What’s a Cytokine Storm?

Every adult, regardless of gender, race, or creed, could potentially die from a cytokine storm. Nevertheless, unlike so many things in our lives lately, this is something which you and I can choose to prevent. 

 I’ll quote a summary explanation of cytokines here from Https://www.amboss.com/us/knowledge/Cytokines_and_eicosanoids/. Cytokines are signaling proteins that modulate immune responses, inflammation, and aid cell proliferation and differentiation. They are mainly secreted by hematopoietic cells and act in an autocrine, paracrine, or endocrine mode. They are classified into proinflammatory cytokines (interleukins 1, 6, 8, 12, and 18; interferons; and tumor necrosis factor) and anti-inflammatory cytokines (interleukins 4, 10, 11, and 13; and transforming growth factor-beta). Proinflammatory cytokines induce fever and inflammation, in response to infection or tissue injury, while anti-inflammatory cytokines suppress the immune system. Interferons are proinflammatory cytokines that are secreted by fibroblasts, leukocytes, cells infected by viruses in response to infection or neoplastic proliferation.  Since interferons have antiviral, antimicrobial, and antitumor (antiproliferative) properties, they are used in the treatment of chronic viral infections (hepatitis B and hepatitis C), tumors (leukemia, Kaposi sarcoma), and autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, systemic sclerosis). Eicosanoids are pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory signaling molecules derived from arachidonic acid (AA) and include prostaglandins, leukotrienes, prostacyclins, and thromboxane A2.

Basically, you now know what physicians and medical students know of the balances necessary for the prevention of chronic illnesses and recovery from infections and injuries. A cytokine storm is a potentially fatal reaction, usually associated with high death rates during flu pandemics. It occurs, literally, when the system overreacts to an intruder, such as a virus, and all the cells responsible for the immune reaction start working in an exaggerated manner.

Here’s where you and I can come in to prevent this “storm.” The heart of these processes begins by including the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PFA) Omega-6, -3, and non-essential, -9 in our diet.  There is no adequate intake requirement for Omega-9, which is found in vegetable and seed oils, nuts, and seeds. Most importantly, you need the right balance of Omega-6 and -3 to be between 1:1 to 4:1.  Unfortunately, people on the Western diet may be consuming between 15:1 to 17:1. Omega 6 and Omega 3 are considered essential,.because the body cannot produce them; they can only come from our food.

Omega-6 fats provide energy and are found in refined sugars; corn; safflower, corn, and sunflower oils; nuts and seeds; and foods cooked in vegetable oils. Whereas, Omega-3 fats are found in fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, arctic char, and trout), free-range and Omega-3 enriched eggs, flaxseeds, and flaxseed oil, walnuts, grass-fed dairy, and meat. So, both PFAs are important, but it is best to have at least 2 servings of fatty fish each week and have more Omega-3 fats than Omega-6 fats to have optimum heart, brain, and metabolic health. Omega-3 fats are needed for infant brain development, to reduce inflammation responsible for numerous chronic diseases, to improve bone density, to prevent asthma, in reducing depression, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and psychosis in those at risk, to reduce weight and waist size, and to decrease liver fat, 

I hope I have either encouraged or confirmed many reasons and ways you can take control of your health, even during this pandemic. Good luck!

Thank you for reading, next blog will be on getting adequate sleep.

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