An Open Letter to Our Leaders: Strengthen our Natural Immunity Through Nutrition to Protect People From COVID-19
To the Leaders of our Communities,
Thank you for doing your best to protect your people from COVID-19. This is truly an unprecendented time, and in the early days of the pandemic it seemed that we were facing a foe that we knew nothing about, and so the response of the world reflected that.
I really want to believe that choosing to use vaccines, lockdowns, travel requirements, PCR tests, distancing, wearing of masks & shields, closing of establishments and schools as well as various other restrictions were the best choice you had back when we knew nothing about what we were facing. So again, I want you to know that I recognize and acknowledge the long, stressful meetings and hard decisions you have had to make up to this point.
That being said, we are no longer fighting blind against an unknown foe. One and half years of intense, international research 1 into COVID has shed a light on it’s nature, as well as the reaction of the human body to the virus. There have been countless studies done on the virus, especially to ascertain what puts a person at high risk of severe symptoms and death. What many of these studies have shown and corroborated is that those with lower levels of nutrition are at much higher risk from COVID-19.This information is easily accessed and is already seeing application in other countries. We need to update our approach.
In the light of this research, I find that a glaring omission from the government’s response to the pandemic is an emphasis on the benefits of healthy diet and lifestyle. Surely, if from the beginning we put out statements that advocated nutrition as strongly as we did protocols, many more lives would have been saved. You will see over the course of this document that this is most likely very true.
In this letter I would like to point out some of the important findings from these studies. I will include the full papers as attachments as well. Please do take a look and also show them to your municipal doctors. Upon seeing them, I hope that you will consider placing priority on nutrition and preventive treatment as part of your pandemic response. We need to stop focusing solely on daily COVID cases as an indicator of our how successfully we are protecting our population.
I am not going to propose any massive overwork of the governments protocols. I simply suggest that you focus on the biggest hole in your COVID-19 strategy so far: Prevention by strengthening natural immunity through nutrition. This proactive solution will help you to protect the population before they even get sick! It is also important to know that COVID is not going to be the last pandemic. A strategy that foster’s a country’s nutrition will protect people against all future outbreaks.
Below is a summary of some of the most significant findings of the past year and half concerning nutrition’s connection to COVID-19.
COVID-19 Causes Oxidative Stress and Abnormal Inflammation, which are among the leading causes of severe symptoms and death
The COVID-19 virus has been shown to increase oxidative stress in the body of the patient. This is normally caused by having more free radicals than antioxidants in your body, resulting in cell and tissue damage. The virus adds to this stress and without enough antioxidants to support your system, the body can quickly succumb.
As we have become familiar with the progression of the Virus in infected individuals we are able to pinpoint the ways it threatens our health the most. Another big threat that COVID-19 patients face is that of uncontrolled or abnormal inflammation, such as in a cytokine storm, which is one of the events that leads to severe symptoms and death. 2 Given this knowledge, new approaches to therapy and prevention of COVID are being considered, and some research has already been done.
Antioxidant Therapy Being Considered as a Way to Combat COVID
Antioxidants are substances that are able to cure oxidative stress if present in sufficient amounts. Because of the revelations regarding COVID and oxidative stress, these nutrients are being examined as possible interventions in the fight against the virus. 3 The research has begun to show some very clear connections between COVID and levels of antioxidant substances in a patient’s body. Aside from their ability to combat oxidative stress, many antioxidants also have inherent antiviral and anti inflammatory qualities. 4
Glutathione Deficiency a Common Denominator in Severe Symptoms/Death
In multiple studies around the world, it has been found that the levels of Glutathione in patients were the common denominator in the progression of COVID-19 symptoms:
” This review identified this common pathway to be a low baseline of reduced glutathione “
As shown in the research, COVID-19 infection reduces Glutathione levels in the body as it causes oxidative stress. As levels of this important antioxidant dropped, consistent progression of symptoms was seen in patients as the oxidative damage increased. Application of pure oxygen was also shown to hasten this process. It was noted that patients with higher levels of Glutathione to begin with were more likely to recover from the virus without experiencing severe symptoms, suggesting that consuming increased levels of this antioxidant can keep you safe from severe symptoms or death.5 6 7
Vitamin C Has Shown the Ability to Counter Cytokine Storms
Research done during and before (past respiratory virus outbreaks such as ARDS) the pandemic has proven that Vitamin C is essential in surviving and recovering from Cytokine storms. Vitamin C has been shown to reduce production of cytokines, the inflammation causing cells that become uncontrollable with the progression of COVID symptoms. In the past, treatment of conditions like ARDS and sepsis using high doses of vitamin C have shown to be effective. More studies are being done to ascertain the exact amount of Vitamin C to use effectively as therapy for COVID-19, but it’s benefit in the body’s defense in indisputable. 8 9
In addition to this, Vitamin C is essential in repairing damaged bodily tissues as it is used in the production of collagen. Since Vitamin C levels fall during infection, having a good supply is needed for recovery as well.
Study Shows Low Vitamin K Levels Predictive Of COVID Mortalities
In multiple studies conducted in 2021, low levels of Vitamin K were shown to be a significant risk factor in COVID infections. Individuals who contracted the infection with low levels of Vitamin K were more likely to succumb to related cardiovascular issues, which are one of the COVID co-morbidities. 10 11 12
Evidence Shows That a Good Intake Of Fat Soluble Vitamins Through Food is Key in Reducing the Severity of a COVID Infection
Indirect connections have been made between many of the other Vitamins and COVID-19 infection as well.
Vitamin A- This vitamin is essential in maintaining the health of the respiratory system and has been long been proven to be highly protective against Pneumonia, 13 another one of COVID’s more severe effects.
Vitamin B- Is a proven supporter of the Immune System, and studies across multiple diseases have shown that immune response is greatly affected by the amount of vitamin B that the patient consumes. 14 B6 is needed for lymphocyte (white blood cell) formation. B12, given in combination with Vitamin D (see below) have already been proven to reduce severity of COVID symptoms. 15
”A clinical study conducted in Singapore showed that COVID-19 patients who were given vitamin B12 supplements (500 μg), vitamin D (1000 IU) and magnesium had reduced COVID-19 symptom severity and supplements significantly reduced the need for oxygen and intensive care support “
Vitamin D- Studies done on COVID-19 patients have shown a direct correspondence between the levels of Vitamin D in a patient, and the severity of infection. It is also worth noting that those with COVID comorbidities such as diabetes and obesity inherently have lower Vitamin D levels 16
It is VERY important to understand that as fat-soluble vitamins, the above three nutrients can reach toxic levels in the body if over-supplemented. That is why the studies state that one must receive these through natural food sources. 17
Gut Microbiome Health is Important in COVID Infection
Our gut microbiome is the ecosystem of bacteria that lives in our digestive system. Their effect however is not limited to the gut, but in fact it is a regulator for health throughout the body.
In three separate studies done on COVID patients, it was shown that those with poor populations of good bacteria in their stomach were much more likely to succumb to infection due to cytokine storms. Furthermore, the level of bacteria left after COVID was directly linked to the speed of full recovery. Those with healthy gut bacteria upon infection were likely to experience mild or no symptoms at all. 18 19 Proper support of our Gut Microbiome through varied and healthy diets, (fermented foods like Atsara, Kefir, Yoghurt or Kimchi) is essential in keeping us healthy during this outbreak. So is eating prebiotic foods like fiber-rich vegetables which feed your stomach bacteria.
Our Immune System Needs Proper Nutrition to Function
Based on all the above. It is the health of our immune system that determines that outcome of a COVID infection. The immune response to COVID is well-documented, 20 and the support that nutrition gives to these processes is well documented as well. 21
Furthermore, our immune system has an adaptive part 22, which allows us to resist all variants of a virus once we have encountered it. The bolstering of the population’s immune system is the single most effective way of protecting them. Any doctor or scientist worth their salt should understand that.
It is important as well to encourage the consumption of organic food in your communities. There are multiple ways that this helps us to cope with COVID.
Organic food has been proven to be 60% higher in antioxidants 23. As we have noted above, antioxidants, especially Glutathione and Vitamin C are crucial your immune response against the virus and the oxidative stress it causes.
It is free from residues of agricultural chemicals like pesticides and herbicides. These chemicals have been proven to increase the likelihood of COVID co-morbidities, especially respiratory ones 24. Some even directly affect your body’s Glutathione production.
Sustainably grown food is good for the environment. If you are able to source food locally you also reduce the pollution and carbon emissions which have become major causes of illness and oxidative stress.
The municipality of Kauswagan in Lanao Del Norte is a 100% Organic community and has done some very admirable things during the pandemic. In an interview with Mayor Rommel Arnado, I learned that the when the LGU conducts handing out relief goods, they purchased the produce of local farmers and handed that out to those in need. Aside from supporting the local economy, they also ensured that the population eats healthy. This is a great improvement over some programs that distribute packaged and processed food, which are bad for people’s health. Kauswagan has also had great resiliency during the pandemic, recording minimal cases and just a single death. 25 This is likely due to the strong natural immunity their diets create.
So Why Is There No Mass Information Drive on Nutrition?
Given the overwhelming amount of information showing the direct connection between a patient’s nutrition and the severity of infection that they experience, it seems almost absurd that governments are not advocating health and diet as effective preventive measures to take during this pandemic. At the moment, many people are still afraid of the virus and looking for ways to protect themselves. It is becoming increasingly obvious (as shown by the continued increase of cases) that the protocols that we have adopted are having little effect on the spread, much less the severity of the disease. This has left people looking for a solution.
We continue to act reactively, increasing action as the situation gets worse. Our typical response, which is to tighten restrictions when cases rise, has not changed in nearly two years. I would like to suggest we act proactively, addressing the problem at it’s root. After all it is public health that is important, not simply a decline in positive cases.
If our leaders put as much energy and priority into advocating nutrtition as a way of staying healthy during the pandemic, there is no doubt that people will listen. If the general population listens to the governments orders to wear protective gear, they will also listen if our leaders pinpoint nutrition through diet as a response to COVID-19.
The research above is comprehensive and revealing. If people ensure a good supply of Vitamins and Antioxidants in their food, they greatly increase their chances of surviving a COVID infection. CITE So why not put up signs that encourage people to foods rich in Glutathione, such as Avocado 26, or rich in Vitamins A and C like Mango and Papaya. Everyone can benefit from this knowledge, as even our often ignored plants like Lupo, Kulitis and Talinum are rich in Vitamins and Antioxidants. Superfoods like Malunggay (Vitamin Rich) and Eggplant (Antioxidant Rich) should be encouraged to provide our population with comprehensive nutrition.
Improving national nutrition is a big task but every small step counts. Here are a few of my own suggestions, and I’m sure you will all think of great ones as well:
· Information Drive – Use your position to educate the people! We are currently saturated with COVID protocol information. TV, Radio, Billboards and signs everywhere remind us of these. If just 25% of these advocated the virtues of healthy diets, people would listen.
· Healthy Relief Operations– When you need to hand out food, make sure it is something that strengthens immunity, unlike junk food and fast food which make people more susceptible to disease.
· Dissemination of Information – Many of our health workers are no longer acting with the natural immune system in mind. It is an unfortunate truth of modern medicine that we have forgotten to rely on the body’s innate capabilities. Within your LGU, or RHU have someone break down the information found in these studies and teach the rest.
This will empower them to use Vitamin supplementation and make dietary recommendations, not only conventional ones.
· Encourage Organic Gardening in Your Area – Holding activities, competitions or offering rewards and incentives for growing food at home, starting urban gardens and the like (this has been successful in Cebu) can be used to encourage people to grow healthy food at home and relieve boredom from lockdown.
In the proper management of any outbreak, strengthening of the immune system needs to be prioritized as well. If you truly have our best interests at heart, please, educate your people on how to protect themselves through nutrition. Future generations will thank you.
Rafael G. Mapa,
A Farmer, Writer, Father, Husband and Concerned Citizen
Tags: COVID, glutathione, immune system, immunity, information, leaders, natural, nutrition, organic food, protocls, Vitamin