How can I protect myself from COVİD-19 virus? We have known and taken all measures to reduce contact with the virus (social isolation, mask – glove use, hand washing, etc.). However, our immune system needs to be ready for this war if somehow we get the COVID-19. What should I eat to keep my immune system ready against viral infections? We decided to write this article to answer frequently asked these questions by our counselees. In this article, you will find the details of advice frequently given, such as eat clean, sleep well, don’t smoke, don’t contact the virally suspicious surfaces. You will also read the reasons and systems that might make us sick or keep us healthy. We pleased to write, and hope you read intriguingly.
First of all, it would be essential to explain how the immune system works. Therefore, we must first describe the immunity and the immune system. Next, we will examine the immune system components and how to keep this system active and effective.
What is immunity and how immune system works?
Our body describes different substances or molecules apart from its structure as an antigen. Those antigens might either be originated from outside (viruses, bacteria, fungus, etc) or inside the body (tumors). The reaction of the body for destroying the antigens is called immunity, and the system that triggers this reaction is called the immune system.
Properly working immune system defends our body against many diseases caused by virus, bacterium, parasites, fungus, etc. Immune response is very important in this protection. The immune system uses two main strategies. The first one is called the innate immune system. On the other hand, there is an adaptive immune system as the second. These two strategies of our immune system work together to defend us against pathogens. When our body meets an antigen for the first time, it uses the innate immune system. Whereas the second time for the body meets the same antigen, the immune response will use the adaptive immune strategy. This means after an initial response of the body to a specific pathogen, it acquires an immunological memory of it. So in the subsequent encounters with the same pathogens will be easier and quicker for the body to destroy it. Vaccine protection is an example of this mechanism.
In some cases, the immune system would not respond to invaders only. When the immune system does not function properly, it fails to distinguish the attacks. In these cases, the system perceives its own cells as an antigen. This condition, called an autoimmune disease, is a condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the normal tissues of the body. There are almost 90 different autoimmune diseases. Among the common known diseases, there are Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Aplastic anemia, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Vitiligo, Coeliac disease, Fibromyalgia, Hashimoto’s encephalopathy, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.
What are the components of the immune system in viral infections?
There two distinct components of an immune system for the viruses
- Cell-mediated and,
- Humoral response.
The cell-mediated response is a defense system that fights invaders that have entered the cell. The humoral defense is a defense system that fights those outside the cell. What we know as antibodies are part of this defense system. And the vaccines that are composed of antibodies (immunoglobulin) are part of humoral defense. However humoral defense needs time. That is to say, after administration of a vaccine, the immune system needs time for self-immunization. Therefore vaccination has to be administrated in advance in order to humoral defense get active before virus comes. In infections such as COVID-19 with a high risk of exposure and contagious and without a vaccine, the cell-mediated defense is rapidly activated.
How does a virus infection occur?
Viruses need a living host cell because they cannot survive on their own for a long time. Viruses enter the cell, where they reproduce and continue their lives. To survive, they have to put their DNA into the infected cell. So viruses can be called intracellular invaders. Hence, it is required to catch and destroy them as soon as they enter the cell.
How does the immune system work and how is it strengthened in virus infection?
In defense against viruses, if there is no vaccine for the virus, it is necessary to strengthen cellular defense systems. In cell-mediated defense, macrophages are the main actors. Macrophages engulf and digest foreign substances like viruses inside the cell. In order to do that, macrophages needs a kind of weapon. Free radicals made of oxygen are like weapons for the macrophages that kill viruses that enter the cell. Nitric oxide (NO) produced in macrophages is the main source of free radicals. That is, nitric oxide production is the most important step in arming macrophages. NO is a gas that can be diffuse and penetrate the membranes. It plays a vital role in many places all over the body. In this article, we are going to talk about the NO inside macrophages. Nitric oxide produces free radicals.
Free oxygen radicals are oxidants like Hydrogen Peroxide H2O2 as you know in daily life. These oxidants kill viruses. However, when the viruses are outnumbered, the debris of the viruses harm the cell. This damage can be hindered by small molecules Sulphur compounds. The Sulphur compounds clean harmful debris caused by free radicals in the cell after the fight with the virus. These Sulphur compounds are selenium, glutathione and cysteine. These are all called thiol pool in biochemistry. In other word, if the thiol pool is full enough, your body can defend itself against virus attacks easily. Nevertheless, if the thiol pool expires too quickly, the cell dies and it is called necrosis. On the other hand, if the thiol pool expires gradually, the death of the cell is called apoptosis (programmed cell death). Namely, we need to keep our pool full to avoid necrosis. If the viral load has abounded in number, and the thiol pool is empty then the quick and unplanned death of the cell (necrosis) would occur. Symptoms seen in COVID-19, such as respiratory arrest, inflammation, edema, widespread inflammation in the lungs, acute kidney and cardiac injury actually indicate the presence of necrosis. In order to stop necrosis and cure the disease with programmed cell death, it is necessary to fill the thiol pools by nurture ourselves with circadian rhythm and sleep accordingly.
You can read the details for the circadian rhythm here.
Some foods contain sulfur and antioxidants. In other words, these foods contain nitrate. Some of these nutrients and minerals are: beet, spinach, celery, garlic, all green vegetables, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, selenium, cysteine, broccoli, and all berries.
On the other hand, Nitrites are elements that reduce the thiol pool. Foods and ingredients containing nitrite: Processed meats, smoked-smoked meats, cigarettes, dirty air, some painkillers and some antibiotics, erection pills, and stress. When stress occurs, cortisol rises and cortisol collapses intracellular defense elements.
Another important component of the immune system is the intestines. 85% of immunity is in the gut. This topic is another specific issue in itself and can be described in another article. Probiotics and prebiotics can be used to support the gut. Extracting gluten, dairy group and processed meats from diet is very effective in leaky gut syndrome. In addition, plenty of water should be drunk, ghee butter should be eaten, purple green vegetables should be eaten, unnecessary drugs, waste air, cigarettes and processed meats should not be consumed.
Thiol pool also decreases with age. For this reason, the elderly, since their immune responses will be lower than younger ones. They should take all necessary precautions to avoid the virus and keep Thiol pools active with proper nutrition.