COVID-19: 5 Ways You Can Boost Your Immune System
By Daniel Rasmussen, EAMP
This year I have received many calls about how to support your immune system to help against the coronavirus. No one likes to get a cold or flu. Recent research confirms many ways we can stay healthy. For example, studies have shown that people with vitamin D deficiency are 11 times more likely to get a cold or flu, while supplementing with vitamin D can reduce colds and flu by 42 percent.(i)
Lifestyle Habits to Support the Immune System
Drink plenty of fluids, especially warmer fluids. With the dryer air inside and out, winter can be a particularly challenging time to stay hydrated! Consuming adequate fluids supports all of your bodies’ functions including the immune system. Make soups and broths (from scratch with fresh vegetables is always best) and have them throughout the week. Drink herbal teas like ginger and echinacea daily. Keep a bottle of filtered water with you at all times. Avoid concentrated fruit juices and sweetened beverages, as the sugar content is harmful for the immune system. If you do drink juice, dilute it with 2/3 water!
Try a daily saline nasal flush. Along with staying hydrated, flushing your sinuses with mild salt water helps to keep mucous membranes moist which protects you from microbes. You can use a neti pot, or easy to carry plastic bottles that come with saline packets to take with you when traveling or even at the office! Be sure to rinse them well with warm water and soap and air dry between uses. Studies have also indicated that flushing one to two times daily is appropriate and you should not go over this.
Avoid simple sugars as much as possible! This includes those sweet treats and desserts but also the white flour and refined grain products that turn into sugar quickly. Studies have shown that refined sugars can suppress your immune system for up to 5 hours after ingested.
Have protein with each meal. Proteins are the building blocks of the body. This includes your immune and detoxification systems. Organic, clean, and lean animal protein as well as plant-based (legumes, nuts/seeds) proteins are important to get with each meal and snack.
Add garlic, onions, ginger, and lots of spices (oregano, turmeric) to your meals! Add these to your soups and vegetable dishes, as well as bean dips and sauces. Garlic and onions offer wide spectrum antimicrobial properties.
Eat multiple servings of colorful fruits and vegetables high in vitamins C, A, and phytonutrients that support the immune system. Choose more leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cauliflower), peppers, sweet potatoes, and squashes. Aim for three to four servings of fruits and four or more servings of vegetables daily!
Get sufficient sleep! We all know sleep restores and heals the body. Without adequate sleep, optimal immune function is next to impossible! Get in a better rhythm and head to bed earlier on those dark winter nights. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Incorporating various relaxation and breathing techniques throughout the day to help with stress and allow the mind to rest is also very helpful!
Get regular exercise. Mild to moderate exercise (for approximately 30-45 minutes) helps boost the immune system. Avoid overexertion such as training for endurance events when you are feeling run down. This will lower your immune defenses.
Supplements for Adult Immune Support
Here is an overview of the vitamins, minerals, and herbs you need and why they are important.
Multivitamin/Mineral: This is the foundation for any health support regimen. It’s a good way to cover the basic vitamins and minerals your body needs for day-to-day function. If you aren’t on a good mulitivitamin you should get and stay on one. Look for a high-quality, broad-spectrum multivitamin and mineral.
Vitamin D3: Adequate vitamin D status is critical for optimal immune function and this cannot be achieved without supplementation during the winter months. It is best to get your levels of 25 OH vitamin D checked for accurate dosing. Blood levels should be above 30 ng/dl. However, optimal levels are probably closer to 50 ng/dl for most. Many need 5,000 IU or more of vitamin D3 a day in the winter. Start with 5,000 IU for adults, 1,000 IU for children.
Buffered Vitamin C: The role of vitamin C in supporting the immune system has long been known. Take 500-1,000 mg throughout the day with meals and snacks.
Zinc citrate: You can take an additional supplement or consume more foods high in this powerful immune supporting nutrient. Seafood—especially oysters—red meat, and pumpkin seeds are the best food sources. Take 30 mg per day.
Probiotics: A healthy gut flora supports a healthy gut, a major barrier against pathogens and integral to the immune system. Look for brands that offer several species of good bacteria and contain at least 5-10 billion organisms per capsule.
Fish Oil (Artic Cod Liver Oil): This old time remedy for good health and robust immunity still stands true! In addition to the good fats, cod liver oil contains additional vitamin A and D for added immune protection.
Natural Anti-Viral/Anti-Bacterial Herbs: Many herbs have broad-spectrum antimicrobial or immune-enhancing effects. Formulas contain different immune boosters such as astragalus, echinacea, green tea extract, elderberry, andrographis, goldenseal, monolaurin, various immune-enhancing mushrooms, and beta 1-3 glucan. We carry a potent Anti-Viral herbal formula with guaranteed potency and quality in the office and we can drop-ship this to you. NOTE: Please do not purchase from Amazon! You do not get the guaranteed potency (freshness) and quality like you do with us!
Cordyceps and Mushrooms Extracts: These provide immune supporting properties. We carry a line of high quality Cordyceps mushrooms in the office. If you’d like to place an order, just call our office and we can ship these out to you. Call us at (206) 624-0397.
Acupuncture Stimulates the Immune System
Another fantastic way to upregulate your immune system is with Acupuncture Therapy. Many studies have clearly demonstrated the benefits of Acupuncture on immune function. We accept all major WA state health plans that provide coverage for Acupuncture Therapy. However, Medicare and Medicaid do not cover Acupuncture but we do provide discounts for those patients whose insurance does not cover this highly effective treatment.