Epigenetics: Strengthening the Immune System

Goals

To identify insights on the following:
1. What human beings can do to strengthen their immune systems and ability to better improve resilience/resistance to viruses/infections, from an epigenetic standpoint.
2. If there are food or supplements that bolster resistance to viruses/infection on a genetic level.
3. To identify key factors and actions that will influence a person's ability to fight off disease from an epigenetic standpoint.

Early Findings

Epigenetic Diet

  • Certain foods, "especially fruits that contain abundant bioactive compounds, have been shown to modify the epigenome leading to beneficial health outcomes including anti-viral effects."
  • To help reduce the risk of infection by SARS-Cov-2, it is recommended that "fruits contain the most effective compounds against the virus and a sufficient amount of the compounds should be consumed from the diet to suppress viral infection."
  • The following foods can potentially help reduce the risk of infection, based on epigenetic principle and scientific literature:

Onions and Juniper Berries

  • Onions and juniper berries are abundant in flavanols, such as quercetin and its derivatives. Reports indicate that quercetin is very effective against the SARS virus, its "target enzyme/proteins are ACE-2, 3CLpro, and helicase."

Citrus Fruits

  • Citrus fruits, such as oranges, have flavonones which include compounds such as Naringenin, Luteolin, Hesperetin, and Hesperidin. Juniper berries also have the compound Luteolin. "Molecular docking shows these compounds can interact well with ACE-2, furin, 3CLpro, and/or the virus S protein."

Green Tea

Amounts to Consume

  • In general, "300g of fresh red onion, 300ml of squeezed orange juice, 1g of green tea, and 50g juniper berries would achieve the necessary PPC of quercetin, hesperidin, EGCG, and luteolin."
  • 300g of onion could "achieve a PPC for 50% virus inhibition".
  • 400mg of EGCG alone may also have a good inhibitory effect on the virus, whereas other compounds by themselves may not be enough to significantly inhibit viruses.
  • Eating orange and juniper berries directly or drinking the juice from them is enough to benefit from their active compounds.
  • Lightly frying or sautéing onions is the recommended cooking method to retain nearly 100% of quercetin for intake.
  • The best method to maximize EGCG from green tea would be to use "5g of green tea in 300ml of water, brewed at 85 degrees Celsius for 3 minutes."

Summary

  • For this hour, we tried identifying as much of the requested information as possible. We were able to identify insights on food that can bolster resistance to viruses/infection from an epigenetic standpoint.
  • We also found that viruses can alter the epigenome, allowing them to defeat a host’s immune response and successfully spread infection. However, the process of how this occurs is not fully understood.
  • We recommend continuing the research to identify insights on other things human beings can do to strengthen their immune systems to improve resistance to viruses from an epigenetic standpoint. In the course of our research, we also came across more general insights on epigenetics and the immune system, which might also be of interest.
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