A Holistic Approach to Covid-19
One of the most frightening aspects of the Covid-19 is our lack of knowledge of the virus. In fact, we have more questions than answers. How can we lessen the spread, properly treat, and eradicate something we know so little about? Why is the Covid-19 asymptomatic in some people, causes mild symptoms in other people and in the worst cases, deadly?
The Cytokine Storm
In the sickest patients, one common denominator identified is that there were high levels of immune system proteins called cytokines in the bloodstream. These patients’ bodies are exhibiting an immune system response called a “cytokine storm,” (cyto- meaning cell and kine-meaning kinetic energy- or movement) in which the body is burning up or attacking its own healthy cells and tissue in an attempt to fight the virus. The symptoms presenting are the result of the inflammation your immune system deploys in order to combat any attack. Cytokine storms are also involved in other infectious diseases, autoimmune disorders, environmental sensitivities and many chronic inflammatory disorders.
What Are the Risk Factors for Elevated Cytokine Activity?
Your immune system should act as a controlled burn, working efficiently to fight off viruses, bacteria, cancer, and other dangers when needed. Additionally your immune system uses cytokines and inflammation as part of your normal healing process. Unfortunately, however, some individuals have an uncontrolled burn. In other words, some people undergo an out of control immune system, mediated by an excessive cytokine response that can cause severe collateral damage. This damage can be worse than the original pathogen that stimulates your immune system response in the first place. Consequently, when you have intrinsically elevated cytokine responses and then exposed to a virulent virus like Covid-19 your immune system can respond with an uncontrolled burn (cytokine storm). Patients that succumb to Covid-19 suffer excessive cytokine activity that frequently manifests as respiratory failure resulting from severe lung inflammation.
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure
Because Covid-19 is affecting your immune system so severely, many people are attempting to “boost their immune system”. Others are looking to tinctures, cleanses, “detoxing”, etc. to detoxify and cleanse their bodies. Some of these practices may offer you protection against Covid-19, other practices may actually cause more harm than good. If you think that these “quick fix” vitamins, cleanses and immunity drinks are healthy, sustainable, or will boost your immune system, you may be misinformed. Actually, the most prudent way to prevent severe Covid-19 symptoms and reduce the risk of a “cytokine storm” is a long-term commitment to your health with a proper diet and other lifestyle habits.
A lifetime of poor diet, lack of quality restorative sleep, lack of proper exercise, exposure to biological toxins, exposure to unnatural electromagnetic frequencies, lack of sunlight and other chronic stressors can predispose you to disastrous outcomes when your immune system is challenged by Covid-19.
The usual culprits that can contribute to a cytokine storm are the same factors that lead to poor health, chronic illness, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, weight gain, muscle loss, premature aging and other ravages of modern, industrialized living.
We have covered these subjects in previous blogs, therefore I will not go into great detail in this blog but instead I want to review the “big picture”.
Healthy people have healthy immune systems and do not easily succumb to viral infections with overwhelming cytokine storms. Conversely, unhealthy people will eventually manifest poor health one way or another. These manifestations could be a heart attack, a stroke, diabetes, obesity, cancer, organ failure, “autoimmune disease” like arthritis or lupus or any one of a myriad of other chronic diseases.
The majority of persons dying from Covid-19 are elderly (>80 years old). I have also heard about “healthy people” that died from Covid-19 for “no reason”. I would argue that these so-called “healthy people” were not healthy. These “healthy people” may have looked healthy, or did not have any known, identified “named diseases” such as diabetes or high blood pressure or “autoimmune disease” or any other obvious disease states. However, they were not truly healthy, and the Covid-19 was simply the “straw that broke the camels back”.
Avoid the Following Disastrous Mistakes
I will list a few of the worst destroyers of health that you should avoid. If you are doing (or consuming) these things, you are hurting yourself. Do not delude yourself into the “everything in moderation” mantra that permeates much so called “health advice”. When it comes to poisons less is always best, there is no moderate amount of poison.
- Sugar – contributes to insulin resistance and high insulin, adversely affects your autonomic dysfunction via fluctuating blood sugars, feeds pathological bacterial destroying your bowel flora and your immune system and much more
- Excess carbohydrates – such as bread, pasta, rice, potatoes and other starches eventually turn into sugar, see number 1
- Vegetable oils – such as canola, soy, corn, margarine, found in almost all processed foods. These poisonous polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) cause oxidative stress and are precursors to substances known as eicosinoids, which are easily bio-transformed into cytokine producing immune stimulators (proinflammatory). Excess oxidative stress lowers your anti-oxidant levels – including vitamin C, vitamin E, glutathione, and lipoic acid
- Fried foods – see number 3
- Neuro-excitotoxins – like MSG, nitrates, nitrates, aspartame, “cured meats”. Stimulate your nervous system leading to excessive stress and hyper-immune response
- Lack of sleep – distorts all bodily functions, destroys circadian rhythm, lowers anti-oxidant defenses, impairs hormonal function
- Unnatural EMFs- from cell phones, wi-fi, microwaves, TV, monochromatic lights, interfere with normal electromagnetic frequencies in your body.
- Poor air quality – 24% of the population have genes that make them highly sensitive to even small amounts of mold and other unhealthy organisms that grow in water-damaged buildings leading to chronic cytokine release.
- Chronic stress, lack of peaceful thoughts – increases “fight or flight” response, depleting vital reserves, impairs immune response
- Insufficient physical activity – “use it or lose it”
"Today is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life"
Healthy people do not die from the flu or Covid-19. Unhealthy people will eventually succumb to their unhealthy habits. If you think you can fool Mother Nature, good luck with that. You cannot erase years (or decades) of unhealthy habits with some “magic supplement” or some other gimmick. However, it is never too late to improve your health. No matter how bad things are, things can always improve (or get worse) depending on your choices.
Is there anything I can do Right Now?
- Get outside- the fresh air and sunlight are vital to your health
- Take some extra Vitamin D 4,000-10,000 IU each day will help modulate your immune system.
- Take a well formulated anti-oxidant formula that includes full spectrum vitamin E, coenzyme Q-10 and alpha-lipoic acid -These products will minimize the free radical damage and overall oxidative stress on your body. Oxidative stress is a term used to describe how processes in the body that use oxygen to drive chemical reactions can lead to the formation of free radicals. Many people are under the incorrect impression that oxidative stress and free radicals are “bad”. This is not true. In fact, normal metabolism requires a certain amount of free radicals and oxidative stress to function properly. It is only when free radicals and oxidative stress is excessive or pathological that problems arise. The patients who are experiencing a cytokine storm have excessive oxidative stress.
- Take 200mg zinc each day – research has shown that zinc impairs the replication of Covid-19 by passing into your cells through passageways known as ionophores. Studies have also suggested that certain substances can enhance the intracellular ionophoretic transport of zinc, hence boosting zinc’s anti-viral replication effects – Quercetin and hydroxychoroquine can be effective by this mechanism.
- Take a high quality synbiotic (probiotic and prebiotic) – your bowel flora contains trillions of organisms that contribute to cytokine balance. Improving your bowel flora and helps to modulate your immune system balance.
- RELAX – spend time distressing. Detach from TV, Internet and other sources of stressful information. We are currently living in a time of great changes to our society and economy. We are being bombarded by information, misinformation and disinformation. This type of chronic stress can have a negative effect on all aspects of your physiology. Take time to practice stress-management techniques, such as exercise, stretching, mindful breathing, meditation, yoga, dance, music and meditation.
- Consume healthy fats (cholesterol and saturated fats) avoid bad fats (PUFA, fried foods, tranfats) - Most people have heard of the term “antioxidants”. Antioxidants are substances that can reduce free radicals and oxidative stress. Some of the better-known antioxidants are co-enzyme q-10 and vitamin E. However, one of the most important antioxidants is cholesterol. There is no doubt that the foods that you choose to eat and how these foods are cooked are the key to minimizing the free radical damage and oxidative stress on your body. You want to avoid producing excess Eicosanoids, which are molecules of inflammatory chemicals that can be increased by the consumption of fried foods and vegetable oils leading to elevated levels of cytokines. Consuming fried foods and vegetable oils destroys your anti-oxidant defenses. On the other hand, consuming saturated fat and cholesterol will help protect your cell membranes from oxidative stress. Saturated fats should be the main source of your caloric intake. Saturated fats provide you with metabolic energy without creating eicosanoids and therefore do not contribute to the cytokine storm.
- Avoid the "Disasterous Mistakes" mentioned above!
Come in for a consultation and together we can address any concerns you are having regarding your health. We can devise a metabolically directed eating (and supplement plan) specific to your unique body chemistry in order reduce the production of excess cytokines, reduce your risk of chronic inflammatory disease and reduce your risk from exposure to Covid-19.
Are you interested in learning more about metabolically directed wellness? Come in for a consultation with Dr. Rothman by calling 732-268-7663 and establish a better plan guaranteed to help you improve your overall health.