9 Naturopathic, Evidence-Based Approaches to Supporting Our Immune System, especially during COVID19
Keeping our immune systems strong is the most important thing we can do to protect ourselves against COVID-19. There is always a risk of exposure, no matter how hard we try to avoid it, but building up our body’s natural resilience is key.
Enhance your immune system with some of these 9 natural, well-researched approaches! Link to studies included.
1. Serious Hand Cleaning – it’s the most simple tip, but it’s certainly the most critical. Twenty full seconds of scrubbing is what it takes to lift germs off skin and carry them away when you rinse. Also, social distancing (at least 2 meters away) and avoid touching your face.
2. Vitamin C - a potent antioxidant and antiviral. Currently administered intravenously in NYC, China and South Korea to COVID-19 patients to reduce intensity and duration of symptoms. Recommended oral preventative dosing is 1000 mg 3 - 4x/day (spread out through the day as the body only absorbs a certain amount of vitamin C at a time) and should be in a buffered (alkalinized) form. https://isom.ca/vitamin-c-coronavirus/
3. Vitamin D - increases immunity and has been shown to reduce vulnerability to respiratory tract infections (viral especially). Most Canadians are deficient in vitamin D based on their bloodwork levels. The recommended preventative dosing is 1000IU/day (see your ND or doctor to see your bloodwork levels if a higher dose is required (often is) to ensure your vitamin D is in the optimal range. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/4/988
4. Zinc – virologists and pathologists have recommended zinc as it has been shown to inhibit the replication of many viruses, including coronaviruses. If you do get sick, especially if the first sign is a sore throat, one or two zinc lozenges at the first sign could shorten the length and intensity of your symptoms. The recommended dose is 20 - 50mg of zinc, and to have with food. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21079686
5. Avoid Sugar – sugar, even if derived from natural sources such as fruit juices and honey, can impair immune function. This occurs because glucose (blood sugar) and vitamin C compete for the same receptors on white blood cells. Excessive sugar consumption may decrease vitamin C and result in a reduction in immune function. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29727694
6. Probiotics – did you know 80% of your immunity system is in your gut? Research shows that populating your gut with probioitics, or "good bugs" (especially Lactobacillus spp and Bifidobacterium ssp) supports immunity. A healthy microbiome in the gut = a healthy host. It is recommended to take a multi-strain probiotic that has at least 15 - 50 billion bacteria, and change up the probiotics every 3 months to prevent overgrowth of certain bacteria. (https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Probiotics-HealthProfessional/)
7. Immune boosting foods and spices – getting at least 7 servings of fruits and vegetables a day (5 veggie servings/2 fruit servings), consuming bone broths, foods high in vitamin C (leafy greens, oranges, lemons, bell peppers, kiwi, broccoli), garlic and onions have all been shown to have antiviral and immune boosting properties. Spices such as turmeric and ginger are excellent to cook with and have anti-inflammatory properties.
8. Drink Large Amounts of Fluids and Humidify – viruses dislike tropical and moist environments. When the membranes that line the respiratory tract get dehydrated, they provide a much more hospitable environment for the viruses to live in. Drinking plenty of liquids that are low-sugar (broths, water, diluted vegetable juices, herbal teas) and humidifying your house will help repel that infection.
And most important…9. Rest and a Positive Mindset (aka Self Care) – the value of sleep, rest and a positive, calm mindset cannot be overemphasized. The immune system functions better when the parasympathetic nervous system (the “rest and digest”/relaxed part of our nervous system) is in charge. During deep sleep and a calm mind, strong immune-enhancing compounds are released and many immune functions are greatly increased. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7118166/
Here’s to good immune systems and making it through this healthy together :)
Dr. Lara is a Naturopathic Doctor who is passionate about helping and empowering her patients in their journey towards lifelong health and wellness