How To Support Your Immune System – Food and Supplement Guide

With the concern of coronavirus (COVID-19 is the name of the respiratory illness caused by the current novel coronavirus), we have been getting a lot of people asking about ways to stay healthy and support their immune systems. With every news outlet reporting only the doom and gloom, it is no wonder why people are increasingly concerned. I think it is important to note here that most infected people appear to have mild illness.  Increasing stress levels due to fear and panic is a sure way to lower immune function.

If you have underlying health issues, it is even more important for you to minimize stress and nourish your body with daily self-care.  As presented in medical literature, stress is responsible for up to 75-90% of illness, including ulcers, neck and back pain, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and a long list of “diseases of civilization”. When an individual is in stress, the release of stress hormones (e.g., cortisol) shuts down the immune system. This is due to our primal fight-or-flight survival response to conserve the body’s energy for running away from the perceived stressor, that proverbial “saber-toothed tiger.”

As a first step in stress reduction, let’s take a deep breath and empower ourselves with the knowledge and tools to help our bodies function healthfully and optimally.

We know from other viral illnesses that there are ways to reduce our susceptibilities to serious illness. Exposure to coronavirus (or any other virus or bacteria) does not automatically equal infections.

Infection + Susceptibility = Symptoms

By focusing on the reduction of susceptibility to serious illness you will be more likely to limit the severity of the symptoms to a mild level.

(You are already aware of the basic and commonsense measures to protect yourself from COVID-19 that you should be practicing regardless of the virus in circulation).

If you are someone with a compromised immune system, it is supportive and nourishing to surround yourself with loving family and friends, nature, and positive thoughts as well as any other nutrition and vitamins that you may already be taking for your health and wellbeing. Following your intuition about what is best for you is invaluable! No matter who you are and what your state of health, you will only benefit by not giving into fear and by supporting yourself in whatever way feels best to you.

If you want to consider giving your immune system an extra hug of love with the following nutritional supplements that provide some TLC in the viral defense department. You can order these supplements at Beach Fitness by giving us a call at (562)-493-8426 or stopping by.

Fish Oil Omega 3 essential fatty acids have a host of immune boosting benefits too long to list.

  • Food Sources: wild-caught salmon, tuna, sardines and anchovies, cod liver oil, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseed, hemp seeds
  • Supplements:
    • Apex Energetics OmegaCo3 – Bioavailable formula delivering 950 mg of omega-3 and -6 fatty acids along with vitamin and mineral cofactors for overall system support.

Pre- and Probiotics Good health begins in the gut! Because 70 to 80 percent of your immune system resides within your gastrointestinal tract, optimizing your gut microbiome is a worthwhile pursuit that will have far-reaching effects on your physical health and emotional well-being.

  • Food Sources: The probiotics contained in fermented foods have tremendous immune boosting powers. In fact, the fermented Korean cabbage, kimchi, was found to have significant effects in preventing and fighting the H1N1 influenza virus! Other examples of delicious fermented foods to try include sauerkraut, pickles (try “real” pickles without added vinegar like Bubbies), miso, kefir, and kombucha.
  • Supplements:
    • Apex Energetics GI Synergy – (not a probiotic but essential nutrients for comprehensive gut health. Pairs perfectly with Strengtia). Three complementary formulas intended to work in combination to support the immune system and intestinal environment.
    • Apex Energetics Strengtia – This advanced formula combines Saccharomyces boulardiiand bacterial strains that are specially selected for their stability and viability—including resistance to stomach acid—and for their complementary and diverse activities.

Vitamin C – Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant which assists our ability to ward off and deal with infection. When patients with COVID-19 (and influenza) die, it is often due to sepsis, in which the immune system goes haywire and overreacts in what is called a “cytokine storm”.  There are many well researched studies linking Vitamin C (commonly in IV protocols) as successful treatment options.

  • Food Sources: Citrus fruits, red and green peppers, kiwifruit, cruciferous vegetables, strawberries, leafy greens, tomatoes.
  • Supplements: There are several forms of vitamin C and many brands. Liposomal vitamin c is well absorbed and less likely to cause GI upset than non-liposomal forms. Vitamin C is available in chewables, capsules and gel liquids. Powdered vitamin C, sodium ascorbate, is inexpensive and easy to mix into liquids and smoothies (and what I use with my kids). Some sources recommend dosing at 1,000 mg per year of age, per day, for children with a max dose of about 5,000 mg at a time. When sick, this does can be taken frequently throughout the day because the body metabolizes vitamin C very quickly. Note: it is important to hydrate well while dosing vitamin C.
    • Biotics Research Mixed Ascorbate Powder
    • Biotics Research Bio-Immunozyme Forte – broad-spectrum multiple designed to specifically support normal, healthy immune function with 200mg Vitamin C with necessary cofactors for optimal absorption.

 

 

Vitamin D Vitamin D has been called a “pro-survival molecule”. It upregulates your ability to fight infections, as well as chronic inflammation, and produces over 200 antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), one of which is cathelicidin, a naturally occurring broad-spectrum antibiotic. The Vitamin D Council recommends a maintenance dosage of 1000IU of Vitamin D3 per 25 pounds of body weight (the dosage may be higher in people with Vitamin D deficiency, which is epidemic and can be measured through an easy blood test). **Vitamin D3 is one of the supplements I consistently give to my kids.**

  • Food Sources: wild-caught salmon, tuna, sardines and anchovies, cod liver oil, beef liver, cheese and egg yolks.
  • Supplements:
    • Apex Energetics Ultra-D 5000 – Highly absorbable and natural source of vitamin D3 with key cofactors in a base of cod liver oil. Great orange flavor that even my kids love.
    • Apex Energetics Phyto Brain-E (VEGAN) – Uniquely formulated from phytoplankton to deliver DHA omega-3 fatty acids in a vegan formula.

Zinc – Zinc is required for the normal functioning of white blood cells. Supplementing with just 15mg of zinc per day in adults has been found to improve our immune cells’ ability to ward off infection. (Want to know if you have adequate zinc levels? Give me 3 minutes and I can do a quick assessment for you at the gym.)

  • Food sources: (zinc is not something that is produced by the body), foods rich in zinc include spinach, beans, flaxseed, pepitas, beef, shrimp, and oyster.

Glutathione – Glutathione is a critical regulator of cell health and is essential for many complex roles within the body including immune function. It is considered the body’s magic molecule but, unfortunately, many factors deplete the body of glutathione including toxins/pollution, illness and infection, poor diet, alcohol consumption, stress, strenuous exercise, trauma, aging, certain medications, genetic variances, and many other factors.

  • Food sources: Since glutathione is a tripeptide composed of 3 amino acids – cysteine, glutamic acid, and glycine – and made within the body’s cells, you can’t “eat” glutathione in your diet. However, you can eat sulfur-rich foods to help increase glutathione production. Sulfur foods include brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, mustard greens, garlic, onions, poultry, fish, and beef.
  • Supplements:
    • Apex Energetics Trizomal Glutathione – Gives the body 3 ways to increase and optimize glutathione levels to support immune, brain, and liver function while supporting detoxification activity.

Additional Wellness Practices for Year-Round Health and Immune Support

  • Eat lots of colorful fruits and vegetables. They are full of antioxidants which will destroy the free radicals that weaken our immune system and are responsible for making us feel sick when we catch a bug. Each color provides different antioxidant power – so be sure to eat a rainbow every day. If you have kids who do not enjoy eating their veggies yet, smoothies are a great nutrition hack. Won’t do smoothies? Green powders are a good alternative to try. You can also find creative ways to puree veggies into sauces, soups, or burger patties other favorite foods.
  • Stay well-hydrated. Stick to water, coconut water, herbal teas, and bone broth. Sodas, coffee, juice, and booze are dehydrating.
  • Drink your bone broth! Bone broth has amazing immune-supporting properties. There are less time-consuming recipes using an Instant Pot (use slow release technique) and some great pre-made brands available at most natural grocery stores.
  • Avoid simple sugars and processed/junk food. Did you know that your blood shows lab evidence of a lowered immune system within 30 minutes of eating simple sugars (like glucose, refined sugar, and fructose), and causes a 50% reduction in your white blood cells’ abilities to kill germ? (35) White blood cells are our “army” cells that fight off germs. This effect is most noticeable 2 hours after ingestion but is still present 5 hours later! Keeping blood sugar levels healthy has been shown to improve immune system activity.
  • Get fresh air and moderate daily exercise. Moderate exercise can boost the production of macrophages, the kind of white blood cells that “eat” bacteria and viruses. However, intense exercise can temporarily decrease immune function – so don’t overdo it!
  • Get adequate sleep. An increase in sleep increases the number of your white blood cells. On the other hand, loss of sleep even for a few hours at night, increases inflammation in our body which makes us more susceptible to catching the flu and having more severe symptoms. So make sure your whole family are catching enough zzzz’s.
  • Minimize stress (as discussed at the beginning of this article). Emotional stress creates physiological stress in our bodies that lowers our immune defenses and makes us more vulnerable to illness. Stress has been shown to lower our white blood cells’ abilities to kill germs and creates more inflammation that may make us feel even sicker.

 

Article Sources and Additional Reading Resources:

Vitamin C Works for Sepsis. Will It Work for Coronavirus?

Best Omega-3 Supplements & Foods

Life Event, Stress and Illness

Staying Healthy with Nutrition

Coronavirus (COVID-19): What a Pediatrician Wants You to Know

 

Keep Up to Date on the Latest COVID-19 News:

WHO: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 page https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

WHO COVID-19 Situation Reports: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports

CDCs COVD-19 travel advisory page https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html

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