#Exercise and #Diet Are More Important Than Ever With #Virus at Large

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If your life these days is anything like mine, a pre-pandemic routine that included regular exercise and disciplined eating has probably given way to sedentary evenings on a big chair, binge-watching reruns of your favorite TV series while guzzling chocolate ice cream or mac ‘n’ cheese.

But let’s not beat ourselves up about it. Several doctors I spoke with recently said most of their patients and many of their colleagues are struggling to maintain healthy habits amid the anxiety of the pandemic. “The Quarantine 15” (pounds, that is) is a real phenomenon.

The double challenge of protecting our health, including our immune systems, while battling unhealthy temptations “is a struggle everyone is dealing with,” says Dr. David Kilgore, director of the integrative medicine program at the University of California-Irvine.

Well before COVID-19, more than 40% of U.S. adults were obese, which puts them at risk for COVID-19’s worst outcomes. But even people accustomed to physical fitness and good nutrition are having trouble breaking the bad habits they’ve developed over the past five months.

Karen Clark, a resident of Knoxville, Tennessee, discovered competitive rowing later in life, and her multiple weekly workouts burned off any excess calories she consumed. But the pandemic changed everything: She could no longer meet up with her teammates to row and stopped working out at the YMCA.

Suddenly, she was cooped up at home. And, as for many people, that led to a more sedentary lifestyle, chained to the desk, with no meetings outside the house or walks to lunch with colleagues.

“I reverted to comfort food and comfortable routines and watching an awful lot of Netflix and Amazon Prime, just like everybody else,” Clark says. “When I gained 10 pounds and I was 25, I just cut out the beer and ice cream for a week. When you gain 12 pounds at 62, it’s a long road back.”

She started along that road in July, when she stopped buying chips, ice cream and other treats. And in August, she rediscovered the rowing machine in her basement.

But don’t worry if you lack Clark’s discipline, or a rowing machine. You can still regain some control over your life.

A good way to start is to establish some basic daily routines, since in many cases that’s exactly what the pandemic has taken away, says Dr. W. Scott Butsch, director of obesity medicine at the Cleveland Clinic’s Bariatric and Metabolic Institute. He recommends you “bookend” your day with physical activity, which can be as simple as a short walk in the morning and a longer one after work.

And, especially if you have kids at home who will be studying remotely this fall, prepare your meals at the beginning of the day, or even the beginning of the week, he says.

If you haven’t exercised in a while, “start slow and gradually get yourself up to where you can tolerate an elevated heart rate,” says Dr. Leticia Polanco, a family medicine doctor with the South Bay Primary Medical Group, just south of San Diego. If your gym is closed or you can’t get together with your regular exercise buddies, there are plenty of ways to get your body moving at home and in your neighborhood, she says.

Go for a walk, a run or a bike ride, if one of those activities appeals to you. Though many jurisdictions across the United States require residents to wear masks when out in public, it may not be necessary — and may even be harmful to some people with respiratory conditions — while doing strenuous exercise.

“It’s clearly hard to exercise with a mask on,” says Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, a pediatrician specializing in infectious diseases at Stanford University’s School of Medicine. “We go hiking up in the foothills and we take our masks with us and we don’t wear them unless somebody starts coming the other way. Then we will put the mask on, and then we take it off and we keep going.”

If you prefer to avoid the mask question altogether, think of your house as a cleverly disguised gym. Put on music and dance, or hula-hoop, Polanco suggests. You can also pump iron if you have dumbbells, or find a cable TV station with yoga or other workout programs.

If you search on the internet for “exercise videos,” you will find countless workouts for beginners and experienced fitness buffs alike. Try one of the seven-minute workout apps so popular these days. You can download them from Google Play or the Apple Store.

If you miss the camaraderie of exercising with others, virtual fitness groups might seem like a pale substitute, but they can provide motivation and accountability, as well as livestreamed video workouts with like-minded exercisers. One way to find such groups is to search for “virtual fitness community.”

Many gyms are also offering live digital fitness classes and physical training sessions, often advertised on their websites.

If group sports is your thing, you may or may not have options, depending on where you live.

In Los Angeles, indoor and outdoor group sports in municipal parks are shut down until further notice. The only sports allowed are tennis and golf.

In Montgomery County, Maryland, the Ron Schell Draft League, a softball league for men 50 and older, will resume play early this month after sitting out the spring season due to COVID-19, says Dave Hyder, the league’s commissioner.

But he says it has been difficult to get enough players because of worries about COVID.

“In the senior group, you have quite a lot of people who are in a high-risk category or may have a spouse in a high-risk category, and they don’t want to chance playing,” says Hyder, 67, who does plan to play.

Players will have to stay at least 6 feet apart and wear masks while off the field. On the field, the catcher is the only player required to wear a mask. That’s because masks can steam up glasses or slip, causing impaired vision that could be dangerous to base runners or fielders, Hyder explains.

Whatever form of exercise you choose, remember it won’t keep you healthy unless you also reduce consumption of fatty and sugary foods that can raise your risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension — all COVID-19 risk factors.

Kim Guess, a dietitian at UC-Berkeley, recommends that people lay in a healthy supply of beans and lentils, whole grains, nuts and seeds, as well as frozen vegetables, tofu, tempeh and canned fish, such as tuna and salmon.

“Start with something really simple,” she said. “It could even be a vegetable side dish to go with what they’re used to preparing.”

Whatever first steps you decide to take, now is a good time to start eating better and moving your body more.

Staying healthy is “so important these days, more than at any other time, because we are fighting this virus which doesn’t have a treatment,” says the Cleveland Clinic’s Butsch. “The treatment is our immune system.”

This KHN story first published on California Healthline, a service of the California Health Care Foundation.

“#Comer #animales silvestres puede introducir #virus en humanos”

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Jordi Serra-Cobo, profesor del Departamento de Biología Evolutiva, Ecología y Ciencias Ambientales y del Instituto de Investigación de la Biodiversidad de la Universidad de Barcelona, alerta del peligro de consumir carne de caza sin control sanitario.


PREGUNTA. En el origen de la actual pandemia están, al parecer, los quirópteros (murciélagos, por su nombre común). ¿Cree que un contagio animal-humano como el que se sospecha que brotó con el SARS-CoV-2 en Wuhan, China, ya sea directamente por comer esos animales o por consumir otros portadores secundarios,podría haberse dado en alguna zona de España (incluyendo islas)? Puesto que parece que aquí nadie los come, ¿en qué condiciones (mordisco, arañazo, etc.) sucedería?

RESPUESTA. El contagio en nuestro país no es posible a no ser que uno se dedique a comer murciélagos. El sudeste asiático es lo que llamamos un hot spot epidemiológico. Es decir, un punto caliente. ¿Por qué? Por existir gran diversidad de virus, de reservorios y por razones de ámbito cultural. No podemos extrapolar la situación del sudeste asiático a Europa.

P. Los murciélagos tienen muy mala fama en nuestra cultura…

R. Pues son aliados nuestros en el control de plagas de insectos que afectan a nuestros bosques y cultivos. Por otra parte, junto con otras especies insectívoras, contribuyen a la regulación de poblaciones de insectos, algunos de ellos transmisores de enfermedades.

P. ¿Qué se sabe de la familia de los coronavirus? Dentro de ella, ¿exactamente qué particularidad presenta el SARS-CoV-2, causante de la actual pandemia?

R. Los coronavirus pertenecen a la familia Coronaviridae y al orden de los Nidovirales. Son virus encapsulados cuyo material genético es ARN de una sola cadena y muy larga en comparación con otros virus. Los coronavirus agrupan cuatro géneros distintos denominados Alpha-, Beta-, Delta- y Gammacoronavirus. Los alphacoronavirus se dividen a su vez en dos subgrupos, 1 y 2, y los betacoronavirus se dividen en cuatro subgrupos, 1, 2, 3 y 4.

Los coronavirus infectan una amplia gama de especies de aves y de mamíferos y son responsables de infecciones entéricas o respiratorias.

Alpha y betacoronavirus infectan especies de mamíferos incluida la especie humana. Los alphacoronavirus son responsables de infecciones leves del tracto respiratorio. Los betacoronavirus causan patologías respiratorias severas; el SARS, el MERS y el SARS-CoV-2 pertenecen a los subgrupos 2 y 3 de este género.

El SARS-CoV-2 tiene la particularidad de ser muy infeccioso, es decir, se propaga fácilmente y el individuo infectado puede transmitirlo antes de que manifieste la enfermedad.

Jordi Serra-Cobo.
Jordi Serra-Cobo.

P. ¿Qué otros animales, además de los murciélagos, son portadores habituales de coronavirus y, por tanto, también un riesgo a tener en cuenta desde el punto de vista de la salud pública?

R. Las aves y los mamíferos son portadores de coronavirus. Sin embargo, son las cepas presentes en las aves las que infectan ocasionalmente a los humanos.

Los quirópteros y los roedores son los principales reservorios de los alpha y betacoronavirus, algunos de los cuales son zoonóticos, pero es difícil que los quirópteros y los roedores infecten directamente a las personas. Para ello tendría que existir una exposición frecuente.

En dicho sentido, son necesarios huéspedes intermediarios que, por un lado, tengan un estrecho contacto con las especies reservorio y, por otro, tengan contacto con la especie humana.

El consumo de animales silvestres sin control sanitario puede conllevar la introducción de dichos virus en los circuitos humanos. El riesgo es aún mayor si los animales se adquieren vivos.

La picazón en la inflamación de las picaduras de mosquitos ayuda a los virus a replicarse (Immunity)

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Sin picadura ni inflamación, el virus se replica mal.

Sin picadura ni inflamación, el virus se replica mal.

Los sitios en los que pica un mosquito no generan simplemente molestias y picazón irritante, también hacen que las infecciones víricas transmitidas por los insectos sean mucho peores, según ha encontrado una nueva investigación dirigida por la University of Leeds, en Reino Unido.

El estudio encontró que la inflamación donde el insecto ha picado no sólo ayuda a un virus como el zika o el dengue a establecer una infección en el cuerpo más rápidamente, sino que también promueve su difusión por todo el cuerpo, aumentando la probabilidad de una enfermedad grave.

“Las picaduras de mosquitos no son sólo una molestia, sino que son clave para la forma en que estos virus se propagan por todo el cuerpo y causan la enfermedad”, afirma el autor principal del estudio, el Dr. Clive McKimmie, investigador de la Facultad de Medicina de Leeds.

“Ahora, queremos ver si los medicamentos como cremas antiinflamatorias pueden impedir que el virus establezca una infección si se emplean con la suficiente rapidez después de que aparezca la inflamación por la picadura”, agrega este experto.

En la nueva investigación, publicada en la revista “Immunity”, los investigadores utilizaron modelos de ratón para estudiar las picaduras del mosquito ‘Aedes aegypti’, la especie que propaga infecciones como la Zika, el dengue y el chikungunya.

Cuando un mosquito pica, inyecta saliva en la piel y ésta provoca una respuesta inmune en la cual los glóbulos blancos llamados neutrófilos y las células mieloides se precipitan al sitio de la picadura. Pero en lugar de ayudar, algunas de estas células se infectan y se replican de forma inadvertida el virus, hallaron los investigadores.

El equipo inyectó virus en la piel de los ratones con o sin la presencia de una picadura de mosquito en el lugar de la inyección y compararon la reacción. En ausencia de picaduras de mosquitos y la inflamación que las acompaña, los virus no pueden replicarse bien, mientras que la presencia de una picadura dio como resultado un alto nivel de virus en la piel.

“Fue una gran sorpresa que no esperábamos”, reconoce el Dr. McKimmie, cuyo equipo trabajó junto a sus colegas de la University of Glasgow, en Escocia–. Estos virus no son conocidos por infectar las células inmunes”. “Y, por supuesto, cuando evitamos la llegada de estas células inmunes, la picadura no promovió la infección”, agrega.

A pesar de la enorme carga de morbilidad por las infecciones virales transmitidas por mosquitos –que son responsables de cientos de millones de casos en todo el mundo–, hay pocas terapias o vacunas específicas. “Esta investigación podría ser el primer paso en la reutilización de los fármacos anti-inflamatorios disponibles comúnmente para tratar la inflamación de las picaduras antes de cualquier síntoma”, resalta McKimmie.

“Creemos que las cremas pueden actuar como un mecanismo efectivo para frenar estos virus antes de que puedan causar la enfermedad”, añade este investigador, cuyo estudio fue financiado por el Medical Research Council. A su juicio, si se demuestra que es eficaz, este enfoque podría funcionar contra una multitud de otros virus.

How Scientists Turned Bananas Into Virus Killers

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Add Fighting The Flu To The Health Benefits Of Bananas: How Scientists Turned Bananas Into Virus Killers

Banana Health Benefits
Banana’s benefits may eventually include warding off the flu and other viruses. Photo courtesy of Flickr, JD Hancock

Bananas are high in potassium and fiber, giving them heart-healthy benefits and the ability to fight depression, improve digestion, and promote weight loss. Banana lovers may be able to peel open even more benefits thanks to an international team of scientists who were able to manipulate certain substances within the banana, and turn them into flu and virus fighters.

In a study published in the journal Cell, a research team comprised of 26 scientists from the United States, Germany, Ireland, Canada, and Belgium focused on a protein found in bananas called lectin, nicknamed BanLec. They discovered that this protein is able to read the sugar molecules that cover the outside of many viruses and cells. Though they still aren’t sure how BanLec reads these sugar molecules, which they call the “sugar code,” they believe that it holds the key to controlling how viruses bind to the outside of healthy cells. A result of discovering this would eventually be the development of a new class of drugs to fight the flu.

“Better flu treatments are desperately needed,” said the study’s co-author David Markovitz, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, in a press release. “Tamiflu is only modestly effective, especially in critically ill patients, and influenza can develop resistance to it. But we also hope that BanLec could become useful in situations such as emergency pandemic response, and military settings, where the precise cause of an infection is unknown but a viral cause is suspected.”

In 2010, BanLec was used as a first defense against HIV and AIDS, but had several unwanted side effects that limited its prolific use. During this research, scientists were able to tweak BanLec, turning it into a compound that fights viruses in mice without causing irritation or inflammation — as it had in its natural form. They did so by “peeling apart” two walls that were bound together, which separated the function that gave lectin the ability to fight the viruses from the part of lectin that caused the notoriously unwanted side effects.

After studying how sugar molecules worked inside bananas for several years, the international team of researchers named their newly engineered version of BanLec “H84T.” They were also able to demonstrate how BanLec connects to the virus’ sugar molecules, but couldn’t tell how the immune system’s T cells worked to fight the virus.

Moving forward, the German portion of the team will work to engineer a tool that allows for a more in-depth exploration of how the sugar code functions and interacts with lectin. “What we’ve done is exciting because there is potential for BanLec to develop into a broad spectrum antiviral agent, something that is not clinically available to physicians and patients right now,” Markovitz said. “But it’s also exciting to have created it by engineering a lectin molecule for the first time, by understanding and then targeting the structure.”

Source: Markovitz DM, Swanson MD, Bourreaux DM, et al. Engineering a Therapeutic Lectin by Uncoupling Mitogenicity from Antiviral Activity. Cell. 2015.

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