In our current environment of the coronavirus, we are told to stay healthy and take precautions such as hand washing, avoiding large crowds, cleaning surfaces, eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, etc. No one seems to mention that every second of every day the body is working to protect us from armies of hostile bacteria, fungi and viruses that swarm on our skin; yet we usually remain amazingly healthy most of the time.
The body has evolved to approach these foes – if you’re not with us – you’re against us! So the components of the immune system work together to destroy any foreign invader. To implement that stance, it relies on two built-in defense systems, the innate defense system and the adaptive defense system that act both independently and cooperatively. However, it is extremely important to support this system with a healthy lifestyle for optimum functioning and its ability to keep us well.
Innate defenses include:
Surface barriers (skin, mucous membranes)
Internal defenses (phagocytes, natural killer cells, inflammation, antimicrobial proteins, fever
Adaptive defenses include:
Humoral immunity (B cells, plasma cells, antibodies, memory cells)
Cellular immunity (Helper T cells, cytotoxic T-cells, memory cells)
These two systems are deeply intertwined and when operating effectively, they protect us from most infectious microorganisms, cancer cells, and (unfortunately) organ transplants and grafts.
The following article puts the disease risks from the coronavirus into play and compares it to other diseases and their health risks (heart disease, diabetes, influenza, e.g.).
Please keep in mind that a lot of numbers are quoted in the article and of course this changes almost every day. Dr. Katz states that he is writing on 2/28/20, and of course numbers of cases and deaths change constantly since then and will continue to do so.
However, the points are well stated. We should learn by now that headlines from the media tell us little and often are exaggerated to get our attention.
Despite the seriousness of infectious diseases, we often miss the total picture of a “sick” society – the ongoing epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and other more subtle health risks as a result of a poor diet , that affects us day after day and year after year.
Hopefully, this too shall pass (as most viral epidemics do) so we can restore our sanity and return to solving the ongoing problems of chronic disease.
Calorie restriction has been shown to extend lifespan in many animal species. Even though the following article is an animal (rat) study, it is very interesting since it goes further than most studies by examining the effects on the body cells themselves of a calorie restricted diet versus a control group with no calorie restriction.
Some people find this easier to do with the practice of intermittent fasting (or time-restricted) eating patterns. It is suggested that you consult your physician with any restrictive diet (e.g., Keto) since it is imperative we still get all the proper nutrients we need for optimum health.
An alternative could be is to consult a certified nutritionist or health coach. Be careful who you might choose for nutrition information. Unfortunately, some practitioners in the nutrition community offer services that are highly questionable and appear to be outside the legitimate scope of evidence-based nutrition. Even advanced degrees can be purchased from what used to be called “diploma mills”. There are a lot of crazy schemes (mostly for weight loss) on the internet – question and check on the credentials of any person who call themselves a “nutritionist.” Also if a plan or a supplement sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Stephen Barrett, MD, a long-time crusader against nutrition and health fraud, recommends steering clear of:
- Anyone who suggests that large doses of vitamins are effective against a large number of diseases and conditions. That is simply untrue. On the contrary, mega doses can sometimes be harmful.
- Anyone who suggests hair analysis is a basis for determining the body’s nutritional state and then recommending large numbers of dietary supplements are not reliable for this purpose.
- Anyone who claims that a wide variety of symptoms and diseases are caused by “hidden food allergies”. There are legitimate food intolerances that are different from true allergies.
- Anyone who uses a computer-scored “nutrient deficiency test” as the basis of prescribing dietary supplements. There are more valid ways of assessing diets.
- All practitioners – licensed or not – who sells vitamins and minerals in their offices. Evidence-based nutritionists do not sell supplements.
- Practitioners who seem to favor a certain food brand or supplement. There is a lot of research that is supportive of the food industry and research on that particular brand is often biased.
Source: Quack Watch, Where to Get Professional Nutrition Advice, Stephen Barrett, MD.