Coronavirus tip to boost immunity — especially on lockdown

Coronavirus tip to boost immunity — especially on lockdown

  • May 5, 2020

If waves of coronavirus infections ebb and flow until a vaccine arrives and if — as some have posited — we’re all likely to get it at some point, should we be preparing for a possible infection?

The coronavirus is fatal for some, while others — between 25% to 50% according to the latest estimates — have no symptoms at all. Everyone else falls somewhere in between. 

As the medical community seeks possible explanations for that variability — viral load (how much of the virus you have in your body) and genetic susceptibility are both being studied — we are left to wonder what amount of influence, if any, we have over how our bodies will react to being infected. 

Age, gender and underlying health conditions can affect outcomes, but there may be many simple things people can do to boost their immunity — and some of the world’s most prominent resorts, hotels and restaurants were encouraging them even before the pandemic struck.

The single easiest way to boost your immunity

The internet is replete with supposed immune-boosting supplements and recipes — a situation that long predated the arrival of Covid-19 — but the answer to an improved immune system may be far less complicated.

“In my experience, the single best way people can improve their immune system is through adequate sleep,” said Dr. Steven Tucker, an American oncologist and medical director of Tucker Medical, a multi-specialty medical practice that focuses on the prevention and reversal of chronic diseases.

Sleep is not a pillar of health but the bedrock foundation upon which all health, including immunity, is built.

“I used to say that health was based on fitness, nutrition, mindfulness and sleep. I would tell patients that these are the four pillars of health. I no longer do that,” he said. “I can’t emphasize it enough if you want to improve your immunity, sleep is not a pillar of health but the bedrock foundation upon which all health, including immunity, is built.”

It’s believed people who experience a quick, sudden decline in health from a coronavirus infection do so as a result of the immune system suddenly kicking into overdrive in a process known as a cytokine storm. The focus then turns to controlling one’s immune system as well as the infection. Cytokines can rise by a single night of bad sleep.

Sleeping in — a silver lining to the shutdown

From overnight flights and peering into hand-held screens past midnight, to massive coffee intake, the modern-day lifestyle is no friend of sleep.

“Whether your sleep is disrupted from jet lag or from too much training or from anxiety stress, getting more sleep and better sleep improves your resilience, lowers your adrenal and stress hormones and thus improves your immunity,” said Dr. Tucker.

Drs. Steven Tucker and Brian Schwender of Tucker Medical, an integrated care health facility that focuses on disease prevention and reversal.

Courtesy of Tucker Medical

Sensing a void among a sleep-deprived customer base, luxury hotel brands created a new form of customer experience. An industry that once wanted to wow you with services and activities started putting you straight to bed. Sleep programs — marketed as Rest & Renewal or Deep Sleep packages — started in hotels like the Four Seasons and Swissotel.

As far back as 2016, Six Senses partnered with “sleep doctor” Michael J. Breus to develop sleep programs at select hotels that include a two-night sleep tracking analyzer, nutritional advice, yoga nidra (yogic sleep), linen that regulates body temperature, special lighting, sound therapy machines and sleep-inducing snacks.

Six Senses’ sleep programs includes sleep tracking consultations, yoga nidra and nutritional advice.

Courtesy of Six Senses

While you may not be able to book a sleep program at the nearest luxury hotel right now, you can set a sleep schedule, avoid blue screen devices within one hour of bedtime and exercise in the morning all from the comfort of home.

One shutdown silver lining could be longer sleeping hours. With no business travel, after-hour parties to attend, kids to get ready for school and early office hours to adhere to,  going to bed early and sleeping in late has never been easier. 

What to know about coffee and home cocktails

Dr. Tucker said to focus on sleep you need to consume less caffeine and “ideally, no alcohol as it really destroys sleep quantity and quality. One or two cups of coffee in the morning before 12 noon is probably OK.”

In an interview with NPR, bestselling food author Michael Pollan said caffeine causes problems people often miss as it undermines the quality — but not necessarily the quantity — of sleep, especially “slow wave” or deep sleep.

“This isn’t REM sleep, where you’re having dreams, or light sleep. This is a really deep place you go for not that long a part of the night, but it’s really important to your mental and physical health,” Pollan said. “It’s like cleaning up the desktop on your computer at the end of the day.”

Eighty percent of the world’s population, including children, use caffeine every day.

RyanJLane

When sleep is disrupted — from work, exercise or emotional stress — the hormones adrenaline and cortisol are activated. This initially stimulates the immune system but when it continuously occurs, the immune system is weakened.

“This will ultimately induce daytime fatigue and nighttime insomnia creating a vicious cycle between the pituitary gland, the adrenal glands and the immune system,” said Dr. Tucker. “Compounding the situation today, disrupted sleep will also increase the risk and intensity of anxiety and depression.”

‘Immune-boosting’ drinks and supplements

Generally speaking, immune-boosting foods and drinks are not going to provide a significant effect if you are not focusing on sleep nutrition and physical activity, said Dr. Tucker.

Dr. Tucker recommends nutrient-rich food over immune-boosting supplements, but doesn’t rule out supplements to improve sleep, such as magnesium, melatonin, 5-HTP, L-theanine and serotonin.

There’s no organic bee pollen smoothie that is going to improve your immunity compared with a good night’s rest.

Dr. Brian Schwender, a Singapore-based gastroenterologist at Tucker Medical, said there is a misconception around taking vitamin C to prevent the coronavirus.

“There is no evidence at present to support taking vitamin C, especially in high or super doses, to prevent or treat this infection,” he said. “Most of this misinformation is probably from extrapolating the use of vitamin C to reduce the risk of getting the common cold, which is modest at best.”

A large review by Cochrane, a U.K.-based independent medical research organization, of 29 medical trials published in 2013 did not show any benefit to routine vitamin C consumption among the general public for reducing the rate or severity of the common cold. Furthermore, high doses of vitamin C (greater than 2 grams) can have gastrointestinal side effects and are not advisable for people with kidney stones.

Turmeric, ginger and honey are popular immune-boosting foods, but they are no substitute for sleep.

Seksak Kerdkanno / EyeEm

Turmeric and ginger are compounds that have been found to boost one’s immune system and reduce inflammation, however there is no data to support the use of any of these supplements in the prevention or treatment of Covid-19 at this time, said Dr. Schwender.

“Most of these ‘immune-boosting drinks’ are anecdotal at best with respect to preventing or treating Covid-19,” he said.

Dr. Tucker agrees. “There’s no organic bee pollen smoothie that is going to improve your immunity compared with a good night’s rest,” he said.

Other coronavirus tips to improve immunity

When it comes to eating healthy, consuming whole foods may not sound as sexy as a hot new superfood, but they’re sound advice when it comes to your immune system.

Dr. Tucker recommends eating whole foods and particularly vegetables to boost immunity, especially those that grow above ground that are less starchy. Processed foods should be avoided.

Geert Jan Vaarjes, the executive chef at Anantara’s resort in Hoi An, Vietnam, recommends sticking to freshly-cooked food.

The turmeric tea at the Al Baleed Resort Salalah.

Courtesy of Anantara

“When you make dishes from scratch, you control the ingredients and, by using fresh produce, you are eating more nutrients than you would get from packaged food,” he said.

Focused exercise, such as targeted strength training or short episodes of high-intensity interval training, is also helpful to improve immunity, as is using a sauna for 15 to 20 minutes a day. So is focusing on moments of mindfulness.

If you still prefer a soothing turmeric tea, by all means have at it, especially if it replaces a cup of coffee or is part of a nightly bedtime ritual. Try this recipe from the Anantara’s Al Baleed Resort in Salalah, Oman.

Turmeric Tea

Ingredients:
• 1/2 cup of fresh, raw turmeric
• 1/4 cup of fresh, raw ginger
• The juice of 1 lemon
• 3 T honey
• 4 t water

Blend all ingredients into a paste. Mix two tablespoons paste with one cup of hot water. Let it sit for two minutes and top with a few mint leaves before serving.

Longevity LIVE

12 Teas To Boost Your Immune System

  • May 5, 2020

Who doesn’t love teas? I mean what’s more comforting than curling up on the couch with their cup of tea, especially when they’re struck down with a cold or the flu? Now while you may not be battling with the sniffle at the current moment, there’s no reason as to why you can’t make yourself a cup of tea. Aside from the fact that it’s delicious and comforting, a cup of tea can also give your immune system a boost, and, in case you haven’t noticed, that’s precisely what we all need.

If you’re battling with a cold or the flu, teas can help to alleviate symptoms such as a sore throat, upset stomach, and even congestion. Additionally, because they’re so rich in antioxidants and powerful herbs, teas can boost and support your immune system, helping to protect you to fight against colds, the flu, and possibly, the coronavirus. Additionally, some teas can help to ease you to sleep and this too can help maintain your immune system.

If you want to give your immune system an extra boost, or maybe you just want to enjoy a soothing cup, then here are our top 11 suggestions.

1. Green tea

One of the world’s most famous teas, green tea is exactly what your immune system needs. green tea | Longevity LIVE

Green tea is mostly popular due to its rich catechin content – catechin are powerful antioxidants that help to protect the body from oxidative stress, and this then reduces the risk of infections and diseases.

In fact, research found that the catechins in green tea helped to effectively protect the body against the flu.

Additionally, green tea also contains the antioxidant quercetin, and this compound has been found to effectively fight off viruses that cause the common cold (1)

2. Black tea

Commonly drank every morning in most households, black tea also contains properties that can help the immune system. In fact, one study found in the PNAS journal revealed that black tea encouraged the release of the immune system’s T cells. When it comes to defending the body against infections, such as cancer cells, T cells play a vital role.

What’s more, black tea also contains potassium and manganese – two minerals that can help boost the immune system.

3. Ginger tea

A common beverage when you’ve got a bit of a throat tickle and for good reason.

rooibos | Longevity LIVEFirstly, ginger is incredibly rich in antioxidants. So much so that research has found that it can kill off the viruses that cause the common cold (2).

4. White tea

Often overlooked in favor of black tea or green tea, you may be surprised to know that white tea is higher in antioxidants than both black or green tea. This is because its leaves are less processed, which then means it provides a much more powerful boost for your immune system.

Its tea leaves are rich in antioxidants, as well as antibacterial properties, both of which help to strengthen the immune system and fight off infection.

5. Elderberry Tea

Elderberry is a dark purple berry from Europe and, being a berry, it is incredibly rich in antioxidants. Moreover, elderberries also contain high levels of vitamin C and zinc – both of which can boost the immune system and protect the body against colds and flu.

While there has yet to be a study on the effectiveness of the tea, one study published in the journal Nutrients found that supplementing with elderberry can help to not only alleviate the symptoms of a cold but also reduce the duration of the cold itself.

6. Echinacea Tea

A purple flower native to North America, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, Echinacea tea could be your best defense during the flu season. rooibos | longevity live

According to a study found in the Infectious Disease journal from the Lancet, if taken as a supplement, Echinacea can reduce your risk of catching a cold by up to 58%, and it can reduce the duration of your cold by more than a day.

7. Licorice Root Tea

With its sweet flavor, licorice root tea isn’t just sweet to the taste, but it’s also incredibly soothing for a sore throat.

As a result of its antiviral and antibacterial properties, licorice root tea is a great and sweet way to protect your immune system and fight off colds and flu (3).

8. Chamomile tea

A relaxing and soothing drink, chamomile tea is exactly what you need to get some rest.

With the state of the world, it can be easy for you to drown in anxiety and this can affect your sleep patterns. Unfortunately, high anxiety levels coupled with poor sleep patterns can weaken your immune system, and that’s the last thing that anybody should be experiencing.

teaSo, if you’re experiencing some anxiety-ridden insomnia, then enjoying a cup of chamomile tea before bedtime can help to induce a tranquilizing reaction. Additionally, chamomile also has anti-inflammatory properties and this is always a bonus.

9. Hibiscus tea

Unbeknownst to most, hibiscus is actually loaded with vitamin C. So much so that you can meet your daily recommended vitamin C intake with just three cups.

As a result of its rich vitamin C content, drinking hibiscus tea is a great way to boost the immune system as well as fight off the development of colds and flu.

10. Rooibos tea

One of South Africa’s most famous exports, rooibos (pronounced ROY-boss) is bursting with anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant activity. It’s also rich in vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron.

In regards to your immune system, research published in the journal Natural Product Communications suggested that rooibos tea may help in hindering type A and B flu viruses – the ones most commonly associated with yearly epidemics and occasional pandemics.

11. Moringa tea

Occasionally used in Ayurvedic medicine, Moringa is a nutrient powerhouse.

In addition to being super high in antioxidants and possessing anti-inflammatory properties, Moringa also contains 7 times more vitamin C than oranges. All of this helps the tea keep you healthy by warding off infections.

12. Neem Tea

Neem is a very healthy tea drink. Called Indian lilac tea, it’s a  herbal infusion made from the whole or ground dried leaves of the neem tree. Because neem tea tastes bitter on its own, it is  better blended with other herbs and ingredients to counter this bitterness.  Some neem teas are blended with black or green tea.  The exact flavor will depend on the blend but expect a bitter note from the neem leaves.

The good news is, that neem tea is caffeine free.

Bottom Line

One of the best ways to build up your immune system, especially if you’re sick, is to get more fluids into your system and what better fluid to choose than one of the aforementioned teas? They’re each rich in antioxidants and other nutrients that can help keep the body healthy. So when you have some time, why don’t you kick back, relax, and enjoy the perfect cup?

References

Chang, J. S., Wang, K. C., Yeh, C. F., Shieh, D. E., & Chiang, L. C. (2013). Fresh ginger (Zingiber officinale) has anti-viral activity against human respiratory syncytial virus in human respiratory tract cell lines. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 145(1), 146–151. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2012.10.043
Kamath, A. B., Wang, L., Das, H., Li, L., Reinhold, V. N., & Bukowski, J. F. (2003). Antigens in tea-beverage prime human Vgamma 2Vdelta 2 T cells in vitro and in vivo for memory and nonmemory antibacterial cytokine responses. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 100(10), 6009–6014. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1035603100
Matsumoto, K., Yamada, H., Takuma, N., Niino, H., & Sagesaka, Y. M. (2011). Effects of green tea catechins and theanine on preventing influenza infection among healthcare workers: a randomized controlled trial. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 11, 15. https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6882-11-15
Mousa H. A. (2017). Prevention and Treatment of Influenza, Influenza-Like Illness, and Common Cold by Herbal, Complementary, and Natural Therapies. Journal of evidence-based complementary & alternative medicine, 22(1), 166–174. https://doi.org/10.1177/2156587216641831
Shah, Sachin A et al. (2007). Evaluation of echinacea for the prevention and treatment of the common cold: a meta-analysis. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, Volume 7, Issue 7, 473 – 480
Tiralongo, E., Wee, S. S., & Lea, R. A. (2016). Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Nutrients, 8(4), 182. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu8040182
Wu, W., Li, R., Li, X., He, J., Jiang, S., Liu, S., & Yang, J. (2015). Quercetin as an Antiviral Agent Inhibits Influenza A Virus (IAV) Entry. Viruses, 8(1), 6. https://doi.org/10.3390/v8010006

Boost Immune System for Healthier Outcome

Boost Immune System for Healthier Outcome

  • May 5, 2020

It’s best to be cautious and conservative when trying to avoid the COVID-19 virus, said Bayhealth Primary Care, Milford’s Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease Specialist Antonio Zarraga, MD. He’s also serving as the Bayhealth Coronavirus Management Team director. It’s important, he said, to recognize a weakened immune system, and take steps, when possible, to make choices to enhance or boost your immune system.

“This is a very unusual and unpredictable virus. Be very cautious, and consider your next-door neighbor, friend or relative as potentially infected,” he advised.

Dr. Zarraga explains some of the signs of a weakened immune system and offers ways to boost immunity.

“The hallmark of a weak immune system is recurrent infections,” Dr. Zarraga said. Doctors consider the frequency, severity, duration, complications, and causes of those infections.
People who have chronic infections, autoimmune or malignant diseases are prone to weakened immune systems. Chronic diarrhea, malabsorption and poor wound healing may also indicate immunodeficiency, he said.
Malnutrition, malignancy and drugs used to treat malignancy, metabolic diseases – including diabetes, severe liver disease and uremia, HIV infection and asplenia also weaken the immune system. “Response to treatment and resolution of infection can be affected by a patient’s immune medical condition,” said Dr. Zarraga.

A healthy lifestyle is the best way to help boost immunity. Dr. Zarraga says that getting adequate sleep and proper nutrition – specifically eating more vegetables, will help. Other means for boosting the immune system include moderate exercise, drinking plenty of water, limiting alcohol and sugar intake, and getting fresh air and sunshine.

In addition, after consulting your primary care physician, Dr. Zarraga said limited research suggests a “cocktail” of supplements may be beneficial. Taking Vitamin C, an anti-inflammatory; Quercetin, a plant phytochemical; Zinc lozenges, slow-release Melatonin and Vitamin D-3 may prevent or mitigate COVID-19. “While there is no high-level evidence that this cocktail is effective, it is cheap, safe, and widely available.”

Coronavirus Update With Dr. Dennis Norem

Coronavirus Update With Dr. Dennis Norem

  • May 5, 2020

Dr. Norem joined us for his weekly Monday visit to let us know the latest on the coronavirus and COVID-19. 

This week Dr. Norem has new information on the antibody test, the effectiveness of our current testing system and a lot more.

Thanks again to Dr. Norem for taking some time out of his day to inform our listeners.

Sponsor spotlight: Diet and COVID-19 - eating to boost your immune system

Sponsor spotlight: Diet and COVID-19 – eating to boost your immune system

  • May 5, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted millions of lives and most of us are coming to grip with the “new normal” of social isolation, self quarantining, home schooling, and working (or not working) from home. In her recent Harvard Medical School article, Dr. Uma Naidoo, discusses how healthy eating can reduce anxiety and boost your immune system during these uncertain times.

The negative effects of stress on the immune system are well known. Dr. Naidoo explains, “the unfortunate reality is that stress worsens feelings of low mood or angst, and it also suppresses our immune systems. Therefore, targeting immune-boosting foods will have a dual effect — you may feel less anxious and boost your immunity.”

She recommends choosing the following immune boosting foods: 

  • Citrus fruit and red bell peppers (both rich in vitamin C, which in some studies has been shown to support your immune system)
  • Spices: ginger, garlic, turmeric, and capsaicin (from chili peppers) can be easily added to soups, stews, stir-frys, or salad dressings.
  • Foods rich in zinc such as oysters, clams, mussels, cashews, liver, beef, and egg yolks. You may recognize zinc as an ingredient is the cold remedy Zicam, as zinc has some virus-fighting effects.
  • Magnesium-rich foods may help you to feel calmer, and help support immunity. Stress can deplete our magnesium levels too. Examples are legumes, nuts, seeds, leafy greens, and whole grains.
  • Fatty fish like wild Alaskan salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids. A study on medical students in 2011 was one of the first to show that omega-3s may help reduce anxiety.
  • Eat probiotic-rich foods such as pickles, sauerkraut, miso, and kefir.
  • Add some antioxidants to your anti-anxiety diet, which can support your immune system.

These healthy immune-boosting foods are also better for your waistline than your typical overly-processed comfort foods such as chips, baked foods or candy. Dr. Naidoo suggests we control our environments. If there isn’t junk food in the cabinet, we can’t eat it.  “We all have to eat, so attending to our nutrition is something we can all control, and then reap the benefits of an improved mood”, boosted immunity, and a healthy weight.

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New research has shown that our response to infection changes over the course of each day, and — even more importantly — that sleep disruption can leave our immune system compromised

Sleep your way to beat corona: It’s a crucial way to boost your immunity and could be a vital weapon

  • May 5, 2020

At this time of Covid-19 and the heightened stress that most of us are experiencing, our internal body clocks and ability to sleep may be disrupted just when we most need them to stay healthy.

New research has shown that our response to infection changes over the course of each day, and — even more importantly — that sleep disruption can leave our immune system compromised.

In January, before any of us were paying much attention to Covid-19, the National Institutes of Health in the U.S. sponsored a major international meeting on this topic, highlighting the potential clinical use of sleep in regulating our immunity.

The immune system is the body’s defence against infections, providing us with multiple layers of protection.

New research has shown that our response to infection changes over the course of each day, and — even more importantly — that sleep disruption can leave our immune system compromised

New research has shown that our response to infection changes over the course of each day, and — even more importantly — that sleep disruption can leave our immune system compromised

The first barrier is the skin, which is composed of tightly packed cells that normally prevent viruses or bacteria entering the body.

The skin’s topmost layer consists of dead cells that form a dense physical barrier to resist any invasion. In addition, on the skin’s surface are secretions called antimicrobial peptides that can inhibit the growth, and even kill, some bugs that could otherwise cause disease.

But bacteria and viruses can remain alive on the skin and can be transferred to less well-protected areas — such as the eyes, nose and lungs, where they can gain entry.

Normally, antiseptic tears kill bugs getting into the eyes, and the mucus membranes that line the nose and lungs produce mucus that traps invaders.

In the lungs, tiny hair-like structures move the mucus/bug cocktail up to the upper airway, where it is then swallowed and destroyed by stomach acids. Alternatively, the mucus can be coughed up or sneezed out with the trapped bugs.

However, if pathogens do succeed in entering the body, then the second layer of defence in the bloodstream works to recognise and kill invaders.

A key group of white blood cells, called B-lymphocytes, is triggered to make antibodies, which lock onto specific parts of the bug.

Then another group of white blood cells, called T-Cells, which are called into action through chemical signals, destroy the bugs.

After they have been activated, some B-lymphocytes become ‘memory B-cells’ and can stay in the body for years. They ‘remember’ how to fight a particular bug and can make antibodies very quickly should the immune system see that pathogen again.

Scientists are seen working at Cobra Biologics, they are working on a potential vaccine for Covid-19

Scientists are seen working at Cobra Biologics, they are working on a potential vaccine for Covid-19

(This is how vaccines work: a non-infectious protein from the bug is injected into the body, triggering the B-lymphocytes to make antibodies, and memory B-cells then protect us from another attack.)

Meanwhile, other groups of white blood cells can activate inflammation to attack the bug. They detect the invasion and trigger plasma (the clear fluid part of blood) to move from blood vessels into the site of invasion. This fluid contains antibodies and other agents that will attack invading bugs.

Some of this fluid is also swept into the lymph nodes, where bacteria and viruses are destroyed by white blood cells; the plasma is effectively cleaned in the lymph nodes and returned to the blood.

SLEEP GIVES SKIN DEFENCES A BOOST

So what is the link between the immune system and the body clock? Every tissue and organ in your body operates according to biological rhythms.

The so-called 24-hour body clock — or circadian rhythm — instructs us when it is the best time to sleep, eat, think and undertake myriad essential biological tasks.

This daily adjustment allows us to perform at our best in a dynamic world, ‘fine-tuning’ our biology to the varied demands imposed by the 24-hour day/night cycle. Without this precise regulation by our circadian rhythms, we would be in a mess.

Why stress can cause vivid dreams

by Fiona Macrae  

If you’ve been having unusually vivid dreams during lockdown, you are not alone. Social media is abuzz with descriptions of ‘intense’, ‘weird’ and ‘super-vivid’ dreams.

According to Harvard Medical School sleep expert Deirdre Barrett, people are having ‘more dreams, longer dreams, more vivid dreams and more bizarre dreams’.

Dr Barrett, an assistant professor of psychology, has received 2,500 responses to a survey into dreams during the pandemic.

Some respondents are dreaming they have the virus themselves or that their parents or children are ill with it. Other images, such as being chased by swarms of insects or being in danger of being engulfed by a tidal wave, are likely metaphors for the disease, she says.

It is easy to assume such dreams are the result of the anxiety we are feeling by day spilling over into our nights — and, indeed, the two are linked.

‘Everybody is being exposed to fear and anxiety about coronavirus and this anxiety can feed our dreams,’ says independent sleep expert Dr Neil Stanley.

But stress may not be simply affecting the content of our dreams: tossing and turning due to pandemic-related worries may also make it easier for us to recall them. ‘You have to wake up during a dream or in the two minutes of the dream finishing to remember it,’ says Dr Stanley. ‘The more you wake up, the more dreams you’ll remember.’

Lockdown lie-ins could also be fuelling our nightmares. Sleep is made up of various cycles and most of our dreams occur during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. REM cycles lengthen as the night goes on, so those who are now not commuting and can sleep longer will have more opportunity to dream. 

And we now know that the body clock has a big influence over our immune responses — starting with the skin.

The skin becomes more ‘leaky’ in the evening, meaning there is more water loss then, which is part of the reason we experience increased itchiness at night.

This increased permeability of skin, combined with scratching (which breaks down the skin barrier), increases the chance of pathogens entering the body.

Interestingly, blood flow to the skin increases at night, giving immune cells a better chance of attacking invaders as soon as they get in.

These are not the only changes seen in the skin across the day. If you cut or burn yourself, the damaged skin will heal more than twice as fast if the injury was done during the day compared to at night.

This all makes sense from an evolutionary perspective: it’s more likely that we will damage our skin or encounter an invading virus by day, when we are moving around our environment, compared to the middle of the night.

We also tend to shed our skin cells during the early part of the night, which means that bugs trapped on the skin are removed. Although the chances of being infected through the skin are higher at night, the skin is such an effective barrier that infection, particularly by viruses, is usually through another route . . .

LUNGS MORE AT RISK AT NIGHT

. . . and the lungs provide the easiest way in. The cells of the immune system are there, too, waiting to defend us — but they also show a circadian rhythm in their ability to help us.

A Cambridge University study — published in 2016 — exposed mice to the herpes virus at different times of the day. If the virus was given at the start of their sleep, the virus multiplied ten times faster than ten hours later, when the mice were active.

A study on humans, published in 2016 by researchers at the University of Birmingham, showed similar time-of-day differences. Elderly people were vaccinated against a type of flu virus either in the morning (9am-11am) or in the afternoon (3pm-5pm).

Those vaccinated in the morning showed a three times higher antibody response than those who were vaccinated in the afternoon, leaving the latter group less well protected.

This may have implications for the timing of giving any future vaccine that is developed for Covid-19 — the lungs, after all, are the main route of infection for the coronavirus.

The bottom line is that studies repeatedly show that our immune system is turned up during the daytime, when we are active and are more likely to encounter bugs from other people. At night, though, we are not as good at resisting infection.

This raises important issues not just for a vaccine, longer term, but more immediately for our key workers and when they are exposed to infection. As they are more vulnerable at night, perhaps protective clothing is even more important during the night shift?

POOR SLEEP AFFECTS VACCINE’S POWER

So WHY is the immune system not on full throttle all the time? A balance must be achieved between defence against bacteria and viruses, and damage to us from our own immune response.

An overactive immune system can lead to autoimmune disorders where the body cannot tell the difference between its normal cells and invaders.

A regular sleep/wake cycle and body clock can help main-tain this balance, changing the aggressiveness of the immune system to a time when it is most likely to be useful. This helps reduce the chances of over-activity of the immune system and damage to ourselves.

It is well established that sleep and circadian rhythm disruption in shift workers, or other groups experiencing shortened sleep, is linked to poor mental and physical health — and this is also true for the immune system.

Research involving mice has found the immune response was much less aggressive during sleep; and, crucially, in mice with disrupted body clocks, the immune response was poor whatever time the mice encountered the virus.

Similar findings have been repeated in humans.

A study from the University of Chicago in 2002 studied two groups of people who were immunised against the flu virus while keeping two different sleep schedules.

The group who were allowed to sleep just four hours per night when given the jab had less than half the level of protective antibodies to the flu virus than the group who slept their usual 7.5 to 8.5 hours per night after the jab.

Similarly, in 2012, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh studied the antibody response to a hepatitis A vaccination. People who had less than six hours’ sleep per night were at a significant risk of being unprotected from vaccination compared with those who slept more than seven hours.

KEY WORKERS NEED PROTECTION AT NIGHT

So why does shortened and disrupted sleep reduce our ability to resist infection? Part of the answer seems to be that people experiencing sleep deprivation and circadian rhythm disruption release more of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin.

Stress is a bit like the first gear of a car engine: it provides rapid acceleration, which can be very useful short term. But if you keep the engine in first gear continuously, then it will break down.

The stress response prepares us to ‘fight or flee’, getting the body ready for vigorous action. This involves diverting its energies from functions such as immunity.

One of the consequences of sleep deprivation is a suppressed immune system — and the results can be devastating.

Not only does sleep disruption increase our chances of infection, but it can also lead to the reawakening of dormant viruses lurking in the body, such as herpes, and increases our chance of chronic inflammation. In turn, constant inflammation has been linked to lasting damage to the heart, brain and other vital organs, leading to poor overall health and a lowered immune response.

So what does all this mean in the current crisis?

  • Our first line of defence is the skin — and so a final shower or vigorous face and hand wash to remove bugs from the skin before we sleep is probably sensible to remove any lurking bacteria or viruses and prevent them getting into the body.
  • As there is evidence that vaccination is most effective during the first part of the day, when we eventually have a vaccine against Covid-19, we may want to schedule vaccination — particularly in the elderly and those who show weakened immunity — in the morning.
  • We are more vulnerable to infection at night, so the use of protective clothing by frontline night staff is even more important.

So what are the best ways to fall into a deep sleep?

Watch your alcohol intake

Watch your alcohol intake

Never has it been more important to get good-quality sleep, as disrupted sleep reduces the effectiveness of our immune system.

The good news is that 62 per cent of us are getting just as much sleep, if not more, than before the lockdown began, according to a recent study from King’s College London.

But that still leaves 38 per cent of people experiencing disturbed sleep.

Here are a few ways to help you achieve better shut-eye during lockdown.

  • Sit by a window first thing. Our bodies need bright natural light to synch it with the natural light/dark cycle, leading to better sleep and robust immunity.
  • With self-isolation, many of us will not be getting enough natural light to achieve this, as the levels of artificial light we experience in the home are not bright enough to register with the special receptors in the eye that play a key role in this process.
  • If you are unable to spend any time outside, get as close to the window as possible, especially in the early morning, for at least 30 minutes.
  • Think about taking vitamin D. If you’re not getting much natural light, your body also won’t be able to synthesise vitamin D, which is made by the skin in response to natural light.
  • Vitamin D is needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy, and there is also some evidence to suggest that a deficiency is associated with a higher risk of sleep disorders.
  • Ultraviolet (UV) light (specifically UV-B) from sunlight helps us make vitamin D in our skin, but window glass blocks most UV-B light, so sitting by the window won’t help with vitamin D production. If you can’t get outside, consider taking vitamin D supplements.
  • Exercise outside daily. The exercise itself, and the exposure to bright light, will both aid relaxation and help regulate the body clock.
  • Don’t stay up all night watching box sets. Maintain a daily routine, getting up and going to bed at the same reasonable time. This has been shown overwhelmingly to help you get good sleep. And good sleep not only helps your immune response, it also improves problem-solving, mood, empathy and your sense of humour!
  • Watch your alcohol intake. There have been reports that although about 6 per cent of people have stopped drinking alcohol, 21 per cent have been drinking more since the lockdown began. Too much alcohol can badly disrupt sleep and reduce immunity. It has been linked with reduced activity of immune cells in the lungs, and reduces the number and function of B-lymphocytes and T-Cells that help us fight off infection.
  • Call your parents or other relatives who are on their own. The sudden loss of regular social contact, particularly in older people, can increase stress. If you have elderly family, friends or neighbours, call them regularly and ask them gently what time they went to bed, what time they ate and if they have spent time outside — and are they are sitting by a window. These conversations will help reduce feelings of isolation, worry and stress, and at the same time remind the individual to maintain a daily structure.
  • Don’t follow the news in bed. Even during normal times, smartphones by the bed can be a problem for sleep. Leave your mobile in another room and use sleep as a time to isolate yourself from the latest sadness of the pandemic.
  • Separate work and free time. With so many of us working at home, it is critical to ensure that we take time to relax.

For many, the vacuum created by all those cancelled meetings or trips has sucked in endless virtual meetings and we are stuck looking at a screen all day — even more than normal. So get the balance right between virtual meetings, actual work and time doing what you enjoy: listening to music, reading or whatever. All this will help you sleep better.

Strengthen your immune system with exercise > Robins Air Force Base > Article Display

Strengthen your immune system with exercise > Robins Air Force Base > Article Display

  • May 4, 2020

Mom and son manipulate outdoor play equipment

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE —

Exercise can have a profound impact on the normal functioning of the immune system. 

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, performing regular bouts of cardiorespiratory exercise is shown to improve immune responses to vaccination, lower chronic low-grade inflammation and improve various immune markers in several disease states including obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

During each bout of exercise, particularly cardiorespiratory exercise, billions of immune cells are mobilized and circulate rapidly in our body. Immune cells that are mobilized with exercise work to increase our resistance to infection. Many of these immune cells are capable of carrying out functions such as the recognition and killing of virus-infected cells. 

While exercise may not prevent us from becoming infected if exposed to COVID-19, it is likely that keeping active will boost our immune system to help minimize the effects of the virus, lessen the symptoms, and expedite recovery times.  Exercise is especially important now during these challenging times because it can help reduce stress, prevent weight gain, and improve sleep. 

Here are some tips from the teams at health.gov to help you get moving with a physical activity program.

Eating the right foods to boost your immune system

Eating the right foods to boost your immune system

  • May 4, 2020

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — “Stay Healthy” is a phrase we’re hearing a lot these days. Both at home and as you get ready to head back to work. As 13 Action News prepares for The Rebound, anchor Tricia Kean shows us eating right is a big part of building a strong immune system.

“I feel like we have been pretty good. There are sometimes where the cookies look tempting,” says Henderson teen, Karsyn.

She and her mom, Wendy, say they’re making a conscious decision everyday to eat right.

DO MEAL PREP

“Well I have the time. So I’m kind of doing the meal prep. Cutting up all the vegetables, putting them in containers. So it’s easy enough for her to go to the fridge or myself if we do want to snack,” says Wendy.

They admit they still love their fast food. But Wendy says, she’s trying to cook more.

“I’ve brought in old recipes I used to do when the kids were little,” says Wendy.

BOOST YOUR IMMUNITY

“70% of our immune cells stem from our gut. So if you want to boost your immunity, you need to feed your stomach, your gut, the healthy foods,” says Registered and Licensed Dietician, Jennifer Trevino.

She says we all should be taking time to prepare healthier meals. It begins with lean meats; like salmon, chicken and turkey.

LEAN PROTEINS

“You definitely want to get protein in your diet. Lean proteins over red meat are preferred. You want to decrease your saturated fat content,” says Jennifer.

Then Jennifer says, eat lots and lots of fresh vegetables. You want to make sure you’re getting plenty of vitamin C.

GET VITAMIN C

“All fruit and green leafy vegetables have vitamin C in them. So if you don’t like citrus fruit it’s fine. Pick up an apple, a pear, watermelon, they all have vitamin C in them,” says Jennifer.

And don’t worry if the fresh vegetable aisle is limited.

FROZEN VEGETABLES

“If you can’t find fresh, the next best option is frozen. Frozen vegetables are picked at their prime and then flash frozen. Actually a lot of times frozen vegetables have more nutrients than fresh vegetables,” says Jennifer.

Stay away from prepacked foods when you can; like cookies, breakfast cereals and soda.

SIMPLE CARBOHYDRATES

“Simple carbohydrates when you break it down are basically just sugar. It spikes our glucose super super fast. That will lead to inflammation and kind of feeding your bad bacteria, that don’t produce the good immunity we need,” says Jennifer.

WATER, WATER, WATER

Whatever you decide to eat, good or bad, just don’t overdo it. Jennifer says practice portion control and drink plenty of H2O.

“Water, water, water is the elixir of life. We’re in the desert. The weather is starting to warm up. So we’re gonna need more if it,” says Jennifer.

As for Karsyn, she says she enjoys her mom’s healthy cooking. Even when she doesn’t actually know what it is!

“I love salmon so much. I love chicken. My mom makes this really good broccoli stuff and these noodles,” says Karsyn.

Vital to boost immune system, says group

Vital to boost immune system, says group

  • May 4, 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: Strengthening our immune system is within our control and should be the first line of defence against infections, says Malaysian Medical Association president Dr N. Ganabaskaran.

Besides being disciplined in observing social distancing and good personal hygiene, one must get proper nutrition from a balanced diet, regular exercise and good quality rest to boost the immune system and protect against infections, he said.He said those with weak immune systems should stay home or work from home if possible.

“Those who frequently catch the flu in a year may need to take extra precautions as this could indicate a weak immune system.

“They should also seek medical attention immediately if they catch the flu, ” said Dr Ganabaskaran.

He said crowd control was needed at high traffic areas such as shopping malls, transportation hubs, markets, restaurants and parks.

While business owners must actively help enforce social distancing and keep their premises clean and disinfected frequently, volunteer groups at residential areas can help crowd control by working closely with the police.

It might be necessary to start auxiliary police to enforce social distancing in certain high-density areas, especially at transportation hubs, said Dr Ganabaskaran.

He said supermarkets and shopping malls should consider extending hours to reduce crowds at their premises, if it is allowed.

He also urged employers not to rush into restarting their businesses but to take time to understand the standard operating procedure (SOP) and brief key people in their organisations to ensure full compliance of guidelines.

“Some repositioning of office furniture or equipment may be necessary to ensure proper social distancing, ” he added.

Medical Practitioners Coalition Association of Malaysia president Dr M. Raj Kumar said the government should deploy “ambassadors” to ensure safe distancing by training and supporting the public.

He said they could come from agencies, or from among civil society organisation volunteers and professionals who are currently unemployed.

“The conditional movement control order (MCO) requires people to be disciplined and adhere to the guidelines provided for by the government, ” he said.

Malaysian Public Health Medicine Specialist Association Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin said for the coming Hari Raya Aidilfitri, those celebrating should celebrate it in their own homes only.

Besides enforcement agencies enforcing the SOP, he said industry players must make sure they also do the same while those returning to work should adhere strictly to the new normal.

He added that the public can help by increasing their health awareness, being involved in continuous surveillance in their neighbourhoods and reporting to the authorities if they find people breaching the SOP or holding public gatherings.While not objecting to the easing of the MCO, Universiti Malaya Academician Emeritus Professor Datuk Dr Lam Sai Kit said it was done too soon.

He said Malaysia had not managed to minimise hot spots and more areas were put under enhanced MCO, while its testing capacity was still not adequate as compared to other countries.He also expressed concern that if the country faced a resurgence of cases, the MCO would have to be reinstated and it would be a waste of efforts that had been put in by the government, the frontliners and the public.

While he was aware of the economic cost of implementing the MCO – which has resulted in a total loss estimated at RM63bil since it was implemented – Dr Lam said a better exit plan than the conditional MCO was needed, with phased opening of sectors or businesses and with emphasis on safety rather than a fast economic recovery.

Coronavirus clinical trial asks frontline workers to participate to test if tuberculosis vaccine could boost immune system- Technology News, Firstpost

Coronavirus clinical trial asks frontline workers to participate to test if tuberculosis vaccine could boost immune system

  • May 4, 2020

Researchers in the US’ Texas A&M University are asking hundreds of frontline medical workers to participate in a late-stage, phase 4, clinical trial of a widely-used tuberculosis vaccine that could help boost the immune system and blunt the devastating effects of COVID-19.

Texas A&M is the first US institution in the clinical trial to have federal clearance for testing on humans. Researchers hope to demonstrate that Bacillus Calmette-Guerin or BCG mitigates the effects of the novel coronavirus, allowing fewer people to be hospitalised or to die from COVID-19.

 Coronavirus clinical trial asks frontline workers to participate to test if tuberculosis vaccine could boost immune system

A new clinical trial performed by Texas University is in its late-stage, phase 4, clinical trial of a widely-used tuberculosis vaccine that could help boost the immune system and blunt the devastating effects of COVID-19.

The researchers are seeking to repurpose the vaccine, which is also used to treat bladder cancer. BCG could be widely available for use against COVID-19 in just six months because it has already been proven safe for other uses, the university said.

“This could make a huge difference in the next two to three years while the development of a specific vaccine is developed for COVID-19,” said Dr Jeffrey D Cirillo, a Regent’s Professor of Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunology at the Texas A&M Health Science Center.

BCG is not meant to cure coronavirus but bridge the gap until a vaccine is developed, thus allowing us to buy time until something can be developed, said Dr Cirillo.

Healthcare workers will be the first people eligible for the clinical trial, which is set to begin this week. Efforts are underway to recruit 1,800 volunteers to take part in Texas A&M’s nationwide test of BCG’s application for coronavirus.

“It’s not going to prevent people from getting infected. This vaccine has a very broad ability to strengthen your immune response. We call it ‘trained immunity, said Dr Cirillo.

Because the human body fights a COVID-19 infection in a manner that is similar to how it would attack bladder cancer, the researchers are hopeful that his work could lead to an effective and quickly developed treatment for COVID-19.

Additionally, evidence shows that the coronavirus can cause damage to a patient’s central nervous system, and it even might cause long-term effects that could lead to dementia, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson ‘s disease. Dr Cirillo said the potential for lasting effects from COVID-19 is another reason to get the vaccine to the public as quickly as possible.

Texas A&M University Chancellor John Sharp has offered USD 2.5 million to ensure research can proceed as quickly as possible.

The Texas A&M Health Science Center is leading a group of scientists and medical doctors with Harvard’s School of Public Health, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Dr Cirillo said repurposing the existing bladder cancer vaccine called TICE(R) BCG could result in bringing a COVID-19 treatment to the US public in the fastest possible way.

Because the drug is already approved by the FDA, the researchers can skip the first three phases of clinical trials usually required before testing on people, since this vaccine has already passed those phases.

As the coronavirus has spread around the world, researchers have noticed that the morbidity and mortality rates were lower in some developing countries, including India, where the BCG vaccine is widely used.

Updated Date: May 04, 2020 07:22:41 IST

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