• Siri DeMarche

How To Bolster Your Defense (against COVID-19)

Updated: Jul 22

*As always, scroll to the very bottom for a TLDR synopsis*


The best defense is a really great offense. How can we best equip our bodies to defend itself against a virus? Obviously, an important first step is understanding the immune system. The immune system is commonly referred to as a cell based system made up of white blood cells (WBC), and the things that support their activity and function. These supporting factors are nutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc, and Calcium. When we don't have enough of these nutrients, our white blood cells cannot function optimally (side note: you will not increase your quantity of WBC by consuming more of these nutrients, that's not how it works).

Also commonly mentioned in this immune system conversation is "specific immunity" and antibodies. Antibodies develop in response to a specific pathogen. Essentially, they are the body's memory of that pathogen; the body remembered what the pathogen looked like and developed an antibody to fit specifically to it. This specific immunity could last for months, years, a lifetime...With COVID-19, we don't know what this duration may look like. This is why I believe that the best defense is a strong offense, and that we should do everything in our power to best equip ourselves to be able to defend against it.


This model of a cell based immune system is important, but it is only a small part of the story. The immune system conversation must expand to include the WHOLE body's defense because the entire body is really the immune system. YOU are the immune system. There are 40 trillion cells inside you. The stronger these cells are, the stronger your defense is. Some of these cells provide physical barriers (i.e. your skin, your intestinal lining, your lung lining...). *Enter in the importance of hand washing.* You also have cell membranes. A virus can only replicate inside a cell, so it must first penetrate its membrane to do so. The harder, stronger, and better working your cell membranes are, the less likely that something will be able to penetrate it. In addition to physical barriers and cell membranes, you have mucous membranes that secrete mucous to trap and move pathogens away to be excreted. But it doesn't stop there! Our body is awesome and has so many mechanistic systems in place to keep it safe. We also have important chemical defenses. Our cells excrete free radicals, toxic substances, and hydrogen peroxide to act as poison on invasive microbes. And of course, we have detoxification mechanisms. In response to all our defenses, invasive microbes produce toxins. Consequently, you need a liver and kidneys to neutralize these toxins, and a spleen to filter out and neutralize cellular debris/residue. ALL of these things are part of the immune system, because your whole body is the immune system.


The current consensus is that there will be a virus around in the coming autumn and that the quickest we can expect a vaccine is between twelve and eighteen months from now. While the steps that we have enacted to control the spread of COVID-19 (like social distancing) have been critical to not overwhelm the heath care system, in reality they are not about stopping the spread, but rather about about delaying it. If there is a virus in the autumn, and the earliest that we can expect a vaccine is in twelve to eighteen months, then a delay in the virus's spread is incredibly important. It is not realistic to expect complete avoidance of the virus altogether. We risk a second wave when we open up from the current quarantine. Therefore, best course of action that any of us can take is fortify our body's ability to defend itself.


While health care officials need to know the appropriate things to relay to the public (contact tracing, good hygiene practices, social distancing practices, and crisis capacity) and researchers seek to understand viral strains, pathogenicity, receptors, vaccines..etc., the average Joe isn't researching most or any of these things. In addition to listening to researchers and health care officials, the best thing that the average Joe can do is to GET HEALTHY. And while there has been millions of hours of media coverage about COVID-19, there as been very minimal talk about what health looks like and how to get there. Why is this?


We have a very passive medical model in the U.S. and as a culture do not understand what health is. We eat the Standard American Diet, and then take drugs to compensate for the problems caused by our deficient and toxic food, we get the flu shot, we wait for the vaccine...etc. This is a very passive approach to healthcare. There is nothing in this model about health. Our system is designed to treat sickness and suppress symptoms, it is not about creating health. Our system is "sick" care, not "health" care. Obviously this is necessary and it saves lives (especially during a crisis), but it is not synonymous with a system that promotes health. In fact what we consider to be healthcare (in the U.S.) is called Sjukvard in Swedish. Sjukvard translates to "sick care," and is a more accurate description of our system. Our system is about treating symptoms, and we do not have an established system for creating health. It's no wonder that, as a culture, we don't know what health looks like.


We have equated health with the absence of symptoms. But unfortunately, most of us live in a state of functional illness. It is important to understand that just because we don't have a diagnosis, it does not mean that we are living in a state of health. A diagnosis does not happen overnight. A big part of our problem (not understanding what health is) is that people are being labeled as "perfectly healthy, aside from having x diagnosis." This is an impossible state. You cannot be perfectly healthy if you are also unhealthy in some aspect (i.e. you have a diagnosis). Your body is not comprised of individual body parts and systems that function on their own. What affects one system or one part of your body will affect other systems and other parts of your body. Everything is complicatedly interconnected. It is impossible to be healthy and also have a diagnosis, because your body is working to deal with the factors that caused the diagnosis in the first place. Health is a spectrum, with optimal health on one side and death on the other. The majority of the population is in the middle, with still most of us closer to the death side. This is functional illness. Given our depleted food sources, presence of heavy metals, food additives that alter our brain chemistry, added hormones that mess with our natural hormonal cycles...etc. I don't think there is a single person that is living naturally in a state of total optimum health, without the use of an extraneous third party solution to get there (i.e. chelation of heavy metals...) There is enough interference, that obtaining optimal health is nearly impossible. But we can try.


So what is health? Health is your ability to defend yourself on a cellular level. In the case of COVID-19, no one is perfectly immune because there are so many things that we do not know about this virus. But we do know that there are also many things that can be done to improve our chances. With a majority of us living in a state of functional illness and being called "healthy" when we are one step away from a diagnosis, it's hard to determine a) what it feels like to be healthy and b) how to achieve it.


Let's break it down.


We know that the COVID-19 risk factors include:

-Obesity (BMI>40)

-Diabetes

-1+ things associated with metabolic syndromes (cardiovascular disease, type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic lung/liver/kidney disease...)

-Increased vulnerability (chemotherapy, smoking, chronic disease, neurodegenerative disease...)

- >70yrs old (by this age, folks are likely to have 1+ things associated with metabolic syndromes)


Most of these risk factors associated with COVID-19 are also associated with insulin resistance. Insulin resistance globally claims 17 million lives per year in the form of heart attacks, 7.5 million per year in the form of hypertension, 5 million per year from stroke, and 1.6 million per year from diabetes (stats here). If insulin resistance is at the center of so many deaths, is it a surprise that insulin resistance is a dominant risk factor with COVID-19? Simply put, this population is less healthy and has a decreased ability of the body to defend itself.

So...What is required for health, and for the body to be able to defend itself? To simplify, we can look at a plant. What does a plant require for health? Plants requires water, sunshine, and good soil. To thrive, plants require all three of these things together, not one of these variables is independent of the others. All these factors work together to promote the plant's health. A human is similar, we have multiple requirements for health that must work harmoniously together.


Now what are the requirements for human health? To break it down, we have a chemical component to our body, a structural component, and an emotional component. There are aspects to each of these components that can either increase the likelihood of achieving optimal health or decrease the likelihood. We must address all three components in their entirety, and all three together. Below are the different components to our bodies and important things to consider to keep each one healthy so that they can work better together. All components must work harmoniously together to increase the likelihood of achieving optimal health.


Here are some things to take into consideration when addressing each component, and if you are interested in the details (i.e. how to get essential fatty acids from your diet, stress reduction exercises..etc.) we can set up a time to chat! In addition, check out some of my other blog articles and instagram posts (@habitually_holistic), as I've covered many of these topics :)


Chemical (nutrition)

-Fuel

-Essential fatty acids

-Essential amino acids

-Vitamins & minerals

*whole foods provide these things, not processed foods

Insulin resistance that is caused by the frequent consumption of sugar and processed foods clogs up the body with toxins (like pesticides, chemicals..etc) and causes rampant inflammation throughout the body and brain. Drugs (which help during a crisis and act as a short term solution) do not provide a long-term escape from this toxic clog up and inflammation. Drugs do not increase your health, but they provide a short term solution and act as a bandaid for the problem. They address the symptom of the problem, but not its underlying cause and therefore are not a longterm solution.

Structural & Mechanical

-Movement provides signals to your brain that keep it alive. It is necessary and required for every system in your body to optimally function

-Good posture facilitates movement and alignment, it is required for efficient signaling

-The opposite of movement is remaining sedentary, having poor posture, any trauma that might restrict motion...


Emotional

-Peace, joy, love, purpose...feeling good does make your body work better. A little bit of short term stress is fine, but not longterm. You need positive emotions to prioritize healing.

-If you prioritize negative emotions (stress, anger, fear, frustration..), your body gears itself up to defend itself, and not heal itself.

So the absolute best way to defend yourself against COVID-19 (or any other pathogen) is to make your body stronger by addressing each of these components. Give your body the things that contribute to health and avoid the things that don't. Simple.



TLDR

The immune system conversation must expand to include the WHOLE body's defense because the entire body is really the immune system. YOU are the immune system. There are 40 trillion cells inside you. The stronger these cells are, the stronger your defense is. Some of these cells provide physical barriers (i.e. your skin, your intestinal lining, your lung lining...). You also have cell membranes. A virus can only replicate inside a cell, so it must first penetrate its membrane to do so. The harder, stronger, and better working your cell membranes are, the less likely that something will be able to penetrate it. In addition to physical barriers and cell membranes, you have mucous membranes that secrete mucous to trap and move pathogens away to be excreted. Our body is awesome and has so many mechanistic systems in place to keep it safe. We also have important chemical defenses. Our cells excrete free radicals, toxic substances, and hydrogen peroxide to act as poison on invasive microbes. And of course, we have detoxification mechanisms. In response to all our defenses, invasive microbes produce toxins. Consequently, you need a liver and kidneys to neutralize these toxins, and a spleen to filter out and neutralize cellular debris/residue. ALL of these things are part of the immune system, because your whole body is the immune system.


Now what are the requirements for human health? To break it down, we have a chemical component to our body, a structural component, and an emotional component. There are aspects to each of these components that can either increase the likelihood of achieving optimal health or decrease the likelihood. We must address all three components in their entirety, and all three together. Below are the different components to our bodies and important things to consider to keep each one healthy so that they can work better together. All components must work harmoniously together to increase the likelihood of achieving optimal health.


Chemical (nutrition)

-Fuel

-Essential fatty acids

-Essential amino acids

-Vitamins & minerals

*whole foods provide these things, not processed foods


Structural & Mechanical

-Movement provides signals to your brain that keep it alive. It is necessary and required for every system in your body to optimally function

-Good posture facilitates movement and alignment, it is required for efficient signaling

-The opposite of movement is remaining sedentary, having poor posture, any trauma that might restrict motion...


Emotional

-Peace, joy, love, purpose...feeling good does make your body work better. A little bit of short term stress is fine, but not longterm. You need positive emotions to prioritize healing.

-If you prioritize negative emotions (stress, anger, fear, frustration..), your body gears itself up to defend itself, and not heal itself.


So the absolute best way to defend your self against COVID-19 (or any other pathogen) is to make your body stronger by addressing each of these components. Give it the things that contribute to health and avoid the things that don't. Simple.


Statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or any other medical body. I do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.

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