How to strengthen your immune system
We, of course, all want to follow the CDC guidelines: wash our hands, cough and sneeze into the crook of our arms, avoid touching our faces, keeping a safe distance, and staying at home if we can.
Beyond this, while there's no magic food or pill that is guaranteed to boost your immune system and protect you against coronavirus, but it is just good common sense to maximize your health profile. Focusing on good nutrition is always a good idea, but right now it might be more important than ever.
Some tips to help:
Eating or drinking too much sugar curbs the immune system in fact eating any kind of sugar has the potential to reduce your bodies defenses by 75% or more for four to six hours.
Keep the following foods in easy reach, so when you need a snack they are easy to grab and keep you away from foods with no nutritional value and are just empty calories
Eat plentifully lots of brightly colored fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds and fermented foods. These are the powerhouse foods to provide nutrients and vitamins to support your vivacity and resilience.
Carrots, kale and apricots for beta carotene. Beta carotene gets converted to vitamin A, which is essential for a strong immune system. It works by helping antibodies respond to toxins and foreign substances,
Oranges, strawberries and broccoli for Vitamin C. Vitamin C increases blood levels of antibodies and helps to differentiate lymphocytes (white blood cells), which helps the body determine what kind of protection is needed.
Eggs, cheese, tofu and mushrooms for Vitamin D. Vitamin D regulates the production of a protein that selectively kills infectious agents, including bacteria and viruses. Winter-associated vitamin D deficiency -- from a lack of sun-induced vitamin D production -- can weaken the immune system, increasing the risk of developing viral infections that cause upper respiratory tract infections.
Beans, nuts, cereal and seafood for Zinc. Zinc deficiency depresses both innate and adaptive immune responses. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jir/2016/6762343/
Fermented dairy foods such as yogurt and kefir, and aged cheeses, as well as fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh and sourdough bread. Probiotics help boost the health of the microbiome, which in turn supports our immune system.
Last but not least: Drink Plenty of Clear Fluids. Could this get any more cliché? Probably not.
Are there supplements that have been shown to be beneficial in immune function?
According to Dr. Ronald Hunninghake, an internationally recognized expert on vitamin C who has personally supervised tens of thousands of IV vitamin C administrations, vitamin C is “definitely a very underutilized modality in infectious disease,” considering “it’s really a premiere treatment” for infections.
It is interesting to note that New York hospitals are treating coronavirus patients with vitamin C, according to the New York Post. The Post quoted Andrew Weber, M.D., a pulmonologist and critical-care specialist "intensive-care patients with the coronavirus immediately receive 1,500 milligrams of intravenous vitamin C, with identical amounts of the antioxidant readministered three or four times a day. Dr. Weber added that this is based on experimental treatments administered to people with the coronavirus in Shanghai, China."
Pulmonologist Dr. Roger Seheult discusses the importance of vitamin D for the prevention of COVID-19. While there are no clinical trials investigating vitamin D for coronavirus specifically, there are plenty of data showing it's an important component in the prevention and treatment of influenza and upper respiratory tract infections.
As noted by Seheult, while vitamin D does not appear to have a direct effect on the virus itself, it strengthens immune function, thus allowing the host body to combat the virus more effectively. It also suppresses inflammatory processes. Taken together, this might make vitamin D quite useful against COVID-19.
According to the European Journal of Immunology, the human body needs zinc to activate T lymphocytes (T cells).
T cells help the body in two ways:
controlling and regulating immune responses
attacking infected or cancerous cells
Zinc deficiency can severely impair immune system function.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “zinc-deficient persons experience increased susceptibility to a variety of pathogens.”
Doctors Michel Chrétien and Majambu Mbikay, senior researchers at the Montreal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM), have proposed the use of a plant-based compound called quercetin to treat COVID-19.quercetin, which some research suggests can protect against the Ebola and Zika viruses, may be able to treat the coronavirus.
One of the most well-studied elderberry syrup benefits is its powerful immune-boosting properties. The berries contain chemical compounds called anthocyanidins, which are known to have immunostimulant effects.
A 2009 study randomized patients into two groups. One group was given four doses of 175-milligram proprietary elderberry extract daily, and the other group received a placebo for two days. The group treated with the extract showed significant improvement in most flu symptoms, while the placebo group showed no improvement in symptom severity. Researchers conclude that the extract is effective in controlling influenza symptoms.
Studies have linked echinacea and their compounds to many health benefits, such as reduced inflammation, improved immunity.
The University of Connecticut performed a meta-analysis study that evaluated 14 studies and determined that:
Echinacea cuts the chances of catching a common cold by 58 percent.
Echinacea reduces the duration of the common cold by almost one-and-a-half days.
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Feehan nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.