Welcome to the fourth episode in this Nutrition & Immunity series. This week we’re diving into the role of inflammation on immune function and its implications in COVID-19.
Here’s what we know: COVID-19 induces an inflammatory response that can target the lungs, heart, kidneys or inflame overall body systems. For example, we are newly learning of virus-related cases developing in children. It’s not surprising that the vitamins and minerals we talked about before in this series, Vitamin C, D and Zinc all act as anti-inflammatories and have shown promise as treatments.
The inflammation in COVID-19 rises and falls in its own curve, just as we reference flattening a curve that relates to the incidence of cases. People have different rates of rising and falling on their individual curves. Some get more sick than others and unfortunately don’t have that decline on their curve toward recovery.
Common lifestyle conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity already make inflammation worse. That’s one of the reasons why these populations aren’t faring so well when they get sick.
How do we best ‘prepare’? We want to create less inflammation while we don’t have the virus, whether it’s in general or to specifically minimize inflammation caused by the conditions we may already have. The hope is that we’ll be able to reduce or respond quickly to any inflammatory load should we fall ill. This is an example of how healthy lifestyle choices matter.
Think of some of the inflammation symptoms from which you may suffer – lethargy, aches and pains, mood swings, food cravings, bloating, reflux, weight resistance, blood sugar irregularities, sleep disturbances and/or general feelings of unwell. You may have been diagnosed with something specific or you may also know that there doesn’t need to be any formal diagnosis to experience these symptoms.
What inflames us? Eating the wrong types foods (such as highly processed, empty calorie-laden foods), overconsumption (whether in the form of large meals, snacks or grazing), erratic meal schedules, supplement misuse, lack of movement and lack of sleep.
It’s important now more than ever to keep inflammation at bay on a consistent basis.
Stick to a general meal and snack schedule, eat until you are no longer hungry as opposed to an overfull state, take the right supplements if you need them, get daily movement (ideally, bouts spread out during the course of the day) and choose nutrient rich foods (yep – vegetables, fruits, whole grains, quality protein sources, beans, legumes and good for you fats).
Good, quality food choices doesn’t mean there’s not room for indulgences but be sure you’re being honest with yourself with regard to their frequency and quantity.