Dispelling the fear
Despite the reference to this virus as ‘the deadly coronavirus,’ how deadly is it in fact? Over 98% of the people worldwide who have tested positive and who have had the virus, have survived. The symptoms range from asymptomatic, to mild, to moderate, to severe. According to the accumulated data and the resultant advice from the Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM) (as well as other medical institutions worldwide), the severity of the virus is determined, in part, by the function of the host immune system, putting those with pre-existing co-morbidities (cardio-metabolic dysregulation, obesity, type-2 diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidaemia), excess inflammation and compromised immunity at higher risk of more severe COVID-19 infection. What does this mean for you if you fall in the category of ‘more vulnerable? The good news is the large extent to which diet and lifestyle changes can help strengthen your immune system to be more resistant to severe infection. It is important to remember:
- We are amazing human beings who come fully loaded with an immune system capable of combatting bacteria, viruses, cancer cells, fungi, mould etc on a moment-to-moment basis, which is why we have survived as a species for so long.
- Our immune system is divided into 2 main parts:
- the innate, which is the first line of defence acting like security guards patrolling the streets.
- the adaptive, more akin to an army which is called in when the first line of defence fails. It is the adaptive immune system that is responsible for making antibodies.
- If we expect our immune systems to protect us, we have to supply them with the tools they need to do the job (vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and energy in the form of carbs, proteins and fats). At the same time, we need to address underlying health issues which are keeping our ‘army’ fighting battles on other fronts and thus not united and strong enough to deal with the virus when we become sick.