Boost your Immune System Naturally
I’m sure by now, we are all aware of the steps outlined by Canada’s Public Health Agencies for preventing contraction of Covid-19, and I think we all realize the importance of following these methods. Also, please keep in mind that there are no known, clinically proven treatments that specifically target this virus. On the other hand, we know it is up to our immune system to identify, and destroy or neutralize any harmful pathogens, Covid-19 included. Therefore, keeping your immune system healthy is key. Here are some proven holistic, preventative measures you can implement to build resilience and a strong immune system:
- Avoid refined sugar consumption – Sugar is an immunosuppressant. Since the 70’s, studies have shown sugar consumption inhibits the ability of our White Blood Cells (WBC) to destroy pathogens, viruses included. For example, 65g of sugar completely suppress B & T lymphocytes for 4-8 hours after consumption. Most recent studies show that 1 tsp of sugar decreases immune function by 50%, and if taken with a fat, the immune strength stays at 50% for al least 4hrs. Sugar also creates an imbalance in our gut microbiome, which also plays a large role in our immune function. I don’t think I need to say more.
- Get some sleep – It is well documented that immune cell activity peaks during nocturnal sleep. Lack of sleep results in low-grade inflammation, which produces immunodeficiency. One study showed that only one night of 4-5 hrs of sleep reduced our natural killer cells (part of WBC) by 70%!
- Manage stress – We all have stress, it is how we deal with it that makes a difference in our immune function. The science of psychoimmunoendocrinology demonstrates how stress impacts our immune and endocrine (hormonal) systems. In a nutshell, stress results in a series of biochemical reactions that directly supresses the normal activity of all our WBC. Exercise, meditation, yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi as well as harnessing a positive outlook with gratitude, forgiveness love and compassion are all wonderful ways to cope with stress.
- Eat a clean, whole food diet – Proper nutrition is the most important aspect of good health, and that includes keeping your immune system strong. Include all colors of fruit and vegetables including all allium family (onions, garlic, leeks…), whole grains, healthy fats and proteins into your daily diet. Avoid all fast and highly proceed foods. As mentioned before, the immune system’s role is to identify and destroy invaders – pathogens, toxins and anything else that does not belong in our bodies, including food additives present in highly processed foods. It’s not a good idea to deplete your immune system with these unnecessary, harmful chemicals at this time. So read your labels. Avoid high-fructose corn syrups, MSG, synthetic food colorings, “flavour”, any chemicals with names you cannot pronounce, and of course, refined sugar.
- Consider herbs and medicinal mushrooms – Along with proper nutrition; you can also add some herbs and medicinal mushrooms to your daily diet. The following recommendations are general, safe, but only for those that are not taking any pharmaceutical drugs. None of the recommendations below have been clinically proven to work against Covid-19. Having said that, we have thousands of years of empirical data as well as hundreds of in vitro clinical studies that continue to show the efficacy of the following herbs and mushrooms in supporting the immune system. Medicinal mushrooms like reishi, chaga, cordyceps, turkey tail and lion’s mane support healthy activity of the immune system by increasing the activity of immune cells like macrophages and natural killer cells. Their strong immune-boosting properties and ability to fight pathogens such as viruses (Covid-19 not studied) have enabled them to be effective in preventing and treating all kinds of viral respiratory illnesses(1). If you have elevated stress, herbs like rhodiola, eleuthero (or any other ginsengs), holy basil or licorice root (do not take licorice root if you have high blood pressure) will help you adapt to stress and support your immune system. We call them adaptogens, and the medicinal mushrooms mentioned above also fall in that category. And of course there’s Echinacea or astragalus, traditionally used for anti microbial and immune protecting activity. I do not suggest anyone taking all of the above. Choose one to three of the above that best resonates with you, and stick with that. The herbs and mushrooms are only additional measures, especially for those who are immune compromised. All herbs mentioned above are safe for the elderly.
- Make sure to get fresh air daily
Keep in mind that if you do get the virus, it will be up to your immune system to fight it off. Lets continue to support each other, help those in need and build resilience by keeping our immune systems strong and healthy.
DISCLAIMER: All recommendations, medicinal mushrooms and herbs mentioned above do not treat or prevent Covid -19. The recommendations above are only to support the immune system. Do not take any of the herbs above if you are suffering from any type of autoimmune disorder or chronic inflammation.
Maya is a registered Herbal Therapist with CHA of BC. She offers Iridology, Herbal Medicine, Nutritional Consultations and Flower Essences at Crawford Bay, Nelson and Vital Health in Creston. For more information please email: firstname.lastname@example.org