2 big lessons from covid to protect your future health

The two big lessons from the pandemic to protect your future health

I believe there are two clear lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic that are extremely important for your health. They can be summed up in four words:


This article was written by Colin Rose, a Senior Associate Member of the Royal Society of Medicine, who has been writing on health science for over 30 years. He is also the founder and Director of Research and Innovation of Uni-Vite Healthcare.

Inflammation BAD – Immuno-Nutrition GOOD

The corollary is that you can greatly improve your health and longevity by increasing the level of anti-inflammatory foods and nutrients in your diet. And simultaneously increasing the foods and nutrients that support your immune system.

This article will enable you to do both.

But first let’s explain why inflammation is bad – and why increasing immuno-nutrition is essential.

Inflammation is BAD

Inflammation in your cells and tissues makes the likelihood of a bad outcome of covid and any viral threat much higher. And it may reduce the effectiveness of vaccination by obstructing the immune system (ref.1).

Even after you have been vaccinated, increasing your intake of anti-inflammatory foods and nutrients is a major health priority – for you and for your family. Because chronic inflammation – which we will explain – is a driver for almost ALL age-related diseases – for heart disease, for stroke, for diabetes, even for some cancers.

Immuno-Nutrition is GOOD

Immuno-Nutrition comprises those foods and nutrients that support and improve the immune system. They are now centre stage in defending against a severe outcome from this or any future pandemic.

The stronger your immune system, the better your chances for a mild viral outcome and for recovering faster.

Immuno-nutrition can improve the effectiveness of vaccinations, and is a key element for staying healthy long-term. A sub-par immune system not only leaves you vulnerable to bacterial and viral threats, but also to cancer.

Unfortunately, it is well established that the immune system normally weakens as you age (ref.1) – a process called immuno-senescence.

Inflammation and a weaker immune system, characterised by reduced levels of protective immune B-cells and T-cells, are closely interrelated and combine to produce a condition that some researchers call ‘inflamm-ageing’.

So reducing inflammation and increasing immuno-nutrition can have a powerful synergistic effect to keep you safer, reduce illness, and support healthy ageing.

Indeed, the combination – along with activity, stress reduction and sleep – can even slow ageing itself. As I show in my book Delay Ageing, published late 2020.

2 big lessons from covid to protect your future health NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals


Why you need to damp down inflammation

Proof that high levels of inflammation in the body are central to a severe COVID-19 reaction is not hard to find.

1. Anti-inflammatory drugs are being used to treat severely ill COVID patients

The drugs that are now being used to treat severely ill patients, to reduce the risk of hospitalisation and the risk of 'Long Covid', include the common asthma drug budesonide and the steroids hydrocortisone and dexamethasone (ref.2) . ALL these are anti-inflammatory drugs.

As a result, the World Health Organisation will be issuing new guidelines to include the use of steroids to treat critically ill Covid-19 patients.

However, although dexamethasone is proving successful as an anti-inflammatory it does have immune-suppressant effects. Whereas natural anti-inflammatory foods and nutrients do not have that unwanted side effect.

2. Inflammation is a major factor in health conditions which hugely increase risk of suffering severe COVID

Major risk factors for severe Covid include age (people over 70), obesity (80% of hospitalised Covid patients have been overweight or obese) and those with ‘underlying medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases like asthma, hypertension, dementia and cancer’ (refs.3, 4).

Inflammation is a major factor in all the above conditions. It is also now known to be a cause of accelerated ageing along with a less effective immune system.

Indeed, I believe that it’s only because most people over 70 have one or more ‘underlying medical conditions’ that age is a risk factor.

Healthy older people who do not have excess internal inflammation or a compromised immune system are NOT more at risk of a bad outcome.

Consequently, reducing chronic inflammation has become a major target for reducing the risk of bad viral outcomes, for healthy ageing, and indeed for reducing dementia risk (ref.5).

What is chronic inflammation?

There are two types of inflammation.

The first is called ACUTE inflammation - it’s temporary and positive. You get a cut, insect bite or bruise and the damaged tissue reddens, warms and swells, often accompanied by joint pain. These symptoms are signs of your immune system sending out white blood cells to clean and heal the wound or damage.

It is the second type of inflammation, called CHRONIC inflammation, that is so dangerous.

‘Chronic’ means long term or continuous, and you can think of it rather as a ‘smouldering’ inflammation. Instead of the immune response coming to a halt after helping to heal the wound, it continues at a low level. Over time, this actually causes increasing tissue damage.

That damage can be in the heart, the brain, in joints or in the walls of the gut and it is normally classified as ‘age-related’ disease. But it’s damage-related rather than age-related. And the damage can be reduced or even repaired. (The names of chronic inflammatory diseases often end in ‘-itis’ - as in arthritis and bronchitis.)

“Inflammation is an underlying contributor to virtually every chronic disease … rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, diabetes and depression, along with major killers such as heart disease and stroke.

“The connection between chronic inflammation and cancer has now moved to center stage in the research arena.”
Scientific American

2 big lessons from covid to protect your future health NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals

“Inflammatory factors predict virtually all bad outcomes in humans … having heart attacks, having heart failure, becoming diabetic … becoming fragile in old age … cognitive function decline, even cancer to a certain extent.”
Russell Tracy, Professor of Pathology and Biochemistry, University of Vermont College of Medicine

Chronic inflammation causes ageing

Ageing doesn’t cause chronic inflammation – it’s the other way around.

Chronic inflammation is also sub-clinical for a long time– meaning it is internal and largely undetectable, making it all the more dangerous.

In the case of auto-immune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system wrongly identifies healthy tissue within your body as a harmful foreign pathogen and causes your body to attack itself.

So internal, chronic, inflammation damages tissues over the long term. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that you can take effective action against this type of inflammation – to reduce the risk of the health issues that otherwise threaten us as we age.

Take action against inflammation with anti-inflammatory foods and nutrients

The good news is that you can take effective action against this type of inflammation – to reduce the risk of the health issues that otherwise threaten us as we age.

The main priority is to increase the level of anti-inflammatory foods and nutrients in your diet. So, at the end of this article, I give a link to a food plan that is based on extensive research at three top universities.

It is a ‘best of the best’ anti-inflammatory diet.

You’ll see that key nutritional elements in the food plan are the compounds called polyphenols and flavonoids found in fruits, vegetables and herbs, plus Omega 3 fish oil – all of which are powerful anti-inflammatories.

2 big lessons from covid to protect your future health NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals

Polyphenols and flavonoids from fruits, vegetables and herbs

There is overwhelming evidence to support the importance of polyphenols for our long-term health – they have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and can help to protect DNA from damage (ref.7).

In addition, polyphenol-rich diets and supplements can help prevent the breakdown of starch into simple sugars. This means that blood sugar levels are better able to stay in a healthy range, improving insulin sensitivity. Lowering insulin levels is a KEY factor in healthy ageing.

All this has prompted the American Cancer Society, Imperial College London and many other authorities to now recommend as many as nine portions of fruit and vegetables a day!

Omega 3 (from fish, fish oil, algae, hemp oil, flaxseed oil)

There’s equally strong evidence that Omega 3 fish oil helps to protect brain function, has a role to play in supporting the immune system and in reducing the risk of cancer.

But not many people have optimal levels of Omega 3 in their normal diet. You would need to eat 2-3 portions of oily fish such as herring, mackerel, sardines or wild salmon (preferred to farmed) a week to reach the recommended level.

Anti-inflammatory food supplements are important

Recommendations of 9 portions a day of fruits and vegetables, and 2-3 of oily fish a week, are difficult to achieve, even for conscientious people.

That’s why health scientists like Dr Paul Clayton - former Chair of the Forum on Food and Health at the Royal Society of Medicine - support the use of a well-designed supplement that will increase the level of Omega 3 and flavonoids and polyphenols in your diet.

A comprehensive supplement is not a substitute for a healthy diet, but a sensible way to increase your intake level of anti-inflammatory nutrients like green tea extract, curcumin, grapeseed extract, Omega 3 and marine polyphenols, together with the carotenoids lycopene, lutein, and beta carotene.

The new science of Immuno-Nutrition

In December 2019, the journal Frontiers in Nutrition published a review called ‘Immuno-nutrient supplementation’.

An aim was to answer the question: ‘What really works to improve the immune system?’

Improving the immune system certainly helps to protect against viral and bacterial threats. But it can also reduce the risk of atherosclerosis (cardio-vascular disease), which is still the number 1 cause of death), neurodegenerative disease (dementia) and DNA damage (which can lead to cancer.)

Combining this paper with many other sources (referenced below) suggests a short and a long-term immune boosting strategy.

Short-term immune support – take beta glucans

One natural compound is the most immediate way to activate and strengthen the immune system. It’s called 1-3, 1-6 beta glucans.

This type of beta glucans is not extracted from oats, but derived from the cell wall of purified yeast. (The purification means they can’t cause any yeast allergy reaction.) These beta glucans can also be found in mushrooms like shiitake, maitake, reishi, and chaga.

2 big lessons from covid to protect your future health NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals
Shiitake mushrooms

By taking a 1-3, 1-6 beta glucan supplement, you activate important immune cells called Natural Killer Cells, neutrophils and macrophages, which leads to a general T-cell response.

[This is not unlike the way a vaccine creates an immune response. But whereas vaccines generate a specific response to a specific pathogen, a beta glucan supplement generates a general heightened immune response.]

There are over 700 clinical studies that support the use of 1-3, 1-6 beta glucans as an immediate immune-enhancer. Just a few highlights:

● When laboratory mice were exposed to very high levels of E-coli, NONE survived, but when the immune systems of a control group were primed with beta glucans, 90% survived.

● In 2019, the Department of Immunology at the University of Louisville published a meta survey of 20,000 other studies on various immune modulators. They concluded that 1-3, 1-6 beta glucans had “the best position” among all the many immune boosting compounds tested.

● The same researchers also examined the positive use of 1-3, 1-6 beta glucans as adjunct therapy in certain cancer treatments – specifically, monoclonal antibody therapy. (Monoclonal antibody therapy is now being used for hospitalised COVID patients). They concluded:

“With more than 80 clinical trials evaluating their biological effects, the question is not if beta glucans will move from food supplement to widely accepted drug, but how soon … In addition, they are relatively inexpensive and possess extremely low risk of negative side effects.”

Thankfully, beta glucans are NOT a drug, they are nutrients derived from natural food.

The use of 1-3, 1-6 beta glucans as a support to cancer patients is logical, because radiation and chemotherapy both suppress the creation of white immune blood cells and leaves the patient vulnerable to infection. By restoring the level and activity of these white blood cells, 1-3, 1-6 beta glucans are able to restore immune function and reduce vulnerability. In Japan, 1-3, 1-6 beta glucan therapy is common in cancer treatment.

1-3, 1-6 beta-glucans are the main ingredient in the immune supplement called ImmunoShield.

Long-term immune support – improve your diet

Nutritional requirements change with age– usually they increase, because micro-nutrient deficiencies increase with age.

Immuno-nutrition foods include Mediterranean-style fruits, vegetables and herbs, whole grains, olive oil and mostly fish rather than red meat. This is essentially the same ‘best of the best’ food plan that counters inflammation – see link at end of article.

A late 2020 article in the British Medical Journal entitled "Immuno-nutrition may improve COVID-19 recovery" introduced the term pre-habilitation (ref.23). The authors explained:

“Pre-habilitation interventions can help improve patient health in advance of being exposed to a physiological stressor, so they are then better able to cope with that stress.”

Drawing on that article and other sources, we can say that specific supplements that are known to enhance the immune system include:


Found in beetroot, sugar beet and as a supplement (ref.9).

Omega 3

Found in oily fish like salmon and sardines – and as a supplement (ref.10).

Polyphenols and flavonoids from fruits, vegetables and herbs

These, as we’ve seen, are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. People tend to attribute the protective power of fruits and vegetables just to their vitamin and mineral content. These are indeed vital, but polyphenols are just as important to health and immune function and new research (ref.11), published in the Journal of Immunologic Research, concludes:

“In summary, polyphenols can be used to regulate … immune responses, allergic diseases, and anti-tumour immunity”.

The same report singles out Curcumin and Green Tea Extract (EGCG) as being able to positively change the way genes are expressed to enhance immune function.

Other well-researched polyphenol supplements include grapeseed extract (ref.13) and bilberry and blueberry extracts (ref.14).

Additional plant nutrients that support the immune system include the carotenoids lycopene, lutein and beta carotene (ref.12).


A healthy immune system requires optimum levels of vitamins A, D, C, E, B6, B12, and folate. There is a synergy between these nutrients in a healthy immune system. Of especial importance is vitamin D3 (now officially recommended in the winter months), and at least 500mg daily of vitamin C. Vitamin C improves barriers in the respiratory system that can help prevent invasion by pathogens and help prevent pneumonia.


Iron and copper and especially zinc (ref.15) and selenium (ref.16). People with inadequate levels of selenium have lower numbers of T-cells and a reduced ability to respond to viral infections. Selenium also plays a role in the production of cytokines – molecules that help coordinate the immune system.

Zinc plays a key role in the health of the thymus gland – which produces infection-killing T-cells. Without nutritional support, the thymus gland can significantly decrease in activity as you age. Zinc has been called the gate-keeper of the immune function.

Beta sitosterol

Beta sitosterol is a natural compound derived from oil-producing plants, especially nuts and seeds. It has anti-viral and antibacterial properties and can stimulate T-cell production, thus improving immune function. Beta sitosterol also helps to normalise the body’s reaction to stress – important as stress suppresses immune response (ref.17).

Encourage Probiotics and take multiple strains as a supplement

A hot area of health research is the microbiome – that vast collection of microbes, mainly in your gut. To simplify: Healthy people will have a wider range of ‘friendly or good bacteria’ (probiotics) in their intestines and a ratio of many more ‘good’ to bad or pathogenic microbes.

2 big lessons from covid to protect your future health NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals

The immune system and the microbiome interact and support each other. Indeed 70–80% of the body’s immune cells are located in the gut (ref.18). Consequently, a diet that also supports the immune system via gut health is an essential element in immuno-nutrition (ref.19).

Once again, this is type of diet is largely Mediterranean-style high-fibre fruits, vegetables and herbs with some fermented foods. These too are built into our ‘best of the best’ food plan.

But a 2021 article in Medical Life Sciences News (ref.24) confirms that there is a role for a probiotic supplement, too:

“Over the last two decades, many studies and clinical trials have suggested that probiotics may help modulate the immune response and treat various diseases, especially viral infections.”

And a 2021 study in Nutrition Research (ref.25) concluded that probiotics may inhibit the binding of the COVID-19 virus to cell receptors, as well as reducing viral load and inflammation.

The specific strains that appeared to have the highest efficacy are listed below, and they even appeared to reduce the risk of a cytokine storm – where the immune response is dangerously exaggerated:

● Lactobacillus casei

● Lactobacillus rhamnosus

● Lactobacillus gasseri

● Lactobacillus plantarum

● Bifidobacterium lactis

● Bifidobacterium bifidum

● Bacillus longum

● Bacillus coagulans


Of the eight strains mentioned above, 7 are in a multi-strain probiotic called Microbiotic Plus.

Summary of lessons from COVID to protect your health

All the foods and nutrients mentioned above are included in a food plan which you can access free. The link will also give you access to other resources including age-appropriate exercises and relaxation techniques.

Go to a page to see the full Healthy Eating and Lifestyle plan, and download a pdf, too.

2 big lessons from covid to protect your future health NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals
NutriShield Healthy Eating and Lifestyle Plan

2 big lessons from covid to protect your future health NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals

Dr Paul Clayton designed NutriShield as a comprehensive health supplement with OPTIMUM levels of 43 essential nutrients including soy isoflavones, polyphenols and flavonoids from fruits, vegetables and other plants, Omega 3, betaine and green tea. 

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Uni-Vite Healthcare has a range of combination anti-ageing and immune-supporting health supplements to buy online from a UK company.

2 big lessons from covid to protect your future health NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals

2 big lessons from covid to protect your future health NutriShield Multi Vitamins and MineralsDr Paul Clayton's best-selling book Health Defence is available from bookstores or from Uni-Vite Healthcare here.

A free summary report and the opportunity to read the book online is available here.

Colin Rose's new book (2020) Delay Ageing is also available from bookstores or from Uni-Vite Healthcare here.



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