Winter is coming and with it all the wonderful viruses that cause illness. Everyone is susceptible, however, those people with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and COPD are more at risk of experiencing severe symptoms.
This is because their upper respiratory systems — the lining of their lungs for example — are already weak.
Acidic Environments Are the Best for Spreading Viruses
When we eat a lot of sugar, especially the kind in processed, packaged foods, our bodies become acidic. When we eat a lot of starchy carbs, alcohol and red meat, our bodies become acidic.
Diabetes is a form of chronic inflammation of the gut and a disruption of metabolism. Diabetes also means that your gut is overly acidic, which weakens your body’s immune defenses.
This means that your diet has a lot to do with the health of your immune system.
People with heart disease, high blood pressure and hypertension are also more vulnerable. When the heart and its vessels have to work harder to push oxygen through the blood stream, they take energy away from the immune system.
High blood pressure or any one of the aspects of heart disease weaken your immune system. The same is true of lung conditions such as COPD and emphysema. Any time one part of the body is weak, other parts of the body take the brunt. And when faced with an incoming threat such as a new virus, the body’s immune system will be compromised.
Get to Know your Immune System
There is hope! Our best defense against coronavirus is an offense. Our bodies are supremely intelligent and learn quickly. If we give our bodies the right information, we can jump start our immune systems to both resist infections and repair what’s under assault.
It’s important to understand the basics of how our immune system works: our bodies are designed to automatically identify foreign invaders. A virus is a foreign invader. One of the first ways our immune systems fight a foreign invader is by sending cell signals to all parts of the brain and body to turn on its “defense system.” Sometimes this means inflammation — like when you stub your toe, and it swells. Inflammation is literally a signal that something is wrong.
So, when you get a cold and your nose gets stuffy and your throat hurts, that’s your body’s response to the bacteria or virus that is having its way with you. In most cases, we take over the counter medicine and try and make the symptoms go away or stop. Unfortunately, these medicines don’t really attack the virus, they just allay the symptoms.
What can hurt the virus is turbo-charging our immune system! Let’s take a look at three simple steps you can take to help keep your immune system in tip top shape.
Three Steps to Keep Your Immune System Effective at Fighting Viruses
Step One: Restore your body’s pH balance and make it more alkaline
PH balance is not just for your hair or skin. In fact, one of the most proactive ways that you can keep your overall immune system efficient by bringing your gut into pH balance and making it more alkaline instead of acidic.
This means to address your diet:
- Eat your veggies. Fiber acts as a pH-balancer for your gut, enabling food to move in and out more efficiently.
- Stay away from refined sugar. Sugar is like pouring acid into your gut.
- Reduce processed foods, dairy, and alcohol. Processed foods, dairy and alcohol have hidden sugars that bombard your gut with acid.
- Add sodium bicarbonate (aka baking soda) to water. This alkaline producer returns your gut to pH balance. Alka Seltzer Gold is another easy way to do this; check out the videos I did on this on YouTube or IG!
Step Two: Walk after Meals, especially after dinner
We all know the benefits of exercise — it helps the heart, metabolism and our moods. When you take a brief 15–20-minute walk right after a meal, you signal your body to turn on your body’s cellular activity.
This simple step will not only help you digest your food but signal to your brain and body to re-boot itself, keeping your entire system running.
Step Three: Get Regular Deep Sleep to Repair Your Immune System
I know, I know, I say this all the time! Everyone these days has trouble sleeping.
We wake up too early or can’t go to bed until very late at night. As a society, we have become disconnected from our circadian rhythm — that internal body clock that we were born with. However, you can re-set your body clock.
It’s absolutely true. When our bodies truly rest at night, our immune system restores itself.
Get at least 6 hours of sleep, although 7 or 8 is better.
So How do you Reset your Inner Clock?
- You set a schedule and stick to it for a week.
- Create a simple nighttime ritual.
- Go to bed at the same time each night.
- Get up at the same time every day
- Look at the sunrise / horizon as soon as you get up for at least 3-5 minutes.
- Turn off your brain. This means turning off the media. Listen to music instead. Or read something boring. Meditate or pray.
These simple steps are scientifically supported tools that will help you build your body’s immune system so that it has the strength to fight an invader like coronavirus or any other virus for that matter.
Eating a balanced diet, making sure your gut is more alkaline than acidic, exercising regularly (especially after meals) and sleeping well — all set you up to support your immunity. Now I am offering you four more steps, all supported by extensive research and peer-reviewed studies, that help build your immunity from the inside out.
Keep in mind that your immune system is made up of a network of pathways that has at its core the same goal: to protect your brain and body from outside invaders. The coronavirus is just one of many environmental pathogens that have the potential to wear down your natural ability to fight off viral infections. As physicians, we refer to the body’s armor as its “innate” immune system. In this article, I offer you six specific ways that you can rally the troops and help prepare for warfare against viral infections, the flu, and even the common cold.
How To Reboot Your Immune System to Resist Viral Infections
Step One: Replace Probiotics with Prebiotics
Distinct from probiotics, prebiotics are your gut’s own good bacteria that help keep your digestive tract and colon stay healthy. We create our own prebiotics naturally from fibrous foods that we eat — vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. The more fiber we ingest through food, the more our microbiome stays healthy and in ph balance. As I mentioned before, the more acidic our guts, the more prone we are to illness and disease. Our ancestors foraged for foods and regularly ate wild plants, naturally keeping their guts and microbiomes able to fight off viral infections. Today, we have to be more conscious and try to consume at least 25 grams of fiber daily for women and 38 g/day for men.
What does this mean? A medium-sized apple contains 4.4 grams of fiber. A piece of whole-grain toast offers 2-3 grams of fiber. A bowl of steel-cut oatmeal contains 5 grams of fiber. A serving of steamed spinach has 2.5 grams of fiber. The more fiber you eat at every meal, the better.
If you are not sure you can eat this much fiber, then give yourself a pre-biotic supplement every day. Along with exercise and a balanced diet, prebiotics have been shown to fight against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, weight gain, and colorectal cancer. Prebiotics also help with appetite control. Perhaps most important today, prebiotics support your body’s own immune system by increasing T helper cells, macrophages and neutrophils — the front line soldiers of your immune system, increasing your natural “killer cells”.
Advice: Eat 25-38 grams of fiber a day OR supplement with a prebiotic (10-15 grams daily).
Step Two: Include Collagen Peptides
Most of us associate collagen with our skin. But collagen has a more complicated role. Indeed, in a recent study, supplementing with collagen peptides (ingested as powders with water or in a smoothie) was shown to help with wound healing, repair of UV skin damage, and enhance the growth of the skin, hair, and nails. Also, one of the more important uses for collagen peptides is its ability to regulate our T helper cells and manage immune and allergic responses. The study shows that collagen peptides improve the body’s immune response and calm down the body’s allergic responses.
Advice: Add Collagen Peptides to your diet (2.5-10 grams daily)
Step Three: Restore Your Vitamin D Deficiency
Most of us are woefully deficient in Vitamin D, putting us at risk for a number of diseases, including osteoporosis, certain cancers, inflammatory bowel disease, psychological and cognitive disorders, obesity and auto-immune diseases. But there’s an even more pernicious hidden danger to a lack of Vitamin D.
In this age, when we know that bacterial and viral infections are going to be on the rise and become part of our everyday landscape, we need alternatives to antibiotics, to which many have become resistant.
The answer? Vitamin D supplements along with Vitamin K2. Why both?
Vitamin D alone can cause calcification of bones and tissues (ie. an over-production of calcium that is not absorbed but builds up in places where it’s not needed and instead causes problems.) When Vitamin D and K2 are combined, however, they act as a Super Immune Booster, signaling the body to produce, up-regulate, and use more of a powerful antioxidant called Glutathione. Vitamin D needs Glutathione to become activated. When our body makes more of Glutathione, we improve the mitochondria of the cell, making it more efficient. And when cells become more efficient, they become powerhouse immune protectors.
Advice: Include Vitamin D3 (1000-3000 IUs daily) + K2 (100 mcg daily) (600-1000 mg daily)
Step Four: Discover Aged Black Garlic (AGB)
Raw garlic has been known to be a powerful antioxidant. But let’s face it, how inclined are any of us to chomp on this strong-tasting, odoriferous root? Not likely. We do have another option for benefiting from the healing properties of garlic — and the science is real: aged garlic has been shown to be
- Antioxidant (helps get rid of free radicals, those cells that cause damage, trigger disease, and weaken our immune response)
- Anti-inflammatory (helps decrease inflammation, which is at the root of ALL disease)
- Anti-cancer (helps inhibit the triggers for cancer cell growth)
- Anti-obesity (helps to maintain weight gain and improve metabolism)
- Anti-diabetes (helps to regulate blood sugar)
- Cardio-protective (protects the heart)
- Hepato-protective (protects the liver)
In a recent study, ABG was also found to work at a more micro-level, boosting the body’s immune system by stimulating certain immune powerhouse cells, such as macrophages, enhance the functioning of the immune system by stimulating certain cell types, such as macrophages, lymphocytes, natural killer (NK) cells, dendritic cells, and eosinophils. Together, these cells deter certain functions that cause cells to turn on themselves.
Advice: 600-1200 mg daily
Just like you, your immune system is smart. You have much more power to improve your immune system than you may realize. These four steps — which require little time, energy or cost — can support, feed and prime your natural immunity.
At the cellular level, you are making your cells more efficient, which means they have more energy and power to protect you. You can prevent viral infections and colds from taking hold; you can resist illness; and you can recover faster and better.
Thanks to one of my colleagues, Dr. Seeds, for the bulk of this article. Watch out for Part 3 of this series next month!!