How to boost your immunity to combat the COVID-19 Coronavirus
How to boost your immunity to combat the COVID-19 Coronavirus
Boost your immunity to ward off COVID-19 Coronavirus
Boost your immunity and immune system naturally to help combat COVID-19 Coronavirus. With COVID-19 beginning to spread in Perth, WA and Australia wide through public transmission, we should all be looking for natural ways to boost our immune system and take precautions to help reduce the chances of transmission between humans. (1)
There are a number of actions you can take to reduce your chance of exposure and infection from respiratory viruses. Boosting your immune system will assist with increasing your body’s resilience to the virus and help improve your immunity in the event of exposure.
Symptoms associated with COVID-19 include sore throat, coughing, fever, fatigue and shortness of breath. (2)
What are the Key Nutrients to boost my immune system
There are a number of key immune boosting nutrients and herbs that can assist to support your body in trying to ward off viral and respiratory infections.
Supporting the body in times of stress or increased viral load on the body will enable your immune system to have an increased chance of resisting the virus.
I have 5 kids at home (including 4 month old twins), a partner who has been pregnant just 4 months ago and parents that live nearby that are 70 years old and we are all doing what we can do boost our immune systems and stop the spread of the virus.
Below I have listed the key supplements we are taking on a daily basis to boost our immunity and give our immune systems the best chance to fight off any potential infection.
A key nutrient that is commonly used to increase immunity. Vitamin C is used worldwide to support our immune system. Vitamin C is found in fresh foods, and taken in supplements orally and intravenously. Regular doses of Vitamin C have been shown to reduce the severity and duration of colds and flus. Vitamin C also assists in the absorption of iron and assists with white blood cell production.
Smaller regular doses of 500mg – 1000mg is better than dosing in one off very high doses. Foods that are high in vitamin C include kiwi fruit, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, fresh orange juice, sweet potatoes and strawberries. (3)
Zinc is a vital nutrient that is involved in over 200 enzymatic reactions in the body. It is one of the key nutrients involved in immunity, zinc plays a central role in the function of the immune system and studies show zinc deficient people are more susceptible to infections, colds, flu’s and viruses.
Immune cells such as neutrophils, T lymphocytes and macrophages are all compromised where zinc levels are low. Clinically, we commonly see patients that are low in zinc, Perth soils are well known to often be zinc deficient causing some local produce to be potentially low in zinc.
“The effects of zinc on key immunologic mediators is shown through zinc’s effect on basic cellular functions such as DNA replication, RNA transcription, cell division, and cell activation” (4)
Foods that are high in zinc include oysters, shellfish, grass-fed meat, legumes, nuts and eggs. (5)
Vitamin D is a key immune nutrient that can modulate the innate and adaptive immune response. Deficiency and low levels of vitamin D can result in a lower level of immunity. Unknowingly at the time, Vitamin D has been used in the past to fight infections such as tuberculosis through exposure to the sun, prior to the invention on antibiotics. (6)
A number of studies have also found that a strong association with lower levels of vitamin D and poor immune function. A level of less than 75nmol/L is associated with an increased chance of upper respiratory tract infections. (7)
Another double blind placebo controlled study that was swab tested for results showed that after administration of a therapeutic dose of Vitamin D, a statistically significant (42%) decrease in the incidence of influenza infection was achieved. (8)
Vitamin D is best received from the sun however is not always that easy to achieve, even in Australia. You need to get a good portion of your skin exposed to the sun in peak periods to have any major Vitamin D level gains. Those with VDR genetic snp variations also have a harder time processing vitamin D from the sun.
Foods that are high in vitamin D include cod liver oil, fatty fish such as mackerel and wild caught salmon, beer liver and egg yolks. (9)
Echinacea is one of my favourite all round herbs, it is a fantastic immune boosting herb and has many applications. Our family regularly use it to help ward off colds and flu’s and are using it daily to boost our immunity with the current COVID-19 Coronavirus situation.
A recent statement was released from the prestigious Spiez Laboratory in Switzerland by a team of leading virologists and microbiologists, stating that “Echinacea purpurea preparations could serve as effective prophylactic treatment for all CoVs or coronaviruses including newly occurring strains, such as the SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus.” (10) The statements are yet to be peer reviewed but show promise.
Notwithstanding the above, Echinacea has been used for many years and an immune booster and herb that assists with fighting viral infections, and is a staple in our home.
NAC, short for N-Acetyl Cysteine is a sulphur based antioxidant that has clinically been shown to support the respiratory system. It is the precursor nutrient to your master antioxidant glutathione and studies have found NAC to reduce symptoms in those affected by the flu.
A particular study showed that a dose of 600mg twice daily significantly reduced flu symptoms, especially in elderly high-risk individuals, however did not prevent A/H1N1 virus influenza infection. (11)
B12 and Folate
Vitamin B12 and folate are two on the key nutrients required for our methylation cycle within the body. The process of methylation is vital in maintaining and supporting your DNA, immune system, neurotransmitters, detoxification, hormone clearance and many other functions.
Individuals with MTHFR, MTRR and other associated snp’s that are involved in the processing of folate and B12 are at higher risk of having lower immunity.
B12 plays a key role in white blood cell production and is essential for proper functioning of the immune system. A clinic study shows that supplementation of methyl cobalamin (active B12) improved immune cell function and count. (12)
Another study shows that folate deficiency reduced the body’s function to be able to respond effectively to viruses and any attacks on the immune system. The study concluded that low folate levels could contribute to “immune system functions that could lead to decreased resistance to infections, as commonly observed in folate-deficient humans and animals.” (13)
Any folate supplementation should be taken in the form of folinic acid or methylfolate, rather than the synthetic form of folic acid, this is especially important with those with MTHFR. You can read more about MTHFR here
Our microbiome is essential in our immunity and one of the key driving aspects of our immune system. Having a healthy and diverse bacteria mix that promotes positive gut health is vital for your immunity. Supplementation of probiotics and the consumption of fermented foods can assist with supporting our microbiome and immune system.
We commonly use spore forming bacillus probiotic strains such as Terraflora due to their low reaction rates and long lasting effects on immune function as well as Saccharomyces boulardii as a healthy yeast to help balance the gut.
Fermented and probiotic rich foods include sauerkraut, kimchi and miso. (14)
Burning essential oils or applying essential oils topically is a great way to ward of viruses and bacteria. We often use oils such as Thieves, tea tree, eucalyptus, sage and oregano. Some of these we take internally at different times such as oregano and others we topically and some we diffuse to assist in purifying the air and killing any airborne pathogens.
Thieves oil is a blend of cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, lemon and rosemary. Thieves’ oil assists in boosting immunity and killing of airborne pathogens and has been something we have been diffusing in recent days with the COVID-19 outbreak.
Lifestyle tips to boost immunity – COVID-19 Coronavirus
The fundamentals should not be forgotten when talking about immunity. We can all take the best supplements but if we don’t adhere to looking after ourselves on a basic level our immunity will surely drop. Key areas to focus on include diet, sleep, movement and stress.
Eat a balanced diet with quality meats, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables healthy fats. Eat the rainbow of fruits and vegetables and many brightly coloured fruit and vegetables have immune boosting compounds. Avoid sugar, processed and packaged foods, takeaway foods and excessive alcohol. These all lower immunity. If you are vegan or vegetarian, then choose quality plant based protein sources instead of quality animal meats.
Getting adequate sleep is essential in maintaining your immune function. A disrupted sleep for just one night can have a negative impact on your immune system. Adults should be aiming for around 8 hours of sleep per night. You should aim to go to bed by around 10pm and rise around 6am in keeping with our natural circadian rhythms.
Movement and exercise are shown to also assist with boosting your immune system. Movement pumps your lymphatic system in your body, a key system of your body that assists in eliminating waste, toxins and immune regulation. Inducing sweat also opens the skins pores to eliminate toxins.
Exercise releases endorphins that assist’s in improving your mood, something we can all do with due to the current COVID-19 isolation restrictions in place.
Stress and Positivity
Stress is one of the biggest things than can cause our immune system to plummet. Managing stress, taking time out for yourself, spending in nature, meditation or doing something you enjoy is vital in your overall wellbeing and in turn vital in the support of your immune system.
What can we do to stop the spread of COVID-19
In addition to using food, supplements and lifestyle measures to boost your immunity, we all need to do our part to help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus. As per government guidelines, these include;
Regular Hand Washing – the best way to stop transmission of colds, flu’s and viruses. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap throughout the day to help reduce the potential spread of the virus.
Not touching your mouth and face – Not touching your mouth and face can assist with reducing the transmission of viruses and bacteria. Bacteria and viruses, including COVID-19 can live on surfaces we touch for a number of hours. Touching these surfaces and our then our faces can cause the virus to be transmitted.
Regular cleaning of surfaces – For the reason above, regularly wiping down surfaces that are in contact with people is vital in reducing transmission. COVID-19 can live for up to 12 hours on metal surfaces, that includes door handles, railings and other commonly touched surfaces.
Covering your mouth and nose – If you are coughing or sneezing, ensure you cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or in the crook or your arm to prevent or minimise any potential airborne particles. COVID-19 is a respiratory virus and can be transmitted through airborne particles from an infected host.
Social Distancing – Distancing yourself from others in the general public is a way of being able to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Australian government guidelines are changing as the virus progresses however a common sense approach should be taken at all times (15)
Boost your Immune System and recover your Health – Immunity and COVID-19 Coronavirus
At Advanced Functional Medicine we specialise in addressing the underlying causes of your health problems.
We regularly work with a wide range of patients including immune compromised patients to combat immune and other systemic disorders. Some of the areas we work with patients include gut health, autoimmune disease, thyroid disorders, MTHFR & methylation and skin disorders. We assess and balance key biochemical pathways, uncover and treat gut infections and pathogens, identify and address key nutrient imbalances and providing tailored nutritional programs. Balancing the underlying biochemistry of the body is the best way to achieve long lasting gains in your health.
Our telehealth video consultation options are great in this current COVID-19 Coronavirus crisis time and allow people to get healthcare from the comfort of their home, any required supplements can be expressed posted to your door.
If you need help with your immune system or any other disorder please feel free to contact us for more information or book an appointment on the link below. We offer in person appointments at our Perth based functional medicine clinic or telehealth video consultations Australia wide and worldwide.