In A Time Of Uncertainty (COVID-19) Knowing About Your Genes Can Help
There is no vaccine or defense for COVID-19 other than the one nature has given us – our immune system.
COVID-19 can be damaging and may be fatal. The virus triggers the host’s immune system and causes the body to react. The problem is that this immune response, in certain cases, can overreact.
In order to kill the virus, the immune system floods the body with its in-built cellular defence system, but when left unchecked the response may cause damage to your own cells, and with COVID-19, particularly the cells in your respiratory system. This being said, these responses differ widely amongst individuals, partly because of how their genes respond.
How Knowing About Your Genes Can Help.
As there is no vaccine yet, the best line of defense you have to fight off COVID-19 is to know how prepared your immune system is to defend yourself against the virus.
You are gifted with a complex immune system, or cellular defense mechanisms, which springs to action when a toxin or pathogen (viruses and bacteria) overwhelm the body. But the way these mechanisms act can differ from person-to-person because of your genes.
Taking a genetic test can tell you how prepared your immune system is, and whether your cellular defense processes are working optimally.
Genes are switches.
When a protein or enzyme is needed by the body the gene is switched on, to make that protein, and this is true for how the cellular defense system responds. A number of genes switch on when the virus is detected to mobilize against the virus, and switch off when the virus is killed off and flushed out.
The problem with a virus like COVID-19 is that the response to the virus is so powerful, cellular defense mechanisms like inflammation and oxidative stress are turned up so high that the body can be flooded and overwhelmed by the defense mechanisms themselves, causing damage to the cells.
How efficiently these “on” and “off” processes work differs between individuals and is partly due to their own genetic makeup. Once you know how optimally your cellular defence processes are working, you can get a sense of how resilient your immune system is and the steps you can take to address shortfalls.
What Is Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics?
Understanding the variability of your genes and your response to diet and lifestyle choices is called Nutrigenetics. We inherit these characteristics through small differences in our DNA sequence.
This being said, knowing more about your genes can help your healthcare practitioner make positive changes through nutrition to improve and optimise these metabolic processes.
While many will be reaching for megadoses of supplements, please note that your system is unique, nuanced, and very complex.
“A single nutrient like Vitamin C, by itself, is nothing compared to the many small calculated tweaks required at a molecular level to have your immune system work at its prime,”Dr Christine Houghton, Founder and Chief Science Officer at Cell-Logic
Understanding what molecular adjustments are required through diet and lifestyle is called Nutrigenomics. Specific food molecules have the power to switch on and switch off your genes.
As mentioned, apart from medical assistance in the most severe COVID-19 cases, your body’s cellular defense systems will be required to fight off COVID-19. The core cellular defense processes are: inflammation, oxidative stress, detoxification, and methylation.
“All these processes are activated and switched off via genes. The reaction time and how efficiently they respond can be adjusted using a personalized wholesome and healthy diet, and targeted nutrigenomic supplements,” says Dr Joffe.
Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) is a master switch that is responsible for switching on (and off) 100’s of genes involved in cellular defense. But what does it do and why is it important with regards to COVID-19?
In short, Nrf2 responds to the presence in the body of any pro-oxidant molecule, that then activates many of the genes involved in the cellular defense processes. So, if it switches on quickly you can flush the virus out better although there are Ts and Cs to this process, and complications can occur with underlying chronic health conditions.
“One way in which we can optimize the function of Nrf2s is by the ingestion of a nutrigenomically active molecule called Sulforaphane. The precursor of Sulforaphane is found abundantly in raw, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, broccoli sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage etc.). Unfortunately, it is destroyed during cooking, and a quality broccoli sprout supplement may be required.” says Dr Houghton.
As you can see there are many variables that make it important to consult a specialist who can help you prepare your immune system to be strong and resilient. This is especially true in times when there is an unchecked virus on the loose.
Can I Start To Prepare My Immune System Now?
The short answer is – yes. You can start to optimise your immune system response for COVID-19 like threats through a tailored nutrigenomic dietary plan.
Make an appointment with an accredited 3X4 nutrigenomic health practitioner and get a nutrigenetic test done. This will inform them what cellular processes require the most attention.
They will then recommend a nutrigenomic plan, and let you know what foods to eat to bolster your immune system to fight off a virus. This might also require some nutrigenomic supplements, mimicking and optimising natural processes in your body.
It’s never too late to start working on your immune system, and as Alexander Graham Bell said, “Preparation is the key to success.”
Having a healthy immune system supported by an optimally functioning cellular defence mechanism could not only give you the edge in the fight against COVID-19, but will help you live a better, healthier and longer life.