Covid 19: Boosting your immunity system and preventing disease
Apr 30, 2020

Lynda Naji MCIM, MBA, (Current Masters student in international healthcare Management)
Business Development manager
La Cosmetique Royale, Royale Hayat hospital


In light of the pandemic Covid 19, we all must do what we can, not only to stop the spread of the virus but to protect ourselves. People with weak immunity, especially the elderly and sick, are more vulnerable and are at significant risk of developing life-threatening complications. According to data from The world health organisation (Wetsman, 2020) “People who are over the age of 60 are at a higher risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19” [ with the] highest death rate is in people above the age of 80.

(Centers for disease control and prevention, 2020) state: People with underlying or chronic conditions like cancer, kidney disease, high blood pressure, or “diabetes are also more likely to get very sick or die from COVID-19”. Diabetes has the highest risk with figures of 9%, closely followed by people with high blood pressure 8%. The CDC recommends that these people, in particular, avoid crowds staying at home as much as possible, to prevent exposure.

Boosting your immune system may help you fight off disease or make you less vulnerable to the severe effects. Still, there is so much false information about the use of large dozes of vitamins, particularly Vitamin C and how it can protect you. If fact there is no evidence to prove vitamin C can have any benefit towards fighting off Covid 19. As for other vitamins, many studies suggest possible advantages with just as many debunking the claims. Getting your vitamins from natural sources in the way nature intended and is always the best option. One thing we do know is, a healthy immune system is a good thing. So let’s look at a few things we can do to boost our immunity and some of the things we can do to protect ourselves:

 

Vitamin D:

 

 

 

immunityblog-vitamilnd

The sunshine vitamin at work:

 

Many studies have shown the importance and the detrimental effects of Vitamin D deficiency (VDD). One advocate for the awareness and treatment of VDD is (David C, 2020) author of “The Global Pandemic of VDF: King of All Silent Killers.” .Dr.David explains how VDD affects the Global population, stating that “around 70% to 80% of people have Vitamin D Deficiency [increasing the risk of ] over 300 illnesses and infections which can kill.
Despite Vitamin D being synthesised by sunlight, there is still a global deficiency, so we should do what we can to supplement it with our diet. Natural sources of Vitamin D can be found in cheese, fish, eggs and milk. Vitamin D May boost the immune system, fight infection and kill bacteria, kill funguses and viruses. Vitamin D intake is recommended at 400–800 IU/day, or 10–20 micrograms. However, some studies suggest that a higher daily intake of 1000–4000 IU (25–100 micrograms) is needed to maintain optimal blood levels. (Bjarnadottir, 2017)

 

Zinc :

 

 

 

immunityblog-zinc

An essential mineral

 

Moyer (2017) states “Zinc is a trace element that is necessary for a healthy immune system. A lack of Zinc can make a person more susceptible to disease and illness”. The benefits of Zinc are well documented in many medical and scientific journals. Zinc not only plays a part in a healthy immune system but helps in wound healing (Agren,1990). Reducing the severity of a cold (Hemilä, 2011). Reducing age-related disease like macular degeneration of the eyes, (Arch Ophthalmol, 2001) it’s said to improve memory (cell.com, 2011) and aid infertility. (Palmer, June 2001).
The recommended daily allowance of Zinc is 8 milligrams (mg) a day for women and 11 mg a day for men. “The best natural sources of Zinc are beans, animal meats, nuts, fish and other seafood, whole grain cereals, and dairy products” (Moyer, 2017)

 

Vitamin B6

 

immunityblog-vitamilnb6

Eat a banana every day

 

Studies have shown Vitamin B6 deficiency can weaken the immune system (Medical News Today, 2017). B6 is essential to supporting biochemical reactions in the immune system, a study conducted by Cheng, et al., (2006) concluded: “B6 could increase immune response in critically ill patients”.Vitamin B6-rich foods include chicken and cold-water fish such as salmon and tuna. Vitamin B6 is also found in, green vegetables, In avocados in bananas, Hazelnuts, whole grains and chickpeas.

 

Healthy Balanced Diet:

 

 

 

immunityblog-healthy balanced diet

The nutrition factor

 

A joint report by the world health organisation and the food and agriculture organisation in 2002 discussed the relationship between diet and physical activity patterns, and the major nutrition-related chronic diseases.[particualy obesity] (WHO, ND) The report concluded healthy nutritional choices, combined with physical activity, are fundamental to sustaining good health and avoiding chronic disease.
The average person needs to eat about 2,000 calories every day to maintain their weight. However, a person’s specific daily calorie intake can vary depending on their age, gender, and physical activity level. (Crans, n.d) A healthy balanced diet consists of protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats and fibre; these can be found in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes and meat and fish. You also need to make sure you are drinking enough water and getting an adequate amount of essential vitamins and minerals from your diet.

 

Don’t smoke!

 

 

 

immunityblog-smoke

Give your lungs a chance

 

Covid 19 attacks the lungs so if you are a smoker, whether cigarettes or vape its time you seriously considered quitting. Although we don’t yet know if being a smoker will make you more susceptible to Covid 19, pulmonologists at UCLA Health confirm “exposure to tobacco and tobacco products impairs our body’s ability to fight off infection,” (Hicks, 2020).
Smokers lungs have a harder time fighting off infection, and the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease only exasperates the condition. If you think that vaping is not harmful, think again. A report by centres for disease control and prevention, (2020) states “As of February 4, 2020, electronic-cigarette, or vaping, product use–associated lung injury (EVALI) has resulted in the hospitalisation of 2758 people across the United States and has been linked to at least 64 deaths.” If ever you thought about giving up now is the time. There are several aids available to help you quit, including sprays, gum and patches.

 

Reduce your stress levels

 

 

 

immunityblog-stress

Stress the silent killer

 

As news of Covid 19 spreads so does the stress related to the concerns we have. With so much uncertainty and conflicting news, people are panic buying, causing congestion in the streets leading to accidents, creating chaos and the assembly of masses of people which defeats the object of keeping a safe distance and avoiding crowds. All of this, including personal and political uncertainty, global economic crisis and the sheer worry of contracting the virus is causing stress.
Stress has proven to affect cardiovascular health, mental health and other stress-related illness which all weaken the immune system. It’s essential at this time, you look after yourself and try where possible to reduce your stress levels, Don’t listen to alarming false news on social media, trust only legitimate sources such as the world health organisation and credible news agencies. If you are home quarantined, take some time out to relax, read a book, start a box set on T.V., get plenty of rest and eat healthy nutritious food.

 

Get enough sleep :

 

 

immunityblog-sleep

Sleep and its impact on your immune system:

 

“Researchers have demonstrated the importance of good-quality sleep time and time again, showing that a solid night’s rest can contribute to many aspects of physical and mental well-being” ( Cohut, 2019). A recent study published by medical news today states: “sleep contributes to the proper functioning of the immune system.” It’s essential to get a good night sleep not only for our health but to increase our immunity by boosting the effectiveness of our T.cells, cells that contribute to our bodies immune response in the fighting of disease.

 

Teach your kids hand hygiene

 

 

 

immunityblog-washhands

Washing your hands…a family affair

 

Washing your hands is probably the most most widely used piece of advice you hear right now, but we need to be vigilant to teach our children the same thing, and that’s not only to wash their hands but how to wash them properly. Although many recent reports conclude healthy children seem to be immune to the effects of Covid 19, they can still be carriers and pass on the virus to others. The correct method to wash hands is not just quick swill under the tap, but a proper 20 second routine with soap and water, making sure the whole hand is clean, including in-between the figures and thumbs. It may be fun to let them practice a short song or nursery rhyme to sing each time they wash, ensuring it goes a little beyond the recommended 20 seconds.
Some people are questioning the use of anti-bacterial hand sanitisers and the effect it has on a virus. Look for 60-90% alcohol sanitizers as alcohol is an antiseptic and may kill viruses. Hand sanitizers are useful to have with you when you are outside, especially when exposed to public places, shopping trolleys, door handles and handrails are a particular breeding ground for germs so take extra care. Although these sanitizers are an alternative when soap and water are not available, they should not replace proper handwashing.

 

A few words of wisdom

 

Covid 19 is serious. There is no doubt we will all be affected by the virus in one way or another, whether directly or indirectly, just as we all have an obligation to protect ourselves, our families, our fellow human beings and our planet. Governments, scientists, healthcare workers and many others are striving to deal with this global crisis; we too can do our part. If ever there was a time to be selfless, it’s now. Simply follow the recommendations to stay away from gatherings, to isolate yourselves whenever you can, take precautions to protect yourselves and your families, take care of your health, well-being and hygiene and be safe.

 

References


Arch Ophthalmol, 2001. A randomised, placebo-controlled, clinical trial of high-dose supplementation with vitamins C and E, beta carotene, and Zinc for age-related macular degeneration and vision loss: AREDS report no. 8. [Online]
Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11594942?dopt=Abstract
[Accessed March 12 2020].

Bjarnadottir, 2017. How Much Vitamin D Should You Take For Optimal Health?. [Online]
Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-much-vitamin-d-to-take
[Accessed March 12 2020].

C, D., 2020. A COVID-19 “Perfect Storm” Demands Immediate CDC Action to Treat the Long Ignored Global Pandemic of Vitamin D Deficiency, Says Dr. David C. Page of SmilePage® Health Institute. [Online]
Available at: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/a-covid-19-perfect-storm-demands-immediate-cdc-action-to-treat-the-long-ignored-global-pandemic-of-vitamin-d-deficiency-says-dr-david-c-page-of-smilepage-health-institute-301010899.html
[Accessed 12 March 2020].

cell.com, 2011. Neuron. [Online]
Available at: https://www.cell.com/neuron
[Accessed March 12 2020].

Centres for disease control and prevention, 2020. Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with the Use of E-Cigarette, or Vaping, Products. [Online]
Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/severe-lung-disease.html
[Accessed March 12 2020].

Centres for disease control and prevention, 2020. People at Risk for Serious Illness from COVID-19. [Online]
Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html
[Accessed March 12 2020].

Cheng, C.-H., Chang, S. J. & Lee, B. J., 2006. Vitamin B6 supplementation increases immune response in critically ill patients. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 60(10), pp. 1207-13.

Crans, B., n.d. Balanced Diet. [Online]
Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/balanced-diet
[Accessed March 12 2020].

Hemilä, H., 2011. Zinc Lozenges May Shorten the Duration of Colds: A Systematic Review. [Online]
Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3136969/
[Accessed March 12 2020].

Hicks, J., 2020. Coronavirus Attacks the Lungs. Here’s What That Means for Smokers and Vapers. [Online]
Available at: https://www.vice.com/en_au/article/n7j9jw/coronavirus-lungs-risks-for-smokers-or-vapers
[Accessed March 12 2020].

Maria, C., 2019. How sleep can boost your body’s immune response. [Online]
Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324432
[Accessed March 15 2020].

Medical News Today , 2017. The benefits and food sources of vitamin B-6. [Online]
Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/219662
[Accessed March 15 2020].

N, M., 2017. What are the health benefits of Zinc?. [Online]
Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/263176
[Accessed March 12 2020].

S, A. M., 1990. Studies on Zinc in wound healing. [Online]
Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2275309
[Accessed March 12 20202].

Sharon Palmer, R., June. Improving Male Fertility — Research Suggests a Nutrient-Dense Diet May Play an Integral Role. [Online]
[Accessed March 12 2020].

wetsman, N., 2020. Here’s who’s most at risk from the novel coronavirus. [Online]
Available at: https://www.theverge.com/2020/3/11/21173157/coronavirus-health-effects-age-covid-risk-diabetes-hypertension-disease-isolation
[Accessed March 12 2020].

WHO, ND. Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases. [Online]
Available at: https://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/publications/trs916/summary/en/
[Accessed March 12 2020].