CORONA VIRUS: help your immune system with nutrition
As we know, the main topic of this early 2020 is COVID-19. We’ve already heard every kind of information about it: how it spreads, how to avoid its diffusion, what are its effects and so on. This article is different: we are going to tell you how to help your body from a nutritional point of view.
Our immune systems consists of two main types of mechanisms: the innate and the adaptive one. The innate immune system protects against several kind of infections without specificity: it includes mechanical barriers (for example skin) and cellular components (phagocytic cells like macrophages and neutrophils). The adaptive immune system instead consists mostly by the activity of B and T lymphocytes which work against specific agents; also, this system leads to the generation of immunological memory, that is the property of giving stronger and faster responses after the reexposure to an agent.
HOW TO STRENGTHEN OUR IMMUNE SYSTEM?
As other viruses, the intensity of effects of COVID-19 are also dependent on how a body reacts: the weaker the body, the stronger the effects (as we know, it can sadly lead to death too). So, to prevent this kind of situation is clear that, in addition to the application of all the containment measures, we need to reinforce our body. How can we do this?
vitamin C promotes several immune system activities: it helps phagocytic cells in the phagocytosis and generation of reactive oxygen species; it can also lead to differentiation of B and T cells, the main actors of adaptive immune system. This molecule works as a cofactor for enzymes involved in the immune system: as a nutrient it helps then, but it’s not sufficient to cure. Anyway its supplementation surely would help in conditions in which major activity of immune system is needed.
Vitamin D has an immunomodulatory activity, it’s involved in the antigen presentation by dendritic cells (a process which leads to the activation of B and T cells) and has an intracrine role in the induction of macrophages (the main phagocytic cells). Also, it has been found that viruses of the same family of COVID-19 bind to vitamin D receptor (VDR) in leukocytes. This receptor acts as a transcription factor modulating the expression of genes involved in the response against viruses; so the more vitamin D, the less bond of the virus and the more activity against the virus itself. This vitamin can be produced by our metabolism with sunlight exposure, but during winter its quantity is reduced so a supplementation would help: we can take up to 20000 ui/die if needed, with vitamin K2 (100 ug/10000 ui of vitamin D).
Our immune system is also influenced by gut microbiota: there is a strong crosstalk between this two systems, and in particular the perturbation of the gut microbiota structure by environmental and genetic factors increases the risk of pathogenic infection besides other side effects. We now understand that it’s important to keep the microbiota safe, so avoid antibiotics if they’re not necessary (they lead to a dysregulation of microbiota itself) and instead take probiotics to restore the equilibrium.
last but not least, we should avoid eating sugar. It’s already known that too much sugar induces inflammation in our body, thus leading to the activation of our immune system. Since to fight every kind of infection we need a strong immune system, it’s clear that we need it to be ready and we shouldn’t induce a not needed inflammation status.
This doesn’t mean we have to get rid of every kind of sweet food, in fact we could use some alternatives which do not affect our glucose level: for example Erythritol or Stevia.
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