COVID-19 – Supporting Stress

With so much media attention COVID-19 is at the forefront of everyone’s minds! I have been  sceptical to write my usual immune boosting plan as we are dealing with a virus which is so new. Obviously eating well is an essential element to support a healthy immune system. 

I have spent some time reading through the studies published with free access on the Lancet web page

This for me is a trustworthy resource source. It opens with this statement ‘The Lancet family of journals are committed to publishing the latest and most rigorous science to inform clinical and public health responses to the coronavirus pandemic. There has never been a moment in human history when new research has played such a critical part in shaping the global response to an acute disease threat. That threat continues, and original science will be a decisive influence in what is now a political as well as a health crisis.’ 

I was drawn to a couple of papers discussing a subgroup of patients with severe COVID-19 diagnosed with cytokine storm syndrome. Resulting from a over reactive immune response. This highlighted to me the care we need to take when offering immune boosting protocols. Yes, staying healthy and eating well is an important part of supporting your immune system but for those who are at risk what should we be suggesting? With a mortality rate approximately 3·7%, compared with less than 1% from influenza. There is an urgent need for effective treatment. Current focus has been on the development of novel therapeutics, including antivirals and vaccines. Although we still have no confirmed form of treatment.

In the article “The Medium is the Message,” the author discusses the impact of the wrong form of advice and information that certain social media platforms can deliver and the impact this can have on how people ‘feel’. The author goes on to state that with the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), both within nations and internationally, is aided and abetted by misinformation that circumnavigates the planet in microseconds. Such misinformation is not all malevolent, although its impact can be devastating. The only bastion of defence against rising public panic, financial market hysteria, and unintended misunderstandings of the science and epidemiology of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 is agile, accurate, worldwide-available counter-information that takes the high moral ground and conveys a consistently science-driven narrative. Some have sought to limit misinformation about COVID-19 on social media by pressuring corporations, such as Facebook, Weibo, and Twitter, to censor bad actors—an approach that has not stopped conspiracy theorists, trolls, and liars.;

Public health is now advising people in the UK who feel ill and their families who may be asymptomatic to quarantine themselves for two weeks, and all schools will be shutting down in the next couple of days. Interestingly I was drawn to an article published on the Lancet titled “The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it.” It discusses that Public Health decisions on how to apply quarantine should be based on the best available evidence.

Quarantine is the separation and restriction of movement of people who have potentially been exposed to a contagious disease to ascertain if they become unwell, so reducing the risk of them infecting others. This definition differs from isolation, which is the separation of people who have been diagnosed with a contagious disease from people who are not sick; however, the two terms are often used interchangeably, especially in communication with the public.

Quarantine or isolation is often an unpleasant experience for those who undergo it. Separation from loved ones, the loss of freedom, uncertainty over disease status, financial worry and boredom can, on occasion, create dramatic effects. Suicide has been reported, substantial anger generated, and lawsuits brought following the imposition of quarantine in previous outbreaks. The potential benefits of mandatory mass quarantine need to be weighed carefully against the possible psychological costs.

So, for the crunch of this newsletter I would like to reflect on an area of

importance the stress response. We have evolved remarkably well to deal with stress and are born with an in-built emergency response system. The ‘stress response’ prepares us to ‘fight or take flight’ when faced with a (real or perceived) threatening situation. Heart rate and blood pressure increase, pupils dilate, immune system is suppressed, blood sugar increases and energy divert away from digestion and towards muscles, ready to spring into action. Once the threat is over, the body has another amazing physiological response – it can switch off this emergency mode and quickly restore calm and balance to all systems involved.

So, when we’re stressed, the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens is reduced. That is why we are more susceptible to infections. It may be easier said than done but taking time to support your stress response is essential.

Stress Support Tips
• Try to eat a wholefood diet.
• Get Plenty of sleep
• Relaxation Exercise; stretching; mindfulness and yoga
• Read a book
• Watch a film
• Take a bath
• Do a jigsaw

Spend time with family / or call them up

Key stress supplements:
✓ Magnesium
Vital for helping the body to deal with stress and yet lacking in a typical Western diet; mental & physical stress both increase magnesium elimination from the body, which can lead to a poorly functioning stress response. Multiple studies have now demonstrated improved stress response, anti-depressant and anti-anxiety effects of magnesium supplementation.

✓ B Vitamins
Often nicknamed ‘anti-stress’ nutrients for their powerful ability to balance mood and calm the nervous system, B vitamins are crucial for a balanced stress response.

If you are well and know of someone that needs to isolate and lives alone, offering a helping hand can also support them. A simple gesture goes a long way
• Give them a call to see if they need any supply’s
• Offering to walk their dog
• Posting mail
• Or just to say hello

Please do not take a supplement without consulting a health care professional. Thank you for reading.

Please take care.

Fiona Waring 
Dip Nut, BSc.(Hons), MSc PHN, ANutr 

Nutritional Therapist
M: +44 07957 267 964