The Role of Nutrition in Individual and Planetary Health

The COVID-19 pandemic has had deleterious effects on overall health in numerous ways, and not only for those who actually contracted the disease.[1] For many people, COVID-19 lockdowns negatively affected physical activity and diet, which are risk factors for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, including hypertension and obesity.[2],[3],[4] 

Equally concerning is that the importance of health optimization has been largely ignored.

The entire premise for vaccinations is to utilize non-pathogenic material to mimic the immunological response of a natural infection, thereby conferring immunity in the event of pathogen exposure.[5]

But a robust immune response requires a healthy body, and far too many people live in a state of less than optimal health. Nutritional status is critical for both the adaptive and innate immune systems. Suboptimal status in immune-enhancing micronutrients impairs immune function and reduces resistance to infections. The solution is obvious: micronutrient deficiencies should be corrected, especially in the elderly and other vulnerable groups.

Nutritional problems must be recognized early and appropriate measures undertaken quickly. Therefore, nutritional assessment and treatment should be a routine part of care for all, especially elderly persons, whether in the outpatient setting, acute care hospital, or long-term institutional care setting.[6] 

Seniors are Eating Terrible Diets

Social isolation and food insecurity are two primary causes of nutritional deficiencies. I believe this is a reason why seniors suffer more with COVID-19, and why their mortality rate is so much higher than that of the rest of the population.

Over the past two decades, diet quality has declined sharply for older Americans. Based on the American Heart Association (AHA) 2020 Strategic Impact Goals for diet, the average primary score dropped by 7.9% from 2001 to 2018 for adults 65 and over, as reported in JAMA Network Open. [7]

This average AHA diet score—which takes into account consumption of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish and shellfish, sugar-sweetened beverages, and sodium —dropped from 19.84 to 18.28 over this time period (out of a total of 50 points).

The proportion of older adults who were classified as having a poor quality diet jumped from 50.9% to 60.9%. This was defined as less than 40% adherence to the AHA goals. At the same time, the proportion of older adults with only an “intermediate” diet quality (40% to 79.9% adherence) dropped from 48.6% to 38.7%.

Malnutrition in the elderly: Circulus vitiosus (Vicious cycle)

A common assumption is that nutritional deficiencies are an inevitable consequence of aging and disease and that intervention for these deficiencies are only minimally effective. Nutritional assessment and treatment should be a routine part of care for all elderly persons.[8]

Micronutrients, such as vitamin D, C, A, E, K, zinc, and selenium, are involved in every aspect of immunity, from the virus entering the human to innate immune response and adaptive immune response.

Physiologic changes that decrease food intake—often referred to as the anorexia of aging—involve alterations in neurotransmitters and hormones that affect the central feeding drive and the peripheral satiation system.[9],[10]

Micronutrients are indispensable in immune response of vaccination.[11] 

 Anti-Sars-CoV-2 properties of 1,25(OH)2D

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The Bigger Picture

In today’s world, power, control and wealth are concentrated in the hands of global corporations. This includes pharmaceutical companies, big tech, industrial machinery industries, and banks, whose only interests are to capitalize on the populations of the world.  They are connected to governments and media. They are the main perpetrators of our global crisis. They control everything, including our agricultural processes, what we eat, how we farm, and the qualities of our health and our environment.

Agriculture is the last frontier of the new imperialism; it has moved from the older established governments in the US and Europe to the multinational corporations that have now taken control of the global economy. We must all take up the battle to protect our healing food and herbs if we hope to protect our world and those that live on it. We must begin to focus on health optimization through the application and understanding of bioregulatory network medicine. 

The molecular pathways that govern human disease consist of molecular circuits that coalesce into complex, overlapping networks. These network pathways are presumably regulated in a coordinated fashion, but such regulation has been difficult to decipher using only reductionistic principles. Botanical and nutritional medicine practiced within Mederi Care is primarily directed at enhancement of ‘Self-regulating Internal Community Networks,’ supporting and even directing while allowing the freedom to improvise.  Interactions of many (low dose) nutrients acting synergistically support these networks, rather than high doses of a single compound, including vitamins and minerals.

Whole-food diets rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, fish, and unsaturated vegetable oils (olive oil), and low in animal products, refined grains, and added sugars are associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality as well as COVID-19 related mortality.[12]

Moving toward diets that exclude animal products could reduce global GHG emissions by almost 50%. Around 43% of the planet’s ice-free terrestrial landmass is occupied by farmland (including croplands and pasturelands). Approximately 83% of this farmland is used to produce meat, eggs, farmed fish, and dairy, yet they only provide 18% and 37% of our calories and protein, respectively.[13]

The above illustration summarizes the planetary and human health benefits associated with the adoption of plant-based dietary patterns. (Abbreviations: CVD, cardiovascular disease; GHG, greenhouse gas; LDL, low-density lipoprotein; T2D, type 2 diabetes.)

Our planetary and personal well-being are suffering, but we have the tools to change direction and move toward health. We need to both nourish our Mother Earth and ourselves as One. We must always remember that everything is connected!

References:


[1] Marcos-Pardo PJ, Abelleira-Lamela T, González-Gálvez N, Esparza-Ros F, Espeso-García A, Vaquero-Cristóbal R. Impact of COVID-19 lockdown on health parameters and muscle strength of older women: A longitudinal study. Exp Gerontol. 2022 Apr 28;164:111814. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2022.111814.

[2] Chen P., Mao L., Nassis G.P., Harmer P., Ainsworth B.E., Li F. Wuhan coronavirus (2019-nCoV): the need to maintain regular physical activity while taking precautionsJ. Sport Health Sci. 2020;9:103–104. doi: 10.1016/j.jshs.2020.02.001.

[3] Bellettiere J., LaMonte M.J., Evenson K.R., Rillamas-Sun E., Kerr J., Lee I.-M., Di C., Rosenberg D.E., Stefanick M.L., Buchner D.M., Hovell M.F., LaCroix A.Z., Rossouw J., Ludlam S., Burwen D., McGowan J., Ford L., Geller N., Anderson G., Prentice R., Kooperberg C., Manson J.E., Jackson R., Thomson C.A., Wactawski-Wende J., Limacher M., Wallace R., Kuller L., Shumaker S., Shumaker S., Howard B.v. Sedentary behavior and cardiovascular disease in older womenCirculation. 2019;139:1036–1046. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.118.035312. 

[4] Colpani V., Baena C.P., Jaspers L., van Dijk G.M., Farajzadegan Z., Dhana K., Tielemans M.J., Voortman T., FreakPoli R., Veloso G.G.V., Chowdhury R., Kavousi M., Muka T., Franco O.H. Lifestyle factors, cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality in middle-aged and elderly women: a systematic review and meta-analysisEur. J. Epidemiol. 2018;33:831–845.

[5] Stephanie Seneff, Greg Nigh, Anthony M. Kyriakopoulos, et al. Innate Immune Suppression by SARS-CoV-2 mRNA Vaccinations: The role of G-quadruplexes, exosomes and microRNAsAuthorea. January 21, 2022. DOI: 10.22541/au.164276411.10570847/v1

[6] Gröber U, Holick MF. The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) – A supportive approach with selected micronutrients. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2022 Jan;92(1):13-34. doi: 10.1024/0300-9831/a000693. Epub 2021 Jan 25. PMID: 33487035.

[7] Long T, Zhang K, Chen Y, Wu C. Trends in Diet Quality Among Older US Adults From 2001 to 2018JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(3):e221880. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.1880

Medscape Today, March 16, 2022, https://www.medpagetoday.com/primarycare/dietnutrition/97624?xid=nl_mpt_SR_specialty_update_2022-03

[8] Evans C. Malnutrition in the elderly: a multifactorial failure to thrive. Perm J. 2005 Summer;9(3):38-41. 

[9] Huffman GB. Evaluating and treating unintentional weight loss in the elderlyAm Fam Physician. 2002 Feb 15;65(4):640–50.

[10] Morley JE. Pathophysiology of anorexiaClin Geriatr Med. 2002 Nov;18(4):661–73. v.

[11] Lai YJ, Chang HS, Yang YP, Lin TW, Lai WY, Lin YY, Chang CC. The role of micronutrient and immunomodulation effect in the vaccine era of COVID-19. J Chin Med Assoc. 2021 Sep 1;84(9):821-826. doi: 10.1097/JCMA.0000000000000587. PMID: 34282078.

[12] Gibbs J, Cappuccio FP. Plant-Based Dietary Patterns for Human and Planetary Health. Nutrients. 2022 Apr 13;14(8):1614. doi: 10.3390/nu14081614. PMID: 35458176; PMCID: PMC9024616.

[13] Poore, J.; Nemecek, T. Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers. Science 2018, 360, 987–992

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