often unknowingly) have some difficulty digesting lactose may be as high as 60 percent. Goat’s and sheep’s milk products figure into the Ikarian and Sardinian blue zones.

We don’t know if it’s the goat’s milk or sheep’s milk that makes people healthier or if it’s the fact that they climb up and down the same hilly terrain as the goats do. Interestingly though, most goat’s milk is consumed not as liquid but fermented as yogurt, sour milk, or cheese. Although goat’s milk contains lactose, it also contains lactase, an enzyme that helps the body digest lactose.

ELIMINATE EGGS

People in all of the blue zones eat eggs about two to four times per week. Usually they eat just one as a side dish with a whole-grain or plant-based dish. Nicoyans fry an egg to fold into a corn tortilla with a side of beans. Okinawans boil an egg in their soup. People in the Mediterranean blue zones fry an egg as a side dish with bread, almonds, and olives for breakfast. Blue zones eggs come from chickens that range freely, eat a wide variety of natural foods, and don’t receive hormones or antibiotics. Slowly matured eggs are naturally higher in omega-3 fatty acids.

People with diabetes should be cautious about eating egg yolks. Consumption of eggs has been correlated to higher rates of prostate cancer for men and exacerbated kidney problems for women. Some people with heart or circulatory problems choose to forgo eggs. Again, eggs aren’t necessary for living a long life and we don’t recommend them, but if you must eat them eat no more than three eggs per week.

DAILY DOSE OF BEANS

Eat at least a half cup of cooked beans daily. Beans reign supreme in blue zones. They’re the cornerstone of every longevity diet in the world: black beans in Nicoya; lentils, garbanzo, and white beans in the Mediterranean; and soybeans in Okinawa. People in the blue zones eat at least four times as many beans as Americans do on average.

The fact is, beans are the consummate superfood. On average, they are made up of 21 percent protein, 77 percent complex carbohydrates (the kind that deliver a slow and steady energy rather than the spike you get from refined carbohydrates like white flour), and only a few percent fat. They are also an excellent source of fiber. They’re cheap and versatile, come in a variety of textures, and are packed with more nutrients per gram than any other food on Earth. Beans are a meal staple in all five of the blue zones—with a dietary average of at least a half-cup per day, which provides most of the vitamins and minerals you need. And because beans are so hearty and satisfying, they’ll likely push less healthy foods out of your diet.

SLASH SUGAR

Consume only 28 grams (7 teaspoons) of added sugar daily. People in the blue zones eat sugar intentionally, not by habit or accident. They consume about the same amount of naturally occurring sugars as North Americans do, but only about a fifth as much added sugar—no more than seven teaspoons of sugar a day. It’s hard to avoid sugar. It occurs naturally in fruits, vegetables, and even milk. But that’s not the problem.

Between 1970 and 2000, the amount of added sugar in the American food supply rose by 25 percent. This adds up to about 22 teaspoons of added sugar each of us consumes daily—insidious, hidden sugars mixed into soda, yogurt, and sauces. Too much sugar in our diet has been shown to suppress the immune system. It also spikes insulin levels, which can lead to diabetes and lower fertility, make you fat, and even shorten your life.

Our advice: If you must eat sweets, save cookies, candy, and bakery items for special occasions, ideally as part of a meal. Limit sugar added to coffee, tea, or other foods to no more than four teaspoons per day. Skip any product that lists sugar among its first five ingredients.

SNACK ON NUTS

Eat two handfuls of nuts per day. A handful of nuts weighs about two ounces, the average amount that blue zones centenarians consume—almonds in Ikaria and Sardinia, pistachios in Nicoya, and all nuts with the Adventists. The Adventist Health Study 2 found that nut eaters outlive non–nut eaters by an average of two to three years.

The optimal mix of nuts: almonds (high in vitamin E and magnesium), peanuts (high in protein and folate, a B vitamin), Brazil nuts (high in selenium, a mineral found effective in protecting against prostate cancer), cashews (high in magnesium), and walnuts (high in alpha-linoleic acid, the only omega-3 fat found in a plant-based food). Walnuts, peanuts, and almonds are the nuts most likely to lower your cholesterol.

SOUR ON BREAD

Eat only sourdough or 100 percent whole wheat. Blue zones bread is unlike the bread most Americans buy. Most commercially available breads start with bleached white flour, which metabolizes quickly into sugar and spikes insulin levels. But bread from the blue zones is either whole grain or sourdough, each with its own healthful characteristics. In Ikaria and Sardinia, breads are made from a variety of whole grains such as wheat, rye, or barley, each of which offers a wide spectrum of nutrients, such as tryptophan, an amino acid, and the minerals selenium and magnesium.

Whole grains also have higher levels of fiber than most commonly used wheat flours. Some traditional blue zones breads are made with naturally occurring bacteria called lactobacilli, which “digest” the starches and glutens while making the bread rise. The process also creates an acid—the “sour” in sourdough. The result is bread with less gluten even than breads labeled “gluten free,” with a longer shelf life and a pleasantly sour taste that most people like. Traditional sourdough breads actually lower the glycemic load of meals, making your entire meal healthier, slower burning, easier on your pancreas, and more likely to make calories available as energy than stored as fat.

GO WHOLLY WHOLE

Choose foods that are recognizable. People in blue zones traditionally eat the whole food. They don’t throw the yolk away to make an egg-white omelet, or spin the fat out of their yogurt, or juice the fiber-rich pulp out of their fruits. They also don’t enrich or add extra ingredients to change the nutritional profile of their foods. Instead of taking vitamins or other supplements, they get everything they need from nutrient-dense, fiber-rich whole foods.

A good definition of a “whole food” would be one that is made of a single ingredient,

raw, cooked, ground, or fermented, and not highly processed. Tofu is minimally processed, for example, while cheese-flavored corn puffs are highly processed. Blue zones dishes typically contain a half dozen or so ingredients, simply blended together. Almost all of the foods consumed by centenarians in the blue zones grow within a 10- mile radius of their homes. They eat raw fruits and vegetables; they grind whole grains themselves and then cook them slowly. They use fermentation—an ancient way to make nutrients bio-available—in the tofu, sourdough bread, wine, and pickled vegetables they eat. And they rarely ingest artificial preservatives.

DRINK MOSTLY WATER

Never drink soft drinks (including diet soda). With very few exceptions, people in blue zones drank coffee, tea, water, and wine. Period. (Soft drinks, which account for about half of Americans’ sugar intake, were unknown to most blue zones centenarians.) There is a strong rationale for each.

WATER Adventists recommend seven glasses of water daily. They point to studies that

show that being hydrated facilitates blood flow and lessens the chance of a blood clot.

COFFEE 

Sardinians, Ikarians, and Nicoyans all drink copious amounts of coffee.

Research associates coffee drinking with lower rates of dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

TEA 

People in all the blue zones drink tea. Okinawans nurse green tea all day. Green tea has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease and several cancers. Ikarians drink brews of rosemary, wild sage, and dandelion—all herbs known to have anti-inflammatory properties.

RED WINE 

People who drink—in moderation—tend to outlive those who don’t. (This

doesn’t mean you should start drinking if you don’t drink now.) People in most blue zones drink one to three small glasses of red wine per day, often with a meal and with friends.

Povidone-iodine (PVP-I) nasal spray virucidal to SARS-CoV-2

Nasal administration 0.5% Povidone-iodine (PVP-I) reduced infectious viral titers in COVID-19 subjects with culturable virus.

WHO recommends two new drugs to treat COVID-19

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Treatment

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are a fevercoughing, and breathing problems. Unless you have severe symptoms, you can most likely treat them at home, the way you would for a cold or the flu. Most people recover from COVID-19 without the need for hospital care. Call your doctor to ask about whether you should stay home or get medical care in person.

Scientists are trying to make new medicines and test some existing drugs to see whether they can treat COVID-19. In the meantime, there are a number of things that can relieve symptoms, both at home and at the hospital.

At-Home Coronavirus Treatment

If your symptoms are mild enough that you can recover at home, you should:

  • Rest. It can make you feel better and may speed your recovery.
  • Stay home. Don’t go to work, school, or public places.
  • Drink fluids. You lose more water when you’re sick. Dehydration can make symptoms worse and cause other health problems.
  • Monitor. If your symptoms get worse, call your doctor right away. Don’t go to their office without calling first. They might tell you to stay home, or they may need to take extra steps to protect staff and other patients.
  • Ask your doctor about over-the-counter medicines that may help, like acetaminophen to lower your fever.

The most important thing to do is to avoid infecting other people, especially those who are over 65 or who have other health problems.

That means:

  • Try to stay in one place in your home. Use a separate bedroom and bathroom if you can.
  • Tell others you’re sick so they keep their distance.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow.
  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth if you can.
  • Wash regularly, especially your hands.
  • Don’t share dishes, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with anyone else.
  • Clean and disinfect common surfaces like doorknobs, counters, and tabletops.

What to expect

Symptoms begin 2 to 14 days after you come into contact with the virus. Many people who have mild infections recover within 2 weeks. More severe cases tend to last 3 to 6 weeks.

Talk to your doctor about how long you should isolate yourself if you have symptoms. CDC guidelines say you can leave isolation when all of these are true:

  • You haven’t had a fever for 24 hours.
  • Your respiratory symptoms, such as coughing or shortness of breath, are better.
  • It’s been at least 5 days since your symptoms began.

How do you know if your symptoms are getting worse?

Get medical care right away if you begin to have:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Pain or pressure in your chest
  • Confusion or severe drowsiness
  • A blue tint to your lips or face

Coronavirus Treatment in a Hospital

You don’t need to go to the hospital or ER if you have basic COVID-19 symptoms, like a mild fever or cough. If you do, many hospitals will send you home.

If your case is severe, members of the medical staff will check for signs that the illness is causing more serious problems. They might:

  • Check the levels of oxygen in your blood with a clip-on finger monitor
  • Listen to your lungs
  • Give you a COVID-19 test. This involves putting a 6-inch cotton swab up both sides of your nose for about 15 seconds.
  • Give you a chest X-ray or CT scan

You may get extra oxygen through two small tubes that go just inside your nostrils. In very serious cases, doctors will connect you to a machine that can breathe for you, called a ventilator.

You may also get fluids through a tube, or IV, in your arm to keep you from getting dehydrated. Doctors will also closely monitor your breathing. The goal is for your infection to run its course and for your lungs to heal enough that they can breathe on their own again.

Your doctors may give you an antiviral medicine called remdesivir (Veklury). Remdesivir is the first drug approved by the FDA for treatment of hospitalized COVID patients over the age of 12.  Research shows that some patients recover faster after taking it. Remdesivir was created to fight Ebola, but the FDA has issued an emergency use ruling so doctors can use it against COVID-19.

Your doctor might also give you medication to thin your blood and prevent clots.

If you take drugs such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), or statins for other health problems, your doctor will tell you to continue them as usual.

The FDA has issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for drugs called monoclonal antibodies to treat COVID-19. Sotrovimab or a combination of casirivimab and imdevimab (REGEN-COV) can be given to high-risk patients who have recently been diagnosed with mild to moderate illness to lower levels of the virus in their bodies and lower the risk of hospitalization. REGEN-COV has also been granted EUA for preventative treatment in high-risk people who have been exposed to COVID-19.

The FDA also recently set an EUA for Pfizer’s drug, called Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir tablets and ritonavir tablets), to treat mild to moderate COVID-19. Adults and children over 12 years old (and weighing at least 88 pounds) can use this medication. Paxlovid can only treat positive COVID-19 cases. You won’t get this drug to prevent the virus if you were exposed but don’t yet have the virus.

Many clinical trials are underway to explore treatments used for other conditions that could fight COVID-19 and to develop new ones. The FDA has also granted an EAU of blood plasma from people who’ve recovered from COVID-19 in order to help patients with severe or life-threatening cases. You’ll hear this called convalescent plasma.

Clinical trials are under way for other medications, including tocilizumab, which has been used to treat autoimmune conditions and an inflammatory condition called cytokine release syndrome.

The FDA rescinded its emergency authorization for the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to treat people who are hospitalized with COVID-19 amid serious concerns about their safety and how well they worked against the virus. The medications are approved to treat malaria and autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

One study found that dexamethasone, a common steroid medication, can help people who are hospitalized with severe COVID-19 complications. But the findings are preliminary, and the researchers haven’t released the full study.

Paxlovid, Pfizer’s Covid-19 pill

Anyone seeking Paxlovid, which must be prescribed within five days of the first symptoms, should be sure to let their prescribers and pharmacists know the complete lists of other medications and over-the-counter supplements they are taking.

Some medications, such as particular statins, are most likely safe to stop taking during treatment with the Covid pills. For example, it might be better to stay on certain blood thinners but to lower the doses. Some heart rhythm drugs cannot be taken with Paxlovid.

Conversely, some anti-seizure medications can boost liver enzymes’ metabolic action and thus lower the body’s Paxlovid levels, as can the herbal supplement St. John’s Wort. The FDA warned that they should not be combined with Paxlovid.

Because the Paxlovid treatment is brief — 30 pills, taken asthree pills twice a day for five days — experts are hopeful that the risk of adverse interactions with other medications is low. 

“Five days of interactions is not a big deal for the majority of drugs,” said Jason Gallagher, a clinical pharmacy specialist in infectious diseases at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia. 

If a drug’s potential interaction with Paxlovid poses too much of a risk, a safe and effective alternative Covid-19 therapy would be GlaxoSmithKline’s sotrovimab — the sole authorized monoclonal antibody treatment that research indicates reliably neutralizes the omicron variant of the virus. Otherwise, the antiviral molnupiravir is an option, albeit one with a much lower efficacy than either Paxlovid or sotrovimab. 

Even with the concerns about taking Paxlovid with other prescription medications, experts are excited about the drug’s potential. 

Goal setting


When it comes to setting New Year resolutions, most people struggle to adhere to them as they are too vague, ambitious or unmeasurable. 

“But the key to success is taking the right approach.”

Consider the meaning of the word ‘resolution’ (a firm decision to do or not to do something) versus ‘goal’ – (the object of a person’s ambition or effort, an aim or desired result). 

goal is something to work towards and allows for lapses along the way, but the idea is to reach it and move on to the next thing.

For professionals embracing the new world of hybrid work, which typically affords better work-life balance (as people are able to combine working in an HQ with being based at home and at a local coworking space).

There is more scope in 2022 to 

• upgrade skills

• improve time management and

• invest in personal wellbeing. 

Here are five tips for setting goals – and achieving them…

Choose a ‘power’ word

Sometimes simplicity is the best approach. Choosing a ‘power’ word that has resonance for the New Year acts as a way of guiding you in your decision making and helps to remind you of your priorities as you balance time at your desk with looking after loved ones, for example. 

American philanthropist Melinda Gates is an advocate of selecting a ‘word of the year’.

“In 2016, my word of the year was gentle, which, for me, functioned as a reminder to go easy on myself, to fight the pull of perfectionism, and to encourage others around me to do the same. The next year, my word was spacious, which encouraged me to make room for the things that matter. Last year, my word was grace.”

She says that a well-chosen word “makes the year better – and it helps me be better, too”.

Focus on one objective at a time.

Having too many competing goals will detract from your chance of success, so a good approach is to eliminate the distraction of other ambitious targets by putting your focus on one at a time. 

It can also be helpful to break down a “BHAG” (“big hairy audacious goal”) by deciding on more manageable aims that can be achieved over a set timeline.

For example, instead of saying you want to have a team of 100 employees by the summer, focus on recruiting more gradually and keep the business lean, perhaps working with freelancers and contractors, to retain a degree of flexibility

Focusing on the exact projects or tasks you need help with, will give you clarity in your decision-making.

Stack your successes

Success is addictive, so setting achievable targets that you can ‘stack’ one on top of the other once they are done can be incredibly motivating

The method works like this – you say: “After I have got a new accountant, I will work on my financial forecasts.”

The approach is also effective at building better habits

For example: “After I have done one hour of emails in the morning, I will go for a run.” 

The nature of hybrid working, which has flexibility at its heart, is ideal for supporting both personal and professional objectives.

Whether your goals are for you as an individual or that of the company, writing them down is particularly important – whether it’s on a whiteboard for everyone to see, in a notebook or on your phone – because it’s satisfying to tick them off and you can visibly see your progress. 

The Strides app is worth downloading as it is specifically designed for logging goals and stacking successes.

Talk about goals with others.

A well-known technique for achieving goals is to talk about them with other people. 

This is because knowing that colleagues, for example, are expecting you to do something motivates you to actually get it done. 

Having a monthly Zoom catch-up or in-person meeting at an office or local flexspace is a great way of sharing progress reports and announcing when goals have been reached.

And don’t forget to celebrate those wins, no matter how small they might be.  As motivational speaker Tony Robbins says: “You can only build on success.”

Mediterranean Diet Microbiome benefits

  • A new study explored the impact of a Mediterranean on our microbiome – or gut bacteria.
  • It suggests that a Mediterranean can make changes to our microbiome that are linked to improvements to cognitive function and memory and immunity and bone strength.
  • In ageing society, these could be important health benefits. 

As our global population is projected to live longer than ever before, it’s important that we find ways of helping people live healthier for longer. 

Exercise and diet are often cited as the best ways of maintaining good health well into our twilight years. But recently, research has also started to look at the role our gut – specifically our microbiome – plays in how we age.

Our latest study has found that a Mediterranean diet causes microbiome changes linked to improvements in cognitive function and memory, immunity and bone strength.

The gut microbiome is a complex community of trillions of microbes that live semi-permanently in the intestines. 

These microbes have co-evolved with humans and other animals to break down dietary ingredients such as inulinarabinoxylan and resistant starch, that the person can’t digest. 

They also help prevent disease-causing bacteria from growing.

However, the gut microbiome is extremely sensitive, and many things including diet, the medications you take, your genetics, and even conditions like inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome, can all change the gut microbiota community

The gut microbiota plays a such a huge role in our body, it’s even linked to behavioural changes, including anxiety and depression

But as for other microbiome-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes and obesity, changes in the microbiome are only part of the issue – the person’s genetics and bad lifestyle are major contributing factors.

Since our everyday diets have such a big affect on the gut microbiome, our team was curious to see if it can be used to promote healthy ageing. 

We looked at a total of 612 people aged 65-79, from the UK, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Poland.

We asked half of them to change their normal diet to a Mediterranean diet for a full year. This involved eating more vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, olive oil and fish, and eating less red meat, dairy products and saturated fats. The other half of participants stuck to their usual diet.

We initially found that those who followed the Mediterranean diet had better cognitive function and memory, less inflammation, and better bone strength. 

However, what we really wanted to know was whether or not the microbiome was involved in these changes.

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, a person’s baseline microbiome (the species and number of microbes they had living in their gut before the study started) varied by country. 

This baseline microbiome is likely a reflection of the diet they usually ate, alongside where they lived. 

We found that participants who followed the Mediterranean diet had a small but insignificant change in their microbiome diversity – meaning there was only a slight increase in the overall number and variety of species present.

However, when we compared how strictly a person followed the diet with their baseline microbiome data and their microbiome after following the diet, we were able to identify two different gut microbe groups: diet-positive microbes that increased on the Mediterranean diet, and diet-negative microbes whose abundance was reduced while following the diet.

Diet-positive microbes are microbes that flourished in the Mediterranean diet. 

Diet-negative microbes either couldn’t metabolise the diet, or they were were unable to compete with diet-positive microbes. 

These diet-positive microbes were linked with less frailty and inflammation in the body, and higher levels of cognitive function. Losing the diet-negative microbes was also associated with the same health improvements.

When we compared the changes in the number of these microbes in the treatment group (those on the Mediterranean diet) and the control group (those following their regular diet), we saw that the people who strictly followed the Mediterranean diet increased these diet-positive microbes. 

Although the changes were small, these finding were consistent across all five countries – and small changes in one year can make for big effects in the longer term.

Many of the participants were also pre-frail (meaning their bone strength and density would start decreasing) at the beginning of the study. 

We found the group who followed their regular diet became frailer over the course of the one-year study. 

However, those that followed the Mediterranean diet were less frail.

The link between frailty, inflammation, and cognitive function, to changes in the microbiome was stronger than the link between these measures and dietary changes. 

This suggests that the diet alone wasn’t enough to improve these three markers. 

Rather, the microbiome had to change too – and the diet caused these changes to the microbiome.

These types of studies are challenging and expensive, and the microbiome dataset is often difficult to analyse because there are many more data-points to study than there are people in the study. 

Our findings here were possible because of the large group sizes, and the length of the intervention.

However, we recognise that following a Mediterranean diet isn’t necessarily doable for everybody who starts thinking about ageing, usually around the age of 50. 

Future studies will need to focus on what key ingredients in a Mediterranean diet were responsible for these positive microbiome changes. 

But in the meantime, it’s clear that the more you can stick to a Mediterranean diet, the higher your levels of good bacteria linked to healthy ageing will be.

‘Blue Zone’ Diet

In the early 2000s, Dan Buettner embarked on a mission to determine what specific aspects of lifestyle and environment help humans live longer. He teamed up with National Geographic and the National Institute of Aging on his quest, and through research, they were able to identify five areas with the highest percentage of centenarians (i.e. a person who is 100 years old or older).

Known as the Blue Zones, these areas also have low rates of chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Buettner and his team of anthropologists, epidemiologists, and researchers traveled to these particular areas to study the lifestyle characteristics of the people who lived in these Blue Zones. From there, the “Blue Zone” diet became of interest to help people outside of these locations practice that way of life. Here’s everything you need to know about the Blue Zones, including diet recommendations and more.

What are the five specific locations of the Blue Zones?

  1. Sardinia, Italy: Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and home to some of the world’s longest-living males. The local shepherds walk at least five mountainous miles daily and follow a predominately plant-based diet. Meat is enjoyed on Sundays and special occasions only.
  2. Okinawa, Japan: The world’s longest-living women are from Okinawa, a chain of islands in Japan. Their longevity is suggested to be in part due to their close-knit social circles, as well as an old Confucian mantra said before meals that reminds them to avoid overeating and stop when they are 80% full.
  3. Loma Linda, California: The residents of this city in San Bernardino have one of the highest rates of longevity in America. The community of Seven-Day Adventists in Loma Linda follow a primarily vegan diet and also recognize their Sabbath day weekly.
  4. Nicoya, Costa Rica: The Nicoya Peninsula is known for elders with a positive outlook on life. Their diet is abundant in tropical fruits packed with antioxidants, and their water is rich in calcium and magnesium that helps to prevent heart disease and builds strong bones.
  5. Ikaria, Greece: This island in Greece is known for the long-living locals who embrace a Mediterranean diet abundant in olive oil, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. Ikarians also take time for a mid-afternoon break. They experience half the rate of heart disease and 20% less cancer than Americans do. Additionally, most Ikarians are Greek Orthodox Christians that follow several periods of fasting throughout the year where they essentially follow a vegan diet.

What habits contribute to the Blue Zone lifestyle?

Although the Blue Zones are all over the world, they share quite a few commonalities. After studying the Blue Zone populations, Buettner and his team narrowed down nine evidence-based common denominators among all of the world’s centenarians. Known as the “Power 9,” these factors are said to be the most influential in promoting longevity in these Blue Zone groups.

  1. Move naturally: Centenarians don’t run marathons or frequent the heavy lifting section of the gym. Instead, they are just constantly active throughout the day by tending to their gardens, cooking, doing house work, and walking. Research on Sardinian men specifically found that residing in mountainous areas, walking longer distances to work, and shepherding are linked to their longevity.
  2. Purpose: Blue Zone natives have a keen sense of purpose which motivates them in every day life. Ikigai and plan de vida are phrases from the Okinawans and Nicoyans, respectively, and both translate to, “why I wake up in the morning.”
  3. Downshift: Stress is inevitable wherever you live, but centenarians take time each day to de-stress whether it’s praying, taking a nap, or enjoying a glass of wine. 
  4. Eighty percent rule: The Okinawan phrase hara hachi bu is said before meals to remind Okinawans to stop eating when they are 80% full. This plays a role in weight management as well and fighting off obesity. 
  5. Plant slant: Fresh produce, especially homegrown, and beans are the cornerstones of most diets of Blue Zone people. On average, meat is only eaten five times per month in the Blue Zone regions.
  6. Wine: Most Blue Zone people, except Adventists, drink 1 to 2 glasses of alcohol per day with friends or at a meal. Sardinian Cannonau wine, made from Grenache grapes, specifically has significantly more healthy flavonoids than other wines. Tea is also sipped daily throughout the Blue Zone regions, but beverages like soft drinks are practically unknown.
  7. Faith: The vast majority of Blue Zone people belong to a faith-based community and attend faith-based services regularly.
  8. Family: Centenarians put family first and are all about keeping the family close. They commit to a life partner and take time to build memories with their children. 
  9. Social networks: Friendship and close social circles support healthy behaviors in the Blue Zone regions. Okinawans in particular have created something called moais, which are groups of five friends that are committed to each other for life.

What is the ‘Blue Zone’ diet and how does it work?

Research suggests that a strong mechanism behind the longevity and reduction of chronic disease in Blue Zone people is the anti-inflammatory benefits of their dietary choices. While these centenarians aren’t necessarily completely vegan, their diets do have a predominant focus on plants.



How to Start a Mediterranean Diet

Vegetables, especially homegrown, are a huge emphasis for Blue Zone people and provide a ton of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidant benefits. Beans and lentils are strong plant-based sources of protein in these populations. Similarly to vegetables, legumes also provide a ton of fiber which has benefits ranging from reducing risk of cardiovascular disease to helping control blood sugar levels. Healthy fats, such as olive oil, are used in several of the Blue Zone regions and provide a slew of heart-healthy fatty acids and antioxidants.

Blue zone people limit their consumption of red meat, and even only enjoy small portions of fish about three times per week. These populations do still indulge in moderation regarding sweets and other foods, but they eat sensibly and don’t overindulge. By maintaining moderation and balance with food choices, especially following rules such as the Okinawans do with the hara hachi bu principle, weight stays controlled and obesity is not as prevalent to fuel chronic disease.

Blue Zone diet food list:

Based on the “Power 9” principle of plant slant that the Blue Zone regions embrace, we’ve put together a food list that can help you get started on eating the Blue Zone way.

Produce

  • Fruit: apples, bananas, berries, grapes, oranges, papaya, pineapple, plums, watermelon, etc
  • Vegetables: bell peppers, beets, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, chard, collard greens, cucumber, garlic, green beans, kale, onions, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, etc.

Protein

  • Beans & legumes: black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, etc.
  • Eggs (up to two to four times per week)
  • Fish (up to three small servings a week): anchovies, salmon, cod, swordfish, tuna, sardines, etc.
  • Goat milk and goat-based dairy products
  • Nuts: almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, peanuts, walnuts, etc.
  • Seeds: pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, etc.
  • Tofu, extra-firm

Grains & Pantry Staples

  • Barley
  • Brown Rice
  • Coffee
  • Dried spices and fresh herbs
  • Oatmeal, preferably steel-cut
  • Olive oil
  • Quinoa
  • Red wine
  • Tea
  • 100% Whole wheat, sprouted grain bread, and sourdough bread

COVID-19 and PCR Testing


What is a COVID-19 PCR test?

The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for COVID-19 is a molecular test that analyzes your upper respiratory specimen, looking for genetic material (ribonucleic acid or RNA) of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Scientists use the PCR technology to amplify small amounts of RNA from specimens into deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), which is replicated until SARS-CoV-2 is detectable if present. The PCR test has been the gold standard test for diagnosing COVID-19 since authorized for use in February 2020. It’s accurate and reliable.

Who should get tested for COVID-19?

Your healthcare provider may recommend testing for COVID-19 if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever or chills.
  • Cough.
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
  • Fatigue.
  • Muscle or body aches.
  • Headache.
  • New loss of taste or smell.
  • Sore throat.
  • Congestion or runny nose.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.

Not everyone with COVID-19 develops symptoms. And not all symptomatic people develop all of the symptoms listed above. Please check with your healthcare provider if you’re feeling unwell during the COVID-19 pandemic — even if you’ve been vaccinated.

TEST DETAILS

There are three key steps to the COVID-19 PCR test:

  1. Sample collection: A healthcare provider uses a swab to collect respiratory material found in your nose. A swab is a soft tip on a long, flexible stick that goes into your nose. There are different types of nose swabs, including nasal swabs that collect a sample immediately inside your nostrils and nasopharyngeal swabs that go further into the nasal cavity for collection. Either type of swab is sufficient for collecting material for the COVID-19 PCR test. After collection, the swab is sealed in a tube and then sent to a laboratory.
  2. Extraction: When a laboratory scientist receives the sample, they isolate (extract) genetic material from the rest of the material in the sample.
  3. PCR: The PCR step then uses special chemicals and enzymes and a PCR machine called a thermal cycler. Each heating and cooling cycle increases (amplifies) the amount of the targeted genetic material in the test tube. After many cycles, millions of copies of a small portion of the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s genetic material are present in the test tube. One of the chemicals in the tube produces a fluorescent light if SARS-CoV-2 is present in the sample. Once amplified enough, the PCR machine can detect this signal. Scientists use special software to interpret the signal as a positive test result.

RESULTS AND FOLLOW-UP

What do COVID-19 PCR test results mean?

positive test result means that it’s likely that you have an infection with SARS-CoV-2. This could be due to asymptomatic infection, but if you have symptoms, then this infection is called COVID-19. Most people have mild illness and can recover safely at home without medical care. Contact your healthcare provider if your symptoms get worse or if you have questions or concerns.

negative test result means you probably didn’t have an infection with SARS-CoV-2 at the time your specimen was collected. However, it’s possible to have COVID-19 but not have the virus detected by the test. For example, this may happen if you recently became infected but you don’t have symptoms yet — or it could happen if you’ve had COVID-19 for more than a week before being tested. A negative test doesn’t mean you are safe for any length of time: You can be exposed to COVID-19 after your test, get infected and spread the SARS-Cov-2 virus to others.

If your test is positive, talk with your healthcare provider, stay home and separate yourself from others. If your test is negative, continue to take steps to protect yourself and others from getting COVID-19.

How long does it take to get coronavirus test results?

You should receive your test results as early as 24 hours after sample collection, but sometimes it can take a few days, depending on how long it takes the sample to reach the laboratory.

How long do you test positive after having had COVID-19?

Because the PCR test is so sensitive, it can detect very small amounts of virus material. This means that the test can continue to detect fragments of SARS-CoV-2 virus even after you’ve recovered from COVID-19 and are no longer contagious. So you may continue to test positive if you’ve had COVID-19 in the distant past, even though you can’t spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus to others.

Prolonged infection in immunocompromised individuals can occur where they shed infectious virus for months. Also, healthy people can become reinfected. If you test positive for SARS-CoV-2 but you think you might have already recovered from COVID-19, please discuss with a healthcare provider.

ADDITIONAL DETAILS

What’s the difference between the PCR and antigen tests for COVID-19?

There are two types of tests for COVID-19: the PCR test and the antigen test.

  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR). This tests for the presence of the actual virus’s genetic material or its fragments as it breaks down. PCR is the most reliable and accurate test for detecting active infection. PCR tests typically take hours to perform, but some are faster.
  • Antigen test: This detects bits of proteins on the surface of the virus called antigens. Antigen tests typically take only 15 to 30 minutes. Rapid antigen tests are most accurate when used within a few days of the start of your symptoms, which is when the largest amount of virus is present in your body.

Which COVID test is more accurate?

The antigen test is typically faster but is less sensitive than the PCR test. Because the antigen test is not as accurate as PCR, if an antigen test is negative, your healthcare provider could request a PCR test to confirm the negative antigen test result.

css.php