HOW TO SUPPORT YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
First, let’s talk about what we can and can’t control during these chaotic times.
Things we can’t control:
- Predicting what will happen
- The amount of toilet paper at the store
- How long this will last
- If others follow the rules of social distancing
- How others react
Things we can control (and things we can focus on) :
- Our positive attitude
- Turning off the national news (trying a local news channel for more accurate/relevant information and hopefully less hysteria)
- Our own social distancing practices
- Our own kindness and helpfulness toward others
- Finding productive things to do while quarantined (meditation, yoga, exercise, new hobbies)
- Limiting our time spent in a social media black hole
- How we take care of our bodies and strengthen our immune system naturally
Note: There is no “silver bullet” or quick-fix to building immunity or fighting the Coronavirus. These recommendations are not intended to provide medical advice and should be discussed with your healthcare provider.
10 THINGS YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW
- Hydrate: It seems obvious but most people aren’t getting an adequate amount of fluids. Soups and broths from scratch can be a great way to hydrate and get tons of nutrition. You can even freeze soups and broths into ice cubes for a quick and easy meal after a busy day. Herbal teas are great for supporting detoxification- we recommend ginger or turmeric tea.
- Eat a whole food diet: Infections kill people around the world due to nutrient deficiencies. In order to fight off disease and infection, we must have the appropriate building blocks! The quality of our food is also very important. Whenever possible, try to eat wild caught, organic, free range, grass fed & finished, non-GMO. It makes a difference.
- Manage your blood sugar: Diabetes is one of the conditions that increases our risk of dying from COVID-19, and therefore blood sugar control is of utmost importance. If you are diabetic or on the verge of diabetes (pre-diabetic), now is a great time to cut excess sugars/starch. These substances tend to weaken the immune system and cause inflammation.
- Eliminate processed food: It’s time we “rip off the band-aid” and cut out junk food and processed food. We know we need to. We know it’s not serving us or making us any healthier. In fact, studies show refined sugar can suppress the immune system hours after ingesting. Even though it’s difficult to make a big lifestyle change, quarantine/ social distancing is a time to make new habits and start FRESH (pun intended)!
- Eat lots of protein: Protein is vital for proper immune function! Protein malnutrition is a major risk factor for death due to infection. You’ll want to eat about half your body weight in grams of protein per day. It can be challenging (although not impossible) to get enough protein if you’re only consuming plant protein. We are big advocates of a nose-to-tail diet of animal proteins for most of our patients. Organ meats are great sources of essential vitamins that help your body perform at its best! If you don’t like the sound of liver and onions, you can easily supplement organ meats in capsule form. We love ancestral supplements! Dr Barbakoff takes kidney and Dr. Terrano takes liver- but the general organ supplement is great for well-rounded nutrition
- Eat the rainbow: We love the Wahls Protocol by Dr. Terry Wahls MD who recommends three cups of brightly colored fruits and vegetables daily. The different colors offer a variety of phyto-nutrients which can help boost the immune system. Dr. Wahls recommends fruits and vegetables that are colored all the way through the food (like a tomato or a strawberry), rather than a fruit/vegetable with a colorful skin (like an apple or banana), in order to get the most antioxidant/nutrient power!
- Incorporate fermented food: Fermented food like kombucha, unsweetened yogurt, sauerkraut and kimchi are great for supporting the microbiome. Your gut bacteria can help you break down food to extract essential nutrients as well as helping with an immune boost.
- Sleep! Sleep! Sleep! When you sleep, your body works hard for you, especially your detox pathways. Aim to get six to eight hours each night- you know the drill. Incorporate relaxation or meditative techniques with slow breathing in order to de-stress throughout the day or right before bed.
- Exercise/Meditation/Yoga: We all are familiar with the immense health benefits of exercise, meditation and yoga, but we might not know how to incorporate them when we’re in quarantine. Lucky for you, Peloton is offering a FREE 90 day trial of their app. It offers on demand classes in a variety of categories so there’s something for everyone: cardio, strength, walking, running, cycling, yoga, and meditation! You can stream these classes on your phone, TV, or computer! Perfect for social distancing and our new quarantine lifestyle. Although Peloton will remind you three days before your trial ends, if you still don’t feel comfortable putting your credit card information in, you can download the app and get the 90 day trial without giving any financial information!
- Hydrotherapy: Hydrotherapy treatment was an extremely successful treatment during the 1918 Spanish Flu. Showers, baths, hot tubs, hot wraps, steams, and saunas can be wonderful tools to fight infection by stimulating blood supply and circulation.
Supplementation for Immune Support: There are many practitioners and companies pushing products right now. It can be extremely confusing and conflicting for the consumer. There are in fact quality products that are appropriate in this scenario and may actually help bolster your immune response to a respiratory viral infection. However, let us be reasonable with our recommendations, stick to the science, and try not to go “overboard” due to fear.
- Vitamin D3: This vitamin is critical for optimal immune function! Vitamin D has been shown to help with production of anti microbial proteins that kill viruses and bacteria and in some cases can prevent seasonal flu infection. Studies have shown people with vitamin D deficiency are 11 times more likely to get a cold or flu. We recommend a quality supplement like liquid vitamin D3 by Ortho Molecular.
- Buffered Vitamin C: Vitamin C supplementation has been studied for more than six decades for its role in supporting the body during immune challenges.It has been shown to stimulate both the production and function of white blood cells, especially neutrophils, lymphocytes and phagocytes. These immune guardians have been shown to accumulate high concentrations of vitamin C, which can protect these cell types from oxidative damage. We recommend Buffered C from Ortho Molecular.
- Probiotics: The benefit of supporting the gut flora was mentioned above in relation to fermented foods. If you do not want to consume your prebiotics and probiotics through food, you can supplement them. We recommend Ortho Biotic which contains several strains of bacteria you can read about here.
- Fish Oil (Omega 3’s): Omega-3 fatty acids are required for a number of body functions, from proper blood flow to brain development. These long-chain fatty acids are integral components of tissues and organ systems throughout the body, including the heart, skin, joints, eyes and immune system. We’ve found that from catch to capsule (the time it takes from the time the fish is caught to the time when it’s encapsulated and bottled) can be as long as 2-3 YEARS. However, there are companies like Ortho Molecular that have shortened the process down to 2-3 months! This is some of the freshest and delicious liquid fish oil we have tried! Which is why these Omega chewables are so popular with our pediatric patients!
- Zinc: Mild to moderate zinc deficiency impacts immune function by slowing down the activity of macrophages, neutrophils, natural killer cells, and complement activity. Individuals with low zinc levels have shown below- normal immune activity that can be corrected by zinc supplementation. Low zinc status has been associated with increased risk of immune challenges that benefit from improving zinc levels. More importantly, zinc interferes with the SARS-CoV’s messenger RNA replication by the ribosomes. Reacted Zinc by Ortho Molecular can provide you with chelated zinc that is more bioavailable than other, inferior supplements made with Zinc salts.
You’re off to a good start by simply reading about the potential impacts of diet, lifestyle, and supplementation on your immune system. If we all just remain calm, educate ourselves and our loved ones, and support each other, we will get through this! Stay safe out there!
***We are currently drop-shipping supplements to patients during the shelter in place order from Governor Gavin Newsom. Please call our office at 619-785-3688 or text us at 619-552-2517 to order supplements or communicate with one of our doctors.