Winter is usually known as the cold and flu season, but this year, we may experience serious respiratory illnesses into the summer and fall months. Everyone is talking about immune health and rightfully so. We are, indeed, in a true pandemic and we must protect and strengthen our immune systems as individuals and as a species.
There is no reason to fear, but there are numerous reasons to be informed and proactive. Fear increases stress hormone cortisol which in turn decreases immune cell activity. Fear increases overall levels of inflammation and leaves you more vulnerable to invading bacteria or viruses. Besides managing fear and stress, here are my top recommendations for strengthening your immune health:
Vitamin D was once considered a simple vitamin. But it now gets the respect it deserves. It is now considered a hormone and the single most important nutrient for your immune system.
Vitamin D supplements range from 1000ius to 14,000ius. Your dose is dependent on your genetics, sun exposure, and your current vitamin D blood levels. It is estimated that between 80-90% of the population is vitamin D deficient and there hasn’t been a toxicity reported in over 100 years. I recommend a vitamin D test that can be ordered by your doctor, or you can order one online.
Probiotics are essential for digestive health and immune health. Around 80% of your immune cells live inside your digestive tract. Probiotics help to create a healthy, resilient environment for your immune cells. This makes it easier for your immune cells to recognize viruses, bacteria, or any other kind of pathogen. I recommend a complete probiotic formula that includes prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics.
It's no secret that sugar is “bad” for you. You know it gives you diabetes, rots your teeth and makes you fat. But maybe you didn’t know that it also suppresses your immune system. After you eat something with sugar in it, like coffee and a doughnut, your immune cells activity is decreased for up to 5 hours. Linus Pauling discovered that when your blood sugar rises above 120, your immune cell activity goes down by 75%. If you are eating cold cereal and toast for breakfast, you can be guaranteed that your blood sugar is going above 120.
Besides suppressing your immune cells, sugar also uses up your body’s stores of vitamin C. High blood sugar causes oxidation, which is soothed by the antioxidant vitamin C. While this is a great system, you are better off reserving your body’s stores of vitamin C for stalling viruses.
Sleep is a necessary reset of all of your body systems. Your brain detoxifies through your glymphatic system as you sleep. Your liver clears toxins at night. While you sleep, all of your stress hormones (cortisol, adrenaline) decrease, which helps to moderate levels of inflammation. During quality sleep your T cells are more active. T cells are like guards on a castle wall. If they see an intruder, they send out an alert to other immune cells. The better your sleep, the better your T cells will communicate with the rest of your immune system.
Vitamin C is the ultimate nutrient for almost everything including your immune health. It works in multiple ways to support your immune health. It slows viruses (replication), protects lung tissue from cytokine storm, and increases iron absorption. These three functions are imperative for the current viral pandemic. Vitamin C also activates NK cells and supports T cell growth.
While there is not a specific dose for preventing a viral or bacterial infection, integrative doctors recommend finding your unique dose. Your personal need for vitamin C will depend on many variables including your overall immune health, lifestyle, diet, exposure, and oxidative stress. The easiest way to determine your daily need for vitamin C is a “bowel tolerance” or “vitamin C flush”. Consider this as a self-experiment. You don’t need to worry about overdosing on vitamin C because it is water-soluble. That means that if you take too much, your bowels will flush the extra out.
I recommend you do a vitamin C cleanse/bowel tolerance experiment to find your optimal dose.
Here is how to do this:
Start with a high quality, unsweetened vitamin C powder or capsules. I don’t recommend using Airborne or EmergenC as these both have added ingredients and sugar.
You will be taking 1000mg of vitamin C every hour:
Continue taking hourly doses until you have a very loose and watery stool---this is the flush. When this occurs, that is your body/gut alerting you that the cells cannot absorb any more vitamin C and so it is flushing out the excess.
Once you have achieved the flush, back down the dose by 1000mg.
For example, if you take a 1000mg dose at 8am, 9am, 10am, 11am, and 12pm, and then have watery stool flush at 12:30pm, your optimal dose would be 4000mg. This is the dose you will take on a daily basis.
When you have water stool, you run the risk of mild dehydration. I recommend that you replenish your electrolytes with Matrix electrolytes, bone broth, or green (vegetable only) juice.
When you are acutely ill your body will need and use more vitamin C. Dr. Robert Cathcart who treated thousands of patients with vitamin C reported that he had some patients who needed up to 60,000mg (60grams) of oral vitamin C during serious cold or viral infections. He recommended that amount be divided into 8-15 doses. I have never seen any of my clients, or myself, need that much vitamin C. Most of my chronically ill clients top out around 30,000mg (30grams) per day.
If you don’t want to perform the bowel tolerance/flush, I recommend a dosing of 2000mg taken 3 times per day. That is a total of 6000mg. This is a good dose for maintenance and prevention.
Zinc is a well known and researched supplement for viruses including the common cold, influenza, and herpes. Zinc has gained more notoriety because it was used in a study with hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine. Both of these medications are zinc ionophores. You can think of ionophores as boats that transport nutrients into your cells. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine act like boats that take large amounts of zinc into your cells. Once inside your cells, zinc is virucidal---it kills viruses.
Speaking of ionophores (boats), EGCG also transports large doses of zinc right into your cells where it stops the replication of viruses. Just like hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is a zinc ionophore. EGCG is a plant nutrient found in green tea. It is sometimes called green tea extract. It has been tested against dozens or viruses, including influenza and respiratory viruses. It has been used against antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria (MRSA). Green tea extract has also shown antifungal strength against candida albicans which causes yeast infections.
Common sense and some added precautions are in order with this hectic time. Take these days, weeks, months as a time to strengthen your immune system through your diet, lifestyle, and emotional health.
As someone with a quirky immune system, I understand the emotional and physical stress that is rampant right now. If you would like customized guidance, please schedule an appointment with me!
Carly Neubert BA, NC
The most commonly asked question I receive is: what is the best diet or eating plan? My answer is always the same: it depends on the person. There is no one-size-fits-all diet for the masses. There is only biochemical individuality, which means that everyone needs different nutrients at different times and in different amounts.
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