General Wellness

Covid update and New Topics

Andrew Chuma No Comments

Good morning,

I was asked to do a medical spot on a weekly Ukrainian radio show which comes out on Fridays on public radio.

I decided to post the transcript. This is the second one and I’ll get around to posting the first one eventually.


Radio Show 4/9/24

Hello everyone.

This is Dr. Andrij Chuma here again for another segment. It’s been a few months since my first radio piece about the importance of vaccination. I continue to be a big supporter of vaccination to protect against such conditions as Covid, RSV, Flu, Shingles and Pneumonia as well as all the pediatric vaccinations such as those against Measles, Mumps, Rubella and HPV. 

This last one is one of the newest vaccines which protects against the Human Papilloma Virus which causes genital warts and can progress to genital cancers. As an Ear, nose and throat surgeon, I have seen a significant rise in head and neck cancers caused by HPV. If you have kids, get them vaccinated against HPV before they start being sexually active, since that is how it spreads. Even through just kissing.

We are out of the Flu and RSV season but Covid is still very much present. There is no Covid season. It’s always here. Fortunately, the numbers of cases and deaths continue to drop but have not reached the lows of last summer. Still, over 1000 people a week are dying from Covid, which is over 50,000 a year, rivaling some of the worst flu seasons we have seen. The majority of those deaths are in those over 65 or who have significant immune or other medical issues. 

In addition, 4 years of data reveal that about 8% of those who got Covid are struggling with long term symptoms like heart issues, brain fog and even things like diabetes since the virus also can attack all those organs. 

Lastly, we’ve had these vaccines around now for over 3 years and know they are safe and effective.

So to protect yourself, or to protect your loved ones, please get a vaccination update. Because it’s not a seasonal disease, you need to update the Covid vaccine every 6 months. 

In future segments, I would like to shift gears and speak about some of my favorite medical topics which promote Preventative and Lifestyle medicine. It is estimated that 80-90% of all chronic diseases can be avoided, reversed or even eliminated by improving our lifestyle and daily habits. Medications do not cure disease, they just manage them. Only YOU have the power to change your habits and improve your health. People too easily blame family history and genetics for their problems. Genetics may load the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger. What we inherit from our families are not only genes, but lifestyle habits and these, it turns out, are more important.

You are never too sick or too old to change your habits and improve your health.

The American Academy of Lifestyle Medicine, along with many other health organizations, list a few main action points everyone can follow to improve their lives. These include:

  1. Improving your diet, focusing on a whole food, plant-based diet.
  2. Increasing your movement and exercise.
  3. Improving the quality of your sleep.
  4. Avoiding risky habits like smoking or drinking alcohol.
  5. Managing stress.
  6. Improving social interactions. AND
  7. Spending more time outdoors.

Each of these topics can be discussed for many hours but I have only 5 minutes for my radio segments. So today, I’ll start with one of the topics I can summarize most easily, GETTING OUTDOORS.

For thousands of years, our human species evolved outdoors. We rose with the sun and went to sleep when it got dark. We spent our days outdoors foraging for food, mostly the easy stuff like roots, berries, fruit and the occasional carcass of meat we came across. We took in the fresh air, healthy sunlight and drank water right from the streams. This went on for millennia until we started to organize into communities, develop agriculture and animal husbandry. These developments all brought many benefits but we have now evolved into a completely different existence separate from nature and the outdoors.

Today, we spend almost all of our time indoors or in cars. Sadly, the average American spends less than 7 minutes a day outside, yet they spend 7 hours in front of some kind of screen. This includes children.

This is simply unhealthy and unnatural. One of the many health ramifications of spending all this time out of the sun is the frequency with which we have Vitamin D deficiency which is deficient in upwards of 50% of people. Known as the vitamin which helps with bone health, it’s actually a hormone and has many functions including assisting in immune protection. In fact, Vitamin D deficiency is one of the leading risk factors for getting a bad case of Covid. Vitamin D is naturally made by sunlight, converting cholesterol in our skin, into the precursor to vitamin D. Once absorbed, through a few steps involving the kidney and then liver, Vitamin D is formed.

Getting out into nature has been shown to have a myriad of benefits from reducing stress, improving sleep, reducing cardiovascular disease and improving lung function. Obviously for those who have serious seasonal allergies, there are prudent outdoor activities but that is a minority of people.

The Japanese term Shinrin-yoku, loosely translated to “forest bathing”, can be defined as “making contact with and taking in the atmosphere of the forest”. It has been shown that trees exude aromatic compounds, similar to pheromones humans produce. These compounds have a relaxing and mood altering effect on us. Studies done indoors where patients were exposed to these compounds had similarly relaxing effects, improving mood and even lowering blood pressure. In addition, these effects can last for weeks after just one exposure. The point is not that we should be working on yet another supplement or drug based on these compounds. The point is that we need to be spending more time outdoors in nature.

So get outdoors. Go for a walk, especially after a meal. Timing it that way not only gets you the benefits of being outside, but also improves how quickly our bodies process the sugars we consumed during the meal.

I have a lot of information about many topics about lifestyle habits and health in general on my website My email is on the site and I would be happy to answer questions. I also accept criticism and enjoy complements.

Be Safe and Stay Well

Low-Fat Vegan Diet Reduces Insulin Requirements and Improves Insulin Sensitivity for People With Type 1 Diabetes

Andrew Chuma No Comments

This article is more important for type 3 diabetics or pre-diabetics (given the prevalence of this condition you probably have it!) since following this diet is very successful at curing this disease, not just managing it.


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