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.

Making a difference: An invitation to try Kiva and get $25 to lend

I’ve been making microfinance loans for several years now through Kiva. It gives me an amazingly good feeling to lend $25 along with a bunch of other people from around the world to help someone struggling in poverty get ahead and to receive updates on their repayment status.

I could be in their shoes. After all, isn’t every person just another version of me?

I’ve made 15 loans so far, to people in Benin, Ecuador, several in Peru, Kenya, Paraguay, Costa Rica, Pakistan, and Nigeria. The one to Pakistan took a long time to repay, and I could infer from reading the news why. That country was in quite a bit of turmoil right after I made that loan.

I’ve lent to individuals and groups, men and women of various ages. One was to a Costa Rican mother of four and grandmother, very stylish, who is a talented seamstress and dressmaker. Maria also teaches sewing classes. Her loan, now repaid, was for a better sewing machine for making alterations. Here’s her photo. Doesn’t she look competent?

I am discerning about the reason they want a loan. I’d rather lend money to someone who is creating something or offering a skilled service than if they are reselling Pepsi. Who needs Pepsi?

Several of my loan recipients have done embroidering, weaving, sewing, and tailoring — which require real skills. Others have been in food and agriculture — food stalls, dairy, livestock, fruits and vegetables.

Aside: I wish Kiva would identify the people who are raising livestock, dairy animals, and crops organically. I’d like to encourage that kind of agriculture. That food might end up on my table someday, or yours. Wouldn’t you  prefer organic? Couldn’t the whole world return to growing our food organically?

When loans are repaid, I relend the money. You can also take it out of Kiva if you want. I usually give Kiva a little extra for their operating expenses. That part is tax-deductible as a charitable donation.

Anyway, this is by way of inviting you to make a loan through Kiva. Right now, if any friend of mine joins Kiva for the first time, we both get $25 to  lend. 

All you have to do is click this link to go to my personal invitation page. Find a borrower you like, click “Lend $25,” and follow the instructions from there.

I just used my free $25 to lend Zilola in Spitamen, Tajikistan, some of the $600 needed for her to buy a computer. This mother of three, who works at  a sewing workshop, plans to offer computer services to generate more income for her family. She’s had a little training in business and computer use. Her children will benefit and will help her with this business.

Sounds like a forward-thinking, savvy mom to me.

Actually, the money has been pre-disbursed by a local microfinance operation that works with Kiva as a field partner. The nuts and bolts of microfinance are sophisticated.

IMON International has a four-star risk rating, has partnered with Kiva for over 4 years, and has made over 6,000 microloans totaling $7.5 million in Tajikistan with a default rate of 0.03%.

That seems pretty sound to me.

My loan actually goes to IMON to replace the money they’ve already lent to Zilola. I will get updates on Zilola’s repayment. (Note: The recipient I originally chose, Hout, worked with a Kiva field partner that did not meet Kiva’s standard for participating in this special offer, so if you read this post twice, I’ve replaced Hout’s info with Zilola’s.)

However the money flows, it is doing good, and I feel more connected to this amazing planet we call home.

I make microfinance loans through Kiva because it makes me feel good to help others. My heart connects to their lives and their dreams of lifting themselves and their children out of poverty, of living fuller, more satisfying lives in their families, communities, and world. I want that too.

Their stories become part of my story.

If you’d like to participate in Kiva and start with a gift of $25 to lend, just click this link.