As the weather begins to cool down and the leaves start to turn color, nature tells us to begin our preparations for the flu season and perhaps another resurgence of the viral pandemic. Its back-to-school, though many students face another quarter with online classes, many venture back to colleges and classrooms, increasing their risks and their families’ for some of these nasty bug illnesses. Most of us wonder how to optimize our immune system and reduce our risks for these viruses during this preparatory season.
Immune Support Habits
Mindful eating and lifestyle practices are one of the easiest and most effective ways of keeping our immune system activated against the roaming viruses, including the current coronavirus. Understanding the reasons behind some of the lifestyle practices, dietary habits and nutrients, hopefully, encourages us to acquire and maintain healthier practices. Here are some general recommendations to keep yourself healthy through food:
Avoid Sugar: Sugar is the one of the most common substances weakening the activity and number of our immune T-cells against viruses. Sugar, furthermore, promotes inflammation and viral replication. Avoiding sugar means avoiding alcohol, wine, sweetened drinks, sodas, artificial sweeteners and fruit juices. On the other hand, organic berries, pears, apples tend to be tolerated by most and support healthy immune function.
Avoid yeasts and mold. Living in the great Pacific Northwest during these next few months reintroduces us to mold and more dampness. Those who are carriers of yeast and mold in their system are more susceptible to further dampness from mold exposure and yeast in the diet. Beer, breads, pasta, left-over grains, cheese and sugar further feed yeast. Yeast is very inflammatory and tends to reduce optimum immune function against other infections.
Adequate hydration with essential minerals provides hydration to cells, lowering the risk of infection, inflammation and complications of infections. Daily intake of high quality salt, such as himalayan salt, or mineral salt, or intake of electrolytes such as Quinton Isotonic vials, along with 8-10 glasses of filtered water provides proper hydration. When exposed to viruses, or under stress, increasing hydration through intravenous therapy can be transformative.
Sleep: Getting to bed before 11 pm is just as important for immune health as getting 7-8 hours of sleep. Growth hormone activation occurs while sleeping which supports repair in the body. Melatonin, a sleep hormone, is a powerful anti-oxidant and is increased during sleep and darkness.
Immune Support Nutrients
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a necessary and powerful water soluble anti-oxidant used by our immune system to keep toxins and viruses in check. Eating fruits and veggies high in vitamin C supports the function of our immune system as it cleans up oxidative stress created by the immune system in response to the invading virus. Pomegranate, a delicious fall fruit, is my top choice for high dose vitamin C containing fruit. Examples of high vitamin C containing veggies include organic red and orange peppers, organic tomatoes (with seeds and skin removed), squash and sweet potatoes. 500-1000 mg of l-ascorbate in capsule form, 2-3x per day provides sufficient daily vitamin C.
Vitamin A, an important fat-soluble anti-oxidant, plays an important role in supporting our gut’s immune system. Because approximately 80% of our immune system is found in our gut lining, the healthier the intestines with proper balance of secretory IgA function and microbiome, the stronger our immune function. Vitamin A keeps the intestinal inflammation and secretory IgA production in check. Foods high in vitamin A include organic carrots, dark leafy veggies, sweet potatoes, squash and most colored veggies.
Vitamin B12 is a vital immune modulator and plays an important role in balancing stress hormones. Providing cellular immune function support, methylcobalamin or hydrocobalamin are the most bio-available forms of vitamin B12. With increase stress and aging, the absorption of vitamin B12 reduces as intrinsic factor function and production in our intestines declines. Therefore, sublingual forms of B12 or injections of methylcobalamin or hydroxycobalamin provide the most bio-available and best absorbed forms. Nevertheless, fish, animal meats, and tempeh provide some of the highest about of food sources of methylcobalamin.
Vitamin D, another vital fat-soluble vitamin, provides immune support against infections and regulates autoimmunity. UV sunlight exposure promotes production of inactive form of vitamin D3 which then goes through a couple more steps to become activated: first in the liver to form 25, hydroxyvitamin D and then in the kidneys to form the active hormone, 1, 25 dihydroxyvitamin D, known as Calcitriol. Calcitriol is involved with calcium regulation in bone. Vitamin D2 is a synthetic form of vitamin D while vitamin D3 is a food grade often found in mushrooms, wild fatty fish, egg yolks, butter and liver. Oral absorption of vitamin D may not be optimum for many as it requires proper gut fat absorption. Therefore, oil-based vitamin D3 supplements may not be well absorbed and are often rancid. Dry capsules of vitamin D3 are usually better tolerated and well-absorbed. Intramuscular injections of cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) is one of the most effective ways of optimizing vitamin D levels when exposure to sunshine is not possible. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to increased risk of infections including corona as well as autoimmunity.
Zinc, found in pumpkin seeds, lobsters, meats, eggs, and legumes, provides essential support in many aspects of the immune function. Zinc provides a key step in disabling viral replication. Zinc prevents viruses from entering the human cells. Zinc encourages proper white blood cell (leukocyte) function and activity. It keeps the pro-inflammatory cytokines in check while improving the killing (cytotoxic) effects of the white blood cells. Zinc is one of the most common dietary deficiencies. Ensuring adequate intake of foods high in zinc along with zinc supplementation helps support our immune system.
Selenium, another essential trace mineral, plays an important role in protection against viruses. Severity of viral outcomes and their complications may be dependent on selenium levels. Because selenium is a a key player in inflammation modulation, immune cells activation and host response to viruses, the lower the selenium the worse the outcome from viral infections such as corona. To support your immune system during the flu season, make sure to eat adequate amounts of selenium found highest in brazil nuts, fish, meats and cereals.
NAC: N-Acetyl-cysteine is an amino acid chelate which is involved in protecting the lungs and gut against inflammation, bacteria, viruses, parasites and abnormal mucous production during a respiratory infection. It is the building block for glutathione, an super antioxidant naturally produced in the liver supporting elimination of toxins including chemicals, pesticides and metals. NAC breaks down excessive mucous and has been shown to reduce viral replication up to 93% for various viruses including influenza A, rotavirus and coronavirus. Food sources of NAC include eggs, garlic, turkey, and chicken as examples.
Eating small frequent meals, whole foods, organic, minimally processed and without sugar, MSG, food coloring and food additives along with adequate hydration, sleep and regular moderate exercise provides support for a healthy immune function. To ensure adequate intake of the above nutrients in your diet, Dr. Darvish’s custom-formulated supplement based on research for healthy immune support during the viral pandemic and the flu season, is now available. ‘Immuno Charge’ can be found at Holistique Medical Center dispensary.