Individual responsibility and its ripple effect.
Continuing from the previous article, we look further into what may help to inspire us to practice individual responsibility (especially in regards to health) during this trying season with covid-19. Individual responsibility extends beyond keeping the mask on, hand washing and social distancing. So, perhaps looking well after ourselves is the simplest way to make a difference to positively contribute to this pandemic.
Many people are trapped to think there isn’t much that can be done to prevent covid-19, partly due to the fact that the science and research are still emerging, and also there isn’t a uniformly successful treatment so far. However, this doesn’t mean that other previously known viruses are now disappeared, or we are all shielded up from other pathogens around us. At a time dealing with a novel Coronavirus, it is arguably the most important time to keep ourselves strong and healthy. In regards to immune health, it is could also be a great opportunity for many of us to explore and understand how this intricate yet essential system biology is vital to our survival. This knowledge and practices do not stop at personal level, but also transmit to the people around us.
Health from Inside Out. ” Build Your House on the Rock “
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” Matthew 7;24-27
This is one of many fundamental principles of health and wellness- one that still hold true today. For various different reasons, many of us today are caught up in the rat-race way of life and often look for a quick fix or band aid approach when experience a decline in health. Not only the underlying problem didn’t get investigated, we succumbed ourselves to the ill-ness paradigm that reinforces us with the notion that “health” comes from external factors, and the body is a powerless entity. Some of us realized and caught ourselves in this vicious cycle and may have started to adopt different approaches to health, but there are many individuals who continue to ignore the signs and symptoms from their body. Regardless of which group of people that you belong to, take this current moment as an opportunity to build or strengthen your house (Health) with stronger foundation, in particular your immune system, with simple implementation of modifiable dietary and lifestyle practices. Once again, the benefits shall extend beyond this challenging moment, even after the pandemic is over.
To know one’s ignorance is the best part of knowledge. – Lao Tzu
In regards to dietary and lifestyles factors that will be outlined in further details in coming post, a few key areas are worth mentioning for a better understanding on how these dietary and lifestyles factors can impact our health.
The Immune System
Our immune system is very extensive and complex. It is comprised of many different cell types, tissues and organs in the body. While most people are familiar with its function in defending the body from pathogenic invaders, it also participates in the repair and regeneration cycles in the body. In regards to fighting against invaders, a healthy immune function should be one that can efficiently execute a properly regulated inflammatory responses. After managing with the invaders, the immune system should then resolve back to its surveillance mode and do not over-create inflammatory molecules that can potentially harm the host. You can read more about a COVID-19 Science Report put together by NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology and Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN), A*STAR on the pathogenesis and Host Immune Response to SARS-CoV-2 here.
The lymphatic system
As mentioned earlier, inflammation responses are normal and plays a critical role in immunity. Inflammation initiated to release inflammatory mediators to help fight off infections.
However, it is important the this process cease after its function is being carried out. Chronic low-level inflammation and activation of the innate immune response are suggested mechanisms for increased risk of lifestyle-induced diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Therefore, it is important to manage and attempt to lower inflammatory load , as those with chronic diseases are more susceptible to infection.
Immune-modulation (the ability of the immune system to modulate itself) is equally important. Studies conducted during the last SARS-CoV outbreak indicated that lung injury found in patients with Acute Respiratory Disease resulted from aggressive inflammatory responses that were initiated by virus replication in the airways. While it is important to prevent an infection and control viral replication if one has contracted the virus, a well-regulated immune system that prevents the body to go into a system-wide perturbation matters at least as much, and probably more.
Stress is definitely a major contributor to various diseases. Many people are aware that stress is exhausting them at varying magnitude, yet, they continue to ignore, never have or take time to deal with it properly. With all the fear, anxiety and uncertainties during this challenging time, staying in the state of stress is like throwing gasoline onto the fire. It is very important to understand that stress doesn’t just weaken us emotionally but could potentially depress and/or dys-regulate our immune function. One basic mechanism of how stress negatively impacts us is through the reduction of white blood cells that help fight off infection.
Closely related to stress, some clinical and experimental studies have shown that when sensations of stress or anger become chronic, our immune response may become notably diminished or imbalanced. It is well documented that our emotion can positively or negatively impact our state of immune health. Other interested study has also illustrated the increase natural killer cells activity by laughter, further demonstrating the influence of emotion has on immune system. [5,6,7]
This next article will outline some simple and effective modifiable lifestyles factors relating to the above key concepts that you can implement to help yourself and the people around to live a better and healthier life.
*The above are humble opinions and in hope to spark positivism during this challenging time.
*Please note: Due to the novelty of COVID-19, there is no absolute research data being published in regards to the effectiveness of dietary or lifestyle interventions for its prevention or treatment. Your individual and unique circumstances during this challenging time are well respected and empathized.The above information / recommendations are not specific to COVID-19 and are not intended to replace medical consultation with your healthcare provider.
*Reminder: You should always seek medical advice immediately from clinic or hospital if experience signs and/or symptoms related to Covid-19.
- COVID-19 Science Report: Pathogenesis and Host Immune Response to SARS-CoV-2. Jointly Developed by: NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN), A*STAR, As of 23 March 2020
- Schulze MB, Hoffmann K, Manson JE, et al. Dietary pattern, inflammation, and incidence of type 2 diabetes in women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;82(3):675-684.
- Wong, C.K., et al., Plasma inflammatory cytokines and chemokines in severe acute respiratory syndrome. Clin Exp Immunol, 2004. 136(1): p. 95-103.
- Christ A, Lauterbach M, Latz E. Western diet and the immune system: an inflammatory connection. Immunity. 2019;51(5):794-811.
- The elevation of natural killer cell activity induced by laughter in a crossover designed study. Int J Mol Med. 2001 Dec;8(6):645-50.
- Affective immunology: where emotions and the immune response converge. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2017;19(1):9–19.
- Editorial Overview: Immunomodulation: Exploiting the circle between emotions and immunity: impact on pharmacological treatments. July 2016 Current Opinion in Pharmacology