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In this period there is a lot of confusion around the topic of coronavirus: the aim of this article is to explain what this virus is and what we can do to defense ourselves.

What’s Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses so called because under the microscope they have a crown-like aspect. Coronaviruses generally cause respiratory tract diseases, ranging from common cold to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

The coronavirus that we are currently talking about, called Covid-19 (which stands for COronaVIrus Disease 19) it’s a new type of coronavirus, not previously known, that’s why at the moment official therapies aren’t available yet.

How does it replicate?

Coronavirus to replicate needs human cells: it enters our body through nose, mouth or eyes and it attaches respiratory tract cells, infecting them. Here it uses cellular mechanisms to replicate: every cell can release up to millions of copies of the virus, which can infect other cells nearby or end up in droplets which can be released a cough or a sneeze.

The most part of Covid-19 infections causes fever while immune system is fighting to eliminate the virus. In the worst cases immune system can react in an excessive way attacking lung cells: lungs then obstruct with dying cells and respiration becomes more difficult.

What can we do to prevent the disease?

Besides the recommendations to avoid the virus diffusion, what we can do to prevent the disease is strengthen our immune system.

It has been seen that historic pandemics (like the plague during the Middle Ages and the Spanish fever in 1918) happened in moments in which population was run-down and had rachitis (vitamin D deficiency) and scurvy (vitamin C deficiency). So keeping a good alimentation is fundamental for keeping a good health status.

Here are some advice:

-It is fundamental to avoid sugar and all food which contains it, because sugar soppresses the functionality of immune system

-Elaborate food is to avoid too (junk food, snacks..) because they contain other chemical substances (flavor enhancers, food coloring, preservatives..) which damage our body.

-Increase water provision: a 70 kg adult should drink more or less 2 liters of water per day (at least 30 ml of water /kg body weight)

-Increase fish consumption (also frozen), eggs, vegetables and vegetable fats like extra virgin olive oil, olives, walnuts, almonds and other dried fruit (not peanuts).

– Enough sleep helps body to repair and be stronger

– Doing physical activity is very important for health. It is possible to do it also from home: abs, cyclette, tapis roulant..and there are many tutorials on YouTube you can watch or other Apps you can use.

Vitamins: it is important to know that vitamins, minerals and other nutrients work all together for correct functioning of the body, so a single nutrient can’t have big beneficial effects. It is then recommended the assumption of a good multivitamin.

Vitamin C: in this days we’ve hears a lot about vitamin C, its role in the cure of coronavirus infection, then the news was denied and it was said that vitamin C had nothing to do with immune system. What’s the truth, then? The truth is that vitamin C DOESN’T CURE coronavirus but it helps immune system making it stronger so it has a role in prevention. If you want to take vitamin C it’s fine, but as said before it should be taken also by a multivitaminic.

Vitamin D: this vitamin is fundamental for prevention, since it has been seen that the virus binds to vitamin D receptors in white cells, inhibiting immune response. The less vitamin D in the body, the higher possibility of getting sick. This vitamin normally is produced through sunlight exposure in summer time, currently we suggest the integration, after medical consultation.

-Follow personal hygiene rules: wash your hands with abundant soap for about 20-30 seconds: this destroys the virus. Disinfect common surfaces (including house and car handles) which are frequently touched with alcohol solutions or bleach. Keep a good personal hygiene.

Avoid stress: watching the news, reading newspapers and alarming news on social networks or in messages is advised against, because it increases fear and so the production of stress hormones which lead to a decrease in the functioning of immune system. Avoid also the diffusion of videos and messages, if they don’t belong to certain and authoritative references. To be updated listen to information directly given by authorities.

Dott.ssa Francesca Marcon
Biologa Nutrizionista
Comitato scientifico EINUMM