How to keep your immune system in tip top shape during self isolation from COVID 19
Firstly, we are not writing this article to claim the following tips will cure COVID-19. At the time of this article, it is too early to make any claims around COVID-19 because it has not been researched enough to make those claims. We are also suggesting that you follow all the recommendations the World Health organization has put out on what to do about COVID-19 to date.
What this article is about is how to help your immune system stay in top shape based on what research has shown about the immune system.
What got us into Naturopathic Medicine were the foundational principles of the medicine, which state, the body has an innate ability to heal and repair itself. The role of the doctor or the patient is to find and remove obstacles to that innate ability and then support the healing process. Self isolation is the best way we know of to remove or reduce the exposure to the virus and then the focus turns to how to support your body to repair itself.
How to optimize your bodies ability to repair and heal at home
We have made a simple checklist that everyone can do to keep themselves feeling healthy. Numbers 1-6 are for everyone. Then based on how you feel or exposure to people or stress levels you may want to consider ramping up the immune support with the following.
- Adequate Restorative Sleep – Restorative sleep is key, enough sleep to feel refreshed so you have enough energy for your immune system to function at its optimal level. The amount varies form person to person but the general rule of thumb is 7-9 hrs minimum for adults, teens need 9-10 hrs and school aged children need 10hrs, preschoolers need 11-12 hrs, and infants need 16-18hrs. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/sleep-needs-get-the-sleep-you-need.htm
- Stay off the sugar – Sugar suppresses the ability of Neutrophils(a key immune cell in your body) to fight off infections for at least 5hrs. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article-abstract/26/11/1180/4732762
- Eat Healthy and Stay Away from the Western Diet – Turns out the Western Diet of high simple carbs and high processed fats creates a Chronic Metabolic Inflammatory state that leads to a host of illnesses. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31747581
- Be Optimistic – It turns out our level of optimism is related to our level of cell mediated immunity to fight off infections. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3933956/
- Manage Stress – being in a state of “fight or flight” releases cortisol, a stress hormone, which is immunosuppressive.
- Down time is a time to heal – stay off the devices and spend time getting to know yourself and your family. If you do not live with family or friends reach out through the phone. Stay connected to those who love and care for you.
- Vitamin D – deficiency in vitamin D makes you more susceptible to infection; if you haven’t been tested for vitamin D levels, take 3000IU until summertime
- Vitamin C – has been shown to shorten the duration of the common cold and in people with high physical stress it halved the incidence of colds. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-C#common-cold-treatment
- Zinc – Zinc has been show to help in many areas of the immune system but one that is relevant to COVID-19. Zinc reduces the inflammatory cascade and the over production of cytokines. In COVID-19 there is an overproduction of cytokines that cause most of the damage in the lungs. So theoretically Zinc could help modulate that. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2277319/
- Adequate vitamin A – eat foods rich in beta carotene, which are your orange-yellow coloured fruits and vegetables; your body makes vitamin A out of beta carotene; vitamin A is anti-viral
- Probiotics – Not only have they been shown to help the gut but the help the lungs immune system as well. This study shows probiotics helped in reducing the incidence and severity of respiratory disease during the cold season. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18685511
There are many other thoughts on how to help your immune system stay in tip top shape as far as supplements go. From herbs to other specific vitamins and nutrients there are numerous ways to help modulate the immune system but would require you to purchase products. In this article we were just thinking about what you might have on hand or easy access to. If you would like further guidance on products to take that could potentially keep your immune system in top shape, please reach out to us. Otherwise try and focus on pausing to reassess life and priorities and enjoy following the above list in an optimistic way:)