COVID-19, IMMUNITY AND NUTRITION; ANY RELATIONSHIPS?

“The greatest medicine of all is to teach people how not to need it”

‘An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure”

Ben Franklin

To start with, what is the Immune System? The immune system is a network of Organs, Tissue, Cells, and Secretions that protect the body from foreign organisms (pathogens) such as Bacteria, Viruses, Parasites, Fungi and Toxins.

The Immune system includes two basic types:

  1. The Innate Immune System
  2. The Acquired Immune System

The innate immune system is present from birth, It is the 1st barrier of the body’s protection against Antigens, It comprises of one, the Physical barriers like the Skin, which secrets Sebaceous glands that secrets sebum. This sebum is antiseptic in nature and destroys specific pathogens like bacteria and toxins, preventing them from entering the bloodstream, same goes to the mucous membrane that lines the orifices of the body, I mean openings from inside the body to the outside; they include the Nostrils, the ears, the mouth, and the genital openings.

 Secondly, the innate immune system also comprises of Chemical secretions such as HCL in the stomach, Acidic urine in the urinary tract, Tears in the eyes, Saliva in the mouth which is rich in Lysosomes, with strong antibacterial, antiseptic nature that is volatile against some toxins and pathogens that the body senses as harmful. Thirdly, we have Physiological barriers, which come as Fever, growths, tumors, Pus from injuries etc.

Now, the innate immune system is limited in ability to recognize Antigens (Antigens are pathogens that previously attacked the body system with infections and diseases). On the other hand, the Acquired Immunity initiated by a recognition of a specific Antigen, it is acquired over a person’s lifetime. This type of immunity is LIMITED in Babies and Infants, hence Nutrition experts recommend more breastfeeding because Human milk has a high concentration of Microbiota and probiotics which has great protective immune components e.g. Immunoglobulins, Lactoferrin, etc.

 All these secretions are strategic barriers that the body puts up to fight off external harmful agents from coming in and damaging the body. Some are signals that the white blood cells and Antibodies which include the Neutrophils, Macrophages and of cause the T and B cell, are fighting major infections, viruses, bacteria, fungi and other pathogens from the body.

In concise conclusion, the immune system can be likened to a Castle with 3 mechanisms of defense, 1st Floor are the Gatemen (Physical & Chemical barriers) of the Skin and Orifices of the body, 2ND Floor is the Sentries & Archers of Neutrophils, Macrophages and Physiologic barriers. The 3rd floor is Soldiers of B and T cells which chiefly engulf and destroy viruses in the body. IF THE VIRUS GETS PAST THE 1st, 2nd & 3rd BARRIERS INTO THE BODY; THE LINES OF DEFENCE ARE BREACHED & WE THEREFORE FALL SICK.

What role does Nutrition play in Immunity and Viral/ Pathogenic infections prevention generally?

First, it is good to note that Nutrition is important in Maintaining both Acquired and Innate immunity, Secondly, NUTRITION DEFICIENCY CAN SUPPRESS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM’S ABILITY TO PREVENT INFECTIONS & DISEASES!!!

Covid-19, Immunity and Nutrition Relationship

Nutrition deficiency which could also be termed as Malnutrition is a cellular imbalance or state of deficiency of Nutrients & Energy sufficient for the body’s demand for growth, maintenance and specific functions which leads to adverse effects on the body tissue. Malnutrition results in reduced production of immune cells, MALNUTRITION RESULTS IN A BREAKDOWN OF THE BODY’S BARRIERS TO ANTIGENS, THIS INCREASES SUSCEPTIBILITY TO INFECTIONS, DISEASES, AND DEATH.

Malnutrition could be under-nutrition or over-nutrition, even though over years, Malnutrition has been known more as Undernutrition of Kwashiorkor, PEM, Edema, Cachexia, Oral changes and Skin changes. But Over-nutrition can be injurious too, as a person could also be Obese, Overweight or be suffering from Nutrient toxicity or micronutrient deficiency. Fact is, a wealthy person with enough wherewithal for food can yet suffer from a macro or micronutrient deficiency because they consume Quantity and not Quality!

The following are the Nutrient needs for stronger Immunity, they include:

  1. PROTEINS:

The relevance cannot be underestimated, Proteins are a chief constituent of Muscles, Organs and the Endocrine. All body fluids except bile and urine contain proteins. All antibodies, which are necessary for antibodies are proteins by nature. REMEMBER, RESISTANCE TO DISEASES IS AN IMMUNOLOGICAL RESPONSE.

Example; Animal proteins such as Lean meat, Egg, Fish, Poultry and Plant proteins like Legumes and Pulses such as Beans, Peas, Lentils, runner beans, green peas, and Nuts.

Note that the more fats on a protein, the less the protein value of the protein. Also, the plant proteins (incomplete proteins) can be upgraded to a high biological value by adding Animal proteins to it e.g. spice up beans with crayfish/ fish. This increases the biological impact of proteins on the body tissues.

2. IMMUNO-MODULATORS

These ones promote protein synthesis and immune responses, they include Arginine and Glutamine. They maintain intestinal mucosal integrity and prevent pathogens from entering the blood stream. Examples include Omega 3 and Omega 6 mono & polyunsaturated fatty acids found;

Extra virgin olive oil (which is good for salads, sauté and low heat cooking), Salmon, Mackerel, Herrings, Titus fishes. Omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acid is present in Canola Oil, Soy Oil and Nuts like Almond nuts, Cashew nuts, and Walnuts. NUTRIENT FORMULAS AND SUPPLEMENT CAN GIVE OMEGA 3 ESPECIALLY WHEN IT’S A MAJOR NUTRIENT NEED.

3. INTERFERONS:

Interferons are naturally occurring Glycoproteins found in T-cells.

They are found in Non-specific immune responses, THEY INTERFERE WITH AND STOP VIRAL GROWTH. Glycoproteins include Pectin and Gums which is chiefly found in foods like Apple, Pear, Citrus, Garlic, Carrots, Tomatoes. Whole grains like Oats, Whole wheat, Brown rice, Red wine are also a good source. RIPE FRUITS HAVE MORE GLYCOPROTEINS THAN UNRIPE FRUITS.

4. MICRONUTRIENT DEFICIENCY

It is possible to be more concerned about a balanced diet, about macronutrients such as Carbohydrates, Proteins, Fats, Fiber, Vitamins and Minerals that we lose focus on the smaller or Micronutrient such as Zinc, Calcium, Potassium, Iron, Sodium to mention a few.

The essence of the nutrients as minute as they can be, cannot be underestimated in enabling a strong immune system. Zinc is known for its strong Prostate health-boosting, Iron helps in blood hemoglobin levels and Potassium is strong support for hypertensive patients. Micronutrients are seen in Seafood like Prawns, Snails, all forms of Crayfishes, Shrimp and Mushrooms.

5. VITAMIN C

Vitamin C like the other Vitamins and Minerals are not to be relegated factors that guard the body and improve immunity. Vitamin C is potent in its contribution, converting Cholesterol to bile, it helps in Collagen synthesis which is critical to bone repair, blood vessels and wound healings. It helps in Iron Absorption (non-heme iron).

Now in this context, it improves immune functions because WHITE BLOOD CELLS CONTAIN THE HIGHEST VIT C IN ALL THE BODY CONSTITUENT. This may protect against OXIDATIVE STRESS associated with Cellular Respiration. Little wonder Vitamin C IS VALIDATED MEDICATION FOR COMMON COLDS AND RESPIRATORY ISSUES. Examples include Pawpaw, Pepper, Tomatoes, Potatoes, Green leafy vegetables, Broccoli, Lemons, and Citrus family generally.

Note that Vitamin C can be easily lost in processing and cooking to about 40% of it, Athletes and Smokers have a higher requirement (About 35mg/day is needed, as they lose it to increased Oxidative stress), Women also using Contraceptives require higher Vitamin C. Men need 95mg/day of Ascorbic acid and Women need about 75mg/day.

6. VITAMIN A

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, it occurs as Preformed retinoids and Provitamin A carotenoids.

As early as the 1920s, researchers have recognized that Vitamin A (mostly as Retinoic acid) was important for immune system functions. They observed that INCIDENCE FOR INFECTION WAS ONE OF THE FIRST SYMPTOMS OF VIT A DEFICIENCY. Many studies have shown that Vitamin A deficient individuals have a greater susceptibility to illness and Infection. This may be in part because Vitamin A helps maintain the Epithelium, A BARRIER THAT PROTECTS THE BODY AGAINST ENTRY OF DISEASE PATHOGENS.

Vitamin A supplementation has been shown to reduce the severity of some Infections, 900microgram and 700microgram is the RDA for men and women respectively. Kidney disease increases Vitamin A toxicity because the body flushes excess of the vitamin through the urine. But in a diseased Kidney, the urinary route is compromised.

Examples of Food rich in Vitamin A include Liver, which is still one of the greatest sources, Fortified milk, Orange colored fruits like Carrots, Plum, Strawberries, and Orange, Red, plus Dark Green Vegetables.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, the immune system is a complex network that guards the body against viruses and all forms of pathogens and Nutrition is a strong factor that enhances the effort of the immune system. Nutrition is more result prone as Preventive Medicine rather than Curative Medicine; hence it is advised that a Lifestyle of Good and Adequate Diet, Timely Rest and Quality Exercise should be a lifestyle imbibed by all on day to day basis, and essentially at this period of Covid19 outbreak.

FASEHUN OYETOLANI, RD.

#Nutritiongist

#ONYXHShow  

#DietandLifestyleCoach.

References:

Wardlaw’s Perspective in Nutrition [8th Edition]                                                                                                 

Human Physiology [from Wiki Books Contributors]                                                                                         

Merriam Webster Dictionary

WAR AGAINST CARBS!

Do you know that too much of anything is bad?

Everything you do (exercise, work…) or take in (food, water, drinks, medications, etc) needs to be in moderate quantity to maintain a healthy living.

As the Dietitian would say “To eat is one thing, but to eat intelligently is the art of Nutrition” – Fasehun Oyetola, RD.

In recent times, Carbohydrates have been given a notorious name. Many say Carbohydrates brings in too much energy and load hence they become obese when taking it in a meal, some still believe it increases their risk of Celia disease and for some more; it gives them constipation and so on…

Are carbohydrates really as bad as painted?

Come with us on this ride as Fasehun Oyetola unravel more around this unique class of food.
It is interesting to note that Carbohydrates are the first of the 3 major class of food nutrients, this means your food is not nutrient adequate and healthy without them!

There are two types of carbohydrates:

  1. Simple Carbohydrates and
  2. Complex Carbohydrates

The Simple Carbohydrates are easily digested and absorbed faster into the body while the Complex Carbohydrates are digested more slowly because of fibers that are abundant in them. Some examples of Complex carbs are; Brown or local rice, Oats, Wheat, Brown pasta, Wheat bread, Vegetables, etc and they are the healthier options of carbohydrates if you ask me.

Sincerely, Carbohydrates occupy an indispensable contribution to our health. First, they are well-known to provide fuel for the brain and CNS (don’t bother about that term), they spare your little protein from being used as body fuel, they are involved in the reproduction process, immune system, blood clotting to mention a few… are you surprised? There’s still much to unravel.

Have you ever had headaches or pain somewhere on your body? Your reaction to it is definitely to fix it, not cut it of. The bone of contention on this unique nutrient is not cutting it off your diet because when you do that, you risk having hypoglycemia, which means the brain is not getting enough glucose.


One sad story that trended on Google about a lady who was found slumped on her bathroom floor was noted to be brain dead by the time she was rushed into the hospital, her mother explained that the lady had been on a high protein, very low carbs diet for so long…

That and many of such unfortunate events makes us know that a low carb diet (carbohydrates below 45-50% of the meal), especially over a long period of time is detrimental to health and life!

How to maximize your carbohydrates for health benefits is to do the following:

1. Choose the Right Quality of Carbohydrates
Make your diet choices more of natural (organic) carbohydrates, the whole grains, the fiber-rich foods, the unprocessed meals. Avoid the carbohydrates soaked in syrups or corn starch or artificial sugars.
Avoid also much consumption of ‘processed carbs’ such as flour products e.g. pastries, sweets, chocolates, and other shallow nutrient diets. Take a Mediterranean diet of whole-grain cereals, fresh vegetables, seafood, salmon, mackerel fish intakes, etc.

2. Quantity is Key!
Excess of any good thing is equally bad! Hence, excess of high quality carbs can be harmful in the long run. Avoid heavy meals please, as much as; ‘never leave the dining table filling full’! Therefore, let your intakes be 40-50% of your total kilocalories. Remember, everyone should be within a specific kilocalorie; a healthy female should be between 1500kcal-2000kcal while a male should be between 1700kcl to 2200kcal based on many other factors like your activity level, your age, etc.

3. Timing of Food Intake
Regular meals cannot be overemphasized! Breakfast should be taken early enough, lunch is important and dinner should not be late or heavy in quantity. We work less at night so our meals don’t get metabolized or digested quickly because of the low activity level. Heavy meals, especially at night, is one of the major causes of the distended or big abdomen. In addition, meal skipping is not always the solution to weight loss like I usually tell many, when you skip meals you eat more in your next single sitting.

We take a chill pill here, Chew on these, till we catch up on our gist next time. There’s still more to uncover about carbohydrates, do stay tuned for the part B of War against Carbs!
Till then, go, eat to live, and don’t live to eat!