Covid-19: Immunity System the key defence

With the Covid-19 epidemic bringing parts of the world to a panic-stricken standstill, now is the best time to think about the state of one’s overall health and wellbeing – and just how susceptible you might be to an infection.

“There is no doubt that the immune system is in the focus now, and inflammation is the big issue of the COVID2019 lung problems” – Dr. Johannes Wessolly

Immunity is your best self defence

None of us need to be told that proper nutrition and restful sleep are two of the basic keys to maintaining mental and physical wellbeing, and yet, for one reason or another, we’re not doing either of those enough. To effectively shield the body against the Covid-19 – and other viruses for that matter – means actively seeking ways to lower one’s vulnerability to infection. Keep your immune system as strong as it can be by ensuring sufficient intake of vitamins, in particular vitamins C and D and zinc, which together work as optimisers for the immune system. If you find yourself in a congested area, wear a mask and make sure you disinfect your hands as often as possible.



Despite the prevalence of the most advanced technologies for curing a spectrum of diseases, the saying ‘prevention is better than cure’ still holds water. Be intentional in your investment in long-term solutions to the protection of your health.

Functional medicine - treating the cause, not the symptom

Instead of waiting until you feel something might be amiss, recognise that time is of the essence, and that what you do today could greatly affect the trajectory of your health in the future. Where traditional medicine is structured to manage symptoms, functional medicine strives to address the causes. In functional medicine, a doctor will ask why a person is sick and then try to understand if there are underlying dysfunctions that are causing a condition instead of simply masking its symptoms with a prescription.



Recognising the complexity of the human body as one biological system rather than a collection of organs, functional medicine doctors begin with a comprehensive one-on-one session that lasts a minimum of 60 minutes. During this in-depth consultation, doctors look for interactions among genetic, environmental, hormonal and lifestyle factors that can influence chronic inflammation and long-term health. Illness may manifest differently and progress at varying speeds depending on the body, and that is precisely due to these markers whilst striving to identify the ‘why’ before approaching the ‘how’.

It’s all personal

According to Dr. Johannes Wessolly, every person is genetically and biochemically unique, so why do we believe that a traditional, one-size-fits-all approach of prescribing the same medications will work? The approach should be client-centric rather than the traditional disease-centric.

Functional medicine is a philosophy of optimal health, where the complexity of the human body is examined through alternate interpretations of diagnostic data and health treatments are customised for each individual person.

Functional medicine diagnostics include testing for food intolerance, heavy metals and minerals, blood and pathology, cardiovascular and peripheral-vascular, and metabolic profiling.

In functional medicine, a personalised health treatment plan targets the specific manifestations of disease in each individual. The goal is to use natural therapy to maximise the inherent efficiency of the immune system.

Your passport to holistic health

1. Getting proper sleep

A healthy body and sufficient sleep are normally closely related. Studies have shown that lack of sleep is linked to a higher chance of falling ill. Getting enough rest may help boost your natural immunity. At times, people tend to sleep more when feeling unwell to allow the body to rest and to enable the immune system to better fight the illness. Adults should get a minimum of 7 or more hours of sleep each night, while teenagers need 8–10 hours. Younger children and infants need up to 14 hours.

2. Healthy foods

Healthy foods, like olive oil and certain types of fish, can increase your body’s immune response by reducing inflammation. Although inflammation can be a form of normal response to stress or injury, chronic inflammation, in turn, can be a treat for your immune system. Studies have shown that olive oil, an anti-inflammatory agent, is linked to a decreased risk of some chronic diseases like heart disease. In addition, the anti-inflammatory properties can help fight off harmful disease-causing bacteria and viruses.

Foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds are rich in nutrients and antioxidants. They may give you an upper hand in fighting against harmful pathogens. The antioxidants found in these foods decrease inflammation by combatting unstable compounds called free radicals which cause inflammation when high level exists in the body. Chronic inflammation can cause major health conditions such as heart disease, Parkinson’s, and certain types of cancers.

Meanwhile, plant based foods promote healthy bacteria in your gut which also strongly support the immune system. A strong gut  can help keep harmful pathogens from entering your body via your digestive tract. In addition, fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and nutrients that may assist in fighting foreign invaders in the body.

3. Limit added sugars

As a lot of us now know, sugars and carbohydrates are key contributors to weight related issues and obesity. Studies have shown that obesity may increase your risk of getting sick. Reducing sugar intake can bring down inflammation and promote weight reduction. This in turn can reduce the risk of chronic health conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

4. The right supplements

Studies have shown that the following supplements can assist in boosting one’s immunity:

- Vitamin C.  1,000–2,000 mg of vitamin C per day comes highly recommended by medical practitioners.

- Vitamin D. Sufficient vitamin D may reduce the chances of one getting ill, so supplementing may be a good maintenance option.

- Garlic. Reduces the incidence of the common cold

To optimise nutrition, it is very important to note that you should seek proper advice from your health professionals.

5. Hydration

Being hydrated does not mean that you are protected from viruses or bacteria, but dehydration plays an important role in your overall health. Dehydration can cause many side effects and some can be serious. It can then lead to further complications and can increase the body’s susceptibility to illnesses.

To prevent dehydration, you should drink enough fluid daily. Water comes highly recommended because it’s free of calories, additives and sugar. As a general rule of thumb, one should drink when feeling thirsty and stop when the thirst is gone. More fluids are needed during intense exercise, working outdoors or during a hot day in general.

6. Engage in moderate exercise

Some studies have proven that prolonged intense exercise can suppress your immune system. However, moderate exercise can give it a boost. Studies indicate that even a single session of moderate exercise can help boost the health of immuno compromised individuals. In addition, regular exercise may reduce inflammation and help your immune cells regenerate regularly. For example, moderate exercise like jogging, swimming and light hiking can be beneficial in promoting good health.

7. Managing stress

Last but definitely not least, managing stress and anxiety is key to good health. Prolonged stress can trigger inflammation, which can cause an imbalance in the immune system. Chronic stress has been proven to suppress one’s immune response. Activities like meditation and other mindfulness practices may help you manage your stress.

Facts and myths about the immune system

The immune system protects the body from any form of infection. Therefore, be kind to it. Here are some myths and facts that you can use as a guide:

Vegetables and fruits help boost the immune system.
Fact. Studies have shown that people who eat a lot of fruits and vegetables get sick less. The nutrients in them can help the immune system fight against bacteria and viruses.

Good sleep is not important to the body.
Myth. There is an extremely strong link between sleep and a healthy immune system. Make sure that you get sufficient rest.

A positive mind-set promotes good healthy.
Fact. A strong mind-set can impact the health positively which is beneficial for the body. A healthy mind supports a healthy body.

Exercise does not affect the immune system.
Myth. Working out can bring lots of benefit to a person’s immune system even though there’s no direct link. It can lower a person’s blood pressure and maintain body weight which is key to being healthy.

Conclusion

Covid-19 has been a wakeup call to us all. It made us realise how important having a strong immunity really is. Therefore, give yourselves a good fighting chance and make changes to your diet and lifestyle today. For more professional healthcare advice, do contact us for further guidance.


Author: Luke Watts, International Consultant, Miskawaan Health Group, contact at bkk@miskawaanhealth.com, Tel: 02 086 8888

Series Editor: Christopher F. Bruton, Executive Director, Dataconsult Ltd, chris@dataconsult.co.th. Dataconsult’s Thailand Regional Forum provides seminars and extensive documentation to update business on future trends in Thailand and in the Mekong Region