There are several factors that affect the immune system and how well it will protect us from viruses and pathogens. Taking a holistic approach to health means addressing the body as a whole and paying attention to all these areas. Watch the first video in my new series of health tips in 2 minutes or less.
I am not a doctor. I am a holistic nutritionist.
This information is intended for general wellbeing and educational purposes. It is not meant to substitute for the advice of a medical professional. Never take any nutritional supplement before talking to your primary health care provider. Please follow public health advisories.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
As the number of cases of COVID-19 continues to grow, I thought I’d put together a holistic protocol that covers both prevention and recovery.
How the Virus Spreads
Human coronaviruses cause infections of the nose, throat and lungs. They are most commonly spread from an infected person through:
- respiratory droplets generated when you cough or sneeze
- close, prolonged personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
- touching something with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands
Standard Prevention Protocol
In general, the following advice can help reduce the risk of infection or spreading infection to others:
- stay home if you are sick
- when coughing or sneezing:
- cover your mouth and nose with your arm to reduce the spread of germs
- dispose of any tissues you have used as soon as possible and wash your hands afterwards
- wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
Holistic Strategies for Added Protection
Reduce Your Sugar Intake
Studies show that sugar compromises the immune system by decreasing neutrophil activity (cells in the immune system that fight infection and pathogens). Sugar also makes our bodies more acidic, which is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and viruses to thrive. The more sugar we have in our bloodstream, the less immune protection we have.
- Use lower glycemic sweeteners such as stevia.
- Replace heavily sweetened and processed candy and sweets with fruit or homemade, low sugar treats.
- Healthier treats: baked apples sprinkled with cinnamon, zucchini banana muffins sweetened with apple sauce or homemade pumpkin spice oatmeal cookies.
- Kale, zucchini or apple chips and baked chickpeas make delicious and nutritious snack options.
Vitamin D (antiviral)
No studies have yet to investigate vitamin D deficiency on the risk of contracting the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Still, multiple studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency can harm immune function and increase your risk of developing respiratory illnesses.
Vitamin D is necessary for the proper functioning of your immune system, which is your body’s first line of defence against infection and disease. Studies provide evidence that vitamin D deficiency may lead to an increased risk of viral infections such as influenza and respiratory tract infections. For those of us living in North America, shorter days during these winter months means less exposure to sunlight and greater odds of suffering from low vitamin D, which can lead to lowered immunity.
- If you can’t spend at least 20-25 minutes in direct sunlight each day, try supplementing with vitamin D3.
- Increase your consumption of vitamin D rich foods like fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna), eggs and mushrooms.
- Be sure to also get enough magnesium. Vitamin D needs magnesium to activate.
Zinc is important for a healthy immune system and is needed by the human body to activate T lymphocytes. It can also help prevent a cold or flu virus from reproducing and is useful in relieving respiratory symptoms and sore throats.
- Zinc supplements and lozenges are available in most health food stores or pharmacies.
- Food sources include: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, kelp, legumes, lima beans, pecans, whole grains, eggs, liver, and oysters.
- Zinc supplements should not be used if one has a fever, as it is not properly absorbed in the presence of a fever.
Vitamin C (antiviral)
Vitamin C for is important for immune support because of its strong antioxidant and antiviral properties.
A lack of vitamin C has been long known to increase susceptibility to viruses. In fact, studies have shown that vitamin C deficiency is related to the increased risk and severity of influenza infections.
However, not all vitamin C is created equal! Vitamin C in tablet form does not deliver the full range of benefits since they poorly absorbed.
For optimal immune support against viruses I recommend at least 1,000 to 3,000 mg of liposomal vitamin C a day. Liposomal delivery allows the vitamin C to bypass through the digestive system for better absorption into the bloodstream. With regular vitamin C supplements, you will only absorb approximately 10 – 15 %. Liposomal it’s closer to 98%
- Increase vitamin C from whole food sources like lemons, limes, red peppers, broccoli, cantaloupe, papaya and leafy greens like kale, spinach and swiss chard.
- Avoid drinking orange juice. Eat the entire orange instead! Orange juice is not the best source of vitamin C since both glucose and vitamin C have the same receptor sites for absorption (glut-1 receptor transport system). Orange juice is a concentrated form of sugar. Higher levels of circulating blood sugar means less vitamin C will enter the cells. The Glut-1 receptor transport system has a preference for glucose, which means it will choose sugar over Vitamin C when given the opportunity.
Scientists have identified a chemical compound in elderberries that immediately immobilizes the flu virus.
The unique phytochemicals found in elderberries block the virus from entering, or even attaching to, our healthy cells, when taken preventatively during flu season.
Even if the flu has already taken hold, the compound prevents the virus from replicating, eliminating symptoms within 48 hours.
The high antioxidant, antiviral properties of elderberry extract is useful for treating coughs, colds, flu, tonsillitis and bacterial & viral infections . It is also recommended for upper respiratory tract infections and headaches associated with the common cold and helps to promotes sweating, which can help break a fever.
Oil of Oregano
Numerous studies have shown oil of oregano to be a potent antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal agent. Remarkably, it accomplishes this without promoting the development of drug resistant viruses and other problems often attributed to the use of standard antibiotics.
• Oil of oregano drops can be placed under the tongue or added to a tiny amount of water.
• It also comes in capsule form.
Turmeric has potent anti-microbial properties to help the immune system fight off bacteria and viruses and acts as a potent pain reliever. Fermented turmeric optimizes its potency and is 1.5 times stronger than the regular turmeric.
- Add to soups, stews, stir-fry or smoothies.
- For acute pain, mix 1/2 tsp. of turmeric to one cup of almond milk with 1 tsp. honey.
- Turmeric can also be purchased in capsule form.
There have been over 300 scientific investigations into the immune-enhancing effects of the echinacea purpurea root. Unlike traditional antibiotics or natural herbs that kill bacteria directly, echinacea works indirectly by stimulating the body to produce more infection-fighting white blood cells. It may also stimulate the release of interferons, one of the body’s most potent infection-fighting weapons which prevent bacteria and viruses from reproducing.
Garlic and Onions
Garlic and onions possess natural antibiotic and anti-microbial properties. Use them in your everyday cooking to keep colds and viruses at bay.
- Use daily in meals by adding fresh garlic and onions to soups, salads, pasta sauces and stir-fry recipes.
- For acute cold and flu symptoms, crush one clove of garlic on a spoon, cover with manuka honey and swallow with a tiny amount of water before bed.
- For extra immune system protection, try combining fresh garlic, onions and ginger in recipes for an increased synergetic effect!
Probiotics support the immune system by improving digestion and absorption of nutrients. They also reduce inflammatory responses in the body. Probiotics are also important during and after a round of antibiotics to replace the beneficial bacteria in the gut that is destroyed during antibiotic therapy.
- Supplement with a high quality multi-strain probiotic. 50 Billion strength is ideal if you have taken antibiotics.
Stress Reduction and Relaxation
Ongoing stress can make us more susceptible to illnesses. Reducing the amount of stress in your life and improving your ability to cope with stress can help improve the immune system. There’s evidence that when you put your relaxation skills into action, interleukins (leaders in the immune system response against cold and flu viruses) increase in the bloodstream.
- Try deep breathing exercises to lessen the effects of stress.
- Practice guided imagery, meditation or yoga.
- Enjoy a warm bath with lavender or clove essential oils at the end of a long day.
Regular exercise appears to have the ability of being able to jump-start the immune system and can help reduce the frequency of colds and flus. With exercise, the number and aggressiveness of certain immune cells, such natural killer cells, increase by as much as 50% to 300%. If you exercise regularly, this increase can help make the immune system more efficient at destroying intruders that cause illness.
During the winter months, take advantage of the wonderful activities the cooler weather can bring.
- Explore walking or biking on park trails
- In colder weather try ice skating, tobogganing or skiing, build snowmen
- Indoor activities: listen to music and dance while doing house chores, take the stairs instead of the elevator, run or walk in place while watching t.v.
Cold and Flu Recovery Diet
What if you’ve already caught the virus and want to recover faster?
Follow these diet and lifestyle tips to boost your recovery.
Lung Healing Protocol
Avoid Lung Irritants: Smoking, chemicals, bleach, fragrances, dust, pollution
- These increase the risk of lung infection.
- Irritates the nose, throat, and lower airways. This causes the body to produce more mucus.
Helpful Herbal Tinctures
- Contains a combination of antiviral, antiinflammatory herbs. Combats lung and bronchial infections, especially when accompanied by sputum coughed up from lower airways.
- Demulcent anti-inflammatory that helps the lungs eliminate the burden of excess mucus.
Dealing With a Cough
A cough may develop when the body is trying to expel fluid from the lungs to get rid of the infection. Therefore, using a cough suppressant is not the best idea. It is still possible to reduce the severity of a cough using natural methods.
- Saltwater Gargle
Mucus sitting in the throat and chest can lead to more coughing and irritation. A warm saltwater gargle may help eliminate mucus or germs in the throat, which may provide some relief.
Herbal Teas to Treat A Cough
Peppermint, eucalyptus, ginger, licorice root, marshmallow root, mullein
Consume Mucus-Reducing Foods
Warm fluids help break-up mucus, flush your system of toxins and promote hydration.
Stay hydrated with herbal teas, vegetable soups and bone broth.
Vegetable soups, bone broth, leafy greens, broccoli, kale, romaine lettuce, celery, onion, garlic, ginger salmon, tuna, nuts and seeds
Avoid Mucus Forming Foods
Milk, bread, pasta, cereal, bananas, potatoes, corn, soy products, sweet desserts, candy, coffee, soda, alcoholic beverages
Dealing With a Fever
Allowing a low-grade fever (up to 102° F) to run it course may actually be beneficial. An elevated temperature is the body’s way of fighting infection.
- Stay Hydrated. Replace fluid loss by drinking water, herbal tea, fresh juices and broths.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Take a cool sponge bath.
* If you are living with an autoimmune condition or any other serious health condition, please consult your primary health care provider before taking any herbal supplement.
Natural Factors Vitamin D3 Softgels
Liposomal Vitamin C
Oil of Oregano
Echinacea Super Concentrated Softgel Capsules
Advanced Gut Health Probiotics
Zinc-Copper Balance Capsules
Stop It Cold Throat Spray
Respirafect for Lung Infections