The never ending Covid-19 and our immune system

An article in The Straits Times dated October 1, 2021 – Studies on cell function, why some people may be resistant to virus.

This is actually a scary 🙁 and yet interesting read..

The list for Long Covid seems to be getting longer and longer. Other than the known possible symptoms of shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain, joint pain and early signs of dementia, this article mentions an even scarier finding – The virus not only can impair cells’ activities, but CHANGE THEIR FUNCTION.

An example stated that when the pancreas is infected by the virus, not only the pancreas will produce less insulin than usual, but also started to produce glucose and digestive enzymes when these ain’t their job! Scientists called this ‘a change of cell fate‘.

As of current, it is not clear whether the change will be long-lasting. Some Covid-19 survivors have indeed developed diabetes shortly after infection.

But the article also mentions that SOME people are RESISTANT to the virus! The article suggests that it could be due to more efficient activation of natural killer (NK) cells – “When NKs are correctly activated, they are able to recognise and destroy infected cells, preventing the disease from developing.”.

NK Cells are our immune cells. They seek and destroy pathogens. These are what Dr Jau-Fei Chen been emphasising. Nourish our immune cells well and they will be the best doctor to help us defense.

Nutritional Immunology advocates that we should nourish our immune system with healthy plant foods rich in phytochemicals, antioxidants and polysaccharides.

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Exercise or Over-Exercise?

During this covid pandemic when more people are working from home, with travelling time saved, I see more people in the park, exercising and cycling 🚴‍♀️

From what I have learnt in Nutritional Immunology and Exercise Science, exercising and over-exercising can be different though.

Regular exercise can help in our weight management, release stress, prevent chronic diseases, as well as can enhance our muscle 💪, bone and joint health. However over-exercise can cause rapid production of free radicals in our body. The oxidation can cause stress to our body. This can result in poor functioning of our immune system instead 🙁

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We know prevention is important, yet it always do not receive as much limelight as a cure. People tend to wait until a problem arises and then find ways to fix it.

There may be medication to treat (not cure) a disease, but these usually come alongside with side effects. For example, someone with cancer can undergo surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy; but these may come with chronic pain, cognitive problems, kidneys, heart, joints, or even more cancers.

Even treatments for simple diseases such as an infection, is usually treated with antibiotics, and can cause hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance problems.

Having the knowledge to know what the costs are, prevention over treatments, picking the right foods to support our immune system, a change of lifestyle, are what Nutritional Immunology is all about.

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High-Fat Meal Can Disrupt The Liver

A high-fat meal not only can add calories to body, but at the same time can disrupt our liver function.

Researchers have found that foods high in saturated fats may have an immediate effect on the work of the liver. Fat stresses the liver cells, causing them to work harder which may lead to liver disease.

Consuming a lot of fat also causes the liver to produce 70% more glucose, which may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.

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Eating wild mushrooms and fungi? Not anymore for me…

Wild Mushrooms
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I love to eat mushrooms, any types! Even more since they are so rich in various nutrients – minerals such as iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, a number of B vitamins, vitamin D, fiber, protein, and polysaccharides! For cooking, they are also a natural flavour enhancers, almost like natural MSG 🙂

According to International Journal of Cancer[1], consuming mushroom once or twice a week can lower the risk of prostate cancer by 8%, and consuming it three or more times a week can lower the risk of prostate cancer by 17%.

In another study conducted by National University of Singapore[2], consuming two portions of mushrooms per week can reduce mild cognitive impairment by 57%!

However, there is also another use for mushrooms… for mycoremediation [3]…!

Mushrooms are not vegetables. They belong to the category of fungi family. They are “absorptive” in nature. Like a “sponge”, they absorb heavy metals, pesticides and insecticides from the environment, in land and in waters. Due to this natural ability, they are used for mycoremediation to eradiate heavy metals, and to decontaminate the environment.

In other words, mushrooms can be heavily contaminated with heavy metal. Consuming mushrooms or fungi grown in the wild no longer seem as good as what I used to think! I used to purchase wild black fungus(野生木耳) as seen in the following picture, or wild cordyceps, thinking they are better than farmed or from cultivation. However, I was wrong.

After knowing about mycoremediation, consuming wild fungi (mushrooms, cordyceps, black fungus, etc) means I am also consuming in high heavy metals, pesticides and insecticides! 🙁 Now I will choose cultivated or farmed fungi instead!

Heavy metals deposition in the environment is a threat to human health. Arsenic, copper, lead, chromium, mercury, and cadmium are some common metals that enter the soil and water by various human (industries, vehicle exhausts) and natural activities. Electronic wastes, preservatives, fungicides, insecticides are other sources of heavy metals. After leaching into the environment, they enter our human body via contaminated food and water. At low concentration, they play an essential role in our metabolic and physiological activities; above a threshold limit, they are carcinogens and can impair our kidney, liver, heart, spleen and reproductive functions.


[1] Wiley. (2019, September 5). ScienceDaily. Eating mushrooms may help lower prostate cancer risk.  Retrieved October 23, 2020 from

[2] 2019, March 12. NUSNews. Mushrooms may reduce risk of cognitive decline. Retrieved October 24, 2020 from,mild%20cognitive%20impairment%20(MCI).

[3] Nahid Akhtar, M. Amin-ulMannan. (2020, April 9). Biotechnology Reports. Mycoremediation: Expunging environmental pollutants.

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Sleep – Make it your priority

What is the recommended hours of sleep for the average adult?

Experts recommend 7–9 hours a day. But the most common reason we hear for the lack of sleep is – there’s too much to do and not enough time to do it! So one goes to bed a little later or get up a little earlier in an effort to fit a few more things into one’s packed-full day.

The effects of inadequate sleep are often subtle and seem insignificant. But over an extended period of time, it can cause serious health problems! Something that one may not even associate with their long term inadequate sleep.

Sleep Deprivation
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With sleep deprivation, your immune system doesn’t have a chance to build up its forces. Inadequate sleep has been linked to headaches, weight gain, depression, and memory loss. If we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies are less likely to fend off invaders, and it could take us longer to recover from an illness.

Long-term sleep deprivation may also raise our risk of developing chronic problems such as cardiovascular diseases or diabetes, affects our mental and physical health, and can dramatically lower our quality of life. In fact, one Harvard Medical School study reported that sleeping less than five hours a night increases the risk of death from all causes by about 15 percent.

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Hope for depression! Consume more lion’s mane mushrooms!

Hericium erinaceus, or more commonly known as lion’s mane mushroom, are less seen or heard of. I knew about it only when I become a vegetarian; it is a very common mushroom dish among the vegetarians.

Soaking it for my dinner. That’s how the name is derived; it looks like the mane of a lion.
The Lion King and other lion myths | BBC Earth

More known for their ability to improve our NGF (Nerve Growth Factor) for brain health, recent studies have shown that it may also significantly improve depression! This represents an exciting area for further research as an alternative treatment for depression –  one of the leading causes of global disease burden. Eat more!!

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Do all collagen products deliver the same results?

With exponential sales growth in the world’s wellness and beauty products, and predictable future market growth, the market is flooded with skincare and supplements marketed with ‘increase your collagen; stay young’ advertising claims.

But are all ‘collagen products’ the same and do they deliver the same results as their advertisements claim? 

The onus is really on consumers to do their necessary homework.  The least one can do is to look at the product ingredients.  The following are the DON’TS.

Don’t choose collagen from fish! Consuming their collagen will not become ours 😂 And in any case, collagen is large in structure.  After going through our stomach, they will become amino acids. It is no longer a collagen for the effects that we want 😨.  

Some have mentioned their collagen has been nano-sized or hydrolyzed into smaller structure, e.g peptides or amino acids for our body easy absorption.  But the result is, they are no longer a collagen after the process. 

The only way for our body to have more collagen is to consume plant foods that are very high in antioxidants.  With these antioxidants, our body makes its own collagen for the body’s different usage 😉👍

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The easing of circuit breaker measures in Phase 2…

With the easing of circuit breaker measures (starting Phase Two in a few days’ time), it is even more prudent that we should continue to take good care of our heath, boost our immune system with an array of healthy plant foods!

It was never shown on Research Papers that vitamin isolates like Vitamin C pills can boost our immune system, nor help us to recover faster from a flu/cold. They are simply claims and advertisements from the relevant marketing companies.

Just remember the four keys to good health: Quality sleep, regular exercise, a stable emotion and a hearty plants-rich diet!

Let us all be safe, go out less often, and not be the victim or the Covid-19 carrier.

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The good news resulting from COVID-19 circuit breaker

Something good resulted from the circuit breaker program – huge drop of flu, common cold, diarrhoea and conjunctivitis cases!

Usually there were around 2,500 to 3,000 people visiting the polyclinics every month for these ailments. Now it is fewer than 700 by the start of May!  What a significant drop!

This is really a good news.  This implies that if we continue to practise good hygiene, regular hand-washing with soap and water, do not go out when we are sick, take social distancing measures, the chances of us falling ill due to influenza, and many other respiratory infections can greatly be reduced! 

(Data published in The Straits Times dated May 13, 2020.)

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