One of the variables in the Journal of Hospital Infection's study to find the most effective materials for preventing airborne infections (we all know what I mean—I'm going to not speak its name on this page so as not to give it The Power, like they do in Brighton Beach) was, naturally, the natural variable of breath rate. How can we use this to our advantage assuming that it's not feasible to hold your breath until the vaccine?
If reading nerd stuff isn't your thing, I got you. Here's a summary of the study findings from "XXXXX-19 and use of non-traditional masks: how do various materials compare in reducing the risk of infection for mask wearers?"
1. Length of exposure / 30 seconds - 20 minutes
2. Type of fabric /
FFP3 (they didn't dare with the FFP4...)
vacuum cleaner bag
100% cotton t-shirt
no mask (spoiler alert- not the winner)
3. Amount of infectious agent aerosol present 0%, 1%, 10%
PARAMETERS TO CONSIDER
4. Proximity to the contagious
5. Density of humans
6. Volume of air breathed over time
7. Fit of the mask
Protection % 20-minute - % 30-second exposures
surgical mask 58-94%-83-99%
The vacuum cleaner bag is the clear winner in this case with 83%-58%. Plus they're going to be 4th to be depleted because that's how we think, but they also have a use afterwards. Don't wait for the fad. Buy them out now before your neighbors hear about this life hack.
In the end, the poor scarf wasn't given a proper chance. Did they use a neck scarf, like a silk hanky? Or something more substantial? I mean, look at these and tell me in all honestly that one of these dipped in scorpion venom wouldn't be as effective or more than a N-NinetyNine:
Anyhowaremostpeopleevergettingtheirhandsontheseyeahright, enough copy/paste and let's get to the point.
RELAX AND DON'T EXERCISE
Kind of. But yeah, pretty much, if you want to be "science casual" about it.
The Volume Over Time parameter Dr. Wilson mention caught my attention when I first read this article about most efficacious viral filtering fabrics (which coincidentally happens to be the name of the new IHOP weekday pancake late-lunch special for seniors accompanied by juniors of non-blood relation and is served by means of wringing out the linen cloths from breakfast service directly into the diners' gaping mouths, thus the interest in antimicrobial properties***).
It seems a bit obvious to say that the more you breathe the more chances you have of inhaling an airborne viral agent (that' sbecause it is obvious) which is why it's worth pointing out. We tend to forget about the most obvious things sometimes. So if you consider this in extremes, say, inhaling 1 time or 1,000 times under the same conditions, you're at a much higher risk as you approach 1,000 inhalations with less at one. At zero, well, you...you're not gonna catch a virus, let's say.
I had been thinking about this concept recently as I watched unmasked joggers circling the parks of Condesa here in Mexico City. While they're not spending too much time in one environment, they are constantly exposing themselves to new environments and possible contagions, moving through sneeze and cough droplet clouds. At the same time, they might have stronger respiratory systems that could more effectively fight off an infection. I'd like to see this same mask study done but with joggers. Any volunteers? Ok, I'm at least curious to see the statistics of infected urban joggers. I've asked a few why they don't wear masks and the two main reasons are: it makes breathing difficult/interferes with breathing, and it's uncomfortable. I get it. But then, it's not just about you. You're moving around quickly, maybe coughing, maybe infected, maybe infecting a lot of people. Something to consider if you're an urban jogger...
But we're going to focus on how to lower your chances. And I'm going to do it quickly because there was just a police raid at my Airbnb where they stormed the building, shut off all the lights but mine, surrounded the exterior of my cabana as I was getting out of the shower and refused to answer any of my questions of confusion, so I sat down to start writing this as I could hear their footsteps outside my window and aaaaaallll around me here on the roof of the four story building. Then out of nowhere, the lights just came on, they left without a word, as if a director called "Corta!" and nobody has said a word to me. I'm red-ta-guh (ready to go).
LOWER YOUR METABOLISM
Not what you want to hear, I'm sure, but it is what it is. Higher metabolism means more breathing. While this could be as fun to induce as eating sugary, starchy, fried, processed foods, while not budging from the couch, that's not going to be great for your immune system so it could possible just cancel out the, um, benefits. So here's a quick rundown of things to Do and Eat to keep your metabolism at a healthy pace, help you regulate your breathing, and ostensibly lower your chance of infection from airborne viral agents. Readers, this is just a theory based on one of the parameters of a controlled lab study, and it's not even the focus of the study. I've never talked to these people and I'm taking for granted what they've published is accurate and honest. This is not a survival guide here. I'm not a science guy. (But I do believe what I'm saying.)
Breath through your nose
"The nose has the ability to filter air when it enters the body. The nasal cavities produce nitric oxide (NO) during nasal breathing. This gas has an antiviral effect that inhibits the replication of, among others, SARS CoV in the early stages of infection (Åkerström, 2005). The results of this 2005 study are consistent with a 1999 paper describing the effects of nitric oxide on virus growth. Nitric oxide is believed to be vital to the protective role that white blood cells play in killing unwanted microorganisms. The naturally high level of nitric oxide in the nasal airways supports the theory that the gas acts as the body’s first line of defense against infection (Lundberg and Weitzberg, 1999)."
"Meditation stabilizes blood circulation in the body and regulates blood pressure, heartbeat, metabolism, and other essential biological functioning." And while it stabilizes breathing, it improves sleep which in turn can help you lose weight, so it's a win-win (if you want to lose weight).
Breathe with your diaphragm
"Slow breathing towards a rate of 6 breaths per min has been said to result in increased venous return . This is further augmented in diaphragmatic breathing due to the anatomical fact that the diaphragm is connected to and supports the heart, and provides passage for the aorta and the inferior vena cava ."
Take your time and relax
When you do have to run errands or get from A to B, stay calm. Getting nervous or overthinking will cause your heartbeat to rise, requiring more oxygen overall and so, more breaths.
You check out a hottie and up goes your heart rate, and it's all over. That's what I'd call a death stare...
In general, eat smaller meals in higher quantities to give your diaphragm more space to work.
Avoid farty foods
This is a tough one because they're some of my faves and quite a few help boost your immune system, so let's just say if you know you have to go out, save these tank fillers for when you get home and can "up a storm" to your heart's content:
foods high in insoluble fibre – prunes/dried fruit, seeds/ husks
legumes – beans, peas, chickpeas, soybeans and nuts
vegetables – carrot, eggplant, onion, kale and cabbage (all cruciferous veggies)
Root vegetables such as turnips, radishes, and rutabagas
Spicy foods (ugh)
Let's your stomach digest
Save liquids for before or after your meal if you have GERD, acid reflux, or feel generally uncomfortable after eating. Try to move a bit after a meal to keep your blood flowing, and never, EVER, no matter what, feed them after midnight. JK, that's from Gremlins. Just don't overdo it. Eating before sleeping can make you bloated and gassy.
For COPD sufferers
And generally for everyone, this is a good list to avoid as they can interfere with a healthy respiratory system with nitrates, lactose, acids, and calorie dense foods. Sorry guys. I really don't mean to ruin everything delicious...
and again from above: cruciferous veggies, lactose, and carbonated beverages
and here's some good news....
The good kind, though. Not the waxy, sugary, child-belabored, milk fatty stuff like Hershey's or Mars M&M. To get the benefits, you want as near to pure as you can get it. Try your hand at the traditional drink from the Mayans and Aztecs! I'll post my recipe here asap. It's worth making just for how your entire house will smell. . . Cacao contains the flavonoid antioxidant theobromine which helps to relax the airways as well as lower risk of allergic symptoms in the lungs. Plus the anti-cancer benefits, but that's for a different article. It also induces a state of well being or happiness which is one of the reasons we become "addicted." Hey, we all gotta have our thing...
Keep calm and gas free, guys. Or, stary flirty and fart free?
Air kisses! Or fist bumps... whichever you prefer.
* They mean "blend" I believe, not "mix." How would you mix cotton? Would you do it like science cookie dough? But scientists only wear practical, non-wrinkle polymers so they were like, "Cotton comes from plant? It's so soft! We should make clothes out of these. Or something else to wear under our pants, even, instead of these pruritus-inducing infantile human popcorn shorts [they mean "diapers" I believe]." lol. oh, science guys...
** Leave 'em for the professionals, people. Don't hit up Amazon and deplete the supply.
*** Not a true fact, or a false one. Or a true lie. Or a false one as well.