Globally, while we are getting through really difficult times, we are also trying to fight with COVID-19 (coronavirus) and with the fear and stress that comes with it. Even though we didn’t take it seriously at the beginning, with the speed of increasing cases, we have started facing the facts and realized the importance of the situation. While we were focusing on the ways to fight with coronavirus, we ignored the animal farms and markets, which were the main reasons of coronavirus and animal related pandemics in history. Although we only consider it as marketing and consuming wild animals, the world has fought with numerous pandemics from past to present that emerged because of unhealthy living conditions of farm animals in industrial livestock farms. We can get infected by diseases like brucella, tuberculosis, swine influenza, BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy), avian influenza, salmonella, leptospirosis and even anthrax from animals, not just from eating their flesh, but even from their milk. Taking this into consideration, it is really important to examine how we get our nutrition.

While boosting our immune system, how can we deal with the stress that has considerable influence on our resistance to harmful viruses? I put some of the contentious questions to Internal Medicine Specialist Dr. Oguzcan Kinikloglu for you in this interview. I want to thank him and all those who work in health care for helping inform us during this crucial time.

We know that a strong immune system is necessary to fight with coronavirus as well as all the other diseases. What nutrients should we consume to strengthen our immune system?

Some doctors went on television and advised people to consume meat,dairy and eggs. This advice has no scientific basis. Scientific research claims we should consume fruits and vegetables to protect ourselves against influenza virus. Research shows that people who consume more fruits are at decreased risk of being infected by influenza virus. Research also makes strong claims about drinking green tea that shows drinking green tea decreases the frequency of getting infected with viruses in both children and adults. Therefore, I suggest people to abundantly eat fruits and vegetables and drink green tea to fight against coronavirus. We shouldn’t forget that coronavirus mostly effects people who have chronic diseases like those who have diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease. It needs to be known that these diseases are closely linked to consuming animal products. For this reason, if we don’t want to be in the population that is affected by coronavirus, we should stay away from animal products.

We are hearing a lot about alkaline nutrients again. How useful are the claims being made?

In general, Alkaline diet stays away from animal products, it’s a plant-based diet. An alkaline diet is a type of diet of ‘ash diet’. There are different applications but basically it is a plant-

based diet recommends avoiding animal products. All its benefits come from consuming phytonutrients and not consuming animal products. These benefits or damages are not about the increase or decrease of the Ph value in the blood. It has been proven with scientific research that animal products do harm to our body with different mechanisms. For instance, TMAO (Trimethylamine-N-Oxide) which, is caused by consuming animal protein, increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases and rectum cancer. There is no scientific data that correlates these diseases to Ph value in blood, yet. We know that plant-based diets have protective effects against cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer and rheumatic diseases. Therefore, both during and beyond this pandemic, we need to adopt plant-based diets and avoid animal products.

Especially during this period, a lot of us are dealing with stress. Do you think the things we eat influence our mood?

Absolutely. I can say that it works in two different ways. First of all, when you don’t consume animal products you know that you are not causing cruelty. That in itself ought to give a spiritual uplift: “I am not doing any harm; I am not killing”. Second, animals experience stress when forced into slaughter houses, where they are tied up and feel the bad aura of the place. Stress hormone penetrates every tissue of the animal! When people eat meat, they also eat animal stress hormones, not to mention harmful saturated fat.

Research shows that people who quit eating animal products have a better mood in a short time.

The uncertainty we face now naturally affects our mood as well! What nutrients should we consume to fight depression?

According to scientific data that we have, whether it’s to avoid chronic diseases or increasing your mood, everything points to plant-based diets! Furthermore, we must keep our omega 6 consumption low. The ratio of omega 6 and omega 3 shouldn’t be above 4. For this reason, our main target should be avoiding fat as much as possible. And to increase our omega 3 intake, we can make use of food like dried fruits, plants with dark green leaves, berries, bean, crucifers, chia seed, linseed and hemp seed.

What is the relation of animal products with the viruses that we fight against today and in recent years?

As we all know, the Covid-19 Pandemic spread in a Chinese animal market. People provided a perfect environment for viruses to execute their antigenic changes on different species by

keeping thousands of animals in the same place! Not just Covid-19 Pandemic, pandemics such as avian influenza, swine influenza and Spanish influenza that we have seen before has arisen from animal markets as well. Surely, it is not a coincidence. There are gigantic farms that keeps one million chickens in the same place, and it is reported that China alone has 70,000 such farms. We must stop industrial livestock farms to prevent these kinds of pandemic from happening agian. One of the worst scenarios is that H5N1 virus causes avian influenza and when it contaminates people from birds, the death rate is 60%. Fortunately, it doesn’t spread from person to person, but if H5N1 virus (avian influenza) mutates in these farms and starts to spread from person to person then billions of people might die.

A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.

Albert Einstein

References https://www.who.int/medicines/ebola-treatment/WHO-list-of-top-emerging-diseases/en/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10673911/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23136926/

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/the-not-so-simple-reasons-for-becoming-vegan/article23123391/

https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/68899/WHO_CDS_CPE_ZFK_2004.9.pdf