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Have you heard the headlines recently? It’s a bit frightening to hear what’s going on in the world, the nation, and our town. In order to make the news, something has to be HUGE ~ violent, frightening, over the top, unthinkable. We have become immune to subtlety. If we don’t get an intense visceral reaction, it’s not doesn’t have an impact. Unfortunately, this creates an elevated sympathetic nervous system response that literally affects our health.
How many people would know about the Coronavirus if it wasn’t all over the news? Did you know it has been infecting people since the 1960’s? You may have had it – it’s symptoms are just like those of the common cold. But this year, it’s the virus of choice, perhaps do to some sketchy politics. Everyone is talking about it, changing their ways in fear of this virus. Schools are sending out protocols, communities are changing their socialization, churches are changing their standards.
Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Don’t share beverages. Don’t shake peoples hands. Be warey of groups of people. And the list goes on. But nowhere has anyone broadcast how to support your body and improve your immune system.
First off, a stressed body is less likely to be able to fight off a virus. An elevated sympathetic nervous system decreases the body’s ability to rest, digest, be calm, and heal. Instead it is stuck in “fight or flight”, with elevated cortisol, imbalanced hormones, disregulated blood pressure, poor digestion, and lower quality sleep to mention a few basics. How can the body do its job when it’s stressed like that? It can’t…decrease your stress through mindfulness meditation, a regular sleep pattern, exercise, and eating right.
Digestion is a bit topic when it comes to your immune health. 70% or more of your immune system is located in your digestive track! If you aren’t digesting your food, assimilating the nutrients, and have a balanced pre and probiotic environment, your immune system is going to weaken. No amount of washing your hands is going to fix a weak digestive track! But eating your veggies – lots of veggies will help. They are nutrient dense and the fiber in them supports healthy bacteria in your gut. They also help with proper elimination of waste and toxins which is essential for a healthy body. Taking extra nutrients to further support digestion as well as your immune system is critical when working to support your immune system and prevent illness. Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc are immune system powerhouses. Probiotics and Prebiotics also help build up your immune strength.
The assimilation of nutrients is just as important as the intake of nutrients. If you can use what you consume, there’s no real reason to eat it. The body will just excrete it. For that reason, making sure you don’t have leaky gut is a great place to start. Leaky gut simply means that the junctions between cells are too big and allow larger particles to pass through than it should. These larger particles create toxicity in the body because they aren’t supposed to be there. The digestive track wasn’t able to break them down far enough before they were passed into the bloodstream. Addressing a leaky gut be removing inflammatory foods, allergenic foods, and adding in healing foods is a great start. Follow this will digestive enzymes and you are much more likely to gain the nourishment from your goods and stay healthier.
My personal favorite way to boost my immune system is to get adjusted. I know you won’t hear that on the news! But did you know that chiropractic adjustments are shown to improve the immune system in research? Chiropractic adjustments were shown to increase the activity of phagocytes, neutrophils, and PMNs according to a study by Brennen and Triano in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Theraputics (JMPT). Not only are adjustments a great way to decrease your stress, increase joint mobility while decreasing pain, they also help support a healthy immune system. I encourage you and your family to get adjusted when you feel the slightest cold or flu coming on.
By taking multiple angles to support our immune system, we can strengthen our body, and dive into a new level of health. I encourage you to address the underlying issues as to why people get sick so that you can let your health soar!
When you hear the term “coronavirus”, it might elicit some type of fear…but why? Coronaviruses have actually been around for a long time, with the first case being acknowledged back in 1937 in birds and in the 1960’s with humans. These viruses are the cause of what’s known as the common cold in many people – eliciting symptoms such as a sore throat, cough, fever, and runny nose, just to name a few. These viruses can be passed in several ways, like through shaking hands, touching a surface with the virus and then touching your face, or through a cough or sneeze in the air.
However, unlike the typical coronaviruses that hits most folks each year, the newest strand, (known as COVID-19), is one that could be making people a bit more wary of a cough or sneeze. This virus, which was first identified in China, has spread to over 25 different countries and has lead to the World Health Organization declaring a public health emergency.
Granted, there are several stages of this particular coronavirus, and roughly 90% of people are able to recover after being sick; this is a vast comparison to the roughly <1% of people that this virus can be fatal for. According to the National Institute of Health, there are certain groups of people that are more susceptible to adverse complications from COVID-19; these include elderly people and pregnant women.
As scary as this new virus may seem, there are some basic sanitation rules that you can follow in order to keep you and your family healthy, especially since there is no vaccine available. The first rule of infection prevention is simple – wash your hands. Count to 20 while washing hands with warm soap and water, and if soap isn’t available, use a hand sanitizer that contains alcohol. Other tips for prevention include covering your mouth with your elbow when you sneeze or cough, washing your hands often, disinfecting surfaces within work and home that are touched frequently, avoiding sharing food or other items with people who have symptoms, and avoiding touching your mouth, eyes, or nose.
Aside from the basic sanitation tips and tricks you can implement in order to keep yourself healthy, there is another important body system that can help – and that’s your immune system! This system is first in line to recognize and fight off any bacteria or viruses that enter the body that are harmful, and for the majority of the time, it does its job well…until you get sick. This is where natural supplementation can come into play, in order to help your body to stay healthy and fight off any potential sickness.
A natural antioxidant that is probably unfamiliar to most is something called glycyrrhizin; this particular compound is found in liquorice roots, and has been noted to prevent the growth of coronavirus in relation to SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). Based off research, it’s been found that utilizing glycyrrhizin makes it hard for the virus to invade cells, which slows the overall growth and production of this disease…making it a good contender for effectively helping to treat this infection.
One of the most important micronutrients in regards to proper immune system functioning is zinc; without this element, there can end up being multiple dysfunctions within the immune system – and possibly even death. Zinc not only helps protect against oxidative stress, but also helps the body maintain proper immune system functioning, and has also been shown to inhibit the growth and replication of the virus. Deficiency of this micronutrient is apparent in almost half of the people in the world; without proper dietary supplementation, a lack of zinc can lead to issue with the GI tract, reproductive system, and immune system – and can lead to death by infection. Being deficient in zinc can cause cells to be more susceptible to oxidative stress, which can lead to the immune system not responding the way that it should to different types of inflammatory stress. Since a lack of this micronutrient accounts for 16% of the lower respiratory infections in the world, enhancing the diet with the appropriate foods and supplements would appear to help lower these risks. The US Food and Nutrition Board recommends consumption of 11mg/day for males and 8mg/day for females, and this can come from foods like red meat, whole grains, and legumes, just to name a few sources. I have found doses of 100mg/day effective at supporting colds and the only side effect can be temporary nausea. Decrease this dosage if that happens!
Two other micronutrients that can aid in boosting the immune system to fight off disease are Vitamins C and D. Studies have shown that taking a supplement of Vitamin C can actually prevent the occurrence of upper respiratory infections, and not getting enough Vitamin D can make the immune system more open to infection. With both of these nutrients being so vital to overall immune system functioning, it’s no surprise that we’re able to boost our healthy with consuming the right nutrients from food in order to protect ourselves from harmful viruses and bacteria – so make sure that your diet contains enough fruits, veggies, and healthy fats and lean proteins in order to supplement the immune system appropriately!
As we wait and see how this particular strand of the coronavirus progresses throughout the world, do your best to maintain your health and wellness through natural supplementation – and remember, wash your hands! Contact your local Boulder/Denver functional medicine doctor for more information on boosting your immune system naturally.
Ian Hollaman, DC, MSc, IFMCP
PS Don’t panic! Don’t get caught up in the frenzy and breathe normally. Help people, treat people with respect and dignity and maintain your positive mental attitude in spite of all the attention grabbing headlines that dominate our media outlets.
PSPS Xymogen supplements are high quality and since time is of the essence, there’s an easy online ordering option.
Here are the specific immune supporting supplements I recommend:
- Immune Essentials – Immune system support featuring Xymogen’s patented, naturally derived beta 1,3/1,6 glucan
- MinRex – A highly absorbable and balanced multi-mineral formula
- D3 liquid – Supports immune, brain, and nervous system health
- NAC – Promotes antioxidant and detoxification activity in the body
- Bio C 1:1 – By now I think we’re all in agreement that vitamin C protects from cold viruses. The coronavirus displays similarities to cold viruses.
When we think about our immune system, we usually jump to colds and flu, but the immune system does so much more than that! Aside from destroying germs and harmful bacteria within the body, the immune system also determines which cells are good and bad. When the immune system isn’t balanced correctly, it can essentially turn against its own cells, resulting in an autoimmune disease.
Autoimmune diseases include disorders like Crohn’s, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis, just to name a few; and based off of a study from 2019, up to eight percent of people in the world are affected by some sort of autoimmune disease (this is only those diagnosed!). One of the most prevalent autoimmune disorders in the world today is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. It accounts for 90% of hypothyroid cases. This disease is caused when the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid gland in the neck, which is an important gland for making vital hormones to ensure the proper functioning of the body.
There is no current cure for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (ie, there are no drugs that cure), but there are some promising treatments out there that can help to normalize hormones, improve the immune system, and even aid in regulating metabolism that might be thrown off due to this disease. Even more promising is the inclusion of micronutrients into treatment options – especially therapeutic doses of Vitamin D.
Vitamin D plays multiple roles within the body, including aiding in the absorption of calcium. The combination of vitamin D with calcium is essential for growing healthy and strong bones. It also plays a role in the growth of cells, as well as how well the immune system functions. It even helps in decreasing inflammation within the body.
Vitamin D is a micronutrient that is produced within the body, through the synthesis of sunlight, and from supplements. Ultimately, every single cell requires vitamin D to function. And the immune system is regulated by Vitamin D. T regulatory cells are routinely stimulated to help the immune system perform its many tasks. These symphony conductors are responsible for communicating to downstream cells like B cells, which then produce antibodies. If we lose normal levels of Vitamin D, we lack the ability to stimulate the symphony conductors which then creates a downstream issue which eventually creates chaos in the immune system (ie, autoimmune disorders).
Within the last decade, a deficiency of this important vitamin has been noted in patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. One study in particular, comprised of 42 women with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, divided participants up into two groups – one that took a placebo, and one that took a Vitamin D supplement. Over a three-month span of time, the supplement group received 50,000 IU weekly. At the end of the study, there was a significant decrease in the amount of anti-thy-roglobulin antibodies in the body as well as a decrease in thyroid stimulating hormone/TSH in the group with the Vitamin D supplement; thus, conferring that supplementing with this vitamin can help in decreasing Hashimoto activity within the body. These are results that would be coveted by pharmaceutical companies!! Of course, this is not being shouted from the roof tops by your endocrinologist as there is no profit for pharmaceutical interests.
Another similar research study was conducted on patients with Hashimoto’s to see what effect Vitamin D had on the disease; this group had 75 patients with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and after treatment and supplementation with Vitamin D for eight weeks, the thyroid autoantibodies were decreased.
What’s interesting about the body – and the correlation between cells, the immune system, and Vitamin D – is that within the body are certain T cells. T reg cells are a certain type of T cell, and these particular ones are dedicated to suppressing the immune system’s response to self-anti-gens (also called “tolerance”). With that being said, Vitamin D has been shown to stop the growth and multiplication of these cells if they are self-reacting, which is amazing step toward further treatment!
Because the deficiency of this vitamin is so prominent in those with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, supplementing with Vitamin D in patients who are struggling with hypothyroidism can prove to be beneficial. Part of the study even demonstrated a decrease in the risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease as well, so Vitamin D supplementation is certainly an option to consider across multiple realms.
Vitamin D is just one tool your functional medicine practitioner should be using for you. But, what’s critical is that dosage is based on your current levels, level of inflammation and how your body responds to therapy. After initiating vitamin D therapy we typically re run lab analysis after 8 weeks. At therapeutic doses, this should increase your level and your health should improve!
If you’d like to learn more about how Vitamin D can Let Your Health Soar, please contact Dr. Autoimmune.
Ian Hollaman, DC, MSc, IFMCP