The Immune System and COVID-19 Treatment

The Immune System and COVID-19 Treatment
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Are there immune-boosting foods we should be eating?

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Though there are more than 400 clinical treatment trials underway, currently there is no specific proven therapy for COVID-19. And we should not expect a vaccine or effective antiviral drug to be available anytime soon, although we are developing COVID-19 vaccines at pandemic speed. Just for reference, the average vaccine takes more than a decade to develop, with an average failure rate of 94%.

Many have asked me for advice on what they can eat to help bolster their immune system. “How Not to Die from Infections” is, after all, the title of chapter five of my book How Not to Die, and I do have more than a hundred free videos online at NutritionFacts.org that reference immune function. And there are amazing studies, like randomized double-blind trials, showing, for example, that eating broccoli sprouts can reduce viral loads for influenza, decrease virus-induced inflammation, and boost our antiviral natural killer cell activity. Just from eating some broccoli sprouts! But this isn’t the flu.

I certainly support general, commonsense advice to stay healthy during the crisis, put forth by trusted authorities such as the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. This includes getting sufficient sleep (seven to nine hours), keeping active, reducing stress, staying connected—albeit remotely—to friends and family, and eating healthfully (a diet centered around whole plant foods)., The World Health Organization agrees: Fruits, vegetables, legumes—like beans, split peas, chickpeas, and lentils—nuts, and whole grains, cutting down on sugars, cutting down on meat, dairy, and junk, and cutting down on salt.

Optimal Nutritional Status for a Well-Functioning Immune System Is an Important Factor to Protect against Viral Infections.” However, one must resist the urge to jump on the snake-oily spamwagon of foods to boost your immune system, given our near-total ignorance of the immunological aspects of this new disease, because enhancing specific arms of the immune system could hypothetically even make things worse. Let me explain.

Take the example of this married couple, both the same age, admitted to the hospital on the same day for the same COVID-19 infection—fever and shortness of breath. Tragically, the wife was immunocompromised, because she was on chemo for breast cancer at the time (yikes!), whereas her husband had an intact immune system. The wife did fine, though, out of the hospital in under a week, whereas the husband ended up in intensive care. Wait, the immunocompromised patient did better? How is that possible? Because unlike other common viruses, coronaviruses have not shown to cause a more severe disease in immunosuppressed patients. Why? Because your own immune response appears to be the main driver of lung tissue damage during infection.

Starting around the second week of symptoms, the virus can trigger what’s called a cytokine storm. It’s like an autoimmune reaction where your body over-reacts, and in attacking coronavirus, your lungs get caught in the crossfire. In the first week of the illness, it’s the virus itself that’s triggering most of your symptoms, but then in severe cases, it’s our own inflammatory response that takes over in causing most of the damage. It’s striking that many of our innate immune-signaling pathways, these cytokine chemical messengers our immune cells release, is aimed at killing off our own cells. But that makes total sense. The virus turns our own cells against us into little virus factories, so it’s part of our own antiviral defense to kill off our own cells to dead-end viral replication. Viruses can’t replicate in dead cells, so cell suicide is like a way to create firebreaks. But in burning down the village in order to save it, we may not survive the process.

This has led some to consider immunosuppression as a treatment for severe COVID-19, but of course immunosuppression for hyperinflammation in COVID-19 might be a double-edged sword. So, when you see that broccoli sprouts can whip up natural killer cell activity within two days, is that a good thing or a bad thing for COVID-19? It was good for seasonal flu, but who knows with this new coronavirus.

Young children have relatively immature immune systems, and normally suffer disproportionally from viral infections such as the flu––but not, apparently, from COVD-19 or SARS or MERS, for that matter, the other two deadly coronaviruses. It’s interesting; one theory as to why children seem protected suggests that greater pre-existing exposure to common-cold coronaviruses offers kids some cross-protection against the new virus. But ironically, a competing theory suggests it’s their lack of exposure to similar viruses that’s safeguarding them. There’s a phenomenon known as ADE, antibody-dependent enhancement, a phenomenon first described more than 50 years ago. In most cases, the antibodies our bodies make to target pathogens neutralize them or, at the very least, tag the invaders for removal. Sometimes, though, antibodies can actually facilitate viral infection and exacerbate disease.

This may be the case with SARS, where antibodies generated against the viral spike proteins were sometimes found to promote infection. In monkeys, an experimental SARS vaccine resulted in aggravated lung damage. Now, vaccine developers are well aware of this phenomenon, and would work to ensure any commercial vaccine would be free from this failing, but it has been used to venture a guess to account for the unusual age distribution of severe COVID-19 cases.

Perhaps similar coronaviruses circulated silently decades ago, and those old enough to have been exposed to them are now experiencing exaggerated responses to COVID-19. But young people never saw them, so they don’t get the over-reaction. I’m not suggesting this speculation is true. I just use it to illustrate the complexity of our immune interactions. Viruses attack, we counterattack, and then viruses sometimes evolve to use our own counterattack in their favor.

Just a word of caution before trying to specifically boost some element of our immune system before understanding the full scope of the new threat. Given the uncertainties, the best strategy is to not get infected in the first place, especially not until effective treatments— and a functioning healthcare system—are available.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Motion graphics by AvoMedia

Image credit: hochgeladen von via Wikimedia. Image has been modified.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Though there are more than 400 clinical treatment trials underway, currently there is no specific proven therapy for COVID-19. And we should not expect a vaccine or effective antiviral drug to be available anytime soon, although we are developing COVID-19 vaccines at pandemic speed. Just for reference, the average vaccine takes more than a decade to develop, with an average failure rate of 94%.

Many have asked me for advice on what they can eat to help bolster their immune system. “How Not to Die from Infections” is, after all, the title of chapter five of my book How Not to Die, and I do have more than a hundred free videos online at NutritionFacts.org that reference immune function. And there are amazing studies, like randomized double-blind trials, showing, for example, that eating broccoli sprouts can reduce viral loads for influenza, decrease virus-induced inflammation, and boost our antiviral natural killer cell activity. Just from eating some broccoli sprouts! But this isn’t the flu.

I certainly support general, commonsense advice to stay healthy during the crisis, put forth by trusted authorities such as the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. This includes getting sufficient sleep (seven to nine hours), keeping active, reducing stress, staying connected—albeit remotely—to friends and family, and eating healthfully (a diet centered around whole plant foods)., The World Health Organization agrees: Fruits, vegetables, legumes—like beans, split peas, chickpeas, and lentils—nuts, and whole grains, cutting down on sugars, cutting down on meat, dairy, and junk, and cutting down on salt.

Optimal Nutritional Status for a Well-Functioning Immune System Is an Important Factor to Protect against Viral Infections.” However, one must resist the urge to jump on the snake-oily spamwagon of foods to boost your immune system, given our near-total ignorance of the immunological aspects of this new disease, because enhancing specific arms of the immune system could hypothetically even make things worse. Let me explain.

Take the example of this married couple, both the same age, admitted to the hospital on the same day for the same COVID-19 infection—fever and shortness of breath. Tragically, the wife was immunocompromised, because she was on chemo for breast cancer at the time (yikes!), whereas her husband had an intact immune system. The wife did fine, though, out of the hospital in under a week, whereas the husband ended up in intensive care. Wait, the immunocompromised patient did better? How is that possible? Because unlike other common viruses, coronaviruses have not shown to cause a more severe disease in immunosuppressed patients. Why? Because your own immune response appears to be the main driver of lung tissue damage during infection.

Starting around the second week of symptoms, the virus can trigger what’s called a cytokine storm. It’s like an autoimmune reaction where your body over-reacts, and in attacking coronavirus, your lungs get caught in the crossfire. In the first week of the illness, it’s the virus itself that’s triggering most of your symptoms, but then in severe cases, it’s our own inflammatory response that takes over in causing most of the damage. It’s striking that many of our innate immune-signaling pathways, these cytokine chemical messengers our immune cells release, is aimed at killing off our own cells. But that makes total sense. The virus turns our own cells against us into little virus factories, so it’s part of our own antiviral defense to kill off our own cells to dead-end viral replication. Viruses can’t replicate in dead cells, so cell suicide is like a way to create firebreaks. But in burning down the village in order to save it, we may not survive the process.

This has led some to consider immunosuppression as a treatment for severe COVID-19, but of course immunosuppression for hyperinflammation in COVID-19 might be a double-edged sword. So, when you see that broccoli sprouts can whip up natural killer cell activity within two days, is that a good thing or a bad thing for COVID-19? It was good for seasonal flu, but who knows with this new coronavirus.

Young children have relatively immature immune systems, and normally suffer disproportionally from viral infections such as the flu––but not, apparently, from COVD-19 or SARS or MERS, for that matter, the other two deadly coronaviruses. It’s interesting; one theory as to why children seem protected suggests that greater pre-existing exposure to common-cold coronaviruses offers kids some cross-protection against the new virus. But ironically, a competing theory suggests it’s their lack of exposure to similar viruses that’s safeguarding them. There’s a phenomenon known as ADE, antibody-dependent enhancement, a phenomenon first described more than 50 years ago. In most cases, the antibodies our bodies make to target pathogens neutralize them or, at the very least, tag the invaders for removal. Sometimes, though, antibodies can actually facilitate viral infection and exacerbate disease.

This may be the case with SARS, where antibodies generated against the viral spike proteins were sometimes found to promote infection. In monkeys, an experimental SARS vaccine resulted in aggravated lung damage. Now, vaccine developers are well aware of this phenomenon, and would work to ensure any commercial vaccine would be free from this failing, but it has been used to venture a guess to account for the unusual age distribution of severe COVID-19 cases.

Perhaps similar coronaviruses circulated silently decades ago, and those old enough to have been exposed to them are now experiencing exaggerated responses to COVID-19. But young people never saw them, so they don’t get the over-reaction. I’m not suggesting this speculation is true. I just use it to illustrate the complexity of our immune interactions. Viruses attack, we counterattack, and then viruses sometimes evolve to use our own counterattack in their favor.

Just a word of caution before trying to specifically boost some element of our immune system before understanding the full scope of the new threat. Given the uncertainties, the best strategy is to not get infected in the first place, especially not until effective treatments— and a functioning healthcare system—are available.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Motion graphics by AvoMedia

Image credit: hochgeladen von via Wikimedia. Image has been modified.

127 responses to “The Immune System and COVID-19 Treatment

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  1. I appreciate your videos and book, but this information seems a bit overly reductionist. Regarding the monkey SARS trials. It is also completely possible that keeping a monkey inside a cage for its whole life and then shoving a needle into the monkey without consent can have a cascade of negative side effects. Hans Selye showed this in his studies on rats where any needle inserted into the rat regardless of contents increased cortisol and worsened health outcomes. It’s not so much the needle as the environment the animal lived in and the non consensual nature of the animal trials. To my knowledge we are not monkeys that have been imprisoned for our entire lives so I don’t see the point in drawing valid comparisons from those trails.

    I’d be extremely wary of generalizing what happened to money’s imprisoned in cages and injected with foreign substances as evidence to support the claim that anti bodies could do more harm than good.

    Further it’s highly doubtful that eating a whole food plant based diet and the foods on your website that mention boosting immunity would make it more likely to have serious covid side effects. I can’t see an otherwise healthy person suffering negative side effects when we know hospitalizations are primarily those with poor health.

    Finally, the case of the immune compromised woman and her healthy husband. What does “healthy” mean for a 60 year old man? How do we actually know the man was healthy? If he was overweight with chronic inflammation it’s quite likely he could suffer a cytokine storm due to his poor health. I have seen news articles of supposedly “healthy” people hospitalized only to find out the person weighed over 300lbs. No pre-existing conditions but the person was obese. Healthy is extremely subjective and unless they actually took his biometrics I would not simply believe someone saying that a 60 year old man on the standard American diet was healthy.

    It’s also possible the immune compromised woman knew her health was more in jeopardy and so she may have taken steps to lessen the viral load, maybe she’d stay home while he would go to the store, there are simply many factors and I sincerely doubt people with a compromised immune system would fair better than those with a strong immune system. Sure there is a case study, but you cannot rule out the confounding factors.

    As you’ve said yourself a Cytokine storm is uncommon in truly healthy individuals. Telling people simply not to get the virus works for those who can isolate for a long time, it does not work for those who work in grocery stores, packaging stores, and service industry who are told to work or starve.

    I know you wrote this book a while ago, but I think it would be perfectly reasonable to tell people to drink more green tea, eat mushrooms, nutritional yeast if no crohns, wakame seaweed, and the other “immune boosting” plants and mushrooms. This doesn’t sound like snake oil to me, it sounds like common sense.

    And I highly doubt the Wild mushroom industry will be funding any studies soon. If you want to wait 10 years before making a recommendation on what to eat, people will die in the process. We must act with well informed decisions. Research on dietary interventions for Covid are almost non existent. We’re going to need to use a wholistic paradigm to create public health messaging instead of waiting for the science to come in, when we all know it won’t be funded to the extent that we would like.

    Consider a more wholistic approach Dr G, the medical literature won’t study something if there is no profit motive and it won’t be published or journal articles won’t be printed and given to every doctor in the country.

    1. Re: the husband was healthy

      “ her husband (patient 2) had been healthy except for a history of controlled arterial hypertension”

      He had hypertension and he was probably taking drugs for it based on “controlled”. Clearly not a healthy individual!!

      1. And further

        “ Both patients were treated with darunavir/cobicistat and hydroxychloroquine.”

        So given more drugs and drugs that have shown no efficacy at treating covid with potential side effects. I don’t see how we can confound this 60 year old man now supposedly taking 4 different pharmaceutical drugs as healthy.

        1. Excellent Josh, Thanks for highlighting all these points.
          This is probably one of the most disappointing videos I have seen Michael do. Once my hero I’m personally beginning to doubt the credibility of Michaels Covid-19 reports,

          1. I’m glad you appreciate it! Don’t get my wrong, he still has wonderful videos and he does pay attention to reductionism to a point. I think he’s got a line that he doesn’t feel comfortable with crossing. He is based solely on the research, and if it’s not been researched, we need more studies before we can give advice.

            That’s why I have complemented Dr G’s work with T Colin Campbell’s work, to understand how research gets funded, what doesn’t get funded, and to realize that sometimes we need to take a step back to see the whole picture. Dr. Greger gives us the pixels of the image, and sometimes we can even see a portion of the image. To see the whole image we must take a step back.

            We might miss something in the image by not evaluating the pixels, but we will surely miss the picture if we only look at the pixels.

            That is to say, I think Dr Greger does important work and I will continue to follow his videos. I just want him to acknowledge that reductionist research fails to capture the reality and it never will describe the system fully. There will always be the disclaimer “more research is needed”.

            I find this especially annoying when I forage for edible mushrooms. I’ve found 50-100 edible mushrooms and yet there is so little known about them. The medicinal protestors haven’t been studied. It doesn’t follow that I shouldn’t believe it can’t boost immunity just like the 15 mushrooms already studies should I?

            If we wait for a study on covid, it can take years to do one that meets standards and by then, people might die. I don’t advocate reckless prescriptions, but we live in the world of ambiguity.

            Thanks for reading!!

          2. Agreed, a very disappointing video.

            For some years I’ve been recommending this site to everyone I talk to, but this video . . . which seems to have a “wait for next week” cliff hanger ending, is extremely disappointed. People want to know what they can DO to protect against the virus. We aren’t interested in thought experiments about: “Looks promising to boost your immune system . . . But aha! You forgot about cytokine storms, you silly viewer.”

        2. Josh,

          I don’t believe that anyone is allowed to present information on anything as curing or healing or preventing COVID-19. The list of people who have been contacted by the FDA to take down anything leaning in that direction is pretty high.

            1. Josh,

              Yes, and this whole site is dedicated toward that and Dr. Greger is actually doing something closer to what Colin usually says.

              Colin usually says to just eat whole foods and not dissect each one for what they do and Dr. Greger usually dissects each food for what it does.

              But people could end up dying if they do the process at the wrong stage of COVID-19.

          1. What happended to the Free Speech amendment? If it means anything at all, there must be freedom to disagree with the “experts” online and on TV who say there is no cure. Let them debate this as long as they like. It will all sort itself out in the end and the truth will out. This is the scientific method that works in free environments. You need to do your research into the FDA and the NIH, Deb and find out how corrupt these institutions really are.

      2. I think what “healthy” means in this context is in terms of the immune system. The wife is unhealthy because she’s immunocompomised while the husband has an intact and functioning immune system

    2. Josh,

      He did make recommendations on what to eat.

      A whole food plant-based diet. Mushrooms are on the list.

      His explaining how complex the immune system can be and how many theories there are is why he is doing something closer to Colin’s “Whole” concept right this second. He could have just pulled out the information from How Not to Die from the infection chapter.

      He isn’t telling people to wait to eat a healthy diet.

      He is pointing out that Cytokine Storms do exist.

      My brother’s friend, who was a 40-something year old athlete with no comorbidities died of COVID-19. There are doctors who are using meds to prevent cytokine storms. I was just reading about that yesterday.

      Most of the experts that I have been following have said that this is a very odd virus and that it has continued to get more complex.

    3. I would say that anybody looking to use food to boost their immune system now, during a pandemic, who already wasn’t eating Whole Food Plant-Based needed this message, not advice on which foods to build their immune system.

      People who already eat seriously clean Whole Food Plant-Based most likely don’t have the comorbidities but still, if you test positive and come here and try to boost your immune system after you have COVID, you might be doing the wrong thing.

      That audience who might make that mistake is the one this video is for.

      1. My friends husband has been in and out of the hospital this week with things like Shingles and other signs of a poor immune system.

        If he gets COVID he will be inundated with people trying to get him to boost his immune system.

        But having him start with eating more healthy foods Is a wiser focus because he has diabetes and is obese and won’t be able to correct everything in a few weeks or months.

        Honestly, his wife is keto and sees that as the anti inflammatory diet and thinks he is doing poorly because he eats potatoes sometimes.

    4. Agree, this video is not going to be helpful to the public, it’s too wishy-washy. I would not doubt Dr. G. has taken the bait from some cleverly concealed medical research paid for by the big players in the food industry (meat and junk food). They love kicking up dirt and confusing what constitutes good health, because if the public does no the answer they will never change to a truly healthy diet, i.e. a whole food PBD.

      There are those out there who will say higher cholesterol can reduce your odds of a heart attack, or if they wore a seat belt they would have died in a car accident, or if they hadn’t been struck by lighting they never would have acquired super natural powers… this is all non sense. When you eat healthy, you boost your immune system, and your body is better able to withstand stress. It’s painfully obvious what people should (always) be doing, and that is to eat healthy.

      1. That should read: ” if the public doesn’t know”.

        Over-all I love the site, but these videos on covid and boosting the immune system being labeled as potentially bad. Why?

  2. Josh thanks. Dr G is obviously coming from the right place, and I suspect there is more to the story… I’m not sure one can get consent from a monkey, and I suppose this is your point and it does make sense actually.

    There will be an onslaught of links and proclamations of how dare you question the material here, or how you are offering fantasy “alternative’ facts, though its clear you offer constructive criticism, suggesting a deeper message, and that you also value Dr. G’s work.

    I would say that its likely Dr. G is on the right track, so perhaps further inquiry is needed. He’s keen to suggest in-vitro as the best and only way to KNOW, but drawing conclusions of possibility may be possible with several decades of back history of experience such as he owns.

    1. …remember too, this is 9th of 17 videos, so he may wrap it up and bring it home at the end in a way more suitable for your interest in holistic recommendations.

    2. Absolutely! I have his book and these videos are verbatim from the book so I do know what is to come in the videos. He does present a nice balance of evidence, but it was this specific video and commentary that just sounded a bit reductionistic. I wish Dr. Greger could embrace the work of T Colin Campbell in his book Whole. I understand this website is mostly a compilation of reductionist research, he talks about things that are mostly evidence-based anyways.

      I do love his videos though. I got a Masters of Public Health and used his videos to help inform my research. I watch his videos daily and I generally agree with his conclusions. I do know that he wrote this book a few months ago and that more research has come to light, I just want to caution about this particular video and assuming that people are healthy, and assuming that studies on monkeys in cages with needles pokes into them against their will, can in any way generalize to humans. It’s the reductionist paradigm, and I can’t fault him for presenting the information, but I didn’t really like hi saying that telling people to boost their immense system with plants is akin to make oil. We know these plants can be helpful for a range of viruses. Wakame seaweed can help with HIV and Epsetien Barr, and green tea can help with HPV. I really doubt that green tea, mushrooms, and wakame are going to cause a cytokine storm. We don’t know for sure, but the point is that we will not know for sure for a very long time, and some people will not be able to isolate if their job works with customers in-person.

      I appreciate your comment. I do love Dr. Greger’s books, I have read How not to diet and how not to die, but I will put in my input if I disagree :)

      1. No one in my public health department thinks a FACLM has any business acting like he is a virologist or DrPH just to sell a book. No one. There are far too many people offering so much useless information about covid-19 that the information that people need to hear is buried in all the useless chatter. This is what actual public health officials (all of them from my experience, many are very frustrated) see every day regarding regarding their own covid information not being heard when it is the most relevant to the local populations.

        The above video, how many of you reading this plan on doing something to lower your immune response in case you get covid-19? I bet zilch.

        1. Reality bites,

          Dr. Greger has been doing pandemics and viruses since BEFORE Nutritionfacts.org existed. It was where his career started and he is published on it in journals and other books and the money from the books goes to charity and he gave the webinar for free.

        2. Dr Greger was studying topics like mad cow disease back in 1994 and the American College Of Lifestyle Medicine didn’t start until a decade later.

          Dr. Greger has written 3 books on pandemics and he is respected well-enough for journals to publish him about it.

          1. I feel like you are disqualifying him from a career he was doing before he became a founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine.

            As if his wanting there to be a lifestyle medicine movement disqualifies him from what he had been doing.

        3. You are talking “public health department” and Dr. Greger was “director of public health and animal agriculture” for the Humane Society.

          Yes, he was a director of public health. They are on the same team.

          I don’t understand why you are acting like he is jumping on the COVID-19 bandwagon.

          His video on Flu Factories and his book Bird Flu were both so packed full of an understanding that the world still doesn’t understand.

        4. Gee, Reality Bites, anybody would think that you don’t believe in magic or the healing power of bs. What’s wrong with you?

          However, i disagree with your belief that Greger has no expertise in this area. He has a long-standing interest in zoonotic diseases and has had a least one paper on the issue published in a professional journal on the matter. And that was long before covid 19. That’s a lot more than most local public health officials can say.

      2. I agree Josh. I too have been a long time fan of Dr. G.

        I think Dr. G would be fine with people considering complementary protocols to help their health in this time.

        We don’t necessarily have to be sitting ducks, waiting to be attacked.

        Even eating less can increase the acidity of your stomach acids, which can more effectively kill virii that enter through the alimentary canal. Even just making sure that you achieve hunger each time before you eat a meal helps.

        If you check pub med, many kinds of herbal teas help decrease viral load, while increasing nutrients and antioxidants. Several in the research have been used as medical protocols and cuisine by civilizations quite successfully for thousands of years, and the Blue zones would back this up.

        Among them, we might consider lemon balm, self-heal, sage, rosemary, oregano, ginger, licorice, and thyme.

        Just as with whole plant foods, sometimes we don’t have to understand the exact medicine to know why they are effective.

        I have used these for years and they seem to help me avoid getting infected by virus. In many circumstances, one becomes sick after getting an overwhelming viral load, not just from having a single germ enter the body.

        John S

        1. John,

          He has videos on so many topics but he has said that he doesn’t recommend “treating COVID with food” because you don’t know which part of the immune system you want to activate or lessen.

        2. Hey John,

          Exactly this

          “Just as with whole plant foods, sometimes we don’t have to understand the exact medicine to know why they are effective.”

          T Colin Campbell would argue that it’s not possible to know exactly how something works. If we can understand a system, that system would then be only a small part of the larger system.

          It goes back to the Buddhist principle that humans are innately unable to truly see reality as it exists.

          We can point to health, we can point to the moon, but our finger isn’t the moon. Don’t get attached to the finger (the Dr, the study, the particular food), take a step back and look where the finger is pointing.

          Surely we will he called anti scientific, I know T Colin Campbell has, to take a wholistic approach is to be seen as a jack of all trades and a master of none. Hopefully we can normalize a more wholistic worldview

        3. John, and josh, yep. on the right track. Good stuff. Its obvious that you both highly respect Dr. G while having your own thoughts to share in this public space.

      3. Josh,

        But look at the example he did use:

        “Take the example of this married couple, both the same age, admitted to the hospital on the same day for the same COVID-19 infection—fever and shortness of breath. Tragically, the wife was immunocompromised, because she was on chemo for breast cancer at the time (yikes!), whereas her husband had an intact immune system. The wife did fine, though, out of the hospital in under a week, whereas the husband ended up in intensive care. Wait, the immunocompromised patient did better? How is that possible? Because unlike other common viruses, coronaviruses have not shown to cause a more severe disease in immunosuppressed patients. Why? Because your own immune response appears to be the main driver of lung tissue damage during infection.”

        Now, tell me whether it would be responsible or highly irresponsible for Dr. Greger to recommend a whole bunch of things to strengthen the immune system during the middle of this pandemic.

        Versus what he is doing, which is telling people to eat a well balanced healthy diet.

        He already has written a whole book chapter for fighting infections, but people who just got a COVID-19 positive response on a test, going on the internet to boost their immune system after it has already gotten to their lungs may end up in the ICU.

        He legally couldn’t do what you wanted him to do.

    3. Sure, expecting people to present a case based on evidence instead of ideology is just so tedious. You’re clearly far too intelligent to fall for that one.

    4. Also the part on stress research and rats with Hans Selye came from Kelly McGonigal Ph.D. in her book “The Upside of Stress”

    1. Goodness. We haven’t heard from you here for years Charles. I’d expected a rather more intelligent criticism from you though.

      Surely you remember that Greger promotes whole food plant based diets rather than ‘vegan’ diets? There are quite a few ‘vegan’ foodstuffs like refined grains, added sugars, hydrogenated plant oils and alcohol Avoiding those will help people keep their inflammatory markers low. Greger certainly doesn’t advise anyone to consume those things.

      1. Thank you Mr. Fumblefingers! You are 100% correct! Vegans can have a terrible diet. Some of the fast-food restaurants offer meat substitutes that are loaded with sodium and other ingredients that aren’t good for you. I’ve been studying nutrition since 1965 and thus far the plant-based regimen is the one that seems to be the healthiest. We were taught a plant-based lifestyle when I was in the martial arts in the mid-’60s. You can even be a vegetarian and eat a pound of cheese every day and guess what will happen!

      2. Ridiculous semantics considering that a WFPB diet is a vegan diet by its very definition.

        Veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, and an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of animals.

        There are healthy and unhealthy vegan diets but WFPB is definitely a vegan diet.

        1. No, whole food plant based by definition doesnt mean 100% plant, it means a diet based on whole plant food, it is still WFPB if you eat eat anything else but you mainly eat whole food plant.

          1. Absolutely correct Julot.

            WFPB diets can contain small amounts of animal foods …. a diet based on or centred upon whole plant foods isn’t the same thing as a diet consisting exclusively of whole plant foods. That’s why it is called a whole food plant BASED diet not a whole food plant diet. It’s a matter of understanding plain English.

        2. Reality bites,

          It’s not simply a matter of “ridiculous semantics.”

          An exclusively whole plant foods diet is by definition vegan, but a vegan diet is not necessarily a whole plant foods diet, because a vegan diet includes processed foods, including highly processed foods, made from plants, whereas the word “whole” means “not processed.” So, an exclusively whole plant foods diet can be considered a sub-category of vegan.

          As Dr. Greger has pointed out several times, a diet of beer and chips etc could be considered vegan (but of course, the beer must be vegan).

          And everybody I know “knows” that vegan diets include faux meat, cheese, dairy, egg, etc products, which are usually highly processed. Because, after all, what else can you eat besides meat and other animal products to stay healthy? Fake animal products!! Which is not what I eat, and I presume not how you eat.

          1. Dr. J.,

            I agree.

            This thread started with someone criticizing Dr. Greger for suggesting that whole food plant-based might bring down inflammation markers.

            Semantics is the branch of linguistics and logic concerned with meaning.

            To say that Dr. Greger recommending whole food plant-based is ridiculous should be challenged on this site by people who believe that it is healthier based on the studies.

  3. Can you comment on the Youtube Chef AJ’s interview with Dr. Will Bulsiewicz, author of just published Fiber Fueled. He seems to suggest, if my understanding is correct, that a vegan’s microbiome is different than a meat eaters and produces short-chained fatty acids that attach to ACE2 sites in the gut and lungs. This makes it more difficult for the covid virus to attach to these sites which can lead to the dangerous cytokine storms.

    1. Thomas,

      Dr. Greger has not covered Ace2 that I know of, but he has a fabulous video series on the microbiome.

      https://nutritionfacts.org/video/microbiome-the-inside-story/

      https://nutritionfacts.org/video/whats-your-gut-microbiome-enterotype/

      https://nutritionfacts.org/video/microbiome-we-are-what-they-eat/

      https://nutritionfacts.org/video/gut-microbiome-strike-it-rich-with-whole-grains/

      He also has fiber videos and those do talk about the gut microbiome.

      Yes, vegans have different microbiome than meat eaters. Though antibiotics can mess things up even for vegans and RoundUp is registered as an antibiotic.

  4. I seem to remember, and I may be wrong, that young children who contracted the virus and suffered symptoms, e.g., rashes, the doctors found the children had an overactive immune system. When given medicine that subdued the immune system, the children recovered.

    1. Phil,

      There are a lot of people who have been having a cytokine storm. I saw an article yesterday by a doctor who healed himself by using information he had been researching for years about how to prevent them and lessen the effects of them.

  5. Watch the plantstrong podcast season 2 episode 24 Father’s Day Q&A with Essy. Dr Esselstyn talks about eating foods that increase our nitric oxide levels. COVID seems to effect the vessels and is worse in people with vessel disease … Diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, Heart disease, obesity. Children make more Nitric oxide and have healthier vessels. Some hospitals are doing studies on nitric oxide.

    1. Angie, it is an interesting theory that nitric oxide deficiency and endothelial dysfunction may predict who is most at risk from the virus. And this is so simple to test for! For anyone who buys into that theory (as I do), you can have your doctor order the ADMA/SDMA test developed by ClevelandHeartLab and now available through Quest Diagnostics (CPT Code 82542, Order Code C301). Insurance may or may not cover the cost (mine did) but it is an inexpensive blood test. “Elevated levels of ADMA may identify endothelial dysfunction,” says Cleveland Heart.

      Can anyone think of what marker other than nitric oxide deficiency/endothelial dysfunction links the high risk groups (aged individuals, those with diabetes/insulin resistance, those with CVD, those with high blood pressure, obese individuals) and is absent in most children?

      1. “Associations between increased levels of ADMA and many cardiovascular risk factors such as age, hypertension, diabetes, insulin resistance, hypercholesterolemia, hypertriglyceridemia, and hyperhomocystinemia have been documented.” http://www.ahajournals.org › full › 01.cir.0000126823.07732.d5

        More on Quest Diagnostic’s ADMA/SDMA blood test mentioned above, from ClevelandHeartLab:

        One of the earliest manifestations of endothelial dysfunction is nitric oxide (NO) deficiency, which promotes atherosclerosis. Asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA) and symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA), its structural isomer, are metabolites of L-arginine, an amino acid that is catalyzed to L-citrulline and
        NO by nitric oxide synthase (NOS).1,2

        Both ADMA and SDMA have distinct pathophysiologies and manifestations. ADMA is a competitive inhibitor of NOS, thereby reducing NO production and promoting endothelial dysfunction. SDMA also interferes with NO production, but does so indirectly by reducing the cellular availability of arginine. ADMA is primarily cleared through enzymatic degradation in the bloodstream, and its presence identifies subclinical cardiovascular disease (CVD).1-4 Conversely, SDMA is primarily excreted in the urine and identifies reduced renal function.5,6

        Clinical Significance:
        • Elevated ADMA levels are associated with the presence of hypertension,7 insulin resistance,7 hyperlipidemia.,8 and with subclinical atherosclerosis:
        • Increased ADMA concentrations correlate with internal carotid artery bulb intimal media thickness,3 a hemodynamically unstable region vulnerable to NO deficiency,9 and plaque formation.
        • Elevated ADMA in young adults is associated with increased coronary artery calcification.4

      2. Caroline
        ‘Can anyone think of what marker other than nitric oxide deficiency/endothelial dysfunction links the high risk groups (aged individuals, those with diabetes/insulin resistance, those with CVD, those with high blood pressure, obese individuals) and is absent in most children?’

        I would imagine that is a bunch of common factors eg

        . the presence of a comorbidity
        . overweight/obesity
        . low vitamin D levels
        . decades spent eating a standard western-style diet (ie high in fat, low in fibre etc)

        The point is that markers are often just markers Biomarkers aren’t necessarily causal factors or modifiable risk factors
        .

    2. Angie,

      I have been looking at foods for increasing nitric oxide for my cousin and I was stymied because beets were not convenient.

      But beet microgreens and arugula microgreens both have made me happy.

      Plus, Whole Food sells both of them and Amazon delivers.

      1. I have been falling in love with infrared for NO.

        Mostly, I can’t get any of my relatives to switch diets but I just bought an infrared panel for work.

        I keep have a sense that someone is going to die and I dreamt that it was 9/11 and people I loved were on the floors where they had to jump out the window or die in the fire.

        For me, dreams are spiritual warnings that I am supposed to do something and my personal infrared and PEMF are healing my cousins gangrene but now I am going to have both of my brothers use it.

        There are studies with things like heart attacks.

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2718593/

        1. I also bought another Micropulse ICES.

          For work.

          I can’t afford to keep lending them out to everyone but I do believe they can save lives and limbs.

        2. Dr Burke is the one I listen to about infrared.

          He started off with interest in how blood flow affected kidneys.

          This is one of his talking videos, but his before and after photos video is amazing.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWHMLhE0tm8

          I ended up watching some of the manufacturers before and after photos and one showed a woman who had MRSA and the doctors had just plain mutilated her cutting random swatches of tissue off all over her legs but she couldn’t afford skin grafts or after care and her legs looked so bad, but after about a month of infrared she no longer needed skin grafts. If she had the infrared FIRST she may not have needed to be mutilated.

  6. In the transcript, Dr. G. said:

    “The World Health Organization agrees: Fruits, vegetables, legumes—like beans, split peas, chickpeas, and lentils—nuts, and whole grains, cutting down on sugars, cutting down on meat, dairy, and junk, and cutting down on salt.”
    – — – –

    I wish those who use such terms as “cutting down” would be more explicit in what they mean. And why not “no junk,” and what do they mean by junk?:

    1. YR,

      Yes, they intentionally become vague about what cutting down means.

      It must be hard to give advice to everybody in the whole world at the same time.

    2. Deb, “intentionally”? You’d think the World Health Organization would try to give healthful, helpful advice.

      1. I agree, YR!

        I agree!

        But I am realistic about the political atmosphere.

        Plus, advice to the masses is usually simplified versus detail accurate.

      2. They do but if there is no specific information of ‘ideal’ amounts of these things, they can only talk in generalities.

        Going beyond what the scientific evidence shows, as a number of people here want to do, is at best misleading and at worst potentially dangerous. That’s why responsible health authorities and scientists don’t do it.

  7. Aren’t there two separate issues here? First, what can you do to be healthy enough to avoid coming down with the virus in the first place? Second, if you do develop a severe case requiring hospitalization (fever plus shortness of breath, as I recall) how do you tamp down the exaggerated immune response and clotting tendency? I am not a medical professional, but I venture a guess that lifestyle factors play a role (in addition to viral load) in determining whether you ward off the infection initially. Once you are in the hospital though, I imagine lifestyle has nothing to do with your recovery, and you need drugs to stop the clotting, combat any secondary bacterial infections, and depress the exaggerated immune response.

    As for the vaccine that everyone is anticipating, Shi Zhengli, known as China’s “Bat Woman” for her extensive research on bat coronaviruses at her Wuhan research lab near the wet market, predicted long ago that coming up with a vaccine for this or any other SARS virus would be very difficult. So don’t hold your breath.

    1. Caroline,

      I have read that, in general, having a strong immune system before you get exposed can prevent these things from being as severe, but after it has spread, doing things to ramp up the immune system at that point can cause problems.

      1. It depends what “immune boosting” things you choose to take. I dont think that things like antioxidants will make your immune system over react.

  8. You missed a lot.

    Disclaimer: it’s a novel virus so this is speculative. Talk to your doctor before making changes to your diet.

    Green tea, wakame -> T cell boost
    Nutritional yeast, mushrooms -> immunoglobulin A
    Blueberries, black pepper, cardamom -> natural killers and their boosting
    Cumin -> blood thinner (Covid-19 turns blood into jello)
    Beans -> microbiome important for immunity
    Amla, oregano -> antioxidants help withstand the cytokine storm
    Turmeric, ginger -> inflammation reducing (ARDS is massive inflammation)
    Flaxseeds -> lignan anti-cancer function could be anti-viral

    1. billy goat,

      Dr. Greger has a book chapter and video on every single one of those topics.

      He missed a lot on purpose because it is a novel virus and, yes, eat those things and be healthy before you get it.

      But after you get it, if you are searching the internet for how to heal it by making your immune system really, really, really strong, it might backfire.

  9. Good scientific evidence that Vitamin D insufficiency plays a significant role with respect to vulnerability of the immune system to the flu exists.

    For example, this 2018 paper has some good references: “SUNLIGHT AND PROTECTION AGAINST INFLUENZA” http://www.nber.org/papers/w24340

    ABSTRACT
    Recent medical literature suggests that vitamin D supplementation protects against acute respiratory tract infection. Humans exposed to sunlight produce vitamin D directly. This paper investigates how differences in sunlight, as measured over several years across states and during the same calendar month, affect influenza incidence. We find that sunlight strongly protects against influenza. This relationship is driven by sunlight in late summer and early fall, when there are sufficient quantities of both sunlight and influenza activity. A 10% increase in relative sunlight decreases the influenza index in September or October by 0.8 points on a 10-point scale.

    A second, complementary study employs a separate data set to study flu incidence in New York State counties. The results are strongly in accord. Remarkably, the national results are driven almost entirely by the severe H1N1 epidemic in fall 2009. That year the flu epidemic was intense, and it began early, so that September-October sunlight could play a major protective role. We also compare sunlight protection to protection produced by vitamin D supplementation in randomized trials. The sunlight effect was far greater. A plausible explanation is that exposure to sunlight is far broader, and sufficient to provide herd immunity.”

    Including some papers showing that not just sunlight, but that Vitamin D supplementation has a positive effect. For example: BMJ. 2017 Feb 15;356. doi: 10.1136/bmj.i6583: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28202713

    Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data.

    ” Conclusions Vitamin D supplementation was safe and it protected against acute respiratory tract infection overall. Patients who were very vitamin D deficient and those not receiving bolus doses experienced the most benefit.”

    And that Vitamin D deficiency has become a worldwide problem: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/87/4/1080S.abstract

    Vitamin D deficiency: a worldwide problem with health consequences1,2,3,4

    “Vitamin D deficiency is now recognized as a pandemic. The major cause of vitamin D deficiency is the lack of appreciation that sun exposure in moderation is the major source of vitamin D for most humans. Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D, and foods that are fortified with vitamin D are often inadequate to satisfy either a child’s or an adult’s vitamin D requirement. Vitamin D deficiency causes rickets in children and will precipitate and exacerbate osteopenia, osteoporosis, and fractures in adults. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with increased risk of common cancers, autoimmune diseases, hypertension, and infectious diseases. A circulating level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D of >75 nmol/L, or 30 ng/mL, is required to maximize vitamin D’s beneficial effects for health. In the absence of adequate sun exposure, at least 800–1000 IU vitamin D3/d may be needed to achieve this in children and adults. Vitamin D2 may be equally effective for maintaining circulating concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D when given in physiologic concentrations.”

    Does this apply to Covid-19 as well? Recently, a number of literally post-mortem studies have come out, such as a Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center study (dated April 24th) that examined Vitamin D insufficiency (VDI) in severe COVID-19 patients reported that “Among ICU subjects, 11 (84.6%) had VDI, vs. 4 (57.1%) of floor subjects. Strikingly, 100% of ICU patients less than 75 years old had VDI.”

    This report from Psychology Today sums up some of them:

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/social-instincts/202005/research-suggests-link-between-vitamin-d-deficiency-and-covid-19-deaths

    “Key findings:
    • “A majority of COVID-19 cases with vitamin D deficiencies died.
    • The odds of death were higher in older and male cases with preexisting conditions and lower than normal Vitamin D levels.
    • When accounting for the effects of age, sex, and comorbidity, vitamin D status is strongly related to COVID-19 mortality.

    This research adds to a growing body of scientific literature linking vitamin D to COVID-19 severity. A recent report released by Mark Alipio of Davao Doctors College in the Philippines found that normal vitamin D levels were more likely to be observed in patients with mild cases of COVID-19. To be specific, he estimated that normal vitamin D levels increase the odds of having a mild clinical outcome by approximately 19.6 times.”

    And finally, on May 11th in Medscape, rather belatedly one expert at Harvard weighed in: https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/930152

    Does Vitamin D Protect Against COVID-19?

    “Hello. This is Dr JoAnn Manson, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. I’d like to talk with you about vitamin D and COVID-19. Is there potentially a protective role? ( . . . )
    So the evidence is becoming quite compelling.”

    Not sure why Dr. Greger has not addressed this yet – perhaps he will in a future video.

    1. alef1,

      He has been downplaying it. It has been interesting because he is emphasizing going outside. I do get outside a few times a week, though I am not sure if I get any sun.

      I did remember to put an arm out my car window on Sunday. Not sure if things like that get enough D for something.

    2. Alef1

      As Dr Greger has pointed out, covid-19 is not a type on influenza. Also………………

      ‘Examining previous studies in this field scientists found no evidence of a link between high dose supplementation of vitamin D in helping to prevent or successfully treat Covid-19 and cautioned against over supplementation of the vitamin, without medical supervision, due to health risks. Scientists concluded that assertions about the benefit of the vitamin in treating the virus are not currently supported by adequate human studies and are based on findings from studies that did not specifically examine this area.’
      https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/05/200521104641.htm

      The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence today published a ‘rapid evidence summary’ on vitamin D for covid 19. it concludes

      ‘There is no evidence to support taking vitamin D supplements to specifically prevent or treat COVID‑19. However, all people should continue to follow UK Government advice on daily vitamin D supplementation to maintain bone and muscle health during the COVID‑19 pandemic.’
      https://www.nice.org.uk/advice/es28/chapter/Advisory-statement-on-likely-place-in-therapy

      ‘Colin Smith, a professor of functional genomics at the University of Brighton, said: “There are currently some very misleading articles doing the rounds on social media about mega doses of vitamin D as a Covid-19 protective measure – which are not true – and hence the urgent need to inform the public.

      “In addition to maintaining healthy bones and muscles, vitamin D is very important for maintaining a healthy immune system.

      “A balanced response by the body to infection by the coronavirus is very important since an overreaction of the immune system to the virus can be just as dangerous as a weak immune response.”
      https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/coronavirus-vitamin-d-supplements-treatment-evidence-a9592016.html

      Further, the association between low vitamin D levels and morbidity/mortality does not prove cause and effect. It is quite possible that disease might deplete vitamin D levels and the more severe the disease, the greater the level of vitamin D depletion.

      I find it reassuring that Dr Greger sticks with the science on these matters instead of providing information and advice based on incomplete data and faulty chains of reasoning.

      1. Fumbles,
        If Covid 19 is not a type of influenza, then what is it? It causes fever and aches and pains and lung congestion. Is C-19 just another opportunistic invader that found a successful attack pathway? The 1918 invader used lung drowning as a pathway. Different from regular flu is that the infection uses a vigerous immune system as its own weapon (cytokine storm reaction to flood lungs) and C-19 does not have a season of infection. It’s here to stay.

        1. Dan

          Influenza is caused by any one of a number of different influenza viruses. Covid 19 is caused by one particular corona virus. They are different viruses with some similar and some different effects.

          Assuming that a procedure/drug/protocol that causes a particular effect in (some) influenzas will have the same effect in a disease caused by this particular corona virus is just that – an assumption. It is not a known fact or even an inevitable or probable consequence. it is however a possibility.

          ‘C-19 does not have a season of infection. It’s here to stay’ – as far as I know, that statement is just an assumption also. Certainly, other human corona virus infections appear to be highly seasonal. Covid 19 may be also.
          https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/common-coronaviruses-appear-to-be-highly-seasonal#Highly-seasonal
          https://www.upi.com/Health_News/2020/03/19/COVID-19-could-follow-seasonal-pattern-study-suggests/5431584629749/

  10. I rinse my nose every evening with a neti pot (which I desinfect thoroughly after each rinse since I saw dr. Greger video on nasal lavage) and I wonder if it could be effective against SARS-CoV-2. To my surprise it is being put to the test now.

    https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04347538

    Impact of Nasal Saline Irrigations on Viral Load in Patients With COVID-19

    1. My ENT says to use the neti pot twice daily if you have a fungus ball or if you are coming down with a respiratory virus. More than twice daily is overkill. Be sure to add a drop or two of baby shampoo in addition to the salt and baking soda mixture . You can also add a small amount of xylitol if you wish (just don’t let your pets get into it; it is poisonous for them.) He likes to add the essential oil mixture https://www.vitacost.com/alkalol-nasal-wash-16-fl-oz-4.

  11. I appreciate your information about nutrition and how to eat, etc.

    I wonder why you said in one of your live Q&A’s that it was controversial to close schools because so many health workers have school age children and they are barely affected. Kids can’t get dropped off at the schools without the adults, a number of whom have already died because schools didn’t close early enough. Since you are fond of “calling out” I would have preferred you call out hospital administrators for not providing care for those kids and more instead of furloughing and expecting the adults at schools get exposed and bring the virus home.

    Thirdly, I am signed up for your videos and podcasts. I was actually surprised to find out you have a background in infectious diseases. Yes, this was on the news a lot, but so were H1N1, Ebola, and others. Unless I missed a lot, I don’t remember you giving us a specific wake-up call that this would be different from the other viruses, etc., and prompt us to get especially prepared ASAP.

    Again, thank you for your excellent work but I would really appreciate faster, more pertinent and helpful information in a situation like this.

    I’m high-risk and am not even sure what respirators, other gear, etc., and protocols I should get and follow since schools are reopening and I need an income as a tutor with too many parents expecting their “snowflakes” to be cared for in person at a school independent of the dangers it presents to others at the schools and the people they go home to.

    1. ‘ I was actually surprised to find out you have a background in infectious diseases. Yes, this was on the news a lot, but so were H1N1, Ebola, and others. Unless I missed a lot, I don’t remember you giving us a specific wake-up call that this would be different from the other viruses, etc., and prompt us to get especially prepared ASAP.’

      Perhaps his crystal ball wasn’t working that day.

      Also this is a website about nutrition not infectious diseases per se. His stuff about covid 19 here is more a ‘in response to popular demand’ type of posting rather than a core function.

  12. I’m curious to learn more about how I can avoid getting infected with H5N1 in future outbreaks that appear to be inevitable, as well as what I would be best off doing if I am infected with it one day? It seems that our leaders are fiddling while genetic drift and mutations march onward…

  13. A lot of recommendations seem to be from CDC and WHO organizations , really surprised to see who funds those .
    Hint , it is not your grandma .

      1. Yep. We do not need posts that differ from the consensus here. Discredit them as they occur, as fantasy outlandish tinfoil hat wearing.

        1. JazzBass

          Yes. Post comments implying some corrupt underhand influence on the scientific evidence, analyses and recommendations from the WHO and CDC but don’t provide any supporting evidence. That’s a perfectly rational and helpful post that should never ever be criticised.

          This sort of thing is probably meat and drink to you, judging by your posts here. Some of us however prefer to analyse the evidence before coming to conclusions.

          There is no equivalency between scientific evidence, rational thought and unsubstantiated conspiracy theories. Treating them as though there were does a disservice to both science and common sense.

    1. mrpinkerton,

      Can you give an example of which organizations funding them surprised you?

      For the CDC, I looked and it was something like every university, many hospitals, and medical centers, Bloomberg, Merck, Quest Diagnostic and other labs, Pew Charitable Trust, UNICEF, the government of Canada, the WHO, and places like Facebook, and IBM. Plus, a lot of family funds and charitable funds.

      I didn’t look at it and have a sense of it being almost any of the major corporate sponsors that I probably expected to see at all.

      1. With the WHO, it seems like it is mostly various countries that fund it and places like Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

        If you are going to point to China as one of the countries, I would say that the USA was the biggest source of funding by far until mid-pandemic.

      2. I think I came away from reading about the CDC as realizing that it is a nonprofit organization that I probably take for granted.

  14. Dr Greger: “Our total ignorance of the immunological aspects”

    That’s clear ! Contrary to what is said in the video, in COVID-19, the immune system does not attack the virus, because the disease continues after viral clearance. COVID-19 appears after the viral infection, but is dependent on the host background.

    So there is an autoimmune component consecutive to the infection that triggers COVID-19 beyond the mere coronavirus infection.

    The first antiviral defense is not to kill our own cells but to inhibit the replication of virus via two means:

    1) diminition of endogenous cholesterol production
    https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.1000598

    2) release of endothelial nitric oxide:
    https://jvi.asm.org/content/72/6/4547

    That’s why plant nutrition, which is naturally devoided of cholesterol and also favors endothelial nitric oxide production is essential as prevention and treatment of viral infections.

    Most cytokine storms in COVID-19 patients are not caused by the viral infection itself but by preexisting endothelial dysfunction and misuse of medications that favor endothelial dysfunction like steroids and heparins, and may also precipitate SIRS-like reactions through release of heparan sulfate from the endothelium:
    https://www.jimmunol.org/content/172/1/20

    1. After viral clearing, and passed the SRAS reactions, some people continue to have symptoms for weeks, for months… This is real COVID-19.

      How to treat COVID-19 ? The same way as to treat any other acquired autoimmune disease: by regenerating the dysfunctional immune cells.

      How to do it ? Fasting or hypocaloric plant diets, which activate stem cells, triggers apoptosis of dysfunctional immune cells and regenerates naïve immune cells at refeeding.

      https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24905167/
      https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27239035/

      1. Thank you for the links. ab!

        “Immune system defects are at the center of aging and a range of diseases. Here, we show that prolonged fasting reduces circulating IGF-1 levels and PKA activity in various cell populations, leading to signal transduction changes in long-term hematopoietic stem cells (LT-HSCs) and niche cells that promote stress resistance, self-renewal, and lineage-balanced regeneration.”

        I do note that the diet goal is the exact opposite of what bodybuilders do; they eat a high calorie, high protein, high simple carbs diet in order to PROMOTE production of IGF-1. I wonder to what extent a more limited fasting protocol, say every other day at 50% to 75% of calories, but low on protein and devoid of simple carbs on the diet day) would work. Dr. Fuhrman and others do say that longer fasts need to be done only under medical supervision, so there is some concern over potential harm to DIY’ers. The every other day caloric restriction is what my GP suggested to me for better health as we age. She is Muslim, so she personally does longer religious fasts in addition.

        1. Only prolonged fasting (as an hypocaloric plant diet) on several days seem to bring benefits about renewing part of the immune cell pools. Thus the need to replicate multiple cycles of it, perhaps at one month or more interval.

  15. Perhaps quercetin and zinc would be useful. Doctor Roger Seheult MD apparently consumes these items often. Apparently Doctor Roger Seheult spends a number of hours per month in an Intensive Care Unit with COVID-19 patients. Additional details are at http://www.medcram.com

  16. ab has posted some excellent information relevant to reducing your COVID-19 risk here and on other videos in the COVID-19 series. I would also suggest:

    https://www.clevelandheartlab.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/CHL-D070-AUG2018-ADMA-SDMA-Practitioner-One-Pager.pdf
    https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/06/blood-vessel-attack-could-trigger-coronavirus-fatal-second-phase
    https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5c898ce38155127943882624/t/5ef4b59f5b1cd6552f239d28/1593095583645/Fathers+Day+Q%26A.pdf
    https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04347538

    It is a shame that CDC is approaching this pandemic from an epidemiological viewpoint, instead of educating people on first, how to weigh your risk factors (so that only those at high risk need to take precautions, not the entire population); and second, how to prevent/reverse the chronic diseases that predispose one to a serious illness from this virus (and presumably from seasonal influenza as well) in the first place.

    I took the blood test in the first link (fortunately finding no endothelial damage although I am a senior) and am taking to heart the lifestyle suggestions from ab and from Dr. Esselstyn in the third link, plus doing the nasal rinses referenced in the fourth link.

    Note that your HVAC company can sell you either a UV light system or a negative ionizer that could reduce the likelihood of viruses spreading within the household (hard to tell the line between marketing and science!) and Columbia has invented some sort of new light utilizing “far UVC” that is supposed to be safe for people and nearly 100% effective at killing airborne coronavirus. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/06/200624172050.htm

    1. Here is an article explaining why the neti wash protocol works. The researchers suggested the nasal rinse plus salt water gargle.

      Hypertonic saline nasal irrigation and gargling should be considered as a treatment option for COVID-19. Post-hoc secondary analysis of data from our recent Edinburgh and Lothians Viral Intervention Study (ELVIS) pilot randomised controlled trial (RCT) indicates that hypertonic saline nasal irrigation and gargling (HSNIG) reduced the duration of coronavirus upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) by an average of two-and-a-half days. As such, it may offer a potentially safe, effective and scalable intervention in those with Coronavirus Disease-19 (COVID-19) following infection with the betacoronavirus Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) [1]….We also recently reported that epithelial cells mount an antiviral effect by producing hypochlorous acid (HOCl) from chloride ions [3]. HOCl is the active ingredient in bleach. Epithelial cells have this innate antiviral immune mechanism to clear viral infections. Since bleach is effective against all virus types [4], we tested to see if a range of DNA, RNA, enveloped and non-enveloped viruses were inhibited in the presence of chloride ions supplied via salt (NaCl). All the viruses we tested were inhibited in the presence of NaCl. The human viruses we tested were: DNA/enveloped: herpes simplex virus; RNA/enveloped: human coronavirus 229E (HCoV-229E), respiratory syncytial virus, influenza A virus; and RNA/non-enveloped: coxsackievirus B3 [3]. In COVID-19, high titres of SARS-CoV-2 are detectable in the upper respiratory tract of asymptomatic and symptomatic individuals [5]. The titres are higher in the nose than the throat suggesting measures that control the infection and viral shedding will help reduce transmission [5].
      http://www.jogh.org/documents/issue202001/jogh-10-010332.htm  

    2. Caroline,

      I am not so sure about only having the high risk take precautions.

      First off, most people will have contact with at least a few vulnerable people at work or in their communities and at home.

      I am in the Northeast and 50 teachers died in NY at the beginning of this. My brother’s friend was an athlete who had zero sense of comorbidities and he died in his 49’s. Another friend had an 18 year old die and my coworker’s wife lost a dynamic aunt who should have had decades left and only had age as a comorbiditiy.

      As it is, my father who is in the age range where a lot of the deaths happen doesn’t consider himself or his wife at much risk even though he has been in Florida.

      Yes, it is possible that the current mutation may be less virulent. Maybe. But we are having states increase cases by almost 10,000 cases per day and it will be weeks before we see if they die.

      But even if they don’t die, people are getting heart, lung, brain, liver, and kidney damage, plus they are becoming sterile.

      Recently, a young person who had not left his house died. His mother was a very careful medical person who was taking her clothes off and was disinfecting every thing daily to not bring it in the house.

      To me, if we hadn’t shut down when we did, the whole country would have been like NY.

      As far as now goes, we will find out in a few weeks.

      But we will never know how bad it would have been back then. There was no PPE and we didn’t know how to treat this.

      It would have been so disastrous if all of the cities had what NY had back then.

      I am hoping we will find out that Italy was right that the virus has become less deadly.

      We have about 2 weeks to see what might have happened but this version will be with most people wearing masks and social distancing out of habit.

      The only the vulnerable being careful would have been many more deaths and we might get a taste of that soon but it will just be a taste.

      1. Deb, the problem is that there is no good guidance from CDC regarding who is vulnerable.

        Did all those supposedly healthy people who perished have low blood pressure, BMI of 22 or below (that is what my cardiologist advises; excess fat OR muscle is a burden on the heart), no calcium buildup (as shown by the calcium score test and carotid artery ultrasound), adequate vitamin D levels, no insulin resistance (as shown by A1c test), no inflammation (as shown by hs-CRP test), and good endothelial health (per the ADMA/SDMA test)? How many of those who did not have stellar results were trying to do something about the problem, like being on a low fat, low salt, no cholesterol, whole foods plant based diet as suggested by Esselstyn at https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5c898ce38155127943882624/t/5ef4b59f5b1cd6552f239d28/1593095583645/Fathers+Day+Q%26A.pdf and were also doing nasal washes as advised to prevent respiratory infections, and also getting outside to walk at least 45 minutes a day as the WHO advises?

        Remember that the medical profession is trained to treat (rather than prevent) diseases so it is up to the individual to make lifestyle changes to prevent chronic diseases. And if you want to know where you stand, or what progress you are making with your lifestyle changes, there are plenty of tests like those mentioned above that your physician can order for you.

        Approaching the problem as an epidemiologist would (everyone wear masks, stay six feet apart, and avoid groups) shifts the focus from where it ought to be, namely doing something about the large percentage of people who fail to take ownership of their health problems. Nearly all of the “vulnerable” could be doing something to lower their risk factors other than age.

      2. Deb, you are not the first person I have seen wondering why an “athlete” might die of COVID-19.  Well, plenty of them don’t have a healthy diet.  Lots of weight lifters try to raise IGF-1, and the way to do that is with lots of dairy, meat and simple carbs.  Others are on Keto and Paleo diets. From Dr. Greger: “Ten weeks of hard-core workouts and weight loss, and LDL cholesterol still went up with the Paleo diet. And it was even worse for those who started out the healthiest. Those starting out with excellent LDLs, under 70, had a 20% elevation in LDL, and their HDL dropped. Exercise is supposed to boost your good cholesterol, not lower it. The Paleo diet’s deleterious impact on blood fats was not only significant, but substantial enough to counteract the improvements commonly seen with improved fitness and body composition.”

        In addition, I listened to an anti-aging podcast that cautioned against long distance running. The speaker said that if you run 15-20 miles a day for an extended period of time, this creates a lot of inflammation. So do one or two marathons if this is on your bucket list, but don’t keep up with the long distance running. Interval training is much better for you. And don’t overdo that either, you want a fairly short exercise period, or you will cause inflammation and premature aging. The speaker especially likes water interval training.  She said there is less lactic acid generated if you do water exercises as opposed to exercising on land. 

        An article from over ten years ago in Men’s Journal (I know, not an excellent source of information, but I also read this elsewhere) said that moderate exercise is very good for your health (40 minutes a day in a study of cancer patients), but extreme and prolonged exercise weakens your immune system and damages your cardiovascular system and even occasionally leads to sudden death at the event.  Examples of what to avoid are endurance events like marathons, triathlons and ultrarunning. Back when my children were in school, our HS was nationally ranked in cross country and swimming (first in the nation!) The swim coach said to alkalinize (lots of greens) for better health and performance, and the cross country coach said that the immune suppression effect is something that his runners deal with all the time. So even the amount of training on an elite high school team is perhaps bad for your health.

  17. I think what is happening in Florida, Arizona, Texas and so many states right now would have happened all over the country at once and we didn’t have tests, masks, any drugs, ventilators, enough hospital beds, even enough medical workers. They had to hire people out of retirement. We didn’t have bleach or hand sanitizers or toilet paper.

    And all of the UV lights quickly sold out. I know because I bought some before but tried to get a few more.

    Back then, it was Winter and people were likely to be Vitamin D deficient.

    Now, it is air conditioning and that has been spreading it like wildfire and the black and Hispanic communities are still among the most vulnerable.

    So, I am going to say that the CDC might have a Black lives matter concept as to why they want people to be careful.

    1. Deb,it is MSM fake news that TX has a problem. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was on Fox last night explaining that the ICU beds are taken up 75% by people who couldn’t get medical care previously, due to the shutdowns imposed by big city (blue) mayors, and only 25% by COVID patients. He also said the spike in cases is mostly young people (maybe the BLM protesters??) who are unlikely to get very ill from the virus. The state is making a huge push for testing, with over 2 million tests to date, so then of course you will see more cases. Over half of cases in greater Houston (Harris County) have been people under age 40. Only about 7% were high risk people aged 70 and above. At least two of the hospital systems in the area have spoken up to say that they don’t have a shortage of ICU beds. And most important, we have had only 378 deaths here, in a county of 4.7 million people. Statewide there have been 2424 deaths among a population of nearly 30 million people. That is 0.008 percent of the population.

      So y’all are listening to fake news about Texas.

    2. J.B. Neiman, a managing partner and general counsel of a Texas-based health care company that owns 13 free-standing clinics, disputes MSM stories about Texas hospitals — and especially intensive care units — becoming jammed with COVID-19 patients. 

      “Positive rate is now close to 20% (was 4-6% in May). Vast majority of the cases are mild to very mild symptoms. Average age of the people getting tested in mid-30s. Very different patient (in terms of age) than we’ve seen before June. Most of these patients would not have met criteria that we previously had (and all the health facilities had) for Covid testing. Now with more testing kits we are able to test a broader group of patients.

      “Vast majority of the patients are better within 2-3 days of the visit and most would be described as having a cold (a mild one at that) or the symptoms related to allergies. We’ve often provided a steroid shot and some antibiotics. By the time we have follow-up calls, most of the patients are no longer experiencing any symptoms. They often say the shot really made a difference.

      “In terms of what is driving them to the ER — Roughly 1/2 have been told by their employers to get a test. They have a sneeze or a cough and their employer tells them to go get tested. The other 1/2 just want to know. They have mild symptoms (and some don’t have any symptoms but game the system and check a box that they have a symptom so they can get a test — they cannot get a test unless they present with symptoms. If they have no symptoms we send them away — which does happen.)

      “The average length of stay of Covid patients is 3-5 days. Much lower than the patients being seen in April and early May. Their symptoms are also milder. Most of the patients are not ending up in the ICU. The hospital ICUs are filled with really sick people with non-Covid issues. They [didn’t] come in earlier because they were scared [to go to a hospital] and now they are super sick. From multiple sources at different hospitals — they have plenty of capacity and no shortage of acute care beds.

      “No real data on breakdown of patients who have Covid but are not in the hospital because of Covid. Recognition that because all patients are tested for Covid you have some percentage of patients listed as Covid patients who are non Covid symptomatic and that the hospitalization rate is somewhat driven by hospitals taking their normal patients with other medical issues.

      “Finally, heard several stories of how discharge planners are being pressured to put Covid as primary diagnosis — as that pays significantly better. Hospitals want to avoid the discussion but if they don’t they risk another shutdown. This may be an explanation for why there is a gap in hospital executives saying they have plenty of capacity and the increasing number of Covid hospitalizations. You open up your hospitals for normal medical care and you test everyone of those patients — the result is a higher percentage of patients who have Covid — now.”

  18. If almost nobody has died a few weeks from now, I may shift slightly in that direction.

    I know that we need to keep our economy open.

    But America had 45,000 new cases yesterday alone.

    We might start having 100,000 new cases per day by next week.

    We have 35 states with an R Naught over 1 with most people being careful.

    By the week after that we are going to start seeing deaths. Or not.

    If not, then someone needs to do a Vitamin D study.

    If deaths come back in the Winter, I will be handing bottles of Vitamin D out.

  19. What is happening right now is what would have happened whenever we carefully opened.

    The concept that we can even control things now, being careful, seems almost naive.

    By the end of July, we will know more, but there are things we can do now and the virus seems less deadly now.

  20. A cytokine storm is basically such an immune overreaction that the system more or less goes haywire and can’t reset itself. Researchers have found vinegar downregulated the inflammatory cytokines in a dose-dependent fashion (the less diluted the ACV, the stronger the effect). Their conclusion was that apple cider vinegar could have potential applications for acute infections and for autoimmune-induced immune dysregulation, though more research is still necessary.”

    Could vinegar be used to reduce the impact of a cytokine storm in COVID-19 cases?

  21. See https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5788933/ for a study on this topic. The global escalation in antibiotic resistance cases means alternative antimicrobials are essential. The aim of this study was to investigate the antimicrobial capacity of apple cider vinegar (ACV) against E. coli, S. aureus and C. albicans. The minimum dilution of ACV required for growth inhibition varied for each microbial species. For C. albicans, a 1/2 ACV had the strongest effect, S. aureus, a 1/25 dilution ACV was required, whereas for E-coli cultures, a 1/50 ACV dilution was required (p < 0.05). Monocyte co-culture with microbes alongside ACV resulted in dose dependent downregulation of inflammatory cytokines (TNFα, IL-6).

  22. Any information about “transfer factor” some people have been saying that it helps immune system, but i cant find much! I never take anything like that but id like to know because my family takes whatever new trend there is unless i can prove is harmfull. Also if you have any info about chlorine dioxide for covid. Thanks

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