Updated: Oct 26, 2020
Whether coronavirus kills you or not depends on how your immune system responds to its infection. In fact, most coronavirus-related deaths are due to the immune system going haywire in its response, not damage caused by the virus itself.
The disease can go in two directions: The immune response can remain stable and regain control over the virus, eventually clearing it through T cell and antibody activity. Or the immune system can freak out and start to over-respond, churning out more and more inflammatory proteins, called cytokines, in a frantic attempt to wipe out the virus.
This “cytokine storm” is what causes substantial cell death in the lungs, resulting in acute respiratory distress syndrome and even death.
The intestines are a major source of inflammatory cytokines. The inner chamber of our intestines is the largest and most exposed surface of the body, and due to its constant exposure to trillions of microbes and proteins, they also contain over half of the body’s immune cells. This abundance of immune activity not only multiplies cytokines, but it also slows the development of other immune cells throughout the whole body that would respond to other immune challenges - like controlling and eliminating a respiratory virus.
Inflammation is a term that describes the immune system’s fight to respond to bodily injury. When an injury is local, like accidentally cutting your finger instead of a tomato or when a “pathogen” breaches your nasal or intestinal border, inflammation looks like redness or reflux, swelling or bloating, pain or gas. When injury becomes systematic, inflammation looks like migraines, joint pain, IBS, and eczema – this type of chronic inflammation is a constant fire that burns through precious immune resources.
To put it simply, chronic inflammation of the GI tract puts the immune system into an energy-sucking state of active-readiness that unintentionally allows the development of infectious diseases.
This immune-hyperdrive is common when the digestive system doesn’t work properly, for instance, both low stomach acid and low digestive enzymes trigger immune reactions. If the gut tissue isn’t intact, if it’s “leaky,” a reaction to the leaking substance will trigger. And of course, any pathogenic microbe breach, such as Helicobacter Pylori which causes stomach ulcers, will also trigger a reaction.
More than anything, the food you eat is the primary trigger to the immune system.
Immune hypersensitivity is an inappropriate reaction to a “dangerous” substance, like bananas or cat dander, by forming antibodies that sound the alarm the next time the “danger” presents itself. The problem is that the next time the banana appears the system pulls out the big guns and it’s this friendly fire that causes everything from diarrhea to achy joints to organ damage – to a depressed immune system.
To take it another step further, if you’re not eating a well-balanced diet of all food groups, tissues throughout the body are depleted of chemical cofactors that drive all metabolic functions – especially immunity, because it’s metabolic-heavy and requires a TON of energy. If you’re missing a cofactor, the whole system is limited. Not JUST the functions that require that cofactor, but the whole system because ANY change in ANY part of a biological system affects EVERY other part of the system.
Acting on this information is more important now than ever.
If we catch a break, and Covid19 acts like a “winter virus,” then we’ll get a few months of relief until the fall. But then, this novel coronavirus will re-activate at the same as influenza, and humans everywhere will realize that…
WE’VE ALREADY LOST THE WAR ON GERMS. Science won’t win. Nature wins.
Given the pace at which that these viruses (read: microbes) biologically adapt – every flu vaccine is a year behind and Covid19 has already mutated 30 TIMES – we cannot develop vaccines or medications fast enough to pharmacologically treat the infection. And as the frightening shortage of ventilators and personal protection equipment as proven – we cannot produce equipment fast enough to mechanically treat the infection either.
Our only hope is to create such strong and capable immune systems that we conquer any invaders that may seek to harm us. Luckily, the most hopeful strategies are also the most potent, simple, and inexpensive ones.
Eliminate highly reactive food and food chemicals from your diet (this has the most drastic improvement on overall immune strength)
Nurture a healthy, diverse microbiome and take a high-quality probiotic (use antibacterial products and take antibiotic prescriptions with extreme caution!)
Eat a well-balanced diet from all food groups
Sleep 7 to 8 hours
Eat direct sunlight on bare skin
Move your body often in ways you enjoy
Enjoy regular quality time with people you enjoy
Meditate or practice other stress-relieving tools
These same strategies also determine whether your body can absorb and use nutrients, read my other article, Why Diet is the Worst Place to Begin Sustainable, Meaningful Lifestyle Change, to learn more.