How we can help with COVID

This poses a huge challenge to western medicine which historically likes to work in silos, where you see a specialist for each separate area of the body. The multi-systems nature of ongoing Covid, whereby it seems to be common that symptoms will appear in one area only to subside and arise in a different system does not sit well within the framework of western medicine.

The Rise of Chronic Illness

As the coronavirus first hit early in 2020, our attention was solely on the acute illness caused by the virus and whilst we saw those over 70 at increased risk the reasons were unclear. We now understand that a key reason is that over 70’s have a much higher incidence of co-morbidities and these seem to significantly impact the outcome of coronavirus infection.

Unfortunately, so called “co-morbidities” or chronic disease, are no longer age-related diseases and are not limited to the senior members of our society as we have watched our health decline rapidly over the last 50 years. In 2002 chronic disease was already the leading cause of death and disability worldwide and WHO predicted that by 2020 their contribution would rise to a staggering 73% of all deaths, with the 4 most prominent being CVD, chronic pulmonary obstructive disorder, cancer and Type 2 Diabetes, (WHO, 2002).

Well, here we are.

10 years ago, in 2010 the estimated prevalence for Type 2 Diabetes worldwide was 285 million and is expected to affect 438 million by 2030, (Diabetes Uk, 2010).  In 2019 61% of women and 67% of men were either overweight or obese. (Baker, C. 2019). This is the disaster we see unfolding around the world as we understand that metabolic health (how we transport, use and store energy and nutrients in the body) is the greatest determinant for negative Covid 19 outcomes, where we see those with obesity are more at risk for testing positive for Covid-19 (>46%) as well as 113% more likely to have to stay in hospital. In addition, those who are either overweight or obese have a more alarming 48% increased mortality (Popkins et al., 2020).

 

Long COVID

There is also still a widespread false perception that when you have Covid19 you either get admitted to hospital and recover after a couple of weeks or you die. This is increasingly being shown to be untrue as the lasting effects of Covid19 are becoming more evident. For some people, Covid19 infection has become a long-term illness, with up to 20% of people on the Covid19 Symptom Study app (4 million regular users) reporting complications for longer than a month, (NIHR, 2020). The problem we face with dealing with what is now being called long covid syndrome is the wide-ranging symptoms being reported.

Regardless of hospitalisation or not, we hear about symptoms ranging in intensity and duration, affecting the respiratory system, the brain, cardiovascular system and heart, the kidneys, the gut, the liver, and the skin. Furthermore, they do not necessarily present in a linear or sequential manner.

This poses a huge challenge to western medicine which historically likes to work in silos, where you see a specialist for each separate area of the body. The multi-systems nature of ongoing Covid, whereby it seems to be common that symptoms will appear in one area only to subside and arise in a different system does not sit well within the framework of western medicine.

Causes of the chronic disease pandemic that is fuelling the coronavirus pandemic are often broadly put down to “food”, “exercise” and “lifestyle”. But this fails to encompass the broader social, economic, and environmental determinants of our health and has led to years and years of victim-blaming, fat-shaming, and increasingly equivocal nutritional advice. The most damaging of all being “eat less, exercise more” – we have been doing that for 30 years – it hasn’t helped.

A clearer cause of our poor health could be phrased as “man-made environments, their by-products and/or lifestyles encouraged by these, some of which may be detrimental to human health”, (Egger and Dixon, 2014)

This nicely sums up the factors that we are trying to combat here at Biospan.

 

Using a Holistic Approach

Using a functional medicine approach, which has understood for years that the body is a holistic set of interconnected systems with no one area working in isolation, we aim to reverse the many causes of chronic disease, including environmental, nutritional, and lifestyle.  Functional medicine understands how an imbalance in one area can lead to symptoms in a seemingly unrelated bodily system. With this holistic, systems-based approach much more can be understood about the nature of long covid allowing more targeted and personalised interventions.

This is certainly the time for personalised medicine as we see such different reactions between individuals to the same virus. And by medicine I am going to lean on the much-used Hippocrates quote – “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

Now is the time to finally understand that health and medicine is not a one size fits all approach and personalised interventions that take into account your environment, health history and genes are the only way forward. Covid 19 infection may be inevitable but long-Covid need not be. Biospan uses a Functional medicine approach, combining this with ethically raised environmentally supportive food, (read more about regenerative farming here) with an emphasis on returning to a more ancestral environment that could truly support both your immunity to and recovery from the virus. Take back control of your own health and feel empowered in this very tricky situation.

 

NIHR. Living with covid-19. A dynamic review of the evidence around ongoing covid-19 symptoms (often called long covid). October 2020

The World Health Report 2002: Reducing Risks, Promoting Healthy Life.

Diabetes UK, 2010. Key. Diabetes in the UK 2010: statistics on Diabetes

Baker, C. 2019. Obesity Statistics. House of Commons Briefing Paper: 3336

Egger G, Dixon J. 2014. Beyond obesity and lifestyle: a review of 21st century chronic disease determinants. Biomed Res Int. 2014;2014:731685. doi:10.1155/2014/731685

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