We looked at the 5 best symptom checker apps that scored highest among tests from a team of independent doctors and the features they offer. As a result, we found, all the apps use a Chatbot– AI technology that asks questions about your symptoms and spits out suggestions about possible conditions, treatment, and urgency.
Do you feel something’s not right and don’t have the time to make an appointment with a doctor? What’s more, you may even hesitant about visiting a clinic with the risk of catching something, even worried about COVID-19 symptoms.
Firstly, you’re not alone, and that’s why many in the same boat are turning to symptom checker apps for possible medical conditions, and demand has grown more than ever. As a result, with so many symptom checkers on the market, you may be wondering which apps are trustworthy?
Can you trust an algorithm to give you the correct answer about your health? Also, you may have privacy concerns about who has access to your data.
What To Expect From A Symptom Checker App For Patients
Not all symptom checkers are equal, and few, if any, are approved by the FDA or your local health authority. What’s more, many don’t know that in the US, a medical app for diagnosis or used in conjunction with a medical device must have FDA approval. That’s why symptom assessment apps state they do not provide a diagnosis and commit you to that understanding.
For this reason, an app that answers your symptoms is not a substitute for direct consultation with a qualified medical professional.
Essential Features To Look For In A Symptom Checker App
An independent team of doctors carried out a vignette study on symptom assessment apps and reported their research in the British Medical Journal. For this purpose, the study measured the apps against three criteria– Coverage, Accuracy, and Urgency. For which, we’ll get into each apps’ score later.
Coverage of Medical Conditions
The study tested doctors as a benchmark, accounting for all the possible medical conditions, for symptoms, with a score of 100%. Researchers also tested apps to see if they listed all the medical conditions the doctors diagnosed. The top app scored 99.0% for coverage. The app with the lowest range scored 51.5%.
Accuracy of Medical Conditions
Beyond listing all the possible medical conditions, researchers also tested doctors for accuracy, and they scored 82.1%. The highest accuracy score for apps was 70.5%. The lowest score was 23.5%, showing a vast difference among the apps. Furthermore, there’s no substitute for a doctor.
The urgency of Medical Conditions
The third criterion tested the urgency in seeking medical advice. Doctors scored 97.0%. In contrast, the top app scored the same, and the lowest app scored 80.0%, with one app that didn’t address urgency at all.
Additional Symptom Assessment App Services and Features
All of the symptom checker apps ask your age and gender. Some ask about your lifestyle and general health– whether you smoke, suffer from diabetes, or have high blood pressure.
Some apps only check symptoms, offer possible medical conditions and suggestions for treatment. By comparison, other apps focus heavily on providing medical information, news, tips, and even joining a community of patients with similar conditions. However, certain apps will offer to put you in contact with an online doctor for a fee or subscription.
For a free app with only a symptom checking service, you may want to consider how they make their money, as the app likely sells your data to third parties.
Apps that offer to put you in contact with a doctor are more transparent about their services and furthermore, stress that your information will not be sold to third parties, used only for improving the service.
The 5 Best Symptom Checker Apps For Patients
Below are the five best symptom checker apps sorted by rating for medical criteria using AI, not by available features. With this in mind, If you’re looking for an online doctor, note the apps that provide that service.
Symptom Checker Apps in order of AI Medical Rating
Let’s dive into each app and look at their test scores, how they work, and their pros and cons.
1. Ada – Symptom Cheker App
Firstly, Ada that’s taken the market by storm. Developed in Germany, the medical symptom assessment app has over 10 million subscribers and a 4.7 user rating. What’s more, the app is available in 7 languages running on iOS and Android.
Secondly, with the help of 50 in-house medical experts and AI software engineers, the symptom assessment app scores top marks for its medical coverage and accuracy among health professionals. Accordingly, Ada prides itself on an updated comprehensive medical library available on the app.
The app asks for a series of GDPR data consents. However, be in no doubt, Ada will use your data at their discretion.
The chatbot systematically asks questions about your symptoms, starting with the basics– age, gender, and birth date. It also asks underlying health-related questions– ‘Are you a smoker?’, ‘Have you been diagnosed with high blood pressure?’, and ‘Do you have diabetes?’
You can answer Yes, No, or I’m not sure. The questions are thorough, covering multiple symptoms. Consequently, with relative speed, the result is three possible causes, and red highlights if you need to seek medical advice.
The interface is clean, professional, simple to follow, and easy to understand. What’s more, Ada is thorough, with detailed explanations about each possible cause.
How Ada Works
Download the app to your phone
Register your email
Give GDPR consent
Provide optional data consent
The app asks base-line demographic & health questions
Enter your symptoms
Answer the chatbot questions
Receive a detailed result with three possible causes
Test Scores & Notable things about Ada
Out of all the apps covered by the UK’s British Medical Journal, Ada placed first in its coverage of medical conditions, scoring 99.0%. Ada also scored highest on symptom accuracy with 70.5%, compared to 82.0% achieved by real-life doctors.
Ada manages your data under the European GDPR data protection laws. However, you should consider where Ada is passing your data.
As a free service, Ada must be making money somehow. Selling data is a lucrative business.
Overall, Ada shows professionalism and reliability, offering the highest score for symptom assessment but cannot replace consultation with a health professional.
Wanting to create a bridge between patients and doctors, Andrew Le, from Harvard Medical School, founded Buoy health with the help of young software engineers. Consequently, they created a medical symptom assessment service, which is available via the website and for app download from the US iOS store.
The friendly chatbot asks symptom questions using AI algorithms connected to a medical database. As a result, the app offers three possible causes for your medical condition, treatment recommendations, and which options make the most financial sense.
Most apps work with a decision tree to proceed towards possible causes of your symptoms. However, Buoy uses statistics together with the patient’s unique circumstances to prioritize medical conditions.
The app searches its medical database, adapting its forecast, unique for each patient replying to each successive question. Accordingly, the system learns as it goes along.
The app’s interface is clean, simple, user-friendly, and easy to understand.
How Buoy Health Works
Go to the Buoy website
Receive three possible causes
Buoy suggests treatment options relative to your medical coverage
Allow Buoy to check back on your progress
Receive access to the buoy community
Test Scores & Notable things about Buoy
As a relatively new system, Buoy is learning, and for this reason, it placed second in the test with 88.5% for coverage of possible medical conditions, 43.0% for accuracy, and 80.0% for urgency.
However, you should consider your privacy rights. By signing up to Buoy, it appears you give away all your rights of data to third-party health insurers and providers. You may want to consider that before engagement.
Overall, Buoy appears professional, easy to use, with relatively good coverage of possible medical conditions, but you should use the service in consultation with a health professional.
Mediktor’s homepage opening gambit is ‘the most accurate AI-based medical assistant for triage, prediagnosis and decision-making support.’
Considering it scored third overall on a test by independent doctors for symptom assessment apps, that’s quite a statement. Mediktor continues with ‘The only app that is clinically validated.’
However, the question is, beyond the accuracy of those statements, is Mediktor an app you can rely on for answers to your symptoms?
In support of their claims, Mediktor operates in 180 countries and has a heavy focus on COVID-19 assessment, with the service available on the website and mobile apps.
Mediktor offers consultation with an online doctor. It also provides a Chatbot symptom assessment service that does an excellent job of using checkbox questions quickly. In fact, it even adds friendly emojis to describe your level of pain.
Remarkably, Mediktor is the only app to ask if you are male, female, or non-binary. No offense if you claim the latter. However, the question begs, what happens in gender-related medical conditions, such as pregnancy, periods, Turner syndrome, Rett syndrome, or ovarian and cervical cancers?
Mediktor takes a more hands-on approach and asks if you can take your blood pressure. What’s more, if you can’t, it asks about your location for recommendations.
Further, the app is thorough in symptom analysis, with detailed specifics on pain location with multiple-choice diagrams.
The results offer three suggestions, along with urgency. Also, a standout feature is putting you in direct contact with online medical professionals for a small fee.
How Mediktor Works
Download the app and register
Alternatively, use the website without registration
Give GDPR consent for your data
The app asks base-line demographic questions
Follow a series of comprehensive symptom questions
Get results with three possible causes
Test Scores & Notable things about Mediktor
Mediktor placed third on app tests with 80.5% on condition coverage, 36.0% on symptom accuracy, and 87.3% for the treatment’s urgency.
Mediktor abides by GDPR data protection rules, giving you the right to access the information they store. But it is uncertain how they use your data. For instance, it collects data related to the spread of COVID-19. However, the business model earns revenue from consultations with doctors.
For this reason, any deficiencies in chatbot coverage and accuracies Mediktor mitigates by offering consultation with a validated doctor.
WebMD is probably one of the most popular and trusted medical advisory sites, with medical news and a resource-rich online platform, especially if you want information about COVID-19.
The app is available for download on iOS and Android and reflects the website’s model, including a symptom checker.
You don’t have to register to check your symptoms, and WebMD scores a 4.4 app user rating, better than other apps, but not the highest.
Besides a symptom checker, WebMD also offers health tools– a BMI calculator, Calorie Counters, a low-cost drug finder, ovulation, and due date calculators. Furthermore, WebMD has other apps for specific groups and medical issues.
The app asks your age and gender and immediately about your symptoms. To illustrate this, the app disisplays an interactive anatomy diagram (non-binary) to click your condition’s location and symptom lookup tables.
Some of the terminologies may require going to medical school– do you know what subacromial bursal tenderness is? But there are plenty of more common symptom descriptions, such as a ‘lump on the shoulder.’
The interface is excellent. What’s more, you can add as many symptoms as desired to a list, and edit, if you change your mind. The app will update the result’s strength as you add more symptoms.
WebMD is well-thought-out, taking a different approach, displaying the stage you’re at, and ending with your condition details and suggestions for treatment, for instance.
In contrast, the app asks your opinion about which condition you think is likely. It will also provide Risk Factors and suggestions for treatment, advising consultation with a doctor, if need be.
How WebMD Works
Access the app on the website
Alternatively, download the mobile app
Answer basic gender-age questions
Add your symptoms to a list
Choose from a list of medical conditions
Get suggestions for treatment and consultation
Test Scores & Notable things about WebMD
Tests revealed WebMD scored 93.0% in possible medical conditions, ranking second-highest, but only 35.5% on symptom accuracy. The test could not examine urgency, as WebMD’s orientation is information resources.
As a US company, GDPR data protection rules don’t apply. However, the company is transparent about the information you submit to their services.
The service encourages consultation with medical professionals. Furthermore, the company has won several awards for medical journalism, connecting people with community programs, and providing reliable general health advice.
WebMD Pros & Cons
Excellent user interface
Interactive symptom assessment
Easy-to-use visual aids
Solid coverage of medical conditions
Comprehensive medical news and information
Abundant information about COVID-19
Free service without registration
Scored lower on chatbot symptom accuracy
5. K Health – Symptom Checker App & Tele-Med
Claiming ‘The #1 most downloaded medical app in the US.’ Let’s take the K Health symptom assessment app for a spin.
First off, the business model is different from other symptom checker apps, focusing on Tele-Med services. The company has 100+ online doctors ready to consult.
Secondly, for a relatively small fee, you can opt for a one-time ‘urgent visit.’ Alternatively, you can subscribe for an even lower-cost monthly fee; both require registration.
The service also includes a symptom checker app free and available for download on iOS and Android. The app’s current user rating is 4.0.
Once downloaded, asking the basics, name, gender, and age, the app lists your answers as you engage with ‘K,’ a chatbot. As a first response, K will boast of ‘anonymizing several million people with your age and sex and will be comparing your symptoms to theirs.’ For laypeople, that sounds painful, and one hopes they’ll be gentle.
Right off the bat, K asks for your email address, explaining you can use it to log in and review your medical history.
Once you’re in, the app soon offers interactive diagrams so you can point to where it hurts, with checkbox lists to describe your symptom and degree of pain.
The app also gives several possible conditions with their probability percentage and urgency of treatment. It also indicates how long each condition takes to treat, from several days to health issues that affect a lifetime.
How K Health Works
Use the website to register
Alternatively, download the mobile symptom checker
Choose chat with a doctor or use the symptom checker
Answer basic gender-age questions
Add your email address
Add your symptoms to a list
Get suggestions for treatment and consultation
Test Scores & Notable things about K Health
On the app assessment test, K Health scored 74.5% for medical condition coverage, 36.0% on symptom accuracy, and 81.3% on treatment urgency, in comparison to the four other apps, of which it came last
Aware of chatbot limitations in giving relevant answers to symptoms, K Health’s priority is Tele-Med with medical professionals. Hence, their symptom assessment app is a supportive tool.
K Health Pros & Cons
Tele-Med with a doctor online
Low-cost consultation subscriptions
Free, user-friendly symptom assessment app
Includes visual aids
Good coverage of medical conditions
High urgency score for seeing a medical professional
In conclusion, whichever app you choose to check your symptoms, make sure you consult with a doctor for professional advice and consider how the app uses your data when giving away your private information to a machine.
Tell us about your experience and which app suits your needs?
Reporting on California’s homeless, Invisible People share tent-dwellers’ stories on the new Skid Row, the outcome of years of disparity that’s only gotten worse since COVID19 gripped the economy. What can be done about it?
The story of Dirk
Dirk, 64 years old, originally from Idaho, has a tent in Venice Beach, California. Working as an independent contractor in Montana for 14 years, Dirk moved to California in January, at the start of the pandemic. It’s the first time he’s been homeless, his entire life, moving to get away from the cold winters.
“I decided I’d like to see a better climate because I’m tired. I’ve been in construction all my life. I’m tired. I’m tired of working. It’s time for me to retire.”
Dirk Reed, Tent Dweller, Venice Beach, Ca.
Dirk paid social security throughout his life, figuring it would provide for his security, filing two years ago only to learn he didn’t have enough credits. A self-employed carpenter, he made his final payment to social security on Memorial day and hopes now he has enough credits to receive a pension.
Living a stone’s throw from the beach since January, Dirk has stayed put since the pandemic started. Using a public restroom and a cold shower, he says, helps him cool off during summer. One wonders how he’ll react come winter.
Forever an optimist
Remarkably, Dirk remains an optimist, because regardless of whether one shares his religious belief, it’s his personal faith and recognition of humanity’s oneness that gives him hope.
Grateful for the food gifts passersby give him, Dirk feels that locals actually care. Beat cops allow him to remain there, as long as he’s on the sidewalk, ten feet away from the beach, and keeps the place clean.
Local government has allowed for the encampment during the pandemic, but by law, it’s a crime to live in a tent on the street. The problem is, that tent dwellers have adopted a mindset of bohemian freedom. Living on the street also saves paying municipal taxes and rent— something they’ll need to contend with when the pandemic is over.
Dirk has got to the point, that even if offered housing, he wants to remain in a tent and preferably on the beach, where the sand is softer on his bones. He’s aware that his presence disturbs local tax-paying residents.
US unemployment trends in the last four years
It would be reasonable to look at earning figures to understand the root cause of homelessness. The US unemployment stats in 2020 read like a heart-attack in a downward trend that’s been happening since 2008. COVID has spiked the numbers like Everest, a cruel assault on the global jobs market.
With U.S. unemployment down to 6.9% from 14.7% in April, economic recovery signs are evident. The government has yet to distribute Pfizer’s vaccine, and by the time it takes to kick in, the damage may be irreparable.
Yet there’s optimism that 2021 will surpass this year’s economic debacle and set the US on the road to long-term recovery. A lot depends on the incoming administration’s economic policies, bipartisanship, and whether politicians can see the bigger picture.
The increase in vulnerable aging homeless
For those that can financially ride out this period, unemployment is a trend that can be reversed with relative efficiency, as witnessed with the turnaround in employment numbers in the last quarter.
It’s the individuals and families that can’t survive who face devastation as wrecked livelihoods have driven thousands to the streets, a daunting reality from which to recover.
The latest research has estimated that close to 40 million people in the US are at risk of losing their homes in the next several months without immediate federal aid.
Reports since 2016 estimate that municipalities need $11.5 billion to accommodate 400,000 shelter beds. An aging population over 65 is more vulnerable to unemployment and becoming homeless. Furthermore, this group has a greater risk of COVID exposure than any other group in the US.
In Los Angeles, research shows that the 65+ population will grow by over 50% percent in the next five years.
“On any given night, New York City and Los Angeles County, two areas heavily impacted by COVID-19, are estimated to have 70,000 and 58,000 homeless individuals, respectively.”
Estimates show that over half a million people in the United States live in a homeless shelter or reside in a place unfit for habitation, a number that’s accelerated exponentially as a result of the pandemic. It’s only going to get worse.
What can we do to help?
How we respond or don’t respond to this rising crisis reflects upon our society and each one of us.
Several public figures have touted their escape from the West Coast’s reality— one excuse is the continuous lockdowns, but the main reason is the growing number of homeless camped outside their front door and neighborhood. The flight from the chaos highlights the urgent need for a call to action.
Governers in California and New York have allowed this prolonged tragedy to grow out of all proportion. There are programs to get homeless seniors into hotel rooms, with assigned case managers. Apparently, it’s not enough to cope with the crisis, as Dirk is still out on the street.
The need for better reporting
The elephant the media is ignoring is the upward spiral of the homeless that’s been happening long before 2020. The root cause is not unemployment. Setting aside this year’s gargantuan anomaly, unemployment has been on a downward trend for over a decade.
The primary problem lies in the level of earnings, and where high-skilled manufacturing is happening globally. In the US there’s been a trend towards lower-skilled lower-paying jobs. People may have jobs but can’t afford the high cost of housing and local taxes, stats not reflected in the unemployment numbers.
The move to online business, and technological developments, expose an apparent lack of workforce skills, having a dire effect on the economy. Manufacturing has been transferred to the Far East, primarily China. Just think about where your smartphone is made. What’s left for many in the US are lower-skilled jobs with an income that doesn’t match the cost of living or housing. Consequential depression, drug and alcohol abuse compound the issues.
A higher minimum wage is a stop-gap measure that won’t solve the problem in the long-run, and will only make it worse, forcing highly leveraged businesses to close. The real solution is the return of organic high-skilled employment with higher earnings.
Game-changing investment in jobs and retraining
Whichever administration is in charge in 2021, the US needs to continue developing opportunity zones in impoverished areas that encourage business growth through financial support and tax incentives. In these areas, cities must keep crime at bay, and certainly not defund the police, but rather invest more in training, and improving ways to work with communities. Ask any local resident, and they’ll tell you the same.
Most of all, the country needs a game-changing scheme addressing all ages to retrain the workforce with relevant skills. Such an initiative will take time and requires a minimum income for trainees. Accordingly, work retraining programs can obligate work contracts for guaranteed jobs, in the opportunity zones.
Another major issue is the need for an overhaul of what universities are charging for higher-education. It certainly doesn’t mean giving free education, which leads to abuse and a lack of accountability. Firstly, why should taxpayers be forced to pay for your choice in education?
Secondly, no one ever appreciates anything given away free. However, it does mean addressing the gross inefficiencies in the way universities are managed. The cost of education in the UK and Europe is a lot closer to a more sane approach to higher-education, where fees are more affordable, and repayment linked to later earnings.
In the UK, for example, there is a standard rate for undergraduate studies charged by all universities, however, the higher-ranking universities demand higher entrance requirements and are graded accordingly. Research grants are provided to universities that perform better and peer-reviewed.
A bipartisan approach to solving homelessness
The growing disparity in the US is evident. It’s notable that those with a steady guaranteed income, such as politicians, local government, scientists, and those working from home or in ‘essential services,’ are so easy to insist upon or accept further lockdowns.
When your income is secure and matches your cost of living, it’s easy to ignore the economic ramifications of lockdowns and the cost of living for low-paid tenuous jobs or self-employed, small businesses. If you’re looking to retrain the workforce, not much is going to happen during a lockdown.
COVID for the vulnerable is a frightening prospect, and the homeless are most vulnerable. Just as significant are lockdowns that have a more stark and long term economic consequence. Not only should states open the economy for business with precautionary measures, but municipalities need to take steps to invest much more to curb the homelessness wave.
It’s frightening how ‘The House’ could be so callous, playing partisan politics with the coronavirus relief bill, the price of which being the lives of the most vulnerable.
Incentivized retraining schemes will not answer the needs of an aging homeless population in the short-term. That requires permanent shelteredhousing on a mass scale. At the very least, we can contribute to the organizations that are aiding and bringing notice to this urgent cause.
Little has been achieved for the homeless by local government in major cities. We can be grateful for the nonprofits such as Shelter Partnership that carryout inspiring work to help the homeless on a shoe-string budget.
“We have a meeting of two diseases, the Coronavirus and the ‘Us and Them’ disease.”
Dirk Reed, Tent Dweller, Venice Beach, Ca.
Dirk’s wish is that we recognize each other as one and the same.
Homelessness is something many wish to ignore, until you can’t.
The truth is, Dirk’s right, there is no us and them. Our biggest failure is to recognize the inexpressible value of human life. We have the resources and knowledge. We just need the sense and willingness to apply them.
Witnessing fellow human beings living by the wayside is a justification for insomnia. It is astonishing that in this day with mankind’s’ advances in technology and abundant resources, that growing numbers of people and families are living in a tent or on the street.
The most alarming event in modern history, this century, is the Coronavirus pandemic. The Chinese government has claimed it’s the result of animal-based food sold in a Wuhan wet market.
International intelligence agencies suspect the virus may have been the result of negligence at a Wuhan lab. If what the Chinese government claims is correct, and the origin is a wet-market, then the wet markets must be closed immediately. Yet they have been reopened.
Whichever the case, China must be held responsible for lax regulations in managing the storage and distribution of animal products. The SARS-CoV-2 virus (commonly known as Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been transmitted from animals and adapted itself to humans.
Either close the wet markets, or close the labs. The Chinese government can’t have it both ways. They must be held to account, for the hundreds of thousands of deaths worldwide, from their regulatory failure. The economic fallout will only bring further misery to the lives of millions.
“SARS-CoV-2 appears to have been a zoonotic infection that has adapted to humans. Origin is uncertain, although bats implicated”.
The irresponsible regulation of food products should now be a global concern. More so than climate change, with its immediate impact. Many countries don’t regulate the food industry sufficiently, and more specifically, how animals are farmed, stored, and sold.
It’s not as if this is the first time an epidemic has originated in this manner. There have been several epidemics arising from the transfer of viruses from animals to humans, with dire consequences. To name a few:
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), 2012
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), 2003
Swine Flu, 1998
“MERS-CoV likely came from an animal source in the Arabian Peninsula. Researchers have found MERS-CoV in camels from several countries. Studies have shown that direct contact with camels is a risk factor for human infection with MERS-CoV”.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
“SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV) – virus identified in 2003. SARS-CoV is thought to be an animal virus from an as-yet-uncertain animal reservoir, perhaps bats, that spread to other animals (civet cats) and first infected humans in the Guangdong province of southern China in 2002”.
World Health Organization
“In 1998, swine flu was found in pigs in four U.S. states. Within a year, it had spread through pig populations across the United States. Scientists found this virus had originated in pigs as a recombinant form of flu strains from birds and humans”.
Hypothetically, imagine what would happen if a virus had the infection rate of current SARS-CoV-2, and the 50% fatality rate of Ebola, or the 34% fatality rate of MERS. The ongoing spread of infection would result in the deaths of millions of people worldwide.
The possibility of this threat is real and imminent. If the U.S. military were to recognize such a hypothetical virus as a threat from an enemy state, they would graduate the state of alert to DEFCON 1.
The most pressing debate that needs to take place today is the lack of regulation in the animal-based food industry. The actual cost to human health from animal-based products is an existential issue with global ramifications for human life as we know it.
The threat of viruses that stem from the production, storage, and distribution of animal-based foods is the most significant argument for a plant-based diet and perhaps, even Veganism.
The trend towards plant-based eating
With overwhelming evidence that a mostly plant-based diet is beneficial to health, physicians unanimously encourage plant-based food to be a significant part of a healthy diet.
” Healthy eating may be best achieved with a plant-based diet, which we define as a regimen that encourages whole, plant-based foods and discourages meats, dairy products, and eggs as well as all refined and processed foods. We present a case study as an example of the potential health benefits of such a diet. Research shows that plant-based diets are cost-effective, low-risk interventions that may lower body mass index, blood pressure, HbA1C, and cholesterol levels. They may also reduce the number of medications needed to treat chronic diseases and lower ischemic heart disease mortality rates. Physicians should consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obesity.”
NCBI, Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant-Based Diets
A controversial documentary promoting plant-based food
Four months after the release of the film, The Game Changers, in early 2018, produced by Joseph Pace and James Wilks, available on Netflix, there was a spike in the already growing trend towards Veganism.
” The preponderance of scientific evidence suggests that an animal-based diet — where foods like meat, eggs and dairy are the foundation of most meals — decreases overall health, increases the risk of numerous diseases, and reduces our lifespans. Conversely, the more plants you eat, the healthier you tend to be, decreasing your risk of many major diseases while increasing the quality and length of our lives”.
The Game changers Movie Website
Statements like this aroused the ire of people such as Chris Kresser, a proponent of combining both animal and plant-based diets. Chris appeared on the Joe Rogan show and attempted to debunk The Game Changers movie. I suspect he now regrets that decision.
The film’s producer and star, James Wilks, countered the debunk in another round at a later J.R. show, challenging Chris face-to-face. Well prepared, James arrived not for a battle, but war. The majority of his counters proved Chris wrong (making thoroughly sure Chris’s arguments were buried six feet under).
I felt quite sorry for Chris, as one or two of his points need consideration. Lessons learned! Don’t mess with James Wilks, a champion MMA fighter. There are studies both for and against eating animal-based foods. There are few, if any, that contend plant-based foods are unhealthy, apart from young kids that don’t want to eat their greens.
Glaring problems for animal-based food production
Ther are several legitimate arguments for plant-based eating and the concerns about animal-based food production and consumption.
Lack of sufficient regulation in the animal-based food industry, with the acute danger from the transmission of deadly viruses from animals
Cruelty to animals in the meat, dairy, and fish industries
The meat and dairy industry’s destruction of the environment
Meat and dairy production exacerbates climate change
Eating plant-based food is more healthy
The health benefits of an animal-based diet are questionable
Plant-based farming is better for the global economy
Plant-based agriculture provides more food worldwide
One of the reasons omnivores get annoyed at Vegans is the perceived attitude of self-righteousness. The question of morality in eating animals is a weaker argument that’s unlikely to sway the majority of meat and fish eaters. Even more abhorrent is dictating to people how to live.
Increasing your consumption of plant-based food is one thing—becoming an all-out Vegan is a whole other matter. Veganism demands a complete revamp of the menu, a personal choice, not to be forced upon others.
Debatable arguments for becoming a vegan
Eating animal-based food is unhealthy In the context of practice in the food industry, how animals are raised, and the content of their feed, maybe. However, how healthy, eating animal-based foods, that are raised in healthy conditions with the right feed, is scientifically questionable. There are plenty of studies that would support arguments for and against.
The eating of animals, birds, and fish is abhorrent The hatred in eating animal-based food is subjective and controversial. New TV adverts that illustrate the connection of meat on supermarket shelves with living animals have a significant effect on shoppers that haven’t hunted their food for several generations. The vegan “Extra Fresh” TV commercial has caused considerable debate in Israel, a country with a relatively high percentage of vegans and vegetarians per capita globally.
Yet, the vast majority of omnivores would disagree and are happy to eat meat and the vast majority of the animal kingdom prey on one another.
Vegans are slimmer Leading a well-planned vegan diet will result in healthy weight management. Yet, without careful planning, eating the wrong mix of plant-based foods including processed foods and food containing high quantities of carbs and sugar can lead to weight gain and obesity.
Vegans are happier Vegans may feel healthier, but happiness is a choice. Many meat-eaters and dairy eaters are perfectly content.
Vegan food is delicious There’s plenty of tasty plant-based cuisine, but it depends on who’s cooking and what on the menu. Animal-based meals taste just as good, if not better. A lot depends on who does the cooking and what’s on the menu. Taste is subjective.
In light of recent events. What’s your view on food regulation, plant-based food, and Veganism? Have your opinions changed?
For millions told to self-isolate during the Coronavirus pandemic, the shift in routine is dramatic. With change comes ambiguity. Many are resilient, maintaining a positive spirit. Those that can, are working from home, with family’s doing their best to occupy their children. Hundreds of thousands are volunteering to help public health services.
But what about the many that are unable to work from home and are left worrying about their future? Some governments have risen to the occasion with financial assistance, others have left the self-employed facing financial ruin and poverty.
Millions are in health and financial survival mode. If you’re not strapped for money and can afford groceries, it’s essential to try and lead a healthy lifestyle and use your time wisely. Sitting around and moping will only make matters worse.
It’s easy to drift towards eating junk food, drinking alcohol to drown the pain of uncertainty. Even worse, if you have the money, allow yourself to zone out on recreational drugs. Doing so, may numb the pain for a while, but long-term use will only lead to lack of purpose, productivity, paranoia and depression. Alcohol, drugs and inactivity, all weaken the immune system, which is discussed later on in further detail.
If you’re in lock-down, it may go on for a while, but unlikely to go on forever. It’s easy to slip into conversations, moaning about what’s going on. But complaining, won’t solve your problems. It means taking responsibility to make the best of things, by positioning yourself to survive financially, physically and mentally.
It may mean finding radical ways of occupying your time and being open to new (legal) ways of earning a living. For example, by volunteering to help public services, you may inadvertently find new opportunities. Serendipity brings about new ideas and connections with people. Perhaps join a helpline and even get paid, working from home.
What can you do to prepare your body in the fight against Coronavirus and strengthen your body’s immune system?
Coronavirus is harder on a weak immune system
It is already well documented and publicized that Coronavirus (COVID19) can infect people of all ages. But people with an underlying health condition and a weak immune system, are more susceptible to severe illness.
“Most persons infected with COVID-19 experience mild symptoms and recover. However, some go on to experience more serious illness and may require hospital care. The risk of serious illness rises with age: people over 40 seem to be more vulnerable than those under 40. People with weakened immune systems and people with conditions such as diabetes, heart, and lung disease are also more vulnerable to a serious illness”.
How Corona Virus Spreads, World Health Organization
Social distancing is essential
The World Health Organization and all governments advice on social distancing during this pandemic. Where there is a lock-down, stay at home.
Social distancing measures are steps you can take to reduce social interaction between people. This will help reduce the transmission of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of Coronavirus
Avoid non-essential use of public transport when possible
Work from home, where possible.
Avoid large and small gatherings in public spaces
Avoid gatherings with friends and family.
Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services
Social Distancing, Gov.uk
10 Ways you can do to boost your immune system
As a new virus, Coronavirus is different from Influenza. Scientists don’t understand what is needed to fight the CoVID19 strain. It can take one year to eighteen months to develop a vaccine. If the virus infects your body, it’s up to your state of health and immune system, to resist the effects and create antibodies.
Doctor Irminne Van Dyken, MD has given excellent advice as to how to boost the immune system
1. Make sure you maintain hygiene.
Viruses access the body through the first line of the immune system’s defences — the skin, the eyes, nose, and mouth. Maintaining hygiene at all times is critical. Protective face-masks, alcogel, and rubber gloves are definite first measures. Often overlooked, is cleanliness at home, including your clothes. If you go outside in the vicinity of others, you don’t live with, shower, change and wash your clothes upon your return, by keeping the home clean with disinfectant, wards off bacteria and viruses. Maintaining a robust immune system also means avoiding contamination from other infections, apart from COVID19.
It’s easier to fight one battle at a time.
2. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
The human immune system is a network of stages and pathways, and every step of this complex system depends on micronutrients. Many of the micronutrients needed by the immune system to function, come from plant-based foods. Doctors strongly advise prioritizing fruit and vegetables in your diet.
Foods with a low nutritional value will not provide the necessary nutrients to boost the immune system to fight Coronavirus. If you need a reminder, processed foods, fast foods, refined sugar, and refined carbohydrates fall into the category of foods with low nutritional value.
If you only eat foods with low nutritional value, your body will need to rely on the nutrients that are available in the body. If there’s a prolonged lock-down period lasting months, the body will use up its reserve nutrients. Your immune system will become weakened.
Choose your food wisely.
3. Get enough sleep
It’s easy to drift into a new routine when you’re stuck at home. If you start going to bed later and getting up later, you lose sync with your natural Circadian Rhythm, that’s sensitive to light and dark periods.
Studies have shown, you need at least six hours of sleep a night. If not, you’re more likely to catch a virus, such as a cold. Playing with your sleep cycle can affect your immune system.
“Short sleep was more important than any other factor in predicting subjects’ likelihood of catching cold,” Prather said. “It didn’t matter how old people were, their stress levels, their race, education or income. It didn’t matter if they were a smoker. With all those things taken into account, statistically sleep still carried the day.”
Aric Prather, PhD
4. Get Regular moderate exercise
People that exercise moderately on a regular weekly basis report fewer colds. Body fitness has a significant benefit to the immune system. When you workout, the immune cells circulate the body more frequently and are more able to fight bacteria and viruses.
Don’t overdo it. Prolonged intense exercise can have adverse effects on the immune system. Ninety minutes of intense exercise can impede the immune system for up to 72 hours— that’ why professional athletes stagger their exercise periods. Recovery is essential, as well as matching your exercise rate to your level of fitness. If you’re in doubt, consult with a professional trainer.
5. Take nutrient supplements
Make sure you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals in your diet. Good quality multi-nutrient supplements should include the recommended vitamins and minerals you need for your daily intake. Century, Wellman, and California Gold, are reliable supplement brands, to name a few.
The essential supplements related to fighting upper respiratory infections and colds are as follows:
Studies have shown that people that have sufficient levels of Vitamin D have a better chance of fighting a virus-related illness and a lower risk of upper respiratory infection. The human body produces vitamin D when the skin is exposed to direct sunlight for 10-30 minutes a day.That’s all good if you’re living in a country with regular sunlight during the Spring and Summer, and you’re not closed indoors during a lock-down. Make sure you’re taking the recommended daily amount of Vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D – Recommended Daily Intake – US Department of Health
0–12 Months, male and female (with Adequate Intake): 400 IU (10 mcg) 1-70 Years Male and Female (Including pregnancy and lactation): 600 IU (15 mcg) >70 Years, Male and Female: 800 IU (20 mcg)
Major Studies have shown that Vitamin C can decrease the severity and duration of a cold. It is common for athletes or people that have regular, intense workouts to have depleted levels of Vitamin C. Studies have also shown that Vitamin C may is likely to have an antiviral effect and is why vitamin C has attracted interest as a possible treatment in treating the effects of COVID-19. However, make no mistake, it is not a substitute for a working vaccine.
Vitamin C does not decrease the frequency of colds in the general population, but it has halved the frequency of colds in people under heavy short-term physical stress. There is no effect of taking vitamin C in doses up to 8 grams per day after a cold has already begun.
Vitamin C – Recommended Daily Intake – US Department of Health
* If you smoke, add 35 mg to these recommended values Birth to 6 months: 40 mg Infants 7–12 months: 50 mg Children 1–3 years: 15 mg Children 4–8 years: 25 mg Children 9–13 years: 45 mg Teens 14–18 years (boys): 75 mg Teens 14–18 years (girls): 65 mg Adults (men): 90 mg Adults (women): 75 mg Pregnant teens: 80 mg Pregnant women: 85 mg Breastfeeding teens: 115 mg Breastfeeding women: 120 mg
Studies have shown that Zinc reduces the risk of pneumonia and colds, especially in the elderly and children. Zink is more active on the onset of a cold, within the first 24 hours. If you take the recommended levels of Zinc as a daily supplement, you will automatically be covered. The recommended amount of Zinc intake is 20 Mg per day.
Double-blind, random control trials, using echinacea supplements and placebos, have shown that Echinacea reduces the number of repeated colds and reduces the risk of upper respiratory infections. Echinacea has antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects and is good for the immune system in general. Recommended Echinacea dosage: For Prevention: 2,400 mg per day For Treatment: 4,000 mg per day
6. Use fresh garlic in your food
Garlic is known to have antiviral properties and strengthens the immune system. Studies have shown that taking 180 mg of Allicin (the active ingredient in garlic), for twelve weeks, reduces the intensity and duration of the common cold.
7. Include probiotics in your diet
Studies comparing people that took probiotics to those that took a placebo have shown a significant effect on reducing the number of days of illness. Lactobacillus (found in both dairy and plant-based products) and Bifidobacterium genre, are probiotics, you can add to your diet.
Natural Probiotics are found in Sauerkraut Kimchi, Miso, and Natto (Fermented Soy Beans). You can also take them in supplement form.
8. Eat more flavonoids
Flavonoids are the most common group of polyphenols found in plants and responsible for so many of the vibrant colours present in fruits, vegetables. Meta-Analysis Reports have shown Flavonoids reduce upper respiratory tract infections by one third and decrease the sick-day count by 40%. A recommended dose of 1,000 to 5000mg per day of Flavonoids can help prevent upper respiratory tract infection. Flavonoids can be found in tea, citrus fruit and juices, berries, apples, and legumes. One 250mg glass of green tea contains the recommended amount of Flavonoids.
9. Reduce alcohol intake
Another thing you can do to avoid weakening the immune system and reduce inflammation is to reduce your intake of alcohol. Even better, avoid alcohol altogether.
Dr David Nutt is an English neuropsychopharmacologist specializing in the research of drugs that affect brain inflammation.
” Alcohol is responsible for chronic inflammation, a significant factor in many long-term health conditions, from diabetes to cancer and liver cirrhosis—Alcohol can turn on your immune cells, and inflammation is the immune system’s response. Without a doubt, alcohol is the most destructive drug to the brain”.
David Nutt, Director of the Neuropsychopharmacology, Brain Sciences, Imperial College, London.
In a recent report in Drug Science, Policy and Law Alcohol hangover: The health impact with a historic and Chinese perspective Prof David Nutt*, Yuan-Cai Liu*, Mo-Si Chen,
“It is well known that heavy alcohol consumption, like that experienced by alcoholics, can cause inflammation in the brain and can influence the immune system”.
Alfonso-Loeches and Guerri, 2011.
In these difficult times, many are isolated and feeling down due to social distancing. It’s easy to turn to the bottle, to drown sorrows, and numb the effects of anxiety. If you can’t avoid drinking alcohol, at least reduce the amount to recommended daily intake.
“It is recommended to limit alcohol intake. Intake should not exceed 10g per day for women and 20g per day for men.”
European Union recommendations for alcohol.
10. Practice Mindfulness Meditation
Regular meditation strengthens the immune system, helping to fight infection. Daily meditation practice relieves stress, improves attention, increases the immune system, and even reduces pain.
“More than 300 empirical studies have shown a relationship between psychological stress and parameters of the immune system in human participants”.
One study in the New England Journal of Medicine shows psychological stress increases in respiratory infection and clinical colds.
“The rates of both respiratory infection (P<0.005) and clinical colds (P<0.02) increased in a dose-response manner with increases in the degree of psychological stress”.
New England Journal of Medicine
If we listen to the advice of the health authorities, most people will get through this pandemic. Maintain social distancing and do your best to strengthen your immune system. For those that fall prey to this predator, our thoughts and prayers go with you.
Reading Time: 5minutesAt the time of writing this article, the story of COVID19 has taken center stage. Everything else is secondary.
“Today, there’s only one story, Coronavirus.”
COVID19 is a pandemic that’s permeated our entirely shared reality. Since the second world war, no other story has affected our lives so dramatically. Thousands of people are dying from a merciless indiscriminate disease, governments are scrambling to contain the spread of the virus and manage the economic fallout. Social distancing has impacted everyone without exception.
Humanity is in fear of an unseen killer, and the lack of human connection through social distancing only exacerbates the tension. The question is, how will you manage the growing anxiety?
Change and the stress of facing the unknown
Some are handling events with a light-heart and positive mental attitude. Others are frightened, some on the verge of panic. The change to our lives is a hard pill to swallow. A more subtle killer than the disease itself is the domino effect of stress.
It’s easy to let fear creep into your life. Life seems surreal. The story is like a movie playing out before your very eyes. Our personal freedom impinged by government health warnings. Lockdown and self-isolation. It’s hard to get around the question— What will be?
The problem is, people often operate from a state of reactivity as opposed to non-reactivity. Rushing to the supermarkets to stock up on groceries, people bartering with toilet paper for a coming doomsday. Fear of the unknown is embedded within our DNA, so subtle, it often goes unnoticed. It’s easy to allow your emotions to dictate your words and reactions.
If allowed to go unchecked, this autoresponse can have disastrous results. People become irritable. There’s a frustration of not knowing what to do next. It’s the fear of being powerless. Arguments can occur over the simplest of things. Confinement compounds issues of mental health. There is a loss of freedom and control on multiple fronts— boredom, loneliness, economic worry, fear of the illness itself. People become jittery and anxious.
At a time when you most need a robust immune system, managing stress is critical. Its scientific fact that stress weakens the immune system. Knowing your getting anxious, compounds things.
How to manage stress and strengthen your immune system
While riding out the Pandemic, here’s 10 things you can do to manage your mental and physical health. In combination, these steps can ease stress, improve your mood, strengthen your body’s immune system.
1. Keep Occupied
Be productive. If you can still go to work, do so. If not, work from home. If you’ve been put on unpaid leave, try to find alternative sources of income. Just sitting around may be cool for a day or two, but it can soon lead to a downward spiral of further anxiety and even depression.
2. Limit Your Time With The News
Keep posted once a day. Don’t watch TV reports or read news media all day, it will consume your life.
3. Be Physically Active
Do exercise, even at home. Exercise is a sure way to ward off depression and keep a positive frame of mind. You’ll sleep much better and it will strengthen your immune system. If you aren’t already doing it, try Yoga. It’s a superb way to calm the nerves, manage stress and keep your body limber and toned.
4. Help Others
Be kind and have compassion for those around you. Ask how you can help. We’re all in the same boat. Difficult times that affect everyone brings people together.
5. Eat Healthy Food
Don’t pig out on junk. You need to build your body’s strength and immune system. If you don’t mind fruit and veggies, eat plenty. Vegetarian and Vegan diets are known to build the immune system and lower inflammation.
6. Limit Your Intake Of Alcohol And Recreational Drugs
Alcohol weakens your immune system. The European recommended limit of alcohol intake is 10g per day for women and 20g per day for men. If you can cut it out altogether, it’s even better. Don’t zone out on recreational drugs. You may be at home for a while, and recreational drugs are expensive. Even worse, the long-term effects of continuous use will only make things worse. Long-term use of recreational drugs can magnify issues that cause stress— unemployment, social distancing, self-isolation. The compound effect of stress, continuous use of alcohol and recreational drugs, creates an underlying condition for a virus to have disastrous effects. Keep yourself healthy by living a healthy lifestyle.
7. Play Recreational Games
If you’re stuck at home, play recreational games to keep the mind active in the here and now. Board games with adults and kids are fun, uplifting and bring people together. Once again, great for strengthening the immune system.
8. Listen To Uplifting Music
Manage your mood by playing music with positive energy. Spinning or perhaps some Indie tracks, lift the spirit. Classic music and yoga tracks calm the mind. Ballads are nice but can make you sad and melancholy. So watch your mood.
9. Watch Uplifting Movies And Media
Watching inspiring comedies or media can be a welcome mental break. But don’t overdo it by becoming a couch potato. Ration your viewing time to an hour a day. Being productive is much more satisfying and rewarding.
10. Calm Your Mind With Meditation
Try taking time out to stop thinking. Clear your head with Meditation that alleviates stress. Even ten minutes a day can do wonders for calming the nerves and getting in touch with your body. Meditation is grounding.
mindfulness meditation is highly effective in managing stress
Mindfulness Meditation develops the skill of creating mental space and disengaging from the continuous flow of thoughts going through your brain. Focusing on the breath during meditation calms the mind.
Concentrating on breathing during mindfulness meditation, exposes the constant flow of thoughts that invades the mind. By observing your own thoughts, feelings, and experiences, you become self-aware.
It this state of mindfulness, observation of your own thoughts and feelings from a ‘third party’ perspective, creates mental space to be Non-Reactive. Mental space allows you to be calm and clear-minded. It enables you to make better choices.
Mindfulness helps you to be more rational
Practicing mindfulness allows you to operate more rationally. You can examine how you spend your time, energy, and resources. It enables you to explore the quality of how you feel about yourself, your relationship with others, and the world around you. The mental space you achieve through mindfulness allows you to reframe your life from a different, more healthy perspective.
Much of your time is spent worrying about what will be in the future or regrets of past events, things you can’t do anything about. These thoughts can be distorted and exaggerated, with paranoia or false conclusions.
How to Manage Change in Your Life
When facing even global events such as the pandemic COVID-19, you can only deal with the cards you have in hand. We all live in a constant state of change. Paradoxically, the evolutionary process of change is continuous. Events change all the time.
You think of a clock as measuring a linear march of time. What we are really measuring is a relative transformation of change, that’s a different experience for each one of us.
Don’t give in to the fear of global events. Embrace change with curiosity.
The change you experience is relative to your circumstance and different for everyone. You can approach change with anticipation and an attitude of exploration, or you can look at it with fear and dread. It’s your choice. But change is going to happen, whether you like it or not.
It is how you mentally manage your personal experience of change that will help you face events with peace of mind.