Viruses: How to Prepare

With the beginning of school season ahead and larger crowds coming together, more questions are arising for how we can prepare ourselves against the coronavirus and its variants, because even with the COVID-19 vaccination, there are percentages of potential spread of variants such as Delta, the vaccine is showing not to cover as well as the Alpha variant. * (see Science.com article Delta coronavirus variant: scientists brace for impact, 22 June 2021).

I haven’t spoken out much yet, awaiting studies and data on what is working and what isn’t. As always, it is certain we can rely on the fact that pathogens have less of a chance of harming you when you eat fruits and vegetables, get good rest and sleep, keep hydrated, and spend time outdoors in the sunshine. So here is where it leads me to think, each year when the kids head back indoors for most of the day for school and have to wake early, parents have more on their plate to balance and have more stress, maybe thee diet changes with running to activities….what do you think will happen come end of September or beginning of October? I hope you see the pattern too. Perfect down regulation of the immune system to invite in any pathogen around.

Vitamin D

The latest top nutrient found to help with Coronavirus and especially with regards to respiratory infections is vitamin D. The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology found that daily supplementing of vitamin D provided protection against acute upper respiratory infections when compared to placebo groups. Their results are based on 43 randomized and placebo-controlled studies with 49,000 participants. The dosage used was between 400-1,000 IU for up to 12 months. According to the study findings, vitamin D prevents infection by “boosting a range of anti-viral responses, while simultaneously dampening down potentially harmful inflammatory responses.” Recommended is to take the Vitamin D3 version and always with K2 to better utilize and absorb the vitamin D. Getting sunshine is the gold standard, for about an hour a day without sunglasses on your eyes. But in Minnesota with the strength of the sun, this hour per day may not be enough to maintain adequate blood levels of vitamin D. We do provide vitamin D blood testing (through Nutri-Dyn and done at home) and recommend following through with testing in the fall to head into winter prepared.

Probiotics

To have good gut health, we should have about three pounds of healthy bacterial in the human body. But it is common to find in most average adults about 10 pounds of unhealthy bacteria. The gut is the largest immunological organ of the body. Some with people with no histamine intolerance will do very well eating their fermented foods such as kombucha, yogurt and other cheeses from raw milk, sauerkraut, pickles, kim chi and others. But those that have histamine intolerance may need to utilize more of a soil based probiotic or utilize the idea of chaga and mushrooms for a different approach to gut and immune health. The key to good bacteria is to get a good variety and have an adequate intake of fiber and prebiotics (I always recommend eating garlic or utilizing a supplement for infections) and I have been personally finding beans and cabbage can be the most cost-effective easy way to add fiber to meals. Or making batches of muffins with extra fibers such as oat bran or flax seed in them for quick morning additions.

Nitrates

This information is so fantastic- who wouldn’t want more oxygen in your blood? A study from the Journal of Nutrition and Journal of Virology found that people who ate nitrate-rich foods (not the added nitrates found in meats- I’m talking vegetables) had better muscle function of their lower limbs. What that led them to figure out is that in the early stages of infection, having higher levels of nitric oxide in your body could produce an anti-viral effect. I just read another article that even discussed breathing through your nose – NO MOUTH BREATHING!- would also stimulate this conversion to nitric oxide naturally in your blood, and low and behold, naturally reduce anxious feelings in a overdriven nervous system.

Foods that are high in nitrates: Spinach, lettuce, cabbage, collard greens, parsley, fennel, radishes

Selenium and Omega-3 fatty acids

Selenium and Omega-3s have been found to be “immune building nutrients” by increasing the proliferation of natural killer cells and improving the T cell response. Regarding selenium in particular, it has been shown to reduce the formation of clots in the blood vessels; particularly the micro-clots found in the deaths of Covid-19 patients (study by Sami-Sabinsa Group- India and China).

Selenium and zinc rich foods: Brazil nuts- 1 nut per day! Seafood, including crab, salmon, tuna and prawns. White meat and poultry like turkey and chicken. Grains like brown rice and lentils.

Omega-3s have been in research for years and the benefits are great. The ratio of Omega 3, 6 and 9 is vital, and the focus should be on Omega-3s. Too much of the 6 and 9 can be inflammatory, and they are already quite accessible in most foods but the Omega 3s need to be more purposeful. The main mechanism to be found with having adequate Omega-3s in your body is an anti-inflammatory effect which then can help deter an extreme immune system reaction known as the “cytokine storm” which has been observed in severe or fatal Covid-19 cases. The research (observation only at this point; not peer reviewed) was based out of Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA and also at Fatty Acid Research Institute in South Dakota and they used the Omega-3 Index (through OmegaQuant) to test all the patients involved in the research. We now have access to affordable Omega-3 Index testing through this same company through our supplement company Nutri Dyn. If you are curious about how you are doing at eating, absorbing and utilizing Omega-3s, there is a test available for your home use.

Foods high in Omega 3s: Mackerel, Salmon, Cod liver oil, oysters, sardines, anchovies, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, algae, Hemp hearts

Vaccination Preparation

Recent studies from the American Society for Nutrition have shown that eating more fruits and vegetables before being vaccinated increases the chances of a positive antibody test. And to ease the side effects from the vaccine shot; vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, selenium, omega-3s, nitrates, and probiotics are also seen to help. If you look at those nutrients it equates sunshine, fruits and vegetables, fish oil to mobilize and eliminate toxins through the liver, and good gut bacteria health to ward off invaders and all of those nutrients boost the immune system. Beyond that concept, there hasn’t been any further information coming out on how best to prepare for a COVID-19 vaccination.

As always keep learning, keep moving, keep eating well each day, connect with nature, and find something to be grateful for today. And most of all, be kind to one another, listen, and be a helping hand to each other. Nourishing yourself, your relationships, and your community are vital.

-Dr. Christine