Opening the conference “Immune Resilience, Rejuvenation and Recovery” is a very special keynote presentation from Dr Jeffery Bland PhD, co-founder of the world-renowned Institute of Functional Medicine, and founder of the Personalized Lifestyle Medicine Institute.
In April 2020, early in the pandemic, Dr Jeff Bland made a prescient observation when he said,
“While there is no doubt that specific organisms are seen as the infectious vectors associated with specific pandemics, I believe history tells us that these viruses do not work alone. In fact, I believe a very different dynamic exists: these viruses work in combination with other factors — both social and biological — and some may be modifiable (1).”
“There is now evidence that certain lifestyle and environmental factors can serve as immunoadjuvants. Once identified, these factors can lend themselves to specific personalized intervention that is focused on renewal of immune system function, as well as increased resilience.”
The importance of the notion that modifiable risk factors influence risk to viral disease cannot be understated. Poor metabolic health and age-related chronic disease impair viral defence and are potent risk factors for viral illness (2,3,4). Similarly, diet and nutrition are well known to have a relationship to the risk and severity of viral infections (5,6,7).
Commenting on the interwoven relationship between COVID-19 and the non-communicable chronic diseases that influence risk of infection Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet, noted that “the aggregation of these diseases on a background of social and economic disparity exacerbates the adverse effects of each separate disease. COVID-19 is not a pandemic. It is a syndemic. The syndemic nature of the threat we face means that a more nuanced approach is needed if we are to protect the health of our communities (8).”
The pandemic is encouraging us to re-examine health through a wider, more encompassing view offered by personalized nutrition and lifestyle medicine.
- Bland J. Reflections on the COVID-19 Pandemic. Medium. April 12, 2020.
- Hamer M, Kivimäki M, Gale CR, et al. Lifestyle risk factors, inflammatory mechanisms, and COVID-19 hospitalization: A community-based cohort study of 387,109 adults in UK. Brain Behav Immun. 2020 Jul;87:184-187.
- Scalsky RJ, Desai K, Chen YJ, et al. Baseline Cardiometabolic Profiles and SARS-CoV-2 Risk in the UK Biobank. medRxiv [Preprint]. 2020 Jul 29:2020.07.25.20161091.
- Holly JMP, Biernacka K, Maskell N, et al. Obesity, Diabetes and COVID-19: An Infectious Disease Spreading From the East Collides With the Consequences of an Unhealthy Western Lifestyle. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2020 Sep 17;11:582870.
- Calder PC. Nutrition, immunity and COVID-19. BMJ Nutr Prev Health. 2020 May 20;3(1):74-92.
- Grant WB, Lahore H, McDonnell SL, et al. Evidence that Vitamin D Supplementation Could Reduce Risk of Influenza and COVID-19 Infections and Deaths. Nutrients. 2020;12(4):E988.
- Holford P, Carr AC, Jovic TH, et al. Vitamin C-An Adjunctive Therapy for Respiratory Infection, Sepsis and COVID-19. Nutrients. 2020 Dec 7;12(12):3760.
- Horton R. Offline: COVID-19 is not a pandemic. Lancet. 2020 Sep 26;396(10255):874.