Health & Views –April 2020 – 1st issue By Harold Gunatillake
How did Sri Lanka manage to contain COVID 19 infections, preventing the new coronavirus from epidemic proportions compared to more advanced countries.
We are an island surrounded by salt water, unlike big countries having neighboring countries attached by borders.
How did they do it?
Early reaction by the government and the health advisers was the key
A 22 member National Action committee was set up by the ministry to prevent the spread of coronavirus in Sri Lanka. …
Dr. Harold Gunatillake FRCS, MBBS, AM(Sing), FICS (US), FAICS
“Rasam for the Asians and Chicken soup for the Westerners are recommended during flu epidemics”
In my you tube circulated last week, I did mention that coconut that we all Sri Lankans enjoy in our daily rice and curry, and the spices that go into it, could be the answer to combat and prevent contracting the COVID19.
Coconut kernel (meat) has a fatty acid called Lauric Acid. This is a medium chain triglyceride (MCT) when consumed gets converted into mono-laurin in the liver, which has anti-microbial properties. This molecule can kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi. …
We do not think of our immune system in our body when it comes to healthconscious living, but we are more concerned with our cholesterol levels to keep the ticker working.
It is a very complex system composed of cells and proteins defending us against infections. Proteins are amino acids. These compounds help turnkey players in your immune system- T cells, B cells and antibodies- into germ fighters that spot and kill harmful cells that enter your body before they can start an infection.
“If the road blockage at the ‘Maligawa’ is removed division of traffic movements may ease part of the problem”.
Round the Kandy Lake the vehicular pollution is quite problematic and injurious to the inhabitants living close to the road-side, surrounding the lake. The pollutants emanating from the exhaust pipes of vehicles, including buses, Lorries and motor cycles are filled with numerous fluids, which harm the environment in the cases of leakage or improper disposal.
The incidence of chest problems is much higher than elsewhere according to personal communications. If the road blockage at the ‘Maligawa’ is removed division of traffic movements may ease part of the problem. Such a sharp incline in traffic volume on one side of the lake road is creating health problems for the inhabitants living in those upmarket precious properties on that side of the lake, affects the environment and the ozone layer.
Alzheimer’s disease is an inflammatory degenerative disease of the brain described as early as 1906 by Dr. Alois Alzheimer.
There is progressive memory loss and loss of cognitive function.
Now what does cognitive function mean?
It is an intellectual process by which one becomes aware of, perceives, or comprehends ideas.
It includes multiple mental abilities, learning, thinking, reasoning, remembering, problem solving, decision making and attention.
When you decline from these mental abilities and affects the performance of daily activities, we call it dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia.It is more specific and is the most common type of dementia accounting for 80% of cases.
Dear Dr Gunatillake,
Recently, while at the University of Hawaii, I came across an article by a surgeon Dr. Steve Gundrer of the Loma Linda medical school in California, who suggests that BUTYRATE is the key to repairing damaged gut lining which seems to be the main reason for lowered immunity. I wonder whether it might be worth your while to look at this aspect and let us know if it is the case, and if not how else we can look after the gut and hence raise the potency of our IMMUNE SYSTEMS.
With best wishes,
Dr. Hemal Jayasuriya Ph. D.
In our gastrointestinal tract- large bowel accounts for most of the chronic disabling inflammatory diseases like Nonspecific colitis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, multiple polyps, including cancerous growths.
There are trillions of healthy ultra-microscopic germs in your gut called microbes. They include bacteria, Bacteroides, viruses, fungi and so on. All these symbiotic inhabitants (boarders), in your large bowel, are grouped together as ‘Microbiota’.
For the mutual co-exitance of the host and the lodgers, the latter plays an important role, such as producing vitamins and other nutrients, boosting immune system, connecting through wires with the brain to ensure good functioning of both organs. By the way, your gut is referred to as the second brain.
To keep these microbes healthy, you need to take probiotic supplements such as yogurt, pickled foods, kimchi, miso soup, kombucha, and other fermented supplementary foods, plus prebiotics such as the soluble dietary fibre and resistant starches veggies like Jerusalem artichoke, garlic, leeks onions, among others.
The prebiotics are the main diet of these microbes. They are digested through a process of fermentation, and they seem to generate short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) that are beneficial for metabolic and cardiovascular health.
SCFA have a range of beneficial effects locally in the gut mucosa (inner lining), and improved metabolic regulations and have a direct and indirect effects on cardiovascular risks and many other conditions about to be mentioned.
The most important metabolites these bacteria produce is the short-chain Butyrate, acetate, and propionate.
Butyrate in particular has been the focus of research due to its potent immune-regulating effects. It inhibits the pro-inflammatory cytokines and nitric acid production.
Butyrate molecule has been shown in studies on mice that oral butyrate inhibits cytokine production in peritoneal macrophages, provide protection from atherosclerosis (thickening of arteries), prevents diet induced obesity and increases insulin sensitivity and mitochondrial function.
These studies confirm the benefits of taking butyrate supplements for specific and nonspecific large bowel diseases, control obesity and reduce insulin resistance in diabetes.
Such bacteria producing butyrate and other metabolites is referred to as the gram positive anaerobic firmicutes, some others related are EU bacterium rectale/Roseburia spp. and Faecal bacterium prausnitzii. They produce butyrate and others by a process of fermentation. They also produce lactate, formate, hydrogen and carbon dioxide beneficial to gut health.
Diet provides the main energy source (probiotics and prebiotics) for these microbes to thrive. Resistant starch from cooked rice with some oil added and kept in the fridge overnight and consumed the next day or two, provide ‘happy food’ for these bacteria to ferment and obtain energy. In return, they produce butyrate which have its multiple benefits: one important benefit is that they keep the large bowel inner lining healthy, preventing any of the chronic diseases mentioned before.
I need to reiterate that diet containing high levels of carbs, being the staple food of Asians, mainly as cooked resistant rice leads to higher levels of bacterial fermentation in the colon which results and promoting butyrate formation.
This accounts for Asians having lesser risk of the chronic non-communicable diseases of the large gut, compared to the people who consume a Western diet containing processed meat and white bread.
Butyrate producing bacteria represents a functional group, playing a key role in maintaining regulator of gene expression, inflammation, bacterial energy metabolism,
Beneficial microbes do cause problems
They also create detrimental effects on the cardiovascular disease risk and metabolic health, while producing the beneficial effects, mainly through your food choices.
These bacteria produce a metabolite called trimethylamine (TMA). This is produced when the gut bacteria digest choline, lecithin and carnitine that are abundant in animal products such as red meat and liver, other animal products including eggs and fish.
TMA travels through your blood stream to the liver where it is oxidised to Trimethylamine-oxide TMAO has a detrimental effect on cardiovascular and other organs.
Taking antibiotics by mouth promotes the growth of these bacteria producing this deadly metabolite.
This metabolite also causes inflammatory processes in your large bowel.
It is a known fact that saturated fat in red meat is linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Today, research has shown that picture has gotten more complicated due to these metabolites.
According to a news article published June 11 in JAMA, three recent analysis have linked high blood levels of TMAO being linked to higher risk of both cardiovascular disease and early death.
Other studies have shown that there is a link between high TMAO levels and heart failure and chronic kidney disease. The more, red meat you eat your gut produces more meat-eating bacteria. Eating red meat changes the gut flora, or in other words the gut microbiota.
When cardiac patients are admitted to the casualty in addition to doing an enzyme called troponin test for heart muscle damage, a TMAO blood levels may be important to assess the prognosis.
Vegetarians will be happy to note these findings, and the less we eat red meat is better for our health and longevity.
It is important that you need to eat a variety of foods, predominantly plant-based and high in fruit and veggies, whole grains and eat poultry, eggs, red meat or processed meat less frequently.
Taking oral butyrate supplements will benefit to improve insulin sensitivity among diabetes, for reduction in obesity, reduce atherosclerotic diseases including cardo vascular episodes and mostly to reduce the risk of large bowel issues.
Hope this article was useful.
Author: Dr Gunatillake-Health editor is a member of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore. Member of the Australian Association of Cosmetic Surgery. Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (UK), Corresponding Fellow of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, Member of the International Societies of Cosmetic surgery, Fellow of the International College of Surgery (US), Australian diplomat for the International Society of Plastic, Aesthetic & Reconstructive Surgery, Board member of the International Society of Aesthetic Surgery, Member of the American Academy of Aesthetic & restorative Surgery, Life Member of the College of Surgeons, Sri Lanka, Batchelor of Medicine & Surgery (Cey). Government scholar to UK for higher studies
Socially gathering together, like the people in Crete one of the largest islands in Greece would be a good example to follow.
The Greeks in this island works hard during the week, and on Saturday nights, most families, including their kids visit the local clubs: they meet, they drink, they dance and have a delicious Mediterranean dinner, retire late in the night. This is a weekend routine.
These people live up to a good 90.
People in Okinawa in Japan too seems to socialise in their traditional styles and live over 90: they eat lot of big oily fish with full of mercury, with no problem withmercury toxicity.
Both places, there are many centenarians.
The Sri Lankan Australians in Sydney, gets together and have a friendly day,
monthly. This video is all about that.
Sri Lankan Australian Seniors in Sydney get together once a month to meet socially and spend the day harmoniously keeping themselves occupied by playing sitting down games in groups, such as cards, draught, carrom and engaged in group singing with key board accompaniment.
This was the brainchild of Sam Masachchi when he was the president of the Sri Lanka Association of NSW.
AS he was working for Subway foods, he brought all varieties of cold foods as part of lunch which was enjoyed by most seniors. Those Subway food outlets are mostly enjoyed by young people, and for them to enjoy these foods at events as this, brings them a feeling of youth.
Most of the men get together for chit chats and read newspapers and
magazines that are being brought by some seniors. These social rendezvous during the autumn years offer them a variety of health benefits, like lessening chronic pain, delaying and preventing chronic diseases, help them to recover faster from illnesses and so on.
These monthly connections are important for their high-quality life and
relationships seem to build up as an overall wellness. Studies have shown that seniors getting together frequently experience a variety of benefits, including:
Better cognitive functions. By this what is meant is that such activities keep their mind sharp and mentally engaged, which tends to prevent or delay the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Such events connect with other friends a positive mood and prevent depression.
Loneliness after your partner has departed and children grown up, married and living far away becomes a disease. And is a hidden killer of elderly.
You can have loved with you, but still you could be lonely, as it is a state of mind. Inability to find meaning in one’s life, feeling of negative and unpleasantness, isolation, disconnectedness are other ways to define
Loneliness brings in diseases and is reported to be more dangerous than
smoking. High degree of loneliness precipitates suicidal ideation When you are socially active you become physically active, too. You tend to eat more and enjoy eating with friends and make better food choices when you eat with others.
Getting together with people of similar age groups, also indirectly makes your inside friends the gut microbes happy, too. They boost your immune system and keep you fit It is also a good idea to consume probiotics such as low-fat non- sugar yogurts, and fermented foods.
Sleeplessness is a chronic silent disease most people suffer as they get older.
Feeling of isolation and loneliness may give you sleepless nights.
Research shows that people who have more fulfilling relationships in their lives tend to sleep better than those who don’t. Getting together frequently make seniors something to look forward and improves longevity.
It is common practice for most seniors, especially the ladies to bring a plate of food with them. Combination of differently cooked foods such as rice and curry most enjoyed the Sri Lankan seniors, seems to bring them delight and improves their appetite for better satiety.
Those seniors who have not joined this club, can contact any committee member of the association and they would be most happy to see you at
the next get together.
These functions are held at leisure centre in Pennant Hills,