A virus must have a host cell in which to live and replicate, because outside the host, a virus can’t function. Viruses have a remarkable ability to adapt and can mutate to suit their environment or host. This high rate of mutation provides a survival advantage, which allows them to rapidly respond to environmental changes and generate new virus subtypes. These mutant changes emerge and cause these pandemic outbreaks.
The reason COVID-19 is spreading so quickly is because it’s a new mutant virus which the body does not recognise. If our body doesn’t recognise it, then we have less defence against it. With COVID-19, the body’s immune system may not recognise the surface proteins of the evolved virus, resulting in increased susceptibility to infection.
The severity of infection is greatly affected by the host’s nutritional status, as well as a number of other factors such as ensuring adequate sleep, minimising stress, minimising poor food choices, alcohol and other items which burden our liver and immunity. By being conscious of our nutritional intake, we can help to improve our immune system and support its ability to protect us from viral infections.
People with chronic underlying health conditions are said to be most vulnerable to the viral outbreak, as well as people over the age of 60, and immunocompromised individuals. Scientists are evaluating therapies and vaccines to treat coronavirus, however currently there are no treatments or vaccines for COVID-19. So how can you protect yourself and your loved ones?
Transmission of COVID-19 occurs when infected droplets are distributed via human-to-human contact, from coughs or sneezes. COVID-19 may also be spread via contact with contaminated objects as coronavirus may be infectious on surfaces for up to 9 days.
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact with people.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
Other options to protect yourself
The severity of infection in response to viral pathogens is influenced by the virulence of the pathogen as well as the host’s immune response. Improving an individual’s immune response is therefore the most effective strategy to protect against any pathogen, including COVID-19.
Immune treatment may differ from person to person, based on underlying conditions. For example, an individual with chronic leaky gut or digestive issues should seek to remedy this condition as quickly as possible in order to provide the best immune defence. Patients with skin conditions should incorporate skin healing within any immune protocol. Patients with asthma or allergies should address the root cause of the condition in order to modulate the immune system. Any underlying condition should be addressed, as it will place a greater burden on the immune system response as a whole.
Key nutrients which may be beneficial for immune support
Mushrooms such as Cordyceps sinensis (cordyceps), Trametes versicolor (coriolus), Ganoderma lucidum (reishi), and Lentinula edodes (shiitake) enhance the body’s immune response and provide antiviral actions. Specifically, these mushrooms activate the innate immune system
Andrographis has extensive evidence in reducing the incidence, severity and duration of acute respiratory infections, supporting immune response by stimulating antigen-specific and non-specific immunity and increasing natural killer cell activity.
It is well known that zinc deficiency results in a compromised immune system. Zinc is necessary for both innate and adaptive immunity. Although zinc possesses direct antiviral properties it is also critical in supporting both innate and adaptive antiviral immune responses.
Vitamin C supplementation has been shown to reduce the duration and severity of colds, and works synergistically with zinc. Vitamin C stimulates white blood cell production by boosting natural killer cell activity and increasing serum levels of antibodies in order to neutralise viral pathogens.
Vitamin D is crucial in regulating immunity. Deficiencies in vitamin D have been linked with a number of chronic health conditions. Vitamin D levels influence production of antibodies and enhance adaptive immune response.
The Australian Government is addressing COVID-19 with the ‘Coronavirus Emergency Response Plan’. This plan involves preventative measures during the early stages of the outbreak, including mechanisms for early detection and effective management of cases and contacts, and has likely contributed to current low incidences of COVID-19 within Australia.
Tailored naturopathic treatment
Book an appointment with your naturopath who will prepare an individualised treatment plan to aid immune boosting based on your current health status.
Yvette is a qualified Melbourne-based Naturopath and Nutritionist, MINDD Practitioner, member of the Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia, and Complementary Medicine Association. Yvette specialises in the treatment of conditions commonly affecting women and children, with a key interest in children’s digestive and neurological conditions, as well as women’s hormonal concerns, digestive issues, fatigue, anxiety, and skin concerns. Yvette consults in South Yarra, Melbourne, as well as Australia-wide via skype/zoom/phone.
Australian Government Department of Health: COVID-19
World Health Organisation Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak
Centre for Disease Control and Prevention: Corona Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
The Naturopathic Co. Melbourne Naturopath 2020