As a Doctor of Nursing Practice and former emergency room nurse, staying healthy has always been important to me. If you’re working on the front lines during the coronavirus crisis—healthcare, grocery store, sanitation, delivery workers and first responders, to name a few—I’m sure your health is a priority, too. Amid the current pandemic, people keep asking me what I do for me, my patients and my family to keep our immune systems strong. Below are my top five tips for optimizing immune system function.
None of the following information should be considered to be medical advice for anyone with whom I have not established a healthcare provider-patient relationship as required by law and medically ethical practice guidelines.
Dr. Terri’s Top 5 Immune Boosting Tips
Tip No. 1: Manage Melatonin Levels.
The powerhouse antioxidant melatonin goes above and beyond what we THINK it does! When we think melatonin, we think of sleep, right? Well, yes because darkness stimulates melatonin release. However, melatonin is NOT a sleep aide, though many people mistakenly believe this.
How melatonin benefits you (especially in light of COVID-19)
A mighty antioxidant, melatonin provides anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory benefits, and it’s also a powerful immune regulator. Recently, this amazing, free radical scavenger was shown to positively impact the coronavirus inflammasome—a fancy word for a protein that activates the negative side of our immune system. Most notably, this inflammasome causes the respiratory distress related to COVID-19 (coronavirus disease).
By the way, light suppresses melatonin. If you want to sleep well, turn out all lights at bedtime. That includes shutting off TVs and keeping computer, phone and tablet screens out of the bedroom.
Lastly, our melatonin levels decrease with age—like everything else—and must be replaced orally for optimal health. Many scientists now suggest that the up to 10 times greater amounts of melatonin children produce may be why they are not getting so sick with this dreaded COVID-19.
Typically, adults need anywhere from 1-5 mg a night and up to ten times that amount when ill, travelling between time zones or night shift/ workers. Ask your healthcare provider if melatonin supplements make sense for you, and if so, what dosage.
Tip No. 2: Power Up With Vitamin C In the Form of Ascorbic Acid
I can’t sing enough praises about this “oldie but goodie.” Ascorbic acid is widely known for its antioxidant properties. Antioxidants act like warriors in the body because they help neutralize free radicals that damage cells in the body as well as reactive oxygen species (ROS) that have been shown to cause a broad spectrum of damage to our biological systems.
A minimum of 2000-4000 mg of ascorbic acid a day for adults is theorized to be optimal to prevent the furin cleaving, aka replication, of coronavirus in the lungs as well as adequately increase your T-lymphocyte counts, the soldiers of our immune system, to mount a fight against viral illness. Careful spacing of vitamin C doses is important as too much at once may cause gastrointestinal distress.
In China, vitamin C was used extensively for the treatment of COVID-19, with the government of Shanghai officially recommending its use to fight the disease. Ill patients in China received up to 24,000 mg a day of IV vitamin C to combat the COVID-19!
Tip No. 3: Get Your Vitamins D3, A, K2 and Magnesium, Too
These wonderful nutrients are essential for optimal function of the immune system and overall health. Here’s a brief snapshot as to why you need each one to help battle the virus that causes COVID-19, not to mention colds and the flu.
- Vitamin D3 has been shown to support a healthy respiratory system. An analysis of 25 randomized clinical trials (11,321 participants ages 0 to 95) revealed that vitamin D supplementation was safe and protected against acute respiratory infections—the most dangerous symptom of COVID-19. Vitamin D supplementation has also been shown to mitigate symptoms of the flu. So get more sun folks! (Or ask your healthcare provider about a D3 supplement.)
- Vitamin A is often referred to as an anti-inflammation vitamin due to the critical role it plays in supporting immune function. It also protects the epithelium (tissue forming the outer layer of the body’s surface) and mucus integrity.
- High vitamin K2 levels are associated with lower levels of inflammation, the immune system’s response to pathogens attacking our body. This assertion was supported by the Framingham Offspring study, which showed “high vitamin K status was associated with lower concentrations of inflammatory markers.”
- Magnesium deficiency has also been associated with inflammation. Chronic inflammation goes hand-in-hand with chronic diseases, and of course, a weakened immune system.
Tip No. 4: Support Gut Health With Probiotics
The gut is often referred to as the second immune system. In fact, 70 percent of our immune system resides in the intestinal tract! That’s why a healthy gut microbiome is essential for enhanced immunity.
Inflammation that starts in the gut can extend into full body inflammation. That scenario is bad news for anyone fighting illness because it’s a clear sign that the immune system isn’t operating to its full potential. That means it won’t be able to fight off viruses like the novel coronavirus and those that cause colds and flu.
Probiotics are the good, healthy bacteria in our gut that keep bad bacteria at bay, which is vital for maintaining a healthy, balanced gut microbiome. Leaky gut is another issue that may result when the gut is unhealthy. This condition threatens the immune system because important immune-boosting nutrients we consume literally leak out of the gut into the body, rendering them ineffective.
EVEXIAS offers gut health therapy, which involves a variety of treatments to keep your gut in tip top shape. These include:
- Probiotic supplements.
Tip No. 5: Honor Your Body
Keep moving your body and love it with a good clean diet. Yes, yes the old diet and exercise recommendation … but it really works. If our body is constantly fighting inflammation because of our poor food choices, how will it have enough reserves to fight off illness? Here are a few ways to get started:
- Exercise. Even mild to moderate exercise can increase immune response, moods and stamina. Just 10 minutes of high intensity interval training (HIIT) exercise a day has been shown to have as much benefit as jogging for an hour. Everyone can set aside 10 minutes a day to exercise, and finding free HIIT videos on YouTube is easy. Most HIIT workouts don’t require equipment either—nor does a brisk walk—so there’s hardly any excuse there!
- Eat clean. That means cut out processed foods and eat more fresh vegetables and lean proteins instead. Even intermittent fasting while sick has been shown to decrease inflammation and increase immune function. Eating processed and sugar laden foods is the number one thing we do daily that increases inflammation. As noted above, an inflamed body is ill equipped to fight illness!
- SLEEP! I can’t express enough the importance of a good night’s sleep. I’m talking about a solid, sound 6-8 straight hours of body rejuvenating sleep. Sleep is the time when our bodies do their best repair work, so optimizing sleep is paramount to prevention of and healing from any illness.
- Optimize hormones! Insomnia is one of the common side effects of imbalanced hormones. Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy with pellets adjusts hormones to optimum levels, which may help you sleep like a baby once again.
- Watch what you put in your mouth. Fatty foods, sugar, caffeine and alcohol intake should be limited, especially less than 2 hours before bed. Research has shown that diets low in fiber and high in sugar and saturated fats may result in lighter, less restorative sleep and more incidences of waking during the night. Caffeine and alcohol are stimulants. That’s not what you need if a good night’s sleep is on your agenda.
- Maximize your melatonin levels (see above)! Good bedtime habits (no lights, NO screens) and supplements (especially if you’re older) can work wonders. EVEXIAS also offers a sleep support supplement with melatonin— FARMAKEIO Sleep—available for purchase online without a prescription.
Need an extra immunity boost to fight COVID-19?
We’re here to help! EVEXIAS continues to offer Immune Boost IV Therapy at our clinics and can prescribe and ship nutritional supplements to patients in need. If you have questions or would like to schedule IV nutrient therapy with us, contact the EVEXIAS location nearest you.
“This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”
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