H is for Health

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An interview with Doctor of Pharmacy Justyna Kaźmierczak, an appreciated pharmacist and CEO of the ZDROWIT Fourth Pharmacy, on the immunity, legitimacy of vaccinations, especially against COVID-19, as well as the way of taking medications that would allow to avoid interaction. Her activities in the substantive and social fields were awarded with The Best & More title.

How to take care of immunity during the time of Covid-19?
Protection against the SARS-Cov-2 virus implies the prophylaxis: frequent washing hands, avoiding touching your eyes, mouth and nose with unwashed hands, and keeping a safe distance from other people. The WHO recommendations and current regulations issued by the Council of Ministers should be followed. How to take care of immunity during the pandemic? The human body is equipped with various mechanisms that protect against invasive pathogens but, unfortunately, sometimes a pathogen breaks the shield of defense, and the immune system cells have to fight it. The immune system needs the support, and the remedy is the intake of immunostimulatory substances. Immunostimulants are natural or synthetic agents that can increase the body’s resistance to various infections by improving the basic mechanisms of the immunological response.

• TIP 1: Diet
Approximately 70-80% of the lymphoid tissue that produces the lymphocytes responsible for producing antibodies and killing pathogens is located in the intestines. The diet should be rich in fiber, fermented products, live bacteria cultures, and vegetables.

• TIP 2: Beta-glucans
Beta-glucan is one of the constituents of dietary fiber (the cell walls of yeast, edible mushrooms and cereals). It has been proven that it is beneficial for the body, including activates macrophages – the defense army of the body. Beta-glucan works very fast because the immune system is stimulated in 72 hours after beta-glucan administration. This has a direct effect on the immune system stimulation.

• TIP 3: Physical activity
Regular, moderate-intensity exercise reduces susceptibility to disease.

TIP 4: Regeneration
Adequate amount of sleep and rest during the day (a short nap in the middle of the day).

TIP 5: Vitamin C suplementation
Human body does not produce vitamin C, thus it should be supplemented mainly in food (yellow pepper, parsley, orange, papaya, boiled kale, boiled Brussels sprouts, boiled broccoli) and dietary supplements.

• TIP 6: Honey
Honey is a natural product which properties increase the immunity and protect the respiratory system against infection. Additionally, honey has antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties. It is a source of vitamin C, E and A, as well as polyphenolic compounds and enzymes.
It is important to choose good quality honeys. I especially recommend those that are not blends of honeys from outside the European Union.

• TIP 7: Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a micronutrient essential for bone growth and the proper functioning of the immune system. Studies have shown the effectiveness of vitamin D in the treatment of common cold. A dose of 400-2000 IU Vitamin D per day has been proved to be particularly useful in the prophylaxis and prevention of respiratory tract infections.

Should we vaccinate against the flu?
It is the best to vaccinate against flu before the fall/period. Importantly, the composition of the vaccine changes with each flu season; a patient needs to be qualified by a doctor, and the vaccine is available on prescription only. It is especially recommended for people with an increased risk of complications from influenza. This applies to people who are suffer from chronical illnesses, such as: cardiovascular diseases, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, respiratory diseases, kidney failure, and anemia.
Influenza vaccination has a number of important effects on the human immune system, e.g. strengthening the defense mechanisms and stimulating the production of anti-viral antibodies, which fight not only the influenza.

What is your opinion on the Covid-19 vaccine?
Recently, many people ask whether the vaccine will be effective? At the moment, there are no confirmed studies that will clearly show whether vaccinated people will be resistant to the SarsCov-2 virus. One sure thing is that the vaccine gives hope that the pandemic will be taken under control and allow us to return to normal functioning. New production technologies often cause a sense of fear, which is further fueled by fake news.
Also, the information that appeared about the potentially harmful effects on human DNA and its modifications has not been confirmed by the studies. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines do not modify human DNA. The SarsCov-2 vaccine is the result of 20 years of scientific work, and the pandemic sped up the process significantly. The active ingredient in the vaccine is the antigen (ACP), which is attached to the mRNA. The main task of mRNA is to stimulate the body to an immune reaction, i.e. to increase the resistance against the pathogen, in this case to the SarsCov-2 virus. The mechanism of action focuses on fighting the pathogen; mRNA is also present in the human body, but it serves as a tool in the biosynthesis of protein.

No information about the safety profile or possible adverse reactions to the vaccine. We will be able to assess the safety of the above-mentioned product only if the detailed data are obtained and taken under consideration. According to press reports (including the trade press) the vaccine undergoes a complete testing procedure, including the animal testing. It should be emphasized that all stakeholders are concerned about the safety of people receiving the vaccine. The introduction of the SarsCov-2 vaccine to the market, will not stop the tests, and moreover, research on the safety of the product will continue. The vaccine may not be the perfect way to fight the coronavirus, but no one has come up with a better method to fight the pandemic yet. Watch out for all fake news, which has been quite a lot lately. I read and analyze, e.g. the Lancet vaccine Covid 19 journal.
For more information on vaccines, visit the dr JustynaKaźmierczak’s YouTube channel.

Food-drug interaction is also an important issue. What should we know about it?
Knowledge of drug interactions with food and awareness of their impact on the body are the necessary conditions for the effectiveness and, above all, of the safety of the therapy. Food consumed simultaneously with medications has a decisive impact on the effect of a given pharmaceutical preparation, it can strengthen, weaken, completely change its effect or sometimes has no effect at all. Depending on the composition of the diet (protein, fats, fiber, flavonoids, furanocoumarins, minerals, caffeine) and amounts, food may alter the PH of the gastrointestinal tract, osmotic properties of digestive juices, secretory functions and intestinal peristaltic. The amount of drug absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract depends on the patient’s health condition, drug properties, gastrointestinal motility, gastrointestinal blood supply, as well as gastric and intestinal juice secretion. The time between eating a meal and taking the medicine is also important. The presence of food in the stomach significantly reduces the absorption of some drugs. Medication, if ingested in the wrong way, may not have a therapeutic effect, which may lead to an extended time of treatment or an unnecessary switch to another medication. The prime example of such an interaction can be antibiotics (penicillin, cloxacillin, amoxicillin), which adsorb on the food surface, and therefore should be taken at least one hour before or after a meal. After each antibiotic or 1 hour before, you should take a probiotic (which boosts the immunity and improves the condition of the gastrointestinal tract, and reduces any inflammation).

How can we sum up our conversation?
I am always in favor of the ancient principle: „prevention is better than a cure”, which has not lost its relevance at all. For several decades the World Health Organization has been promoting the concept that prevention has a greater impact on the health and life expectancy of the population than treatment medicine. Lifestyle and preventive actions have a greater impact on the health of the population than the treatment options offered by the system. •

Beata Sekuła

References:

  1. Farmacja praktyczna, redakcja naukowa Jachowicz R. Wydawnictwo Lekarskie PZWL, Warszawa 2017, Interakcje leków z żywnością, s. 537-585
  2. Jarosz M., Dzieniszewski J., Uważaj co jesz, gdy zażywasz leki – interakcje między żywnością, suplementami diety a lekami. Wydawnictwo Lekarskie PZWL, Warszawa 2007
  3. Jarosz M., Dzieniszszewski J., Interakcje leków z żywnością i alkoholem. Wydawnictwo Medyczne Borgis, Warszawa 2004
  4. Korzeniowska K., Jabłecka A., Interakcje leków z pożywieniem. Farmacja Współczesna

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