Know your Immunity against COVID-19
Coronavirus has quivered the whole world. It is spreading like wildfire. Every day the number of individuals catching the virus is increasing. We all are looking for ways to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Washing hands, wearing a mask, using hand sanitizer and social distancing are just some of the precautions people are practising. Although coronavirus is highly infectious, some people get recovered after having mild symptoms and some get seriously ill. So, what is the difference between them? Maybe your immunity plays a role in how susceptible you are for this infection. To understand this better lets first get some basics about this deadly virus-
Coronavirus belongs to a family of viruses known for causing illness in humans and many different animals like cattle, cats, camels and bats. Usually, animal coronaviruses do not infect humans. However, the novel coronavirus has its origin from bats and has infected lakhs of people worldwide.
This new virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated as “COVID-19”).COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease which spreads by droplets released in the air during coughing or sneezing by an infected person. The disease which was first identified in Wuhan, China has now spread to 194 countries infecting 4,28,220 people and causing 19,101 deaths. COVID-19 outbreak has been declared as a pandemic by WHO. After a person gets exposed to the virus, it takes around 5 to 14 days for the symptoms to appear.
Common symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- Body pain
- Running nose
- Sore throat
Most of the infections result in mild symptoms like above and the person may recover with the help of proper medical support. However, some cases may progress to serious conditions like pneumonia and multi-organ failure and may lead to death. The death rate varies between 1% to 5%.
COVID-19 and Immunity
Although COVID-19 is highly infectious and anybody can get it, chances of severe complications of the infection are higher in people with lower immunity level. According to the CDC, people who are at higher risk of developing severe illness include:
- Older adults (above 60 yrs)
- People suffering from chronic medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, lung disease or cancer
What is Immunity?
The immune system is our body’s defence system which protects us from disease-causing germs. We get sick when this defence system fails. A germ enters a body and makes us ill. What can we do to improve this defence system or immunity? On what factors does it depend? Can food affect our immunity?
One of the most important factors that decide our immunity level is our gut microbiome. Gut microbiome is the collection of all the microorganisms living inside our intestine. These include bacteria, fungi, viruses etc. In fact, there are more bacterial cells in our body than the human cells. This microbiome plays an important role in maintaining our health and well being. There is a fine balance between beneficial and harmful bacteria in our gut. Sometimes this balance gets disturbed, which leads to health issues. This imbalance is called gut dysbiosis and can lead to many conditions like diabetes, hypertension, digestive problems, heart disease, depression and even cancer.
Gut Microbiome and its relation to immunity
Scientific research has shown that gut microbiome plays an important role in the induction, function and maintenance of the host immune system. In ideal conditions, this microbiome-immune system alliance allows the initiation of protective responses against germs. It also helps in the maintenance of regulatory pathways involved in the tolerance of harmless germs. However, in developing countries changes in diet pattern, increased use of processed food, exposure to pollutants, sedentary lifestyle and overuse of antibiotics has changed our microbiota that lacks resilience and diversity essential for a strong immune system. This change in the microbiome is believed to account for the dramatic rise in the rate of infections and diseases.
The concept that microorganisms play an important role in our health is not new:
The concept was originally proposed by the work of Döderlein (1892) and his demonstration of the role of lactobacilli as gatekeepers of the vaginal ecosystem and through the observation of Metchnikoff relating increased life expectancy with fermented milk products. Recent methods of microbiome testing have made it possible to understand how changes in the microbiome can contribute to immunity and disease risk.
A study was conducted by Xi Shen et al. in 2018 to examine the probable relation between gut microorganisms and immunity among healthy middle-aged and elderly individuals in the southern part of China. Around 150 healthy adults aged ≥ 50 years were a part of this research. Blood samples were collected to evaluate serum immune and biochemical parameters. Also, the gut microbiota compositions were characterized on the basis of fecal DNA using 16S rRNA gene sequencing. The results suggested that ageing could significantly affect the composition of gut microbes in terms of quantity and quality. Ageing causes changes in the composition of gut microbiome, which is characterized by decreased Bacteroidetes levels (beneficial bacteria that perform metabolic conversions essential for the host). This can lead to gradual deterioration of the immune system among the ageing population.
Microbiome test can reveal your immunity level
If you want to know how good is your immunity against viruses, you should buy MyMicrobiome kit @ www.bione.in and get your gut microbiome tested. After you place the order, MyMicrobiome kit will be shipped to your address. The kit contains fecal sample collection device with an instruction manual. You have to collect your sample and seal it properly. Your sample will be picked up by the bione team and sent to the lab for testing. You will receive a detailed report on Bione gXplore App. After that, you can connect to diet & nutritional counsellors who will guide you about what changes you need to make in your diet and lifestyle to boost your immunity and have a healthier life.