As human beings, we are subject to illness, infections, and viruses. We depend on our immune system to be our army and fight against these infections. At this time of the COVID-19 epidemic, it is important to enhance and maximize our immune system to be our natural defense. The immune system is very complex and is affected by many factors. When the body is attacked by viruses, bacteria or pathogens or any other invaders the many parts of the defense system get called into action.
The COVID-19 virus stimulates a part of the immune system which can cause an uncontrolled release of pro-inflammatory chemicals that are potentially so severe, it can damage the lining of the respiratory system. So, the goal is to prevent the inflammatory storm.
Basic measures to keep the immune system strong:
We need to keep our immune system strong otherwise, we lower our defense system. Here are common-sense ways to keep our immune system strong.
Get a good night’s sleep
Maintain a healthy weight
If you drink, drink in moderation
Eat a healthy diet: more fruits and vegetables. Lower processed carbs and sugar
Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Enhancing the immune system
As with all cells and systems in the body, the immune system needs nutrients to properly function. There is evidence that various micronutrient deficiencies of zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid and vitamins D, A, C, B6, and E may alter the immune response. Other compounds found in food can enhance or modulate the immune response. Certain plant compounds or polyphenols influence and inhibit the inflammatory response.
It is difficult to get therapeutic doses of vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols through food alone. We do encourage eating a more plant-based organic diet to maximize phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, Juicing is a great example of concentrated nutrients in a beverage. Here are some suggestions for the supplementation of specific nutrients to support the immune system.
Multivitamin – We recommend a multivitamin that has no additives and has the active (methylated form) of folate and B12. We like Pure Encapsulations O.N.E. containing extra zinc and vitamin D.
Vitamin D: Having an optimal vitamin D level (on lab between 60-80ng/mL) may reduce the risk of infectious disease by strengthening your innate immune system. Vitamin D turns on key proteins that trigger a strong anti-microbial response. This helps you to fight off invaders before feeling the effects of getting sick.
Vitamin D is found in egg yolks, fatty fish, beef liver and cheese. The body will also make vitamin D by converting cholesterol in our skin from the sun’s ultraviolet light. Many people, because of genetic predisposition are not efficient in converting or absorbing vitamin D, which is why it is important to do annual lab testing for vitamin D.
How much vitamin D? We treat based on labs, but certainly, if you have been told by a doctor that you had low vitamin D levels in the past, consider supplementing with at least 50 mcg (2000 IU) per day.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C contributes to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions of the immune system. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, red pepper, cantaloupe, broccoli, sweet potato and tomatoes, just to name a few.
When supplementing, consider a buffered or ester vitamin C, which is gentler on the stomach than straight ascorbic acid. During flu season or pandemic, consider 2000-3000 mg per day for prevention.
Zinc: Zinc controls and regulates immune response. More is not better with zinc- too high a dose will interfere with copper metabolism in the body. 25-50 mg of total supplementation is enough.
Oysters are the highest food source of zinc. Zinc is also found in red meat, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, dark meat of chicken, pork chops, lobster and crab.
Vitamin A: -Vitamin A is considered an anti-inflammation vitamin because of its critical role in enhancing immune function.
Vitamin A is found in plants in the form of beta carotene. Look for deep yellow and orange fruits and vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes. You also find beta carotene in broccoli and dark leafy greens. Our bodies convert beta carotene to the active form of retinol for many functions in the body. Retinol is found in animal-based foods such as egg yolks, cod liver oil, and beef liver. Some people carry genetic variants that affect the efficiency of converting beta carotene to retinol, therefore it may require supplementation.
Quercetin: Quercetin has antiviral effects and has been used in many supplements for allergies and upper respiratory issues.
Quercetin is a flavonoid found in many foods including apples, onions, garlic, broccoli, citrus, cherries, grapes, berries, ginger, teas, and red wine, just to name a few.
Curcumin: Curcumin has been used as an anti-inflammatory for many conditions. It has been suggested that curcumin can target COVID-19 and reduce the ability to reproduce. Curcumin is recognized by a bright yellow color that is abundant in turmeric. Typically, you will find turmeric powder or fresh turmeric in curry and as a seasoning in many recipes. For therapeutic doses, supplements recommended for anti-microbial properties and to reduce inflammation.
Green Tea: Green tea can potentially reduce antiviral replication.
Resveratrol: Resveratrol has many health benefits by lowering inflammation. Resveratrol is found in skins of grapes, peanuts and mulberries. Because it is found in grapes, it is no surprise that red wine is a source of resveratrol. That being said, overindulgence is not recommended. Therapeutic doses of resveratrol is only found in supplementation.
N-Acetylcysteine (NAC)– NAC is recommended to help detox but has also been shown to have an effect on the immune system. Cysteine is an amino acid that is a component of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant, and detoxifier that our bodies make. Depending on the situation and genetic factors, the demand, production, and metabolism for glutathione changes in each person. Cysteine is found in most protein-rich foods. NAC is the supplement form of this amino acid, which many people see benefits from taking to boost immune and detox support.
Immune Support– Short term- when you start feeling sick:
Olive Leaf Extract
Seek the advice of a professional
During this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must maximize our health to minimize exposure and/ or to minimize symptoms if we are exposed. We are here and ready to develop an immune plan just for you with dosing and a combination of supplementation to get you through this challenging time. We take into consideration your personal health history, genetics, labs, and your lifestyle. We offer video and conference calls. We are here to help you stay healthy! Call our office at 239-676-5249 for more information.
Elderberry Syrup Recipe: Contributed by Jennifer Barrell
4 cups water
1 cup dried elderberries or 2 cups fresh
2 sticks of cinnamon
2 thumb-sized pieces of tumeric peeled and diced
½ to 1 cup of local honey
Directions: Bring all ingredients, except honey to a simmer on the stove for about 15 minutes. Use a sieve to drain all the juice. Cool down until it is warm, but not hot to the touch (around 80-90 degrees F. Then stir in the honey. It can be stored in glass jars in the fridge for up to a 2-3 months.
Dose: Take ½ to 1 tablespoon daily for adults to prevent illness; or if the flu does strike, take ½ to 1 tablespoon every 2 to 3 hours, instead of once a day. Take until symptoms subside.