CAN WE SURVIVE THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC?(what can I do to prevent and improve my health amidst SARS-
2020 started as usual and ordinary as any other year, I guess. Little did we all know that a bug that had been causing "some" trouble in Wuhan, China, would start wreaking havoc around the world in just a few weeks.
As news of the new outbreak began traveling the world, it didn't take much time to reach our shores and star propagating within the United States of America. The usual places like California, our largest State, or New York, our largest city, became the epicenter of the 2020 Pandemic. It became heavily publicized, exploited and politicized in TV, Radio, on the internet and especially on Social Media and Networks.
As President Trump's Tweets swayed our attention to the increased number of cases, so did the general unrest increase exponentially. Suddenly, Coronavirus (CoVID19) had arrived. You could see it on CNN, Fox, OAN, the BBC; Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter exploded as everyone was in mass hysteria. They were resulting in what has me writing about this stuff right now!
Never in my life have I've seen such a spectacle. Unexpectedly, people, in general, have been following the government's guidelines on how to deal with a pandemic. Social distancing, telecommuting, online education, online shopping, to name a few, have become the "normal" for those who are lucky, for others, not so much.
The elderly and people with chronic debilitating conditions, like diabetes, COPD, autoimmune, and many more, seem to be the most affected segments of the population. But, as with many other infectious diseases, we cannot explain why we also see reasonably young and healthy people developing SARS.
With available testing, the incidence rate is logically increasing, as well as a decrease in morbidity and mortality from the novel coronavirus infection.
But as the days pass and our economy keeps freefalling, our government has to decide on returning us to business as usual (as if we could) or continue the social and economic shutdown that is ruining our economy. Schools and libraries, parks and beaches, theaters and restaurants, will all have to open sooner than later.
Many of us are afraid of what could happen if this would get out of control, we ask ourselves many questions like am I safe? Are my children less likely to get sick from this? Will my parents survive?
The government and media haven't helped either; the continuous bombardment of information spilling from all media has taken the general public into mass hysteria, thinking that this is the end of civilization. I've never seen as many people cowering away in their homes in fear of getting sick, instead of continuing with their daily lives.
My problem is that it's not the first pandemic that we've had to endure in our lifetimes. Memories of names like Swine Flu, SARS, and Ebola come to mind, many others have also sprouted here and there. No big deal, right?
As with other diseases, humanity will have to adapt very soon to its new foe. And the only thing we can do now is trying not to get sick from it.
Prevention and discipline have become more critical than ever.
Social distancing and preventive measures like washing your hands regularly, wiping down surfaces with disinfectant wipes, and staying healthy seem to be working so far.
But unlike social distancing, telecommuting, and being cleaner in general, people don't always know how to embrace healthy attitudes such as exercising, eating a balanced diet, or taking the right supplements.
In this article, I offer my point of view on this infection as I try to explain to myself:
· Why is Coronavirus so dangerous?
· Why is it more dangerous for the elderly and people with associated illnesses?
· What can I do or take to stay healthy during this outbreak?
Why is Coronavirus so dangerous?
One of the most intriguing and scary aspects of the coronavirus-associated severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoVID19) has been how the virus is transmitted rapidly to large numbers of people. This "superspreading" of the virus makes it more prone to infecting a large area in a short time, and with international travel, can (and did) spread around the world very quickly. It can also trigger Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoVID19) that can cause acute lung injury that may develop into the life-threatening acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)
The elderly and people with compromised immune systems and other associated comorbidities seem to be the most susceptible to developing life-threatening SARS-CoVID19 and other lower respiratory tract infections. Oxidative stress predisposes people to have weak immune systems and an increase in the inflammatory response. Because many attributes of immunity wane with advanced age and associated illness, these groups may be more susceptible to all types of infections, even if they appear to be in good health.
Most people that get infected with it won't even know they've had it. Many others go on to the first phase:
- The first phase characterized by fever, myalgia, and other systemic symptoms that are likely caused by the increase in viral replication and cytolysis.
Around 20–30% of individuals with SARS-CoVID19 move on to the second and third phases, the latter requires management in Intensive Care Units (ICU), and the overall fatality rate is around 10%.
The age dependence of disease severity and mortality is notable; during the outbreak, morbidity and mortality rates of affected individuals increase exponentially with age; children and teenagers being the least susceptible, 65 and older the most.
Most patients will recover after 1 or 2 weeks.
With the deluge of "Breaking News" on how critical the situation is and how many people are dying. Most of the time, we don't get the statistics of the related comorbidities of the deceased. They miss mentioning that most of the dead are of advanced age and people with underlying chronic disorders like diabetes, heart disease, organ failure, and others. The problem is that this can't explain why reasonably young and healthy people can also contract the most aggressive form of the disease.
In older people, age-related accumulated oxidative damage and a weakened antioxidative defense system result in increased production of reactive oxygen species. Oxidative stress can also collect in people who expose themselves to extreme psychological or physical stress, as well as adrenal fatigue.
Subsequently, the oxidative stress-induced imbalance activates a genetic mechanism, followed by the induction of pro-inflammatory genes, including IL1, IL6, TNFα, and adhesion molecules, critical players in the inflammatory process. Oxidative stress may also potentiate the cellular response to a mediator of inflammation, which explains the violent inflammatory reaction seen in SARS patients.
All this tells me that aging may not only be associated not with alterations in the adaptive immune responses, but also with a pro-inflammatory state in the person.
Oxidative stress and other signals triggered by viral lung pathogens, such as SARS-CoVID19, can further amplify the person's inflammation response, ultimately resulting in what we call a cytokine storm, which can be fatal.
Why is Coronavirus more dangerous for the elderly and people with associated illnesses?
As far as I know, the clinical course and outcome of SARS-CoVID19 disease are more favorable in children younger than 12 years of age as compared to adolescents and adults; elderly patients and people with underlying conditions have a poor prognosis, with higher mortality rate.
Don't get me wrong; this is a severe infectious disease. Although younger healthy people are less likely to get infected or be affected by it, Coronavirus can and will cause severe illness on anyone.
The risks are very high; our modern life is not the healthiest it has been. Stress, bad diet, contaminants, 5G(?), pollution, and others can increase Oxidative Stress and Cortisol levels, leaving the system weakened to fend off infections.
Aging is a significant risk factor in SARS-CoVID19 illness; it's associated with changes in immunity and the inflammatory response. Consequently, elderly individuals are at higher risk of contracting more severe and longer-lasting infections with increased morbidity and mortality.
The oxidation process is capital for life because it takes part in the production of cellular energy. Oxidative stress appears when oxidation is excessive. A significant number of diseases are related to oxidative stress and the generation of free radicals.
Oxidative stress appears when we require much effort from our body; in some diseases such as infections, chronic conditions, nutritional deficit, psychological stress, and high-intensity physical exertion. Bad habits such as the use of tobacco and alcohol also favor the imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants, precipitating it.
For this reason, antioxidant therapies and diets (such as Mediterranean diet) rich with antioxidants seem to prevent or at least to attenuate the organic deterioration originated by excess accumulated free radicals.
Aging and the Immune/inflammation response:
Accumulated oxidative stress and inflammation render people with chronic conditions, and elderly individuals more prone to respiratory problems. Due to weakened/ impaired immune systems, and depressed ability to mount an appropriate immune response, or inappropriate (non-regulated) immune and inflammatory responses.
Inflammation is a physiological process that repairs tissues in response to endogenous or exogenous aggressions. However, a chronic state of inflammation may have detrimental consequences.
Aging is associated with increased levels of circulating cytokines and other pro-inflammatory markers. In Coronavirus related disease, we see a violent reaction to the increased cytokine production, causing a "cytokine storm."
Aged-related changes in the immune system, known as "immuno-senescence," and increased secretion of cytokines by fat tissue, represent the major causes of chronic inflammation. This phenomenon is known as "inflam-aging." High levels of cytokines (IL6, IL1, CRP, TNF) are associated with an increased risk of morbidity and mortality in the elderly. Cohort studies have indicated TNF-α and IL-6 levels as markers of frailty.
What can I do or take to stay healthy during this outbreak?
The first thing this pandemic has taught us is that we need to prepare for these situations. A proactive approach in how we manage our health and prevent disease as we age smartly. The common-sense practices that have circulated remain the best defense right now against the spreading of all illnesses. For that reason, it makes sense to repeat them here:
· Wash Your Hands: This simple advice is one of the most effective defenses against the virus. Make sure you wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds with soap and water.
· Wipe Down Surfaces: Disinfecting surfaces (countertops, care items, telephones – especially your mobile phone, keyboards, and other surfaces.) helps prevent any virus from remaining on them.
· Keep Your Distance: This distance keeps others from coughing or sneezing on you and spreading the Coronavirus.
· Stay Healthy: Eat a well-balanced diet, take the appropriate supplements, take your prescribed medications, drink plenty of liquids, exercise, maintain your mental health, meditate, and keep a positive attitude.
Nutrition and supplements as prevention.
We need to approach every situation in a positive attitude. There are always positive lessons to learn. With all this time spent at home and extra "free" time, we have an opportunity to grow; to be healthier.
Spending time at home, we have been lucky that there are local farmers that deliver to our house, so the outcome for some of us is helping our bodies be more robust against this and all infections. We need to exercise consistently. We need to eat less sugar and processed foods while balancing our blood sugar levels.
When the body has to process sugar, it also creates oxidation, and the more sugar we eat, the more oxidation happens. Processed foods often contain sugar and other chemicals that also result in oxidation. Eating large, infrequent meals also creates more oxidative stress, so to balance your blood sugar, choose to eat smaller, more frequent meals.
In contrast, eating foods that contain an antioxidant character may be the solution to the problem of oxidative stress. You can eat foods rich in vitamins A and C (citrus fruits) and beta-carotene. These antioxidant foods can help maintain the balance between oxidants and antioxidants.
Here is a list of some antioxidant foods that you can include in your diet:
Orange, lemon, grapefruit and other citrus fruits, which are rich in Vitamin C; Carrots, tomatoes, oranges, peaches, squash and dark green vegetables, such as broccoli, peas and spinach, all rich in beta-carotene and lycopene, which are carotenoids that act as antioxidants;
Turmeric, a spice in Indian cuisine that has a substance called curcumin, which "scavenges" free radicals and decreases the damage of polyunsaturated fatty acids in cell membranes.
Oilseeds, seeds, whole grains, and leafy vegetables, such as spinach, watercress, and arugula, all rich in Vitamin E (tocopherols), which works as an excellent antioxidant agent.
Now that you know what oxidative stress is and how to protect yourself from it eat well, and avoid its harmful habits. Your health comes first, don't you think?
A nutrient has antioxidant properties when it is capable of neutralizing these radicals without losing its stability. However, on many occasions, it is not able to combat them due to excess in their production levels caused by air pollution, tobacco smoke, herbicides, certain fats, and other external factors. Not being able to be eliminated by the body, this excess of free radicals damages cell membranes and facilitates the development of various types of diseases. Antioxidants divided into endogenous, manufactured by the cell, and exogenous or those that enter the body through diet or supplements.
What supplements can I take?
Taking certain nutritional supplements can help us live a longer, healthier life. Supplementation must be evaluated and prescribed by a medical professional in some specific cases, such as in the case of athletes and practitioners of high-intensity physical activity, when there is a need for a higher intake of some specific nutrients.
In 2012, a scientific group analyzed 78 clinical trials of antioxidant supplements and found little evidence that their consumption helped prevent disease. Most clinical trials to date have found no evidence that consumption of an antioxidant or a combination of these to protect health.
Since taking Vitamin supplements has proven to be practically ineffective, I have researched, and the only way is to increase endogenous antioxidants by stimulating their production by stimulating a chemical pathway called NRF2. Adaptogenic herbs seem to be successful at incrementing the production of endogenous antioxidants like SOD (Superoxide Dismutase) and Glutathione.
Adaptogens are medicinal herbs used in Traditional Medicine. They may have pharmaceutical benefits due to their balancing, regulative, and tonic functions. However, despite these therapeutic effects, the antioxidant potential of adaptogens is rarely mentioned. The antioxidant potential of adaptogen extracts may be due to their respective polyphenol content. The supplementation of adaptogen extracts containing high levels of polyphenols may not only have anti-inflammatory properties but may decrease the risk of complications induced by oxidative stress,
The science in antioxidant supplements has been evolving, and there is one widely studied supplement formulated with powerful adaptogens that may reduce oxidative stress by at least 40% in the first 30 days. And you can test for it and monitor it on your blood.
Can you survive the Coronavirus Pandemic?
Available data suggests that most people that were in contact with the infection may have very little or no symptoms. Some will have to see a doctor, and some will end up in the hospital. Regardless of this, we need to take a proactive approach not only on this but on life as well. The attitudes that promote long and healthy living are the same; we need to take action to prevent and mitigate an infectious outbreak. A healthy lifestyle, exercise, a positive mental state, and proper nutrition will always be the best prevention. But along with that, I will look for the best supplementation that I can find, take it and give it to my family in hopes that we can survive this post-pandemic world order.
Decreasing and avoiding oxidative stress are the best actions we can take to prevent this and all disease, but only by taking a smart, direct and proactive stance will be able to do it.