Life After the COVID Pandemic

Life After the COVID Pandemic

Life After the COVID Pandemic

Thursday, 10 June 2021

Written by Dr. Stephen Barrie

We have learned many vital lessons over the past 18 months during the difficult times of the COVID pandemic.

One of the main lesson's centers around self-care – the importance of each one of us taking better care of our health for ourselves and those around us. We learned that the sophisticated establishment medical system was woefully inadequate – the only actionable advice initially presented was “wear a mask.” Important for sure, but not related to improving our body’s ability to resist the COVID infection.

Yet, we can take many other steps to lower risk, improve our immunity, and live a healthier, happier life. This blog will discuss with you the latest scientifically backed information on achieving these goals.

We will cover such topics as nutrition, the microbiome, your immune system, cognitive health, physical activity, sleep, meditation, relaxation, and healthy aging. We will evaluate these areas from both a lowering of chronic disease risk and a therapeutic viewpoint.

During the last 18 months it became apparent that having a strong immune system was very important. Yet, how do we improve our immune system?  There are many factors affecting our immune system and many ways to improve it’s function.

First lets quickly discuss what our immune system is and what it does. The immune system protects our body from outside invaders, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and toxins (chemicals produced by microbes). It is made up of different organs, cells, and proteins that work together.

The immune system keeps a record of every germ (microbe) it has ever defeated so it can recognize and destroy the microbe quickly if it enters the body again.

Common advice to improve your immune system includes: not smoking, regular exercise, healthy diet (high in vegetables and fruit), healthy weight, adequate sleep, and minimize stress.

But there are even more impactful things you can do. Today I will present one of them, it is called “Intermittent Fasting (IF)”. So what is Intermittent Fasting. I know, the word “fasting” doesn’t sound like fun.

It is actually very simple YET very powerful. IF is not a “diet” it is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. It is a form of time-restricting way of eating. There are several methods of IF, but one of the simplest involves consuming healthy food during an 8-hour window and avoiding food (fasting) for 16 hours per day. When you stop and start eating does not matter – you can start eating at 8AM and stop at 4PM or any other 8-hour period.

You can start doing this a few times per week and then slowly makes this your daily routine.

How does IF work?

Let me share the technical medical explanation: “Intermittent fasting elicits evolutionarily conserved, adaptive cellular responses that are integrated between and within organs in a manner that improves glucose regulation, increases stress resistance, and suppresses inflammation. During fasting, cells activate pathways that enhance intrinsic defenses against oxidative and metabolic stress and those that remove or repair damaged molecules.” [1]

That is a mouthful, it simply means that by restricting food intake for 16 hours per day we can change the production of various chemicals made by our body in many positive and healthy ways. Back to our Immune System (I didn’t forget it).

IF can help us fight off infections. The number one benefit of IF is something called “autophagy”. This involves the recycling of our old, damaged and redundant cells in order to produce fresh new cells that are superior in function and health. During this process, defective immune cells or their parts are replaced, and toxins or pathogens can be released from the cells. IF keeps your body focused on this cleanup work.

This process reduces immunosenescence (aging of the immune system); lowers inflammation and activates the cells that fight off invaders. A recent study showed that memory T cells, which produce molecular weapons to kill pathogens and cancers, suddenly became supercharged and fought off infections in one-third the time during IF.[2]

Intermittent Fasting improves the functions of our immune system so we can naturally reduce our risk of infections – such as the Sars-CoV2 (COVID) virus. Our bodies have powerful defense mechanisms, let’s be sure to maximize their potential.

But wait, an improved Immune System is just one of the amazing benefits of Intermittent Fasting. Here are the other main health benefits:

  • Weight loss: intermittent fasting can help you lose weight and belly fat, without having to consciously restrict calories
  • Insulin resistance: Intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance, lowering blood sugar by 3–6% and fasting insulin levels by 20–31%, which should protect against type 2 diabetes
  • Inflammation: studies show a reduction in blood inflammatory markers. Inflammation is one of the main causes of most chronic diseases
  • Heart health: Intermittent fasting can reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood sugar and insulin resistance — all risk factors for heart disease
  • Cancer: Animal studies suggest that intermittent fasting may prevent cancer
  • Brain health: Intermittent fasting increases the brain hormone BDNF and may aid the growth of new nerve cells. It may also protect against Alzheimer’s disease
  • Anti-aging: Intermittent fasting can extend lifespan in rats. Studies showed that fasted rats lived 36–83% longer
    In summary:
    Intermittent fasting can have many benefits for your body and brain. It can cause weight loss, reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. It may also help you live longer. And it supercharges your immune system. This is incredibly powerful medicine – yet simple and safe.   In our next blog we will introduce you to the microbiome”. Those 40 trillion little critters that live on and inside you.

    One of the goals of Tri Vananda is to give you actionable information and tools to improve the quality of your life.
    [1] n engl j med 381;26 December 26, 2019
    [2] Cell Vol 178, ISSUE 5, P1088-1101.E15, AUGUST 22, 2020