The wonders of the Immune System! An amazing network of Organs, Tissues, Cells, and Secretions that help protect the body from pathogens like Viruses, Bacteria, etc.
We know by now, that Lack of adequate Rest, Exercise, and most especially Nutrition deficiency can suppress the Immune System’s ability to fight infections and diseases.
Global statistics on the present COVID-19 pandemic records that a high % of populations in the developed countries have been victims of the pandemic more than in underdeveloped nations.
Furthermore, in developing/ underdeveloped nations, the Rich and Over-nourished in the society seem to be greater victims to the persistent venom of this irreparable Virus than the poor or undernourished.
Why is this so?
This could be a result of many connected factors which I will want to unravel here;
Here are a few points that make the Wealthy more Susceptible to Covid19 Infection than the poor.
1. LESS EXPOSURE TO SUNSHINE VITAMIN D!
Studies have shown that people who have optimal Vitamin D levels are less likely to Experience Common Colds, Asthma, and Respiratory tract infections. In fact, Upper Respiratory Tract Infections are inversely associated with LOW SERUM [BLOOD] LEVELS of Vitamin D!
In the Sunlight, the skin cells can synthesize an adequate amount of Vitamin D from a derivative of cholesterol. Food sources like Cod liver oil, Herrings, Salmon and Tuna fishes, Low-fat milk, Fortified cereals, and Supplements exist, however, Daily Sunshine remains the highest source, readily available, and Dietary source is not required if sunlight exposure [for Vitamin D synthesis] is constant.
Now, how this relates to the Rich vs the Poor is that the average wealthy person especially in the warmer climates stays in a cool temperature room, 24hours every day.
He tends to move into his Air-conditioned car, from his AC house to an Air-Conditioned boardroom or office, and back at dusk to his Air-conditioned house…
Lack of exposure to Sunlight, leading to no Vitamin D stimulation in his body!
However, fortunately for the poor/undernourished, by his hustle under the early sunshine, he gets more Vitamin D stimulated in his skin cell and body.
COVID-19 is a fatty coated strain that cannot withstand high temperature, heat, and inhaling steam. Vitamin D-Sunshine Exposure beats down respiratory infections which is a major complication of COVID-19; the poor hence has more immunity build-up than the rich.
A word of counsel to the Wealthy and Over-nourished is to eat more Vitamin D rich foods sources like Cod liver oil, Herrings, Salmon and Tuna fishes, Low-fat milk, Fortified cereals, and Vitamin D Supplements [though supplement use should be supervised and be for just a limited period]
And try more to get some 15-20 minutes of Sunlight exposure between 8 am-11 am daily.
2. FATTY DIETARY INTAKES
Clinical Evidence shows that the fattier diets we consume, the lesser the effectiveness of our immune system.
This is chiefly because, Immuno-Modulators (Arginine and Glutamine), which are chemical agents that do regulatory adjustments of the immune system and promote cellular synthesis are basically Protein in Nature.
Now, these Protein’s potency is WEAKENED BY EXCESS FATS additions or frying.
The Rich man’s diet is heavily loaded with a daily omelet, creams, and fried cuisines. These, the average earner or poor cannot have such creams, daily omelets, but will rather boil/ broil his own proteins.
The danger of such “luxury” diets to the rich, is not just about Obesity and Coronary heart disease, but a daily decline/ weakening of the Protein-Immune System by high-fat diets!
Hence the undernourished/ poor, because of their low-fat intakes, maintains their protein immune system more than the over-nourished or rich [who consume daily fat diet] and the poor therefore have stronger immunity against coronavirus than the poor.
3. LESS HERBS AND NUTRITIONAL SPICES
Scientific evidence reveals that herbs like Black seeds, Garlic, Honey, Turmeric, Ginger, and Lemon peels are powerful antioxidants that also have ANTI THROMBOTIC, ANTI INFLAMMATORY, ANTI BACTERIAL & ANTI VIRAL functions…
In fact, it is known that honey activates the immune System’s response against Infections and Cell proliferation. And Black seeds have Antiviral and Anti-inflammatory abilities against a wide spread of ailments especially Asthma and Upper-respiratory tract Infections.
Which are complications that can arise from the Covid19 infections.
Now, how this relates to the Rich vs the Poor is that most local herbs and spices, for instance, Garlic, Utazi, Ginger, etc, comes with odd smells/odors and appearances, which many especially the Wealthy/Aristocratic may find appalling and offensive, hence they do not add them to their intakes.
But the average earner is conversant with these because they are very cheap and readily available at open markets!
4. FRESH FOODS INTAKES
White Bread, Cookies, Cakes, and other food products made from refined flour can negatively affect the immune system. Also, Harvard based research supports that Healthy fresh plant-based foods support your immune system due to high intakes of minerals and vitamins in pure, unadulterated, and untouched forms.
Now, how these relate to the Poor vs. the Rich is that the poor or average income earner eats from open markets. He owns a farm and gets fresh products intact and super-rich in minerals from his personal farm or from his fellow market woman friend.
Hence, the average earner or poor has more access to fresh and unadulterated nutrient-rich foods, unhampered with and very beneficial to building strong Immunity.
The Rich however purchases his own grocery from sophisticated malls, buying colorful fertilized foods, likely at risk of plastic groceries and Genetically modified food products!
5. MORE SUGARS AND FIZZY DRINKS
Research reveals that constant intakes of added sugars can negatively impact the immune system!
Sugars are called Pro-inflammatory agents in the body. Sugary beverages have little benefits to add to the body but reduce calcium in the body, convert to fats because it is in excess, and increase metabolic syndrome, type2 diabetes, and some cancers…
Daily consumption of sugary drinks, alcohol, and packed beverages is more rampant among those that have more financial wherewithal than the poor!
When Blood Sugars are elevated for an extended period of time, the blood may be placed in an inflammatory state, which not only negatively affects the blood vessels but leads to Cellular Dysfunction.
This triggers inflammation and changes both the Innate and Adaptive Immune System.
Of all Food intakes, added sugars and sugary diets such as Sweets, Chocolates, Sugar syrups, Marmalades has the greatest risk above other diseases.
6. MENTAL STRESS
Research reveals that when we are stressed, the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens is reduced.
The Human body is more susceptible to infections when stressed, this is because Corticosteroid, which is the stress hormone is increased under Extreme Stress.
This Hormone suppresses the effectiveness of the Immune System by lowering the Number of Lymphocytes that are the White Blood cells that help to fight off infections.
The rich go through more Mental Stress than the poor/undernourished, hence have a compromised immune system than the poor/average earner.
7. LESS ACTIVITY LEVEL & EXERCISE
In an article written by Prof. Zhen Yen, a professor of cardiovascular medicine, who ran experiments on lab rats, discovered that Exercise and increased activity levels [mild but regular aerobics], can help with Respiratory problems e.g. ARDS.
ARDS is a type of respiratory failure characterized by rapid inflammations in the lungs that prevents Oxygen from reaching the organs. This has been reported in many Covid-19 patients.
A large percentage of affluent also find it hard keeping up with exercise and workouts schedule. This is a different scenario for the poor/ average earner, who has to get in the streets and walk long kilometers and miles to make his daily bread.
This, fortunately, helps the average earner or non-affluent to build a stronger immunity than the Rich/ affluent. While the Rich who consumes more calories daily with less Activity level is more prone to infections and disease.
8. LACK OF GOOD REST
Aristotle’s publication on sleep and sleeplessness in 350 BC suggested that digestion in the stomach produces hot vapors that lead to sleep. He explained that people with fevers experience something similar driving them to sleep to help enhance their healing process.
That work suggests that sleep may be a powerful tool to fight the Covid19 pandemic, not just by reducing the likelihood or severity of infections alone, it may boost the effectiveness of medication/ vaccines even in the infected. Sleep is a time of restoration of the body during which a type of CYTOKINE is released that fights infections. Too little sleep lowers the amount of Cytokine that the body can release and that reduces the effect of Immune cells.
Now, how this relates to the Rich vs. the Poor is that a large number of wealthy people with large investments hardly get enough time for good rest/ good sleep. Probably due to big investments here and there, the affluent may be prone to get infected from covid19, due to infrequent rest/ sleep.
Sleep is non-negotiable for optimum health, the affluent are advised to get some regular sleep and rest.
9. UNDERLYING HEALTH DISORDERS
A WHO research supports that there is increasing evidence that people with existing chronic disease conditions e.g., Diabetes, Lung disease, to mention a few, have a higher risk of death due to Covid19.
Many go about life with ailments and diseases that they grapple within their personal lives. These health conditions may not be known to friends and the public. These, both the affluent and non-affluent both experiences.
However, there are some disease conditions that global statistics note that is more rampant with the Rich, more than the Poor/ average earner. Disease linked with Obesity (like Heart problems & Type 2 Dm), High protein diets (like Kidney disease), and Cholesteraemia (Cardiopulmonary/ lung disease), etc.
In a Nurses Health Study, which followed 114,000, middle-aged Women for 14years. It was discovered that the risk of developing Hypercholesterolemia, Metabolic Syndrome, and Type 2 Dm was 93 times higher among women who had a BMI of 35kg/m2 (at the start of the study) compared to Women with BMI lesser than 22kg/m2.
The Health professional follow-up study found a similar association in Men too.
The truth is overweight and Obesity, that is more fatty cells build up in the body especially around the waist secrets hormones and other substances that fire up inflammations. This inappropriate inflammation causes a variety of health complications including weakened Immunity.
Obesity is associated with low-grade chronic inflammations [due to many fatty cells],
These fat cells produce inflammatory processes.
Now, how this relates to the Rich vs. the Poor is that the wealthy are usually overnourished, with amass of excess body fats especially around the belly belt than the poor/undernourished.
FASEHUN TOLANI, RD.
Clinical Nutritionist/ Regd. Dietitian/ Presenter of Nutrition Gist/ Host of Online Dietitian Clinics. Follow @nutritiongist on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter
Human Physiology by Wiki Books, Articles by Metagenics Institute, WADLAWS Perspective in Nutrition [5th edition], Prof ZHEN YEN Publications, Nutrition and Immunity [Harvard School of Public health], Biotics Research.com, Merriam Webster dictionary.