Innate Immune system in overdrive because of Covid 19!
In this Coronavirus epidemic, the clear reason why people are dying is not the virus itself but the immune system response to it.
Front line clinicians have witnessed patients who seem to be improving, take a turn for the worse because the innate immune system has gone into overdrive, eventually overwhelming the body’s ability to combat the inflammation and disease action, resulting in the shutting down of vital organs and in many cases death.
The immune system is made up of two parts, the innate and the adaptive.
The innate system kicks in as soon as infection is detected raising temperature, producing inflammation and marshalling generalised attack cells in an attempt to overwhelm the invader quickly. A sledgehammer approach as it were, hitting hard and fast with a limited range of heavy weapons not specific to the nature of the invader. As the infection increases, the response increases until the adaptive immune system begins to recognise the pathogen and creates effective antibodies to specifically combat it.
This process can take several days after the initial infection. In the meantime, the innate system has been ramping up its response. The quality and effectiveness of this response is directly related to the levels of nutrients available for the system to create the chemicals that are used to fight infection.
In the event of a compromised system the inefficiency of the system leads to increasing inflammation and cell breakdown, and in the case of Covid-19 eventually leading to pneumonia and then organ failure, which can be fateful.
A compromised immune system for those with some chronic disease, such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease are more at risk of needing hospital treatment and relatively, their chances of death are higher. The older someone is the more vulnerable they are considered and the unenviable consideration for front line clinicians is the potential choice between someone over 60 being treated in competition with someone much younger who has a potentially greater chance of survival, given limited resources. Italy has already been making decisions in these circumstances.
Much is being made of how to stay healthy through avoidance, but what can be done to improve chances of recovery if the virus is contracted?
Steps can be taken to boost the immune system, improve fitness and minimise risk factors.
I’m focusing on immune system optimisation as much is covered elsewhere about both fitness and risk factors. What seems to be underappreciated is that the immune system is not just the cells illustrated above, they are the manifestation of its action, much like a product as it leaves a factory gate. The process of production is complex, and the quality and effectiveness of the end product are dependent on the quality of the components and the efficiency of the production line.
The Immune System
We now know the immune system is a combination of processes including, and especially the function of, the gut, as well as the quality of cellular biochemistry and the micronutrients received through the diet and supplementation.
Science now places the gut at 70% of immune system efficiency which means a good diet and well fed and healthy gut bacteria are essential. There is a direct link between the gut and the brain via the vagal nerve as well as through the chemical signals created by gut activity. These links are another example of how integrated an organism the human body is and points to the need for a whole system approach to the maintenance of good health.
Optimising Gut Health
Feed your gut bacteria with the right diet, one rich in dietary fibres to stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria throughout your colon.
There are over 100 trillion bacteria in the human colon and while some are good for our health, others are less desirable. The beneficial bacteria use dietary fibres as their fuel, enabling them to outgrow and displace the less wanted bacteria.
The beneficial bacteria contribute to many important body functions and it is becoming increasingly accepted that a healthy gut is essential for a healthy body and mind. In the case of the latter even more focus is being placed in the mental health effects of a well-functioning gut.
Too much Dietary Omega 6 is leading to Inflammation –
The developed world is out of balance at the cellular level between Omega 6 and Omega 3.
The right balance of Omega 6 and 3 is optimally about 3:1 although when born we are 1:1. Nearly 500,000 tests have shown 95% of us are out of balance. The average in Europe is 15:1 which is from the results of a very simple blood spot test available to anyone. At the cellular level we all need to pay attention to the balance of the essential fatty acids Omega 3 and 6 because their balance directly effects every cell and its ability to function. Too much Omega 6 causes the cell wall to be hard and brittle, and less capable of transporting nutrients across the wall in and waste out.
Omega 6 is part of the inflammation process, and unfortunately most of us, 95% in fact, have too much of it, leading to inflammation being switched on all the time, rather than being a reaction to disease and injury.
Omega 3 balances Omega 6 to resolve inflammation, so that balance is restored once a disease or injury has passed.
Many people supplement with a fish oil which is rich in Omega 3, unfortunately most fish oil supplements do not have the right cofactors to ensure absorption. Recent research has shown that Omega 3 oils need to be protected and accompanied by polyphenols to be absorbable. This paper by Dr Paul Clayton covers the research to support this argument.
Zinzino balance oil is a patented product formulated to bring the Omega 6:3 balance within the 3:1 range in 120 days.
Food Depletion of Micronutrients.
Micronutrients are the last link in this nutrition chain, too little is being consumed by the UK population for health to be optimised.
In the last 60 years many reports show that mineral and vitamin content has declined significantly because of farming, harvesting, storage and distribution methods, which have increased the quantity and availability of foods, but significantly reduced their nutritional quality.
The UK Government carries out the National Diet and Nutrition Survey which monitors national food intake and nutrition levels indicating areas that need addressing, particularly in younger people. The report states “There was evidence of intakes below the LRNI in a substantial proportion of older children and adults for some minerals, particularly magnesium, potassium and selenium.” Mention is also made of low levels of vitamins D and A.
The European Food Safety Authority cites the following known substances that can be claimed to have a beneficial effect on the immune system and in almost every case the normal food sources of these nutrients are insufficient to meet daily intake requirements.
Vitamin A contributes to the normal function of the immune system. The claim may be used only for food which is at least a source of vitamin A as referred to in the claim SOURCE vitamin A as listed in the Annex to Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006.
Vitamin C contributes to the normal function of the immune system. The claim may be used only for food which is at least a source of vitamin C as referred to in the claim SOURCE OF vitamin C as listed in the Annex to Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006.
Vitamin D contributes to the normal function of the immune system. The claim may be used only for food which is at least a source of vitamin D as referred to in the claim SOURCE vitamin D as listed in the Annex to Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006.
Vitamin D contributes to the normal function of the immune system in children. The claim may be used only for food which is at least a source of vitamin D as referred to in the claim SOURCE vitamin D as listed in the Annex to Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006.
Vitamin B6 contributes to the normal function of the immune system. The claim may be used only for food which is at least a source of vitamin B6 as referred to in the claim SOURCE Vitamin B6 as listed in the Annex to Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006.
Folate contributes to the normal function of the immune system. The claim may be used only for food which is at least a source of folate as referred to in the claim SOURCE OF Folate as listed in the Annex to Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006.
Vitamin B12 contributes to the normal function of the immune system. The claim may be used only for food which is at least a source of vitamin B12 as referred to in the claim SOURCE OF Vitamin B12 as listed in the Annex to Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006.
Iron contributes to the normal function of the immune system. The claim may be used only for food which is at least a source of iron as referred to in the claim SOURCE OF Iron as listed in the Annex to Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006.
Selenium contributes to the normal function of the immune system. The claim may be used only for food which is at least a source of selenium as referred to in the claim SOURCE Selenium as listed in the Annex to Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006.
Zinc contributes to the normal function of the immune system. The claim may be used only for food which is at least a source of zinc as referred to in the claim SOURCE Zinc as listed in the Annex to Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006.
The advocated approach is to optimise your immune system by balancing gut health and Omega 3 and 6 along with ensuring the right levels of micronutrients are available. In this way whatever potential there is can be brought to a peak. There is much evidence to indicate health of the nation is getting worse and the magic bullet approach of pharmaceuticals only deals with symptoms, not the underlying causes of disease. The rapid growth of chronic diseases like diabetes is, which is doubling every 10 years, are increasingly seen as diseases of lifestyle. On this basis how we feed ourselves is even more important to pay attention to. The balance of the diet and its nutrition being the simplest thing we can all control by making a conscious choice to take control over what we eat and drink, rather than waiting for disease to take root and then rely on a now hugely overstretched health service because of the Coronovirus outbreak.
The Last Words
Death rates from the Coronavirus vary between countries but the median overall rate is currently measured at about 3.4% of those infected (Source: Worldometers). Potentially this figure is an overestimate because it seems a significant number of people who suffer mild symptoms do not know they have had the virus.
Vaccines take a long time to develop, sometimes the search for something effective eludes even the best scientists, witness the lack of a vaccine for the common cold. There is much promise and a lot of effort going into development but there is no guarantee of an effective solution.
What is clear, is that enlightened people around the world are looking at the potential that something much more virulent than Covid-19 will come along resulting in impacts more like that of the Spanish flu in 1918 (by the way Spain had nothing to do with being the source, it just started reporting on it first). Deaths from Spanish flu are now estimated at between 50 and 100 million.
I am not going to join the argument about when the world should have locked down but there is a question mark over testing availability, the relevance of being able to analyse the rate of infection and develop appropriate responses to any future novel pathogen infection.
Omega Balance Testing
We can all test our Omega 6 to 3 ratio to make sure our cells are balanced, and we can minimise the inflammatory effects of Omega 6, validated by testing and appropriately supplementing.
We can all feed our gut with the right food for bacteria that are essential to digestion, nutrient absorption and colon health.
Minerals Vitamins and Micronutrients
We can all address nutrient deficiency with high quality supplements. The goal being to support the immune system through diet and supplementation. In the event of infection, you’re the body should be as prepared as possible to fight it off.