There are currently no vaccines or other drugs that have shown any promise in treating Covid-19, the illness caused by the current Coronavirus.
We all know we should be avoiding close contact with other people, washing our hands frequently, avoiding touching our faces, catching our sneezes and coughs in tissues and disposing of them immediately. Conventional medical advice for self management, if you do get infected, is to rest and hydrate, plus perhaps a NSAID such as Ibuprofen, which is the same advice given to those with a mild cold.
But there are things which can you can do with diet, supplementation and lifestyle habits to turbo-boost your immune system to fight off the virus if you encounter it.
A wholefood diet that excludes refined, processed foods and sugar, and targeted, specific
nutritional support is one of the ways to strengthen immunity to help prevent or address any viral
infection. There are other lifestyle behaviours in which to engage such as appropriate exercise, sufficient sleep and sound hygiene.
The focus of this article by Sophie Driver our Nutritional Therapist is on the key nutrients to consider to support anti-viral immunity. There may well be benefits from other complementary modalities such as herbalism – we are hoping that Ginny will soon do a herbal version!
Staying hydrated and getting enough, good quality sleep are top priorities, but here’s what’s beyond the obvious…
- VITAMIN C! Yes, grandma wasn’t wrong. Vitamin C has been shown in many studies to help boost your immune system by strengthening your t-cells and phagocytes, which play a role in destroying pathogens that invade your body. Plus, a number of studies have shown that high amounts of vitamin C are directly “virucidal” significantly reducing the expression of viral antigens and the cellular viral load. Bottom line, get lots of vitamin C rich foods like citrus, berries, kiwi, mango, cantaloupe, cherries, greens (spinach, kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts etc.) Supplement dosage 3,000mg in divided doses and ideally in a time release formulation.
- ZINC is our next big one. Zinc is an essential mineral required for wound healing, vision, reproduction, and it supports the function of our immune cells. For this reason, during cold and flu season make a concentrated effort to eat foods rich in zinc: grass fed beef, shellfish, whole grains, organic yogurt, eggs, nuts and seeds daily. As a dietary supplement, zinc is found in many forms including zinc gluconate, zinc acetate, zinc citrate, zinc sulfate, zinc carbonate, and zinc picolanate to name a few. Not all forms are effective in reducing cold symptoms and the delivery mechanism is also in question (nasal spray, lozenges etc). Keep in mind, zinc in high amounts can be toxic and block the absorption of other minerals, so try and boost your levels from food. Supplement dosage 20 mg daily
- VITAMIN D a key nutrient which affects the immune response, and has been shown in multiple studies to possess or stimulate anti-viral properties. Most of us are starved of sunshine at this time of the year, so consider supplementing (it’s sensible to check your vitamin D levels as you need enough, but not too much). Supplement dosage 2,000 IU daily (start with 5,000IU/day for two weeks then reduce to 2,000)
- DRINK TEA! Ginger, Ginseng, Dandelion, or Green and add a spoonful of raw honey and a squeeze of lemon. All are excellent at boosting your body’s immune response. The antioxidant catechin in green tea is known to be a powerful antibacterial and antiviral and can help kill off cold-starting bacteria and the influenza virus. Compounds in ginseng called ginsenosides have also shown antiviral effects in numerous studies. Specific compounds in ginger, such as gingerols and zingerone, have been found to inhibit viral replication and prevent viruses from entering host cells. Dandelion is another big one that has evidenced an ability to inhibit viral replication. Dandelion doesn’t taste great, so I recommend getting it in an organic greens supplement instead of drinking it. Lastly, raw honey has been used literally for thousands of years to fight bacterial, viral, and even fungal infections.
- EAT ITALIAN! This one is all about the garlic. Garlic contains allicin, which is known to have anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and even anti-parasitic properties. But.…To get the health benefits it needs to be consumed raw and in the amount of roughly 2-3 cloves a day!. So, consider taking a supplement that contains garlic if you’re not keen on munching the raw stuff. Other herbs and spices to help immunity include turmeric, rosemary and resveratrol (found in red grapes).
- SUPPLEMENT! Honestly, it’s pretty hard to go after each and every food / micronutrient that can help to boost immunity and fight viral infections. So finding a supplement from organic whole foods with many of the nutrients mentioned in one product is ideal. Here’s a good all-rounder:
- ProGreens by Allergy Research. This product has everything from acerola cherry, ginseng, echinacea, green tea, ginger, wheat grass, spirulina, etc. So you get many of the nutrients mentioned above in one shot – literally. Take this daily for overall wellness, energy, and immunity.
Moving away from foods, a pleasant way to blitz bugs is by spritzing essential oils in the house, office, school etc. Use an atomizer (one to five drops essential oil for every 3 tablespoons of distilled water).
For a very basic anti-microbial spray, mix a few drops of the essential oils of Lavender and Tea-tree with distilled water in a plant sprayer and spray liberally around. Feel free to add other oils, as various oils do have differing anti-microbial effects – a mixture of any of the following: Clove, Cinnamon, Thyme, Oregano, Sweet Marjoram, Peppermint. Spritz regularly.
Bottom line, practice common sense with your self care. Get your sleep. Hydrate. Wash your hands often. Eat a rainbow of plant based foods. Drink tea. Consider supplementing – and spritz!