by Abraham Nabors, Director of Education and Standards
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused so much concern and so many of us are left wondering"What can I do to protect myself?" While there isn’t evidence on how we can prevent getting it, what we can do is prepare our bodies with the right tools to fight back when becoming ill. With how quickly this novel virus can spread, one of our best methods to protect ourselves is to continue to boost our immune systems. These immune-boosting tips are a great way to care for our immune systems.
- 8 Hours of Sleep
Sleep is our superpower. 8 hours of sleep can help support our bodies in fighting illnesses, strengthening the immune system, repairing damaged tissues, digestion, detoxification, hormonal balance, and maintaining overall cognitive health. So what’s really happening when we sleep?Our brains are storing new information and getting rid of toxic waste; nerve cells communicate and reorganize, which supports healthy brain function. Meanwhile, our body is repairing cells, restoring energy, and releasing molecules like hormones and proteins. The reason sleep is so important when we’re already ill is because sleeping gives our body the time to jumpstart our immune system, but sleep is important to maintain a healthy wellbeing all of the time.
- Vitamin C
It’s commonly known that Vitamin C holds powerful antioxidant properties.Antioxidants are compounds that play a central role in health and disease; they help fight disease-causing free radicals while minimizing oxidative stress and damage to your cells. Studies show thatantioxidants may also aid in the treatment and prevention of multiple chronic conditions, including heart disease, autoimmune disorders, and even cancer. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant in the body, helping prevent the buildup of free radicals to protect your body against disease. This could have far-reaching benefits when it comes to disease prevention, with some studies suggesting that a higher intake of vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables may be associated with a lower risk of manychronic conditions.
One of the most well-known benefits of vitamin C is its ability to improve immune health. In fact, loading up on Vitamin C foods is often used as the first line of defense during cold and flu season; studies have repeatedly confirmed the immune-boosting benefits of Vitamin C. A review published in theAnnals of Nutrition & Metabolism showed that getting enough Vitamin C may help reduce symptoms and shorten the duration of respiratory tract infections, such as the common cold. Additionally, Vitamin C may also helpdecrease the chance of other conditions like pneumonia and malaria.
- Vitamin A
Vitamin A is known as an immune-boosting vitamin because several immune system functions are dependent on sufficient Vitamin A intake and antioxidant activity. Certain genes involved in immune responses are regulated by Vitamin A. Deficiency in this vitamin can lead to increased infections and an overall weakened immune system. Researchers from the USDA Western Human Nutrition Research Center and Nutrition Department explain that “Vitamin A deficiency impairs innate immunity by impeding normal regeneration of mucosal barriers damaged by infection, and by diminishing the function of neutrophils, macrophages, and natural killer cells.” Someresearch suggests that in populations deficient in Vitamin A, acquiring more appears to be effective in reducing cancer incidence.
- Vitamin D & K2
If you find yourself feeling under the weather more often than usual, you may want to consider adding a naturalVitamin D supplement into your routine.Vitamin D is important for the function of immune cells, and increased susceptibility to infection is one of the hallmark signs of deficiency. Astudy published in theArchives of Internal Medicine found that low levels of Vitamin D were linked to a higher risk of recent upper respiratory infections, such as the cold or flu.
Zinc is often taken as a natural over-the-counter remedy for fighting colds and symptoms of illnesses. When taken for at least five months, zinc may reduce your risk of becoming sick with the common cold. It can also supplement speeding up the healing process once you’re already experiencing cold and flu-like symptoms.Research shows that zinc can interfere with the molecular process that causes mucus and bacteria to build within the nasal passages. Ionic zinc, based on its electrical charge, has the ability to exert an antiviral effect by attaching to receptors in nasal epithelial cells and blocking their effects. Anotherstudy conducted by the Medical Education Center of Chandigarh India found that when zinc was administered within 24 hours of the onset of cold-related symptoms, the duration of symptoms was significantly reduced compared to the control group that didn’t supplement with zinc. Fewer patients in the zinc group had cold-related symptoms five and seven days after experiencing the first symptoms compared to those who did not take zinc.
Substantial research has been conducted that shows that selenium deficiencies suffer far more serious viral infections than those that have adequate levels of selenium in their bodies. Viruses can mutate much faster in selenium-deficient people leading to longer-lasting and more severe infections. Some studies have also shown that selenium prevents viruses from mutating into highly virulent (destructive) forms that lead to chronic disease states.
Not only does selenium help prevent severe viral infections, but it is also needed for approximately 79 different chemical reactions in the body including thyroid hormone production (specifically the T3 thyroid hormone) and even brain chemistry production. Most people are deficient in selenium so adding this important mineral to your daily routine can help you in more ways than one. Remember that municipal water systems that fortify their water with fluoride can cause a deficiency in selenium by blocking the cellular receptor sites where selenium needs to enter the cell, so consider drinking non-fluoridated water, like Reverse Osmosis purified water.
- Medicinal Mushrooms
Mushrooms augment the body's immune system, providing nutritional building blocks on a cellular level. The study published inNature shows that medicinal mushrooms are the only natural compound ever studied to be proven to be more effective than a pharmaceutical at antiviral effectiveness.
- NAC (N-Acetylcysteine)
What are the benefits of takingNAC? Not only has been it been used for three decades as an effective mucolytic agent (mucus-thinner), but it’s also been used for reducing inflammation, protecting the liver and preventing/treating drug toxicity, insulin resistance, infertility due to PCOS and so muchmore.
NAC has antioxidant effects and helps form glutathione. NAC is involved in the regulation of the glutamatergic system. In other words, as a precursor of L-cysteine, which results in glutathione biosynthesis, NAC (along with glutamine and glycine) is an amino acid that is needed to produce what’s arguably the most important antioxidant in the human body.
The most importantN-acetylcysteine mechanisms of action are its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. These are due to its ability to increaseglutathione levels, scavenge free radicals and reduce oxidative stress.
NAC helps treat respiratory issues by breaking up mucus This supplement has the ability to reduce mucus secretions and phlegm, as well as to reduce coughing, wheezing and trouble breathing. This makes it helpful in treating conditions including chronicbronchitis (defined as the presence of chronic productive coughs for more than three months in two consecutive years), as well as colds and the flu. In addition, there’s evidence that it can be an adjunct treatment for the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States) and emphysema.
Exercise and a healthy diet are the perfect duo and immune boosting remedies. We know thatexercising regularly helps decrease your chances of developing heart disease and keeps your bones healthy and strong, but physical activity may also help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. This can reduce your chances of getting a cold, flu, or other illnesses. Exercise isn’t meant to be overdone, it can be as simple as enjoying a bike ride with your family, or going on a 20 to 30 minute walk with your friends.
- Stress Management
Stress greatly impacts the immune system in a negative way, because the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens is reduced. It’s important to learn and practice relaxation techniques, such as yoga, mediation, or simply going for a walk in nature. How we manage our stress is unique and different to each and every individual and sometimes the first step is to accept that there are events in life that we cannot control. At the end of the day, what’s important is our immunity and wellbeing.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Taking care of our mind, body, and soul is a matter of practicing the improvement of our lives to be our very best. We can nourish our body with healthy foods, supplement our immune systems where we may be lacking, and move and reflect in ways that make us feel good. We are not designed to be perfect, but we are resilient. (This might need some work, very yoga class recap.)
Please work with your primary health care provider to form your health plan before starting to make any changes to your diet/lifestyle.
Stay safe out there everyone,
Director of Standards & Education