The Breakdown COVID-19 Background, Perspective and Context
Updated: Jan 28, 2021
COVID-19 SOME BACKGROUND PERSPECTIVE AND CONTEXT
This post is for general information only and information contained within this document is not to be considered a diagnosis or treatment. If you are feeling unwell please seek medical assistance.
Coronaviruses come from a large family of viruses of which seven strains are known to infect humans. The current coronavirus pandemic is caused by the virus SARS-CoV2, COVID-19 is the disease/illness that the virus spreads. Since 2003 we have seen three pandemics caused by different strains of coronavirus (2003 Severe acute respiratory syndrome SARS-CoV1, 2012 Middle East respiratory syndrome MERS and 2020 Novel COVID-19). Compared to some other communicable diseases, it is not as deadly or as easily transmissible.
WHY IS IT SPREADING?
COVID-19 is spreading rapidly primarily because our immune system doesn’t recognise it and currently doesn’t have an adaptive immune response to defend itself against it. COVID-19 is constantly evolving which allows the virus to enter the body undetected which increases the risk of infection in humans.
HOW CAN COVID-19 SPREAD?
Transmission can occur after infected droplets are circulated through human to human contact when someone coughs or sneezes. It can also spread via contact contamination through objects and a recent paper (Doremalen et al., 2020) showed that it may survive:
· Up to 24 hours on cardboard
· Up to 2-3 days on plastic and stainless steel surfaces.
Another review noted that COVID-19 may persist on inanimate surfaces for up to 9 days, but the good news is that the use of ethanol-based disinfectants (62-71% ethanol) can reduce this risk (Kampf, Todt, Pfaender, & Steinmann, 2020).
WHAT ARE THE MECHANISMS OF THIS VIRUS?
What we know so far is that the family of coronaviruses (COVID-19 is a strain) attach to angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). ACE2 are proteins that are on the surface of our cells and are found in the kidneys, blood vessels, heart and lungs. The ACE2 receptors are abundant in our lungs which explains why this disease may present with respiratory symptoms such as the ones outlined below. Once they gain entry into your cells through the ACE2 receptor they are able to replicate using our cellular mechanisms and alter the state of our cells and produce proinflammatory markers which may contribute to disease and a reduced immune response (Fehr & Perlman, 2015; Li et al., 2005).
WHAT ARE THE MAIN SYMPTOMS
Primary symptoms are: fever, cough and shortness of breath/ breathing difficulties
You may also experience flu-like symptoms such as: headaches, muscular stiffness, gastrointestinal upset, night sweats and other symptoms common to the flu.
MOST AT RISK PEOPLE
People over 60
People with already compromised immune systems
People that have serious or chronic medical conditions
People that have been in close contact with an infected individual
Adolescents and young children don’t normally get sick or have mild symptoms however they may carry the virus increasing the transmission (Attia, 2020).
To add some more context at the time of writing the World Health Organisation reports a case fatality rate is 3.6% globally, with more than 80% of confirmed patients experiencing mild to moderate symptoms (WHO, 2020).
SOME SIMPLE ADVICE TO REDUCE THE SPREAD
1. Wash your hands regularly with warm water and soap (for at least 20 seconds) especially before/after eating and after going to the bathroom.
2. Cover your mouth (and nose) when you sneeze and cough, dispose of tissues promptly and use a high ethanol based hand sanitiser.
3. Practice social distancing
a) keep 1.5 metres between you and other people.
b) stay at home when you are unwell
c) avoid large public gatherings
d) minimise physical contact with people at higher risk
4. If you do develop symptoms please seek the advice of a medical professional.
5. Take a real food approach and include immune boosting foods onto your plate and seek further advice regarding nutritional supplementation
HOW NUTRIENTS AND LIFESTYLE MAY HELP TO IMPROVE YOUR IMMUNE RESPONSE
ZINC - Plays a role in intracellular signalling in both the adaptive and innate immune response, and stimulates the development of acquired immunity (Fukada, Yamasaki, Nishida, Murakami, & Hirano, 2011; Shankar & Prasad, 1998)
VITAMIN C - Stimulates white blood cell production and function, enhances serum levels of antibodies, works synergistically with Zinc, enhances innate and adaptive immune response.
VITAMIN D - Assists in regulating immune function (particularly T regulatory cells) and production of antibodies, enhances the adaptive immune response and simulates white blood cell proliferation (Mocanu, Oboroceanu, & Zugun-Eloae, 2013).
Antioxidants such as NAC and Selenium -Both of these nutrients may exert a protective effect by enhancing glutathione production which will reduce oxygen radicals within the body thereby reducing oxidative stress and inflammatory signalling (McCarty & DiNicolantonio, 2020).
Medicinal Mushrooms - Cordyceps, Coriolus, Reshi and Shitake mushrooms activate the innate immune system and also assist in antibody production (Reis, Martins, Vasconcelos, Morales, & Ferreira, 2017)
Strain specific probiotics - Lactobacillus plantarum (HEAL9), Lactobacillus paracasei (8700-2) and Lactobacillus rhamnosus (LGG) can produce an anti-inflammatory and immuno-regulatory response, may up-regulate antiviral activity and can stimulate innate immune responses (Harata et al., 2010; Rask, Adlerberth, Berggren, Ahrén, & Wold, 2013).
Sleep well - If you are not getting enough sleep (7+ hours) you are more susceptible to more infections as there is an increases in inflammatory markers and a decrease in your adaptive immune response (Asif, Iqbal, & Nazir, 2017; Besedovsky, Lange, & Born, 2012).
Stress less - Please practice stress reducing techniques such as meditation, mindfulness, journaling, yoga etc whatever works for you. Chronic stress elevates hormones such as corticosteroids and inflammatory markers that suppress our immune system and reduce its effectiveness (Dhabhar, 2014; Falkenberg, Eising, & Peters, 2018; Thibodeaux, Rossano, & Liang Ooi, 2018).
USE A REAL FOOD APPROACH ON YOUR PLATE
Include foods rich in vitamin C such as Capsicum, cabbage, chilli, broccoli, kiwifruit, green leafy vegetables, strawberries, citrus fruits and cauliflower.
Remember heat destroys vitamin C so please eat these foods minimally cooked or raw.
Include foods high in zinc: red meat, oysters, liver, mushrooms, spinach, almonds, cashews, avocado, sunflower and pumpkin seeds
Include selenium containing foods such as Brazil nuts, cashews, garlic and broccoli.
Include fermented foods such as homemade kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, homemade kombucha
Further information can be found:
Australian Government Department of Health: COVID-19
Organisation Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak
Control and Prevention: Corona Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
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