Can your diet make a difference in your reaction to COVID-19?

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette. According to the science magazine, the novel coronavirus, called SARS-CoV-2, enters the nose and throat it will find a home in the lining of the nose. The virus finds its way into the lining of cells by the ACE2 receptors, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). The ACCE2 is normally present to help regulate blood pressure and marks tissues that are vulnerable to infection, once the virus enters the cell, it will hijack the cell to make a copy of itself and invade new cells. 

Based on a new study and the death data that is currently released in Europe, a new correlation is found. Germany, as well as Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, the Baltic States & Finland has lower death rates per million in comparison to France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, and the UK. 

 

So what caused the disparity between countries? 

If we look closely at the different regions, aside from the populations that make up the countries, and relevant factors such as seasonal variation, cross-immunity, immunity, duration, and measures of protection, other factors such as environment and nutrition should be accounted for. We know that obesity, as well as diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension (high blood pressure) is a high-risk factor for COVID-19, this suggests that the importance of nutrition is present. 

If we take a deeper look, death rates in two southern regions of Germany as well as Saarland is higher than in other areas. Though aden-Wurttemberg and Saarland are in close contact with Alsace (France), one may say the higher infection rate may be due to cross border traffic of the French. However, there are other regions also having a closer approximately with France but still have a lower rate of mortality, or regions with high mortality rates such as Bavaria, but not close to France at all. Diet differs by region in Germany, traditionally the southern states have a history of having a higher fat-rich diet. Diet varies based on region and is not normally distributed evenly, which gives another support on the uneven distribution that we are seeing.  Nutrition may therefore play a role in the immune defense against this novel COVID-19 and may be explained in the differences seen in COVID-19 mortality across Europe. 

Though it is hard to weigh out all of the factors associated with the correlation, the study did examine across the European countries & Turkey as well, there are low death rates in countries such as Bulgaria, Greece, and Romania. A common factor among all of these countries is the consumption of fermented food such as fermented cabbage for Romania and Turkey, and fermented milk for Bulgaria, Greece as well as Turkey. These foods are known as ACE Natural inhibitors. 

 

The wonders of fermented food 

The fermentation process was a preservation method from the Neolithic age. Not all fermented foods are created equal, live microorganisms are often killed or removed after fermentation in foods such as soy sauces, bread, most beers, and wine as well as chocolate. Live cultures are often found in fermented vegetables and milk. Most traditional foods with live bacteria in the low death rate countries are based on lactic acid bacteria (LAB) fermentation. Fermented vegetables contain a high level of Lactobacillus that can activate Nrf2 and impact on the microbiome, and as mentioned above, they are also an ACE natural inhibitor, which is the gatekeeper to the entry point for the coronavirus to enter into cells. Nrf2 protects against severe COVID-19, partly due to its anti-fibrotic effects on various organs, including the lungs, which protects against acute respiratory distress syndrome, endothelial damage, and lung injury. Nrf2 can also block IL-6 in different inflammation models and might play a role in a COVID-19 cytokine storm. 

R’s Koso is made through fermentation made from predominantly vegetables as well as plants and fruits which are high in antioxidants. The fermentation is made with added lactic acid bacteria also known as LAB fermentation that is rich in good bacteria such as lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus casei, Lactococcus lactis. As mentioned in the study good bacterial can activate Nrf2 and is good for the gut microbiome. This gives more reason to consume this delicious nutrient-dense drink. 

 

References: 

  1. Bousquet, J., Anto, J. M., Iaccarino, G., Czarlewski, W., Haahtela, T., Anto, A., . . . Zuberbier, T. (2020). Is diet partly responsible for differences in COVID-19 death rates between and within countries? Clinical and Translational Allergy, 10(1). doi:10.1186/s13601-020-00323-0
  2. Ahtesh FB, Stojanovska L, Apostolopoulos V. Anti-hypertensive peptides released from milk proteins by probiotics. Maturitas. 2018;115:103–9.

  3. Patra JK, Das G, Paramithiotis S, Shin HS. Kimchi and other widely consumed traditional fermented foods of Korea: a review. Front Microbiol. 2016;7:1493.
  4. Gharehbeglou P, Jafari SM. Antioxidant components of brassica vegetables including turnip and the influence of processing and storage on their anti-oxidative properties. Curr Med Chem. 2019;26(24):4559–72.
  5. Cabbage and fermented vegetables: from death rate heterogeneity in countries 11 to candidates for mitigation strategies of severe COVID-19. Jean Bousquet, Josep M Anto , WienczyslawaCzarlewski et al. 2020
  6. Photo by Dealmoon @挑挑xx
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