Why do some people get really sick with viral infections and others do not? It is not the virulence of the virus. That generally remains the same across strains. It may be viral load, with health-care workers at greater risk. Mainly, however it is the terrain, not the virus. Our health vs the virus.
The terrain the virus invades plays a big part in the outcome. It may be time for us as individuals and as a population to shake off fear and stop waiting around for a vaccine to save us. Yes, a viral infection can kill; yes, a viral infection can result in neurological disability; yes, a viral infection can result in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
These are not new phenomena. What is new is that the media and authorities have found it useful to highlight these aspects of a viral infection. Not many years ago Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was roundly dismissed by conventional medicine, but now it’s promoted as a disease process by both mainstream medicine and media. There are innumerable viruses that can result in any of the outcomes mentioned. Yet, we don’t fear these unnamed organisms that are always around us.
The health or otherwise of our bodies, that the virus finds itself in, makes up the terrain. The terrain is a combination of our genes and environment. Mainly it is our environment, as this is what effects our gene transcription (i.e. turns genes on and off). It is our health vs the virus.
This is not to lay blame on an individual for contracting a disease. On the contrary, it is to allow individuals to maximize their chances of preventing and overcoming viral illnesses by optimizing the terrain that is their bodies.
Yes, social distancing perhaps helps, and hand hygiene definitely does. Lock-downs and (non-medical) masks may help, but that is a contested point1 and it is too soon to draw conclusions. An effective vaccine is a way off. The biggest advantage is in keeping our terrain healthy. Humans have evolved with viruses. It has always been our health vs the virus.
How to Choose Freedom by Enhancing Terrain
Diet and the frequency of eating probably provide the greatest benefit for health vs virus. So much confusing information is available with regard to diet, that it is no wonder that some have given up and are sitting on the couch waiting for the vaccine. I have studied diet since the age of 10 and it has been a moving feast (excuse the pun). Without getting into the diet wars, for those ready to choose freedom, I would refer them to Dr. Jason Fung’s excellent book “The Obesity Code” and for shorter reads to my blogs on Diet and Treats.
From the start of this pandemic, obesity has been strongly associated with poor outcomes.2,3 While weight-loss may take time, decreasing (or stopping) carbohydrates can help, not only as a high glucose level affects the immune system,4 but being in ketosis may provide immune support against respiratory infections.5
There are of course many other ways to optimize health vs the virus. I have written about this before, at the early stages of the epidemic. Some of the statistics have changed, but the basic message of defending ourselves remains current.
While the great hope of vaccines are not without side-effects,6 and may in fact be less effective in those who are obese,7 choosing freedom and health come with a multitude of side-benefits.
With health vs the virus, I choose the freedom to improve my health and optimize my chances.
- MacIntyre, C.R., et al. A cluster randomised trial of cloth masks compared with medical masks in healthcare workers. BMJ open 5, e006577 (2015).
- Petrilli, C.M., et al. Factors associated with hospitalization and critical illness among 4,103 patients with COVID-19 disease in New York City. medRxiv, 2020.2004.2008.20057794 (2020).
- Anderson, M.R., et al. Body Mass Index and Risk for Intubation or Death in SARS-CoV-2 Infection: A Retrospective Cohort Study. Ann Intern Med (2020).
- Jafar, N., Edriss, H. & Nugent, K. The Effect of Short-Term Hyperglycemia on the Innate Immune System. The American Journal of the Medical Sciences 351, 201-211 (2016).
- Stubbs, B.J., et al. Investigating Ketone Bodies as Immunometabolic Countermeasures against Respiratory Viral Infections. Med.
- Jackson, L.A., et al. An mRNA Vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 – Preliminary Report. N Engl J Med (2020).
- Painter, S.D., Ovsyannikova, I.G. & Poland, G.A. The weight of obesity on the human immune response to vaccination. Vaccine 33, 4422-4429 (2015).