Don’t neglect immunity and inflammation to fight COVID-19

Don’t neglect immunity and inflammation to fight COVID-19

To protect against the deadly coronavirus now ravaging the country, too few are paying serious attention to two other factors critically important to the risk of developing a COVID-19 infection and its potential severity.

Those factors are immunity, which should be boosted, and inflammation, which should be suppressed.One fact is indisputable: Older people are especially vulnerable to this disease and its potentially fatal consequences.

Immune defenses decline with age. That is a fundamental fact of biology, said Barzilai, who directs the Institute for Aging Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

At the same time, inflammation in tissues throughout the body increases with age, a fact that helps the coronavirus get into the body, bind to molecules in the nose and lungs, and wreak havoc, Janet Lord, director of the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing at the University of Birmingham in England, explained in a webinar this month.

Fat tissue, for example, increases inflammation and renders overweight people more vulnerable to a COVID infection.

Here are established ways to diminish inflammation and thereby enhance resistance to this deadly disease:

1. The basic weapons, diet and exercise, are available to far more people than currently avail themselves of their benefits.2. Exercise is especially important for people with chronic health conditions that increase their vulnerability to a serious COVID infection.

3. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep a night. If virus-related anxieties keep you awake, try meditation or progressive muscle relaxation to reduce stress and calm your mind and body.

4. Avoid eating a big meal late in the day or consuming caffeine after noon. Perhaps eat a banana or drink a glass of warm milk about an hour before bedtime.

5. A benefit aided by avoiding highly processed foods and eating more fresh fruits and vegetables that are relatively low in calories and high in protective nutrients.

6. Especially helpful are foods rich in vitamin C — all manner of citrus (oranges, grapefruit, clementines, etc.), red bell pepper, spinach, papaya and broccoli — and zinc, including shellfish (oysters are a powerhouse of zinc), seeds, dairy products, red meat, beans, lentils and nuts.

7. Deficiency of vitamin D to an increased risk of developing a severe COVID-19 infection

8. Taking excessive amounts of a vitamin D supplement, which can cause distressing gastrointestinal symptoms.

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