While health “scientists” are focusing on shutdowns, masks, social distancing, and waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine, let’s look at the best approach which they’re not emphasizing. Many nutrition, biology, and medical scientists tell us we can bolster our immunity and improve our resistance to bacteria, viruses, and autoimmune diseases. So let’s do it.
In this day and age it’s “normal” for immunity to weaken as people get older. That’s why youngsters under the age of 20 generally have the best immune systems. It’s also why scientists say kids are nearly bulletproof when it comes to a COVID-19 infection. Folks over 70 have the weakest immune systems which is why so many have multiple chronic diseases. So, it makes sense that if old folks improve the health of their immune systems a COVID-19 infection is less likely to be a death sentence.
When the very first COVID-19 cases were being detected in the USA, the Chinese reported which sectors of their population were most vulnerable. The leading sector was unquestionably the elderly who were saddled with one or more chromic diseases. Most often the diseases mentioned were autoimmune diseases accompanied by considerable inflammation. The more diseases a victim had, the higher the fatality rate.
Generally speaking, chronic diseases are self-inflicted by an abusive lifestyle with food being the most universal culprit. The CDC states flat out the following. “For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned. For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death.” Obviously it makes sense to suppress chronic diseases.1
Here are the top conditions associated with COVID-19 deaths:
● Adults of any age but especially those over 70 years old
● Chronic kidney disease
● COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
● Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
● Severe Obesity
● Sickle cell disease
● Type 1 diabetes mellitus
● Type 2 diabetes mellitus
● Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
● Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
● Cystic fibrosis
● Hypertension or high blood pressure
● Immunocompromised state from transplanst, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
● Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
● Liver disease
● Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
● Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)2
Obviously, the goal is to prevent or stop these diseases. With autoimmunity and inflammation going hand in hand, it’s my belief that nearly every chronic autoimmune condition with associated inflammation sets the stage for an overreaction to COVID-19. Therefore, if you have any of the aforementioned diseases, or even something like arthritis, that’s a red flag. Since nutritionists and biologists say the food we eat can exacerbate or suppress nearly every chronic disease, then if we continue to eat what we always ate, we won’t improve the health we’ve already got. So we all need to address our diet.
Here are some pointers from a few experts.
From Artemis P. Simopoulos, MD, FACN3 4 5
● “. . . it is the Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) which possess the most potent immunomodulatory activities”
● “. . . Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and, therefore, might be useful in the management of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases”
● “The increased Omega-6/Omega-3 ratio in Western diets most likely contributes to an increased incidence of cardiovascular disease and inflammatory disorders.”
● “Patients with autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and asthma, usually respond to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation by decreasing the elevated levels of cytokines.”
● “. . . human beings evolved on a diet with a ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFA) of 1:1 whereas in Western diets the ratio is 15:1 to 16.7:1.”
● “. . . a very high Omega-6/Omega-3 ratio, as is found in today’s Western diets, promote the pathogenesis of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases . . . ”
● “In the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease, a ratio of 4:1 was associated with a 70% decrease in total mortality. A ratio of 2.5:1 reduced rectal cell proliferation in patients with colorectal cancer, whereas a ratio of 4:1 with the same amount of Omega-3 PUFA had no effect. The lower Omega-6/Omega-3 ratio in women with breast cancer was associated with decreased risk. A ratio of 2–3:1 suppressed inflammation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, and a ratio of 5:1 had a beneficial effect on patients with asthma, whereas a ratio of 10:1 had adverse consequences.”
● “. . . a high Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio was also associated with increased risk of weight gain, whereas a high concentration of Omega-3 in red blood cell membrane phospholipids was associated with decreased risk.”
From James J DiNicolantonio, Pharm.D.6 7 8 9 10
● “The consumption of seed oils high in the Omega-6 polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) linoleic acid (LA) contributes to low-grade inflammation, oxidative stress, endothelial dysfunction and atherosclerosis.”
● “Decreasing the Omega-6/3 ratio seems to reduce the inflammatory response to a high-fat meal.”
● “Using long-chain Omega-3s to suppress low-grade inflammation may benefit numerous chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, dyslipidaemia, diabetes, obesity and heart failure. The consumption of Omega-6 seed oils may have the opposite effect.”
● “Many lines of evidence implicate added sugars more than saturated fat as etiologic in CHD. We urge dietary guidelines to shift focus away from recommendations to reduce saturated fat and towards recommendations to avoid added sugars.”
● “A diet high in added sugars promotes insulin resistance and diabetes, and patients with diabetes have more coronary atherosclerosis than patients without diabetes . . .”
● “. . . the intake of refined carbohydrate and sugar by the Greenland Eskimos increased in parallel to the rise in atherosclerotic disease.”
● “Despite the fact that Omega-6 PUFA lowers LDL, it can also reduce LDL particle size and lower the protective HDL2 potentially increase the risk for CHD.”
● “The overall effect on blood lipids for marine Omega-3 EPA and DHA seems to be protective due to overall improvements in LDL particle size and density as well as reductions in very low-density lipoprotein, triglycerides, and increases in HDL.”
● “Reasons for the potential harmful effects of Omega-6 fatty acids may be due to their promotion of cancer, suppression of the immune system, lowering of HDL-C and increasing the susceptibility of LDL to oxidation.”
From Prof. Marvin Edelman and Monica Colt11
● “Major differences standout between edible leaves and seeds in protein quality, vitamin, and mineral concentrations and Omega-6/Omega-3 fatty acid ratios. . . . Leaves come out with flying colors in all these comparisons.”
● “Current research indicates that an excess of Omega-6 fatty acids in our diets can promote prothrombotic and proaggregatory activity, while Omega-3 fatty acids promote an anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic physiology.”
● “With a growing awareness of health issues generated by seed dominated diets, and the documented abundance of nutrients in leafy vegetables, a move in the West appears to be developing back to leaf-based foods . . .”
From Dr. Aseem Malhotra12
● “. . . recent prospective cohort studies have not supported any significant association between saturated fat intake and cardiovascular risk. Instead, saturated fat has been found to be protective.”
● “The ‘calorie is not a calorie’ theory has been further substantiated by a recent JAMA study showing that a ‘low fat’ diet resulted in the greatest decrease in energy expenditure, an unhealthy lipid pattern, and increased insulin resistance in comparison with a low carbohydrate and low glycaemic index diet.”
● “. . . the reduction in LDL cholesterol from reducing saturated fat intake seems to be specific to large, buoyant (type A) LDL particles, when in fact it is the small, dense (type B) particles (responsive to carbohydrate intake) that are implicated in cardiovascular disease.”
● “It is time to bust the myth of the role of saturated fat in heart disease and wind back the harms of dietary advice that has contributed to obesity.”
From Dr. Zsófia Clemens13
● “Obesity, type 2 diabetes and hypertension represent a major health problem. These conditions are components of the metabolic syndrome affecting every fifth adult worldwide.”
● “. . . clinical studies indicate that low-carbohydrate diets, including the paleolithic as well as the ketogenic diet, may be beneficial in the treatment of conditions associated with the metabolic syndrome.”
● “. . . a major proportion of elderly in the western world is over medicated.”
● “The blood pressure lowering effect of the paleolithic ketogenic diet is due to the fact that the paleolithic ketogenic diet limits those food components which result in elevated blood pressure. These components mainly include fruits and foods with added fructose.”
The science is clear. To optimize immune system function avoid the sugars, carbohydrates, high Omega-6 sources, and try to balance the EFAs 1:1. It works for all ages and most significantly for folks more than 40 years old. Health wise, many people start hitting the wall in their forties. By their 70s they’re a mess and that’s why they’re most vulnerable to COVID-19.
The only thing I want to add is that the best foods are nutrient dense and diverse, with ratios close to 1:1 for Omega-6 to Omega-3 EFAs, which are also low glycemic. Yes, it’s the original diet of man. Grass-fed meats, Omega-3 meats, wild-caught seafood, the dark green leafy vegetables, and many other vegetables such as squashes and beans are excellent selections. Foods from seeds, nuts, grains, most oils, and grain-fed meats that are high in Omega-6 EFAs should be avoided whenever possible.14
To your health.
Ted Slanker has been reporting on the fundamentals of nutritional research in publications, television and radio appearances, and at conferences since 1999. He condenses complex studies into the basics required for health and well-being. His eBook, The Real Diet of Man, is available online.
Don’t miss these links for additional reading:
2. People with Certain Medical Conditions from CDC
3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Inflammation and Autoimmune Diseases by Artemis P. Simopoulos
4. The Importance of the Omega-6/Omega-3 Fatty Acid Ratio in Cardiovascular Disease and Other Chronic Diseases by Artemis P. Simopoulos
5. The Importance of a Balanced Omega-6 to Omega-3 Ratio in the Prevention and Management of Obesity by Dr. Artemis P Simopoulos and James J DiNicolantonio, Pharm.D.
6. Importance of Maintaining a Low Omega–6/Omega–3 Ratio for Reducing Inflammation by James J DiNicolantonio, James H O’Keefe
7. The Evidence for Saturated Fat and for Sugar Related to Coronary Heart Disease by James J. DiNicolantonio, PharmD, et al.
8. Increase in the Intake of Refined Carbohydrates and Sugar May Have Led to the Health Decline of the Greenland Eskimos by James J DiNicolantonio, PharmD
9. Effects of Dietary Fats on Blood Lipids: a Review of Direct Comparison Trials by James J DiNicolantonio, James H O’Keefe
11. Nutrient Value of Leaf vs. Seed by Marvin Edelman and Monica Colt
12. Saturated Fat Is Not the Major Issue by Aseem Malhotra
13. Successful Treatment of a Patient with Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes and Hypertension with the Paleolithic Ketogenic Diet by Csaba Tóth, Zsófia Clemens
14. Food Analysis: EFA, Protein to Fat, Net Carbs, Sugar, and Nutrient Load by Ted Slanker