Navigational Tools for Thriving & Surviving this Winter

Immunologist Dr Ross Walton and A.Vogel Education Manager Alison Cullen talk about risks and remedies

The winter cough and cold season is going to be different this year. As a nation we are learning how to lower the spread and risk of infection from new COVID-19, as well as identifying whether symptoms are those of COVID-19 or instead worrying is the seasonal common cold and influenza symptoms that are prevalent at this time of year something more sinister.

With COVID-19 posing an on-going risk to the population, particularly those in vulnerable groups, it is important to support your immune system enabling it to be as healthy as it can be to fight all of these seasonal infections. In the case of COVID-19, statistics have shown that less healthy individuals are more likely to have a poor outcome from a COVID-19 infection.

Dr Ross Walton, immunologist and founder of A-IR Clinical Research says, “COVID-19 attaches to a protein that exists on the bodies epithelium cells which line the airways and lungs but is also present on other organs such as the heart. Adopting good hygiene habits and social distancing helps lower risk of infection within a community, however, once infection takes hold, the immune system in younger or healthier individuals with no co-morbidity factors are better equipped to deal with and clear infections more deftly.

What has been noted is that where inflammation already exists in the body, such as in those with diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidaemia, levels of ACE2[1] enzymes tend to be lower, leading to infection in an inflammation high environment, reducing the ability to clear the infection, thus lengthening illness duration and enhancing severity, increasing chances of fatality. In addition, the obese may already have an exhausted respiratory and cardiovascular system, further reducing capacity to fight infection.

Take Control of your Health – Save Lives – Keep Freedom of Movement
Taking control of your own health and hygiene habits lowers the risk of spreading infections and thereby helps safeguard lives; yours and the lives of those around you who may be more prone to infection and have poorer recovery outcomes: diabetics, the obese, elderly people, men, and those who are nutrient deficient.

Alison Cullen, A.Vogel Education Manager says “Several significant common threads run through the risk factors associated with poor outcome in COVID-19 infection. Understanding and tackling these factors gives us a powerful way of improving our health on many fronts, not just in terms of our resistance to viral infection. Two areas of focus where diet and lifestyle changes could play an important role in strengthening the body’s ability to fight and improve recovery outcomes from COVID-19 infection are maintaining a healthy weight for your age, gender and height, and reducing inflammation in the body.

Weighty Facts
A government report published 18.8.20[1] focuses on the importance of tackling obesity, in both children and adults, to reduce the negative effect of being overweight in cases of COVID-19.

Excess weight has previously been flagged up as a factor in the severity of COVID-19 symptoms, in July’s Public Health England report.[2] Although weight does not appear to affect a person’s chances of contracting COVID-19, it can affect the respiratory system and affect inflammatory and immune functions, making it harder for the body to respond appropriately to infection.

Flame-proof your health
Inflammation is one of the threads that weaves an ominous link between several risk factors, such as age, diabetes, obesity, and nutrient deficiency. Both vitamin D and zinc deficiencies have been associated with poor immune response and excessive inflammation, neither of which are helpful when responding to viral infections.[3],[4],[5]

Dietary and lifestyle strategies and anti-inflammatory remedies from nature may therefore play a beneficial role at this crucial time in the nation’s health, particularly in the vulnerable groups, but also in healthier individuals.

Take Action
While the pandemic continues to evolve, self-care is critical to our overall health.[6] Alison Cullen recommends some simple changes that may reap high health dividends:

Weigh in with these strategies

  • Go Med: you may not be able to fly to the Mediterranean at the moment, but check out their eating habits. The Mediterranean diet is associated with many health benefits, including lower blood pressure and better heart function.[7] This diet will also promote a satisfying feeling of fulness after eating, and steer you away from fatty disasters such as crisps and refined fast foods. The foods to focus on are vegetables, fruits, legumes, fish, whole grain cereals, nuts, and seeds, using olive oil as a healthy fat source. Low consumption of processed foods, dairy products, red meat, and vegetable oils goes hand in hand with these positive picks.
  • Watch the clock, not the scales: research shows that food consumed during the circadian evening and/or night, independent of more traditional risk factors such as amount or content of food intake and activity level, plays an important role in body composition.[8] The ideal time for people to eat the largest meal of the day is 8 hours before dim light melatonin onset. So, if you start to feel tired around 9 pm you should eat your largest meal at 1 pm.
  • Go nuts: increasing daily consumption of nuts is associated with less long-term weight gain and a lower risk of obesity in adults.[9] Replace half a serving per day of unhealthy foods such as processed meat, chips, desserts, or crisps with nuts to achieve these results.

Eat to beat inflammation
Adhering to an anti-inflammatory diet was associated with lower risks of dying from any cause, dying from cardiovascular causes, and dying from cancer in a Swedish study.[10]

  1. Take these off the menu: pizza (unless homemade), cheese, margarine, white bread, cakes and biscuits, meat slices, sweetened yoghurt, fried foods.
  2. Put these on the menu: focus on these delights: carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, butternut squash, mangos, apricots, peaches, nectarines, papaya, pears, pineapple, persimmons, blueberries, blackberries, pomegranate, purple grapes, blackcurrants, elderberries, prunes, plums, raisins, and figs.
  3. Oily goodness: Healthy oils that provide the essential fatty acids you need to counter inflammatory surges include flaxseed oil, hemp oil, walnut oil, pumpkin seed oil, and olive oil. Only cook with olive oil, the other oils can be used in dressings or for recipes that don’t involve heat.

Should I take vitamins and food supplements?
Those living in the northern hemisphere with reduced sunshine hours and the elderly in particular can be deficient in vitamin D; and the obese, diabetic and those suffering from stress can have depleted zinc resources. Supplementation in these groups are of particular benefit to help maintain a healthy immune system.

TRY NEW Immune Support – £12.50 for 30 one-a-day tablets from £ 12.50

Immune Support is a vegan Food Supplement containing Nasturtium extract, zinc, more easily absorbed vitamin C from Acerola and vitamin D. Research support that zinc, vitamin C and vitamin D contribute to the normal function of the immune system. Immune Support may also help reduce tiredness and fatigue during spells of sickness.

Can echinacea help?

Dr Ross Walton, Immunologist and founder of clinical research company, A-IR says: “The key to staying well lies first and foremost with eating a healthy diet and following a balanced lifestyle. In addition, Echinacea is a herb that has been shown to prevent the symptoms of a common cold erupting in childhood prophylactic studies during the cold and flu season.

For optimal results, OTC herbal medicines should contain all parts of the plant such as in Echinaforce, containing fresh, organic echinacea plant and root.

Be echinacea savvy as not all echinacea products are the same

  • Most herbal medicines hold a THR licence but Echinaforce holds a PL licence granted by the UKs Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, having submitted clinical trials, and is assessed on clinical efficacy, safety and quality to achieve a medicinal claim to treat symptoms of a common cold and influenza.
  • Unlike other Echinacea products, Echinaforce combines the anti-inflammatory action of the root, the anti-viral properties of the herb and the immune-strengthening benefits of both to provide maximum protection from cold and flu and relief of symptoms when infection occurs[12]
  • Research shows that the fresh Echinacea extract used in Echinaforce offers ten times more anti-viral activity than the dried herbs used in many other Echinacea products[13]
  • Echinaforce cut the number of colds suffered by people with weak immune systems or prone to recurrent infections by nearly 60 per cent.[14]

Echinaforce Drops, £10.50 (50ml), Boots, Holland & Barrett and all good health stores and pharmacies

[2] PHE Report July 2020: Excess Weight and COVID-19: insights from new evidence
[3] Hoe E et al. Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Vitamin D on Human Immune Cells in the Context of Bacterial Infection. Nutrients 2016; 8(12): 806.
[4] Merzon E et al. 2020. doi: 10.1111/FEBS.15495.
[5] Skalny AV et al. Zinc and respiratory tract infections: Perspectives for COVID19 (Review). Int J Mol Med 46: 17-26, 2020
[6] Jabri A et al. Incidence of Stress Cardiomyopathy During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic. JAMA Netw Open. 2020; 3 (7): e2014780
[7] Davis CR et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017;105 (6): 1305-1313
[8] McHill AW et al. Later circadian timing of food intake is associated with increased body fat.
Am J Clin Nutr 2017; 106 (5): 1213 ? 1219. Ravussin E et al. Early Time‐Restricted Feeding Reduces Appetite and Increases Fat Oxidation But Does Not Affect Energy Expenditure in Humans. Obesity 2019; 27 (8): 1244
[9] Liu X et al. bmjnph 2019. doi: 10.1136/bmjnph-2019-000034
[10] J. Kaluza et al. Influence of anti-inflammatory diet and smoking on mortality and survival in men and women: two prospective cohort studies. Journal of Internal Medicine, 2018; DOI: 10.1111/joim.12823
[11] Jawad M et al. Safety and efficacy profile of Echinacea purpurea to prevent common cold episodes: A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012; doi: 10.1155/2012/841315
[12] Vimalanathan S et al. Optimisation of Echinacea purpurea extraction and processing to yield high potency antiviral activity. Journal of Applied Science 2013;3(12): 001-005
[13] Raus K, Schoop R, Pleschka S, Klein P, Fisher P. Echinaforce Hot Drink versus Oseltamivir in influenza: A randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, multicenter, non-inferiority clinical trial. Curr Ther Res 2015; 77:66-72
[14] Vimalanathan S et al. Optimisation of Echinacea purpurea extraction and processing to yield high potency antiviral activity. Journal of Applied Science 2013;3(12): 001-005

[1] Angiotensin converting enzyme

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