Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID – 19) is an emerging disease and we are still learning it’s characteristics with respect to other viruses. It is said that the mortality risk through this virus is 10 fold higher than the influenza virus. Though 80% of the patients may have mild manifestation, 20% of the individuals will manifest in a severe form. Mortality though low in comparison to the other viruses, fatality in elderly patients more than 80 years can be as high as 18%.
Individuals with DM type-2 , Heart diseases, Asthma and those on immunosuppressive therapies are at a higher risk of complications from COVID – 19 . While cancer patients according to the analysis published in the Lancet Oncology, are fivefold more likely to suffer from the severe effects of the Coronavirus. Poor immunity either because of the disease or because of the side effects of the therapy, these patients become highly vulnerable to infections. Patients who are cancer free, too need to be careful even though their immune system may work normally.
The basics in handling this virus has stemmed from the knowledge about the nature and the structure of the virus. Considered to be more dangerous and more contagious from the influenza virus, it is important to maintain social distancing and also maintain good hygiene. Since the virus structurally has a fat layer outside it gets washed away with a good hand rinsing which is recommended for 20seconds. Hand sanitizer with an alcohol content of 60% is recommended. The virus is also known to stick to the fabrics for a period of 9 hours, washing clothes and exposing them to sunlight for a period of two hours helps kill this virus. Abstaining from smoking , getting adequate sleep ( >7 hours ) , performing the right amount of physical activity and taking adequate stress management protocols will help all of us keep this virus at bay.
Since the virus is new, has no anti-viral antidote and has no vaccine as of now, it is extremely important for all of us to enhance our immunity. Dietary regulations in these conditions would help individuals to cope up with the crisis.
Sugars have been shown to impair the white blood cell function, which are key cells in fighting the infection. There is also enough scientific evidence to show that acute rises in the blood sugar increase the risk of infections and also complications. Hence one should not allow the sugar levels to increase above 140mg/dl. It is recommended to avoid white sugar as much as possible. It’s seen that one teaspoonful of white sugar reduces the immune system by 50% for the next two hours. So if the entire day one continues to consume a lot of tea, coffee or sugary diet, the individuals immunity would certainly go down. Studies have shown that KETO diets (high amounts of healthy fat , moderate protein , and extremely low carbohydrates) reduce the risk for mice to be infected with Influenza. Whether this diet would impact humans suffering from COVID -19 is not clear, but since the keto diets help lose weight and improves the metabolic health, it may beneficially affect the immune system. Ketones are known to be beneficial for immune function. These diets have scientific evidence to lower the inflammation, and correct the hormonal imbalances. Since these diets help reduce the fat , reduce one’s sugar cravings , it keeps individuals energetic.
Nutritional Supplements to boost Immune System
SUPPLEMENTS which helps boost the immune system :
Vitamin -C: has been used to prevent common cold. It helps maintain a healthy skin which in turn forms a barrier to germs and other harmful invaders. Some studies have shown that it may improve the function of certain white blood cells which help fight infection. Vitamin -C in addition to the anti-bacterial protocol have shown to be highly effective in reducing the severity and length of the infection. Vitamin C helps the body makes it’s anti-oxidant and Glutathione as well assist the body in the production of it’s own interferon. Vitamin – C intake of atleast 200mg a day can decrease the risk of acquiring respiratory infections. No harm in taking 2000mg per day (the upper limit set by the National Academy of Medicine). Very high doses will cause diarrhea and also increase the risk for renal stones. Recommended dose of vitamin -C for men is 90mcg and 75mcg for women. Indian gooseberry (amla), citrus fruits viz. lime, oranges and lemons, tomatoes, tomato juices, kiwi, green and red peppers, green leafy vegetables are some of the rich sources.
Vitamin – D: Vitamin D supplements have a mild protective effect against respiratory infections in most people. But it provides much greater protection in those who were deficient in vitamin -D. The body can make Vitamin- D on it’s own if one exposes oneself for a period of 15 minutes every day. Just a 10minutes of exposure with 40% of the body surface area exposed helps produce 5,000 IU of vitamin – D, while the daily requirement as stated may range from 1000-4000 IU.
Zinc: Is the mineral involved in the white blood cell response to infection. Hence people who are deficient in zinc are susceptible to cold, flu and other viruses. Taking zinc supplements have reduced the length of common cold. Maximum tolerated dose: 40mg per day. Whole grains, dairy products, and non-vegetarian diet are few rich sources, though animal derived foodstuff have more than the plant products.
Role of Turmeric: Major chunk of the health benefits seen with turmeric is attributed to curcumin which is a powerful anti-oxidant and also a strong anti-inflammatory substance. This anti-inflammatory effect is exerted by curcumin through inhibition of IL-1, IL-6 and Tumour Necrosis Factor (TNF). Curcumin is also known to be powerful immune-booster. Studies have shown that 30mcg of Curcumin can effectively reduce the production of influenza virus in cell culture by 90%. Intravenous formulation of it has also been used as a powerful medicine for Ebola virus. The role of curcumin has been studied for HIV, HSV, Hepatitis A, B, C, HPV etc.
Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables have been shown to nourish the system with adequate vitamins and natural nutrients which gear the human system to fight the infection.