AGE – Time passes and we get older. This is an unavoidable clause of being alive and one the alchemists have already been tinkering with. As entropy is the law governing any complex system, so it will increase in our bodies as well. Age will take its pound of flesh, until it finally takes the whole. With the Corona virus every decade on your back brings more risk. This is due to the decay of the immune system which weakens as the errors in our body accumulate over time. Children and young adults have 0.2% of a fatal outcome, it rises to 0.4 in the 40’s, 1.3 in the 50’s, 3.6 in 60’s, 8.0 in our 70’s and 14.8 in the 80’s. The risk grows exponentially and the elders of our societies are the ones contributing most to the statistics of fatalities from this new viral attack on the world. We can’t fight or stop time, but we can slow down the decline.
GENETICS – We’ve been dealt a hand and it’s just here. Be it that your ancestors have thrown in some proclivity to heart or lung disease, to be slightly on the neurotic side, be prone to strokes or infection, cannot process lactose or are colour blind, or you now have green eyes or dark hair… These things are locked in and we can’t change our basic genome. But we can tinker with the epigenome. Epigenome is the way a specific genome expresses itself in its surroundings and it can be affected by our choices. Different parts turn on and off as needed or depending on what we provide our bodies and minds with. You may be genetically predisposed to be skilled meteorically, but you may never know if you don’t do things that demand metrical dexterity. You may be inclined to be a deep thinker in problem solving, but you won’t know it if you avoid challenge and obstacle. You may have all of the predispositions to develop cancer or a weaker immune system but you may never experience any health issues because you’ve countered this by choosing to move your body, sleep well, manage your stress levels and eat right. Genetics can make you more susceptible to viral infections but you have a say.
WEAKENED IMMUNE SYSTEM – due to something that might have even started in infancy such as being born by C-section and therefore been deprived of the mother’s good bacteria smear as you’re passing through the birth canal. It may be you were a sickly child pumped full of antibiotics or that you’ve had longer periods of exposure to aggressive medication such as steroids or chemo that decimate the immune system’s defences. Or we’ve just destroyed our gut floor (most of our immunity comes from the gut) by harmful lifestyle choices such as curb loaded diets, no greens, burnout syndrome aka giving no time for recovery, bad emotional states that result in bodily manifestations, having leaky gut or diabetes (that’s a big one here), overly sterilizing your environment and body for a long time (germaphobes are more prone to infections as our immune systems learn and get strong by being exposed to things).
PREEXISTING CHRONIC DISEASES – These ones have already weakened you and your immunity over time and make you more susceptible to get infected once you’re exposed to the virus. The big one for Corona is a pre-existing lung and respiratory issues, especially if they harm the mucus membranes, and for viruses in general – prediabetes, diabetes and metabolic syndrome pose a risk, as a body with blood sugar issues is already, stressed, weakened and has a myriad of problems that disrupt the normal functioning of the immune system.
STRESS is a doozy here. We take stress as a part of life now and wear it a badge signifying we’re trying. Stress is unavoidable, but not finding ways to unwind and re-enter, to take care of your own wellbeing and peace of mind is a choice. Resting is not a loss of productivity equated with pointless procrastination, and no reason to feel guilty. Burning out your adrenals (handling most of the stress in the body) is the surest way to destroy your immune system. Couple that with a prolonged period of bad food choices, a few sleepless nights and some liver destroying binge drinking (alcohol is just sugar with a different kind of buzz) and you’ve got yourself a perfect storm of a body that’s so busy cleaning out and repairing damage that it overlooks the threats from the outside, dropping the number of killer T-cells, designed to fight pathogens as a first line of defence once a virus enters the body.
The kicker is – no matter what your predispositions or risk factors are and what age you are, you can exempt yourself from the statistics by taking care of the body and mind before a problem arises. Most effective things are those that are the strongest biological impulses and things we do every day and these are – food and rest. On Monday we’ll go more into the nutrition nitty gritty that will amp up your immune system into the robust protective shield it’s supposed to be.