Managing Risk with Autoimmune & COVID-19
We know that most people (not all) with an autoimmune condition are at a higher risk category of catching a virus and having complications from it, whether it’s due to the disease itself, medication, or the other risk factors.
Several factors have been shown to increase your risk even more than just having an autoimmune condition.
We are going to dive into the ones I see impact autoimmune the most.
1. Reduce overall Inflammation 2. Uncontrolled Blood Pressure, 3. Uncontrolled Blood Sugar, and 4. Digestive issues. To mitigate your risk, we need to address and deal with these 4 things.
Reduce your overall inflammation:
Since this is an inflammatory condition, we need to reduce all other inflammation and immune response to improve your resilience on any virus coming it. The quickest way to reduce inflammation & immune response is with food. The top inflammatory foods are:
Uncontrolled Blood Pressure:
We know COVID -19 it acts on the lungs and Gut by the receptor ACE-2, however, we know that Blood pressure is controlled by Angiotension-2. Having higher blood pressure could potentially allow more receptors to be available for viral binding.
Ways to control blood pressure:
- Reducing STRESS!
- Walking in nature
- Deep breathing – 10 deep breaths 2 times per day
- Sleep: Ensure you are getting 8 hours of sleep
Uncontrolled Blood Sugar:
Having higher blood sugar impacts the function of White Blood cells, it decreases the function neutrophils, suppressing the immune response for hours.
It’s imperative that you work to control blood sugar, reducing the spikes and lows.
Ways to control blood sugar:
- Reduce sugar and simple carbs ( white bread, pasta, crackers, cereal)
- Eat a fiber, protein and/or fat to help blunt the sugar response
- Exercise – movement makes the cells more sensitive to sugar, allowing you to utilize it for energy better.
Research (observational research) has been coming out of China that shows people with gastrointestinal upset (diarrhea) is are at higher risk of complications. This could be because virus impacts receptors in the gastrointestinal tract, potentially causing more inflammation there.
“Conclusion: We found that digestive symptoms are common in patients with COVID-19. Moreover, these patients have a longer time from onset to admission, and their prognosis is worse than patients without digestive symptoms. Clinicians should recognize that digestive symptoms, such as diarrhea, maybe a presenting feature of COVID-19, and that the index of suspicion may need to be raised earlier in at-risk patients presenting with digestive symptoms rather than waiting for respiratory symptoms to emerge. However, further large sample studies are needed to confirm these findings.” (1)
How do we reduce the risk with digestive issues:
- Stay away from foods you know upset your stomach, #1 is dairy. 2/3’s of the population can not tolerate dairy.
- Follow the nutritional plan your health care provider recommended. For many of my clients that a modified Autoimmune Paleo
- Research shows that Probiotics have been beneficial for helping digestive upset * please talk to your health care provider to find out if these are right for you
- Fermented foods – I love the fermented cabbage ( kimchi, sauerkraut) that acts to help feed and populate your gut bacteria.
- Increase fiber – it’s a great source of prebiotics (feed the god bacteria)
- If you are still experiencing issues, talk to a health care provider. To determine what is causing this.
If you need help this an area I excel in! Digestive health is critical to have control when dealing with an autoimmune condition, virus, or not.
(1)Journal of Gastroenterology doi:14309/ajg.0000000000000620.