Covid-19 and the Immune System

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)

Symptoms of Coronavirus include respiratory symptoms; fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

How to prevent disease. An optimal immune system helps prevent infection and also decrease the severity of the disease upon infection. This means that diseases and more can be prevented or if they occur, the body has a higher chance of fighting off the infections when the immune system is optimal.

Your first line of defense is to choose a healthy lifestyle.

Lifestyle prescriptions for optimal immunity includes: -Eating whole food plant based nutrition: This includes foods with little or no processing, more of plant based meals i.e vegetables and fruits.

Fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants like carotenoids and flavonoids, they possess antiviral capabilities. They can also stimulate the activities of certain immune cells, including T-cells. Carotenoids also boost immune health as well as T-cells, because this antioxidant protects cells from oxidative damage, enhances T-cell responses, and boosts killer T-cell functioning.

-Regular Physical Activities: Exercise causes change in antibodies and white blood cells (WBC). These antibodies or WBCs circulate more rapidly, so they could detect illnesses rapidly. The brief rise in body temperature during and right after exercise helps the body fight infection better.

-Avoid tobacco: Cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemical compounds. Many of them can interfere with the immune system. The effects of tobacco smoke on the immune system includes but not limited to: Greater susceptibility to infections such as Covid- 19, TB, pneumonia and influenza etc, more severe and longer-lasting illnesses. lower levels of protective antioxidants (such as vitamin C), in the blood.

-Reduce Alcohol intake: Excessive drinking may impair the function of immune cells in the lungs and upper respiratory system, leading to increased risk for Covid-19, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS. Alcohol also affects the way health gut microbes interact with the immune system. Alcohol also disrupts the gut barrier, allowing more bacteria to pass into the blood. Because the immunity of the mucus is impaired in both the lungs and digestive tract, any disease can become more severe.

-Adequate Restorative Sleep: Having 7-8hours of restorative sleep has been shown to boost the body’s immune system by proper functioning of natural killer cells, T lymphocytes and monocytes.

-Stress management: Stress has been shown to hinder the production of T-cells while limiting your bodies ability to produce antibodies.

-Social Connectedness: Stay in touch with family and friends, be happy while maintaining social distancing for COVID-19.

To Prevent Infection Spread: -Wash your hands regularly -Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers -Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing with your elbow or tissue -Dispose of used tissues properly -Cook meat and eggs thoroughly -Clean and disinfect all surfaces -Clean and sanitize frequently used objects such as mobiles, keys and wallets -Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

To date, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-19, having an intact immunity, which is working optimally is the way to go.

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© 2019 by Brookfield Centre For Lifestyle Medicine.