Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Chief Medical Officer of Alaska, Dr. Anne Zink, talked about ways Alaskans can stay healthy and avoid infection while the seasons change and the nights get longer.
Dr. Zink gave the following advice during a special pop-up media echo Thursday evening.
"So this one study came out here recently that showed that physical activity was directly linked to helping reduce your chance of hospitalization (from COVID-19), as well as ending up in the ICU, regardless of your body age, weight if you smoked or had other health conditions. So getting outside exercising on a regular basis is fundamentally important," said Zink.
Along with staying active, a nutritious diet is important.
"What we fuel our body with is also incredibly important, particularly in this state, we don't get a lot of sun from the sun, particularly the Winter's coming don't get a lot of vitamin D there, and so have to rely potentially on other sources to make sure that we're not vitamin deficient," said Zink. "When we're vitamin deficient, it makes it harder for us to fight all sorts of infections including COVID-19, and making sure that we're eating a well-balanced robust diet is incredibly important."
Some of our most important sources of vitamins and minerals are here at home,
"In fact, salmon is one of the main sources of vitamin D here in the state of Alaska, and particularly thinking about subsistence hunting and gathering can play a really big role in making sure that you have a wide variety of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins in there," said Zink.
Mental health also plays a key role.
"Also incredible importance for mental health, we know that when people are mentally stressed when they're not sleeping well when they're anxious that they are at higher risk for infection, there's an entire cortisol system that our bodies respond to stress, and if we're constantly involved with stress and are in a stressful state, it can make it harder to fight infections in general," said Zink. "So making sure that you are socially connected, making sure that you're having those social supports and finding ways to be together, making sure that you're caring for your health, there's more evidence again that sleeping and eating, as well as exercising, can help not only physical health but mental health, and know that the state of Alaska has additional resources out there if you do find that you're struggling."
The echo project is a collaboration between the University of Alaska Anchorage's Center for Human Development and the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.
More information and links to future echoes can be found on the Alaska ECHO Facebook page.