That may seem like a strange question but in the current climate we have suddenly all become all too aware of our own immune system, our own mortality and the fragility of the world we live in. For many health will suddenly have jumped to the forefront of their existence, suddenly the health we took for granted hangs in the balance, threatened by an invisible yet deadly force.
Initially the threat of Covid-19 seemed to imply that the over 70’s and those with underlying health conditions were the ones primarily at risk. Social distancing measures were introduced to protect those within those populations. People didn’t take these seriously enough so stricter enforcement were applied (don’t get me started on those people disregarding this threat as no worse than the annual flu or I shall go off on a rant!).
What have we now seen about the threat of Covid 19?
It isn’t just affecting the older population. It isn’t just affecting people with underlying health conditions and some people (we don’t see the good news too often, but there is good news!) are recovering where we perhaps wouldn’t expect them to – take the 103 year old lady in China or the 95 year old Grandmother in Italy, good news in the UK is that a 98 year old WW2 veteran has recovered. So how do some people succumb, some people recover and others not get affected at all?
Well there are multiple answers, varying theories and people far cleverer than me trying to work all of that out but for me, and my take on things many of the answers may lay in your immune system and more importantly, your immunological age.
If the virus initially seemed to have a higher mortality rate within the older populations that could tie in with the biological knowledge that our immune system deteriorates as we age but not everyone ages in the same way, in fact many people within the 70+ category would have a lower immunological age than someone much younger than them and some 40 year old's could have the immune system of an 80 year old. Could this explain why younger people are becoming ill with this and could this explain why we are seeing an increase in mortality rates in the west within younger populations?
The importance of your immunological age
To assess that we would need to know what factors influence the immunological age and whether those factors are going to be worse in the UK, USA and in some parts of Europe. If you have ever been to one of my sessions, read my book or read any of my articles you will know that I link how we live (lifestyle) to our health outcomes. With that in mind let’s look at the factors that influence the age of our immune system. The one thing that will happen is; Immunosenescence – this is the natural biological deterioration of our immune system and it starts surprisingly early on! During puberty. But what are the factors that influence the acceleration or deceleration of the decline?
Smoking – smokers have a much older immune system than non-smokers*
Obesity – sorry to say it but being obese suppresses the immune system “Adipose tissue negatively impacts the antibody response, so obesity is associated with poor vaccine response even in people who are young” Biotech company ResTORBio
Being sedentary is also damaging to the immune system, thymic decline is linked to physical inactivity and can rapidly accelerate your immunological age. Exercise has immune boosting benefits, active muscle tissue is more beneficial to the body as it is has excellent immunoregulatory benefits.
What you eat – obviously I talk a lot about the impact that the food we eat on our overall health, many people still take this for granted and under value the role food plays.There are many ways in which food impacts on your immune system – check out my last blog on boosting immunity where I talk a little about free radicals and antioxidants
A particular area in terms of immunity is the health of your gut flora, this is something I talk about a lot and generally the first place I start when I work with clients on individual consultations. We know that probiotics can enhance the immune system and that poor gut health is one of the causes of premature ageing, so to support your immune age please take care of your Microbiome, this really will support you right now and in the future;
Include probiotics such as live yogurt
Eat naturally colourful foods (plenty fruit and veg people are delivering)
Avoid an excess of sugar and processed foods – this may feel like a time when you deserve some ‘comfort’ food but consider cake, chocolate, pies, sweets, pastries etc are nutrient devoid, detrimental to your gut flora, inflammatory and likely to lead to adipose tissue being deposited around your body and organs.
*Smokers and immunity - Research on immunity and lifestyle factors - Milieu Interieur Consortium (Pasteur Institute) 2018
We are all facing the biggest threat of our generation, our health and that of our immune system is of upmost importance. Consider the impact your lifestyle may have had on your immunological age and what steps you can take to improve this now. Now, more than ever we need our immune system, we need to understand it more, respect it, feed it better and hope that in doing so our immune system will be there for us when we need it.
Never underestimate nutrition and the impact that you have on your own health.
Stay at home. Eat well. Exercise daily. Wash your hands!
My message is to promote awareness of the food and #health link rather than following campaigns that could be misleading. If you would like further information on how I work then take a look at the following links :)
Not Your Average Weight Loss Course
This course helps you understand #obesity as a medical combination of issues, I do not simply tell you to eat less and move more! It helps you understand #emotional eating, the truth about diets and what every-day steps you can take.
Family Health, Nutrition Support Course
For more of a 1:1 service I do have a modular family health online course. There's more information on this below.
Once you join a course you then get access to a closed Facebook group and a monthly webinar with me.
I look forward to supporting you & hope to see you soon.
Presenter on Early Years TV Food