Coronavirus refers to a family of viruses that cause illness in both animals and humans. This leads to respiratory symptoms that may become severe in nature.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is the strain of virus that causes the current COVID-19 pandemic, the root cause is much debated but it is thought to have transmitted from the human consumption of animals of unknown origin, or just downright strange such as bats. This outbreak allegedly from the Huahan wet market in Wuhan. This is an area of much debate however, as there are laboratories in Wuhan that are known to have specifically to have been working on bats with coronavirus. There were also international concerns around the biosecurity at the lab.
Whatever the cause, the result is the same and that is where we have to concentrate our efforts.
COVID-19 differs from other groups of SARS-CoV and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in that it rarely displays the gastrointestinal signs and symptoms such as diarrhoea. Both however have associated lung inflammation often resulting in extensive lung damage in SARS patients.
Common signs and symptoms of COVID -19 results in upper respiratory signs and symptoms such as a dry continuous cough, fever or myalgia (muscle aches and pains), and sometimes shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. Other symptoms may include sore throat, loss of smell and taste and head ache.
The severity of COVID-19 seems to vary in people, some asymptomatic and others displaying more serious symptoms. It seems that those with underlying chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes and those with compromised immune systems are at a higher risk. Those who are obese have also been reported to be of high risk.
So why do some individuals suffer more severe illness? It seems to be from an overreaction of the immune system that is referred to as a cytokine storm. Cytokine is derived from the Greek word for cell ‘cyto’ and movement ‘kinas’.
Cytokines are released by the immune system to coordinate the body’s response to a pathogen, basically something that the immune system views as a threat. This response can go into overdrive and excessive and uncontrolled levels of cytokines are released in the region to activate more immune cells. The reaction results in hyperinflammation that can seriously harm or even be fatal to the individual.
The best way to avoid COVID-19 is to avoid catching the germ in the first place via measures such as social distancing and handwashing.
Balancing, rather than boosting your immune system is of importance as we don’t want an overreactive immune system as we mentioned in the previous paragraph. A cytokine storm is central to the serious symptoms and even fatality seen in COVID-19. So we really need to achieve a balance in our immune system that is ready to respond in a smart manner.
It is important to stress that what we eat on a daily basis matters. Rubbish in rubbish out. You immune system is only as good as the nutrients that you provide it with.
Making health choices such as a diet abundant in fruit and vegetables, in the right ratios, is like having a macroscopic army of nutrients to support and strengthen your immune system.
We shall discuss smart food choices to balance your immune system in our next blog post.
In the meantime, please remember whilst our clinic is closed you can still contact us via email, or social media, should you need any advice.
Take care, stay safe and look after your loved ones.