Antioxidants may lessen severity of COVID in older people

My email this morning contained news from Science Daily that researchers have discovered the mechanics of why COVID tends to be more severe in the elderly and people with underlying conditions.

I’m no scientist, but this was something I wondered about. I’m 67 and although I don’t consider myself elderly, I am an elder. (Humor me.)

I wondered what exactly is it about being older that makes one more vulnerable. I know lots of people my age and older who are healthy and living active lives. They don’t have underlying conditions, and apart from wrinklier skin, graying hair, and joints that are a little bit stiffer, are pretty healthy and fit.

According to this research as I understand it, it’s cellular oxidation that gives the COVID virus something to latch onto.

“Our analysis suggests that greater cellular oxidation in the elderly or those with underlying health conditions could predispose them to more vigorous infection, replication and disease,” says co-author Rajinder Dhindsa, an emeritus professor of biology at McGill University.

…According to the researchers, preventing the anchor from forming could be the key to unlocking new treatments for COVID-19. One strategy, they suggest, could be to disrupt the oxidizing environment that keeps the disulfide bonds intact. “Antioxidants could decrease the severity of COVID-19 by interfering with entry of the virus into host cells and its survival afterwards in establishing further infection,” says Professor Singh.

Source: Science Daily article

Cells produce free radicals as the body processes food and reacts to the environment. If the body cannot process and remove free radicals efficiently, oxidative stress can result. Antioxidants can help prevent this.

It appears that over time, an excess of free radicals can do the kind of cellular damage that results in not only more severe cases of COVID, but also heart disease, cancer, stroke, arthritis, Parkinson’s, respiratory illness, and more.

How do you prevent oxidative stress? Avoiding inflammation, pollution, smoking, and too much UV exposure help.

You can also consume antioxidants from food. They are free-radical scavengers.

Antioxidant is a broad label for hundreds of substances that do the same thing: prevent or slow oxidative stress.

You’ve probably heard of some of them, like beta-carotene and lycopene. Each one does a specific thing, but all of them are plant-based, so it’s important to eat lots of fruits and veggies, especially the most colorful ones like berries, citrus, greens, beets, tomatoes, mangoes, etc.

Without knowing this, I learned that I was already doing a lot of things right.

  • I drink matcha every morning (green tea is a major antioxidant).
  • I eat lots of leafy greens.
  • I eat a small apple for a snack nearly every day.
  • I keep frozen berries on hand for smoothies.
  • I make and drink beet kvass (a fermented drink).
  • I cook with a lot of herbs and spices. I grow herbs and pick them right before cooking.

With supplements, more is not necessarily better, and some can interact with meds. You probably want to talk to a nutritionist first.

I hope that this is helpful. I hope you stay well, and if you get sick, that you recover well. If you want to know more, I found this article credible and helpful.

Energizing morning beverage: green tea, yerba mate, lemon juice, ginger

Lately in the mornings, I’ve been making myself a cup of tea that has been incredibly energizing. I feel like I have the energy of someone half my age, which would be…under 30. This morning I was literally jumping at ecstatic dance!

Here’s how to make it:

Boil some filtered water and turn off the heat.

Into a tea ball or strainer, add about a teaspoon of loose green tea leaves. You could use a tea bag of green tea if that’s all you have, but be warned: the tea that goes into tea bags is of vastly inferior quality compared to loose tea.

Add anywhere from a pinch to a quarter teaspoon of yerba mate. Too much can give heart palpitations, so more is not better. Start with a pinch and add more if you have no unpleasant side effects.

Put the tea ball into a cup and fill the cup with hot water.

Add about a teaspoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice or other citrus juice.

Add 1 or 2 slices of fresh ginger root, about as thick as a nickel.

Let steep for about 3 minutes. Remove tea ball.

You could add stevia or honey if you like, but I find the astringent taste refreshing. You can also pour it over ice for a refreshing cool beverage.

Health benefits

  • Green tea is a powerhouse for health. It contains catechins, which are antioxidants that scavenge the body for free radicals and destroy them.  The catechins also protect the skin from DNA damage from UV light. Green tea’s EGCG kills cells showing abnormal growth rates — like cancer cells. It lowers the absorption rate of cholesterol from food and increases the rate cholesterol is excreted, so it improves cardiovascular health. Its theanine boosts the activity of T cells, enhancing the immune system. It assists in weight loss by stimulating the metabolism while dissolving triglycerides.
  • Adding lemon juice to green tea boosts the amount of catechins that are absorbed, supercharging it. Green tea alone is already pretty supercharged, so this combo is super-supercharged! By itself, lemon juice has dozens of beneficial properties: it is alkalizing, improves digestion and elimination, cuts phlegm, purifies the blood, improves the skin, lowers blood pressure, aids in weight loss, and more.
  • Yerba mate provides provides energy without the negative side effects of caffeine. Its theobromine (also found in cacao) relaxes the blood vessels, lowering blood pressure. It stimulates the immune system. It also promotes weight loss by decreasing hunger pangs and stimulating the metabolism.
  • Ginger induces the death of cancer cells. It improves digestion, relieves gastro-intestinal distress, is anti-inflammatory and pain relieving. Like the other ingredients, it is stimulating and energizing.

It’s amazing to me that with just a morning cup of lemon ginger green tea mate, I can do so much for my health while I increase my energy for the day.