The Coronavirus pandemic, like all infectious epidemics, raises an important question: why is it that many people catch the virus, but only some develop serious or lethal symptoms?
Immune system health, while not the only determinant, is certainly one of the most important factors in determining how someone will fare if exposed to this virus.
Much recent attention has focused on the co-morbidities and known risk factors that have been identified in 95% of all people severely affected by COVID. While there are certainly cases of COVID in young and seemingly healthy people, many of the people at highest risk are diabetics with hemoglobin A1c levels greater than 5%; people with prior lung pathology from air pollution and/or smoking tobacco, and, people taking certain medications for heart disease.
It is also evident that people differ in their inherent immune competence. By strengthening the immune system, we can reduce susceptibility not only to the Coronavirus, but to any viral, bacterial, prion or other pathogen.
Exposure may be widespread, but illness need not be.
Of course, distancing, isolation, and frequent hand washing along with skin nourishment play a vital role in decreasing exposure and spread of the virus. But there’s a lot of other things we can do to support immune system function and build resilience.
Here are 10 ways to boost immune defense, support tissue repair systems, and reduce the risk of infection and illness.
Eat for Ease of Assimilation: Stick with a diet that is easier to digest, assimilate, and eliminate without burdning the immune system.
Hidden food allergens are immune burdens that hinder your immune system’s defense and repair functions. Identifying and eliminating these immune burdens enhance the immune system’s ability to function optimally.
While diets always need to be individualized, some general recommendations include eating plenty of organic or biodynamic ripe fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouts, seaweeds, herbs and seasonings. Avoid grains. Start each meal with something wet and savory.
Enhance healthier methylation by making garlic, ginger, onions, brassica sprouts and eggs (the sulfur-rich foods sometimes referred to as GGOBE) frequent components of your meals, assuming no allergies or sensitivities to them. Methylation is important for proper translation of genetic code, cell detoxification, and for proper cell product synthesis.
Avoid highly processed foods; they generally contain too much salt, sugar, and fat, as well as preservatives and other unhealthy additives.
Stay Well-Hydrated: Drink plenty of water and herbal beverages. Go for one gallon per day. I keep a glass and a carafe of water on my desk. When the glass is full, I drink it; when it is empty, I fill it.
Keep First Morning Urine pH between 6.5 and 7.5. Excess acid in cells prevents optimal cellular activity (For tips on how to do that, check out our previous article, First Morning Urine pH: A Window on Acid-Alkaline Balance)
Get Enough Restorative Sleep & Practice Relaxation: If need be, follow a sleep preparation plan. I suggest taking a salt and soda bath (½ cup Epsom Salt & ½ cup baking soda) 30 minutes before bed.
Stretch regularly. For me, this includes stretching in bed before sleep, before getting out of bed, and in the shower.
These are stressful times. But like anything else, we can entrain relaxation responses and the ability to shift from sympathetic to parasympathetic nervous system activity through regular practice. I recommend active meditations like the kind you can find at activemeditation.org.
Improve Your Air Quality: You’re very likely spending a lot more time in your home these days. Consider getting a room ionizer like those sold on molekule.com or bionaire.com to reduce the amount of airborne mold, allergens and other immune system triggers.
Targeted supplementation: In the 21st century, a healthy diet and lifestyle are no longer enough to optimize your immune function. Intensive supplementation with antioxidants, bioavailable minerals, and essential cofactors makes good sense. While there are no clinical trials to back up this recommendation, anecdotal experience and early observational studies make a good case for it, particularly when nature’s nutrients are used and not synthetic “work-a-likes” that too often do not work very well in practice.
Take enough L-ascorbate: How much is enough? It varies from person to person. To find out, use what I call the “C Cleanse Calibration.”
This is an individualized approach that allows us to find out how much ascorbate each person needs to manage oxidative stress and stimulate tissue repair.
The process involves taking repeating doses of buffered, L-ascorbate powder dissolved in water, in increments of 15 minutes, until there is a complete evacuation of the digestive tract (very watery stools). The buffered ascorbate mobilizes toxins and eliminates them from the body via the GI tract.
To begin the C Cleanse, start with 0.5 teaspoon per glass of water for a generally healthy individual; 1 teaspoon if someone is slightly unwell (and likely to be depleted), and 2 teaspoons if someone is ill. Repeat that dose every 15 minutes.
The total amount required to induce this bowel “flush” can be used to calculate how much supplemental ascorbate someone should take on an on going basis. I generally recommend 75% of the flush-inducing amount as a good daily dosing guideline.
It is important to use 100% L-ascorbate, reduced and buffered with alkalinizing minerals like magnesium, zinc, potassium and calcium. L- ascorbate is an excellent antioxidant and a potent natural anti-viral, but only when it is 100% L-ascorbate, fully reduced and buffered.
Magnesium & Choline Citrate: When taken together, these two are a proven way to improve the amount of magnesium your body can absorb to help maintain the body’s acid-alkaline balance.
Multi vitamin/mineral complex: A basic Multi provide a solid foundation of nutrients necessary for resilient health – take enough to keep your well hydrated urine sunshine yellow!
Get Your Vitamin D3 Up: Especially when staying indoors, you’ll need between 2500-5000 IU daily to keep your circulating D3 levels with the optimal range of 50-80 ng/ml. Maintaining an adequate level of D3 supports a healthy immune system with enhanced viral protection especially from respiratory and intestinal infections.
Zinc: I recommend taking zinc citrate, aspartate or gluconate with Echinacea and Slippery Elm. These fully soluble, synergistic nutrients help fight infection and provide maximum immune support.
There’s a wide spectrum of nutrients and herbs that are potentially helpful in boosting resilience. Among them, I recommend Quercetin dihydrate plus Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins (OPC). Together, they create a potent flavonoid/flavonol combination that works synergistically with L-ascorbate to activate cells responsible for repair.
I also advise liver detox support with milk thistle and synergistic antioxidant nutrients like vitamin E, mixed natural carotenoids and co-enzyme Q10. Lastly, avoid NSAIDs, particularly ibuprofen.
Russell Jaffe received his MD and PhD from Boston University School of Medicine in 1972, and completed his residency in Clinical Pathology at the National Institutes of Health, where he was on the permanent staff as a practicing molecular biologist and molecular pathologist. He has educated himself in nutrition, and was the founding chairman of the Scientific Committee of the American Holistic Medical Association. Dr. Jaffe developed the lymphocyte response assays (LRA) that enable physicians to rule in/out 436 common allergenic substances based on delayed hypersensitivity by functional LRA by ELISA/ACT or MELISA tests. He is also founder of Perque, a practitioner-only nutraceuticals company.