Cycling, covid and the immune system

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horizon
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Cycling, covid and the immune system

Postby horizon » 7 Jan 2021, 10:31pm

Last night, BBC1 treated us to an hour long documentary on how to boost the immune system. So our diet is what creates the right gut bacteria that in turn support the immune system to fight off colds, flu - and covid.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m ... une-system

If you remember, a report was published a year or two ago that looked at the immune system of older Audax riders and reported that their immune systems were as good as those of people in their twenties - thus concluding that the immune system does not automatically decline with age as was previously thought.

So, assuming we maintain a strong immune system through diet and exercise (and maybe getting out for those brisk walks in the winter), we have a fighting chance to brush off covid and live a long and healthy life.

But the government tells us that covid is really only about three things:

1. Transmission of the virus from one person to the next
2. The search for a vaccine and its roll out
3. Testing and tracing

So what happened to the immune system? And what happened to fresh air and exercise and social contact (also an immune booster apparently)? And diet (which is mainly the topic of the BBC documentary referred to above)? And what, most importantly of all, is the role of cycling in all this?

My chiropractor said to me today that what this pandemic tells us most of all is that we are a desperately unhealthy nation. Should "Eat out to Help out" have been "On your bike" and free gym memberships? And should Stay at Home have been "Get out in the fresh air"?

So my question: covid and cycling - what is the relationship for you between the two?
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher

Pebble
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Re: Cycling, covid and the immune system

Postby Pebble » 7 Jan 2021, 11:38pm

So my question: covid and cycling - what is the relationship for you between the two?

Covid has enabled my biggest ever annual mileage :D


I guess more than three bullet points is too many for most people to grasp, and I suspect the experts know there is little chance of getting many to change their ways in being over-weight, eating well and getting fit, so these very important points are left off that list ?

Strangely enough I don't cycle for fitness, I just love being on my bike. So it is just by chance that my love of cycling means I am fit and lean, I am also fortunate that my wife loves cooking so I also eat well. If I did not care for cycling and had to feed myself I would probably be 20 stone and consume mostly beer, my chances of surviving covid would be greatly reduced.

I think Covid aside, any gov should make getting people fitter and healthier their biggest priorities. A fitter healthier workforce would be far more productive and as such generate a lot more tax.

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Re: Cycling, covid and the immune system

Postby mjr » 8 Jan 2021, 12:27am

Don't you remember, after his time face down, Boris did launch a "Better Health" campaign at the end of July, urging us to get healthier before the second wave?

Anyone know if it worked? For example, is the UK now a less overweight nation?
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Re: Cycling, covid and the immune system

Postby rualexander » 8 Jan 2021, 12:40am

Being outdoors on the bike from spring to autumn also means cyclists are making plenty of vitamin D, which is a crucial component of the immune system and has been shown in studies to reduce severity of infections including Covid 19.
It would be wise to take vitamin D supplements during the winter months at the very least.
Most of the population would be wise to take Vitamin D all year as a large percentage will be deficient.

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Re: Cycling, covid and the immune system

Postby Paulatic » 8 Jan 2021, 7:13am

rualexander wrote:Being outdoors on the bike from spring to autumn also means cyclists are making plenty of vitamin D, which is a crucial component of the immune system and has been shown in studies to reduce severity of infections including Covid 19.
It would be wise to take vitamin D supplements during the winter months at the very least.
Most of the population would be wise to take Vitamin D all year as a large percentage will be deficient.

I was diagnosed as Vit D deficient around 8 yrs ago. Worked outdoors, large garden, cycle and walk. Vit D was the last thing the Dr thought of looking for. Please don’t ever think you’re getting enough by being outdoors. After all in Scotland we live in permanent shade.
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Pebble
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Re: Cycling, covid and the immune system

Postby Pebble » 8 Jan 2021, 8:56am

Paulatic wrote:
rualexander wrote:Being outdoors on the bike from spring to autumn also means cyclists are making plenty of vitamin D, which is a crucial component of the immune system and has been shown in studies to reduce severity of infections including Covid 19.
It would be wise to take vitamin D supplements during the winter months at the very least.
Most of the population would be wise to take Vitamin D all year as a large percentage will be deficient.

I was diagnosed as Vit D deficient around 8 yrs ago. Worked outdoors, large garden, cycle and walk. Vit D was the last thing the Dr thought of looking for. Please don’t ever think you’re getting enough by being outdoors. After all in Scotland we live in permanent shade.

apparently sun has to be higher than 50° degrees to create significant vitD, sun doesn't get that high in edinburgh until midday 5th may, and that is only for a minute., even on june 21st it is only above that elevation for 4 hours.

I'm vit D deficient too, take 2500iu per day - it made quiet a difference to me.

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Re: Cycling, covid and the immune system

Postby Pendodave » 8 Jan 2021, 10:13am

The state of our public health is a national and individual sadness.
When one considers the joy to be taken from being fit and well, and the discomfort and general life limitation of being overweight and unfit, it is profoundly dispiriting.
Not that I have any illuminating insights on how this can be corrected. Or how it's been allowed to happen. Is it just entropy in action?

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Re: Cycling, covid and the immune system

Postby Psamathe » 8 Jan 2021, 11:36am

(I do have a biological, non-medical background/training but) I'm confused about immune system vs SARS-CoV-2. As I understand it most of those needing ventilation need it not because of the viral infection level but because of the way their immune system has reacted. Given the complexities of immune responses I suspect that simplifications like an OTT immune reaction are "wrong" but I thought (from press reports) that the drug treatments for those on ventilators suppress their immune response.

So it must be more complex than a "healthy immune system" vs shortcomings. Immunosuppressed is a different game (e.g. where medication is being taken to suppress an immune system for other reasons). Does a really active immune system increase the risk that it will switch into overdrive faced with SARS-CoV-2 and make ventilation more likely? Again, I suspect it's far more complex given the number of different aspects to immunity.

I may be completely wrong on this - it's my understanding from press reports - so please do correct me (I'm not "making a case" for anything).

Ian

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Re: Cycling, covid and the immune system

Postby rualexander » 8 Jan 2021, 11:51am

Its about the immune system working optimally, it's a balanced system, it can overreact and it can underreact.
Vitamin D, and other things, are immune system modulators.

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Re: Cycling, covid and the immune system

Postby Vorpal » 8 Jan 2021, 3:24pm

Boosting the immune system may reduce the likelihood of getting something, even covid, but it does not eliminate it.

There are environmental factors, such as pollution, that no amount of boosting the immune system can make up for.

It may be possible to prevent the immune system from deteriorating with age, but first of all, that does not prevent all illness, and second of all, fighting some illness is not merely a matter of one aspect or another of immunity, but a great many factors, including genetics, similar illnesses that someone has been exposed to (or not), environmental factors, other illnesses someone may have had recently, diet, exercise, etc.

Some people are more vulnerable to some types of illness because of something else they have such as diabetes, which is genetic, or asthma.

People who are otherwise well, fit, eat well, exercise regularly, etc., can still get covid, and some of them have lingering effects for *months* afterward.

People, including those who keep themselves fit, may have underlying conditions that affect their disease susceptibility, and be entirely unaware of them.

The new variant of covid seems to affect more younger people. I don't think we know yet, how severely.

The differences between countries cannot be wholly explained by how well the population has 'boosted' their immune systems. That explanation might make some sense looking at difference between the UK and Japan, or Norway. But why is the case fatality rate lower in the USA than the UK? Why does Sweden's covid profile look more like the UK's than Norway's, when Norway & Sweden are culturally and geographically much more similar than Sweden and the UK, down to how & how much they exercise, diet, pollution, prosperity, and social services?

TBH, I think it will take very careful study across multiple countries to determine what are all of the factors in why and how severely people become ill with covid.
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