Nutrients required for effective immune system function
It has been a few months since I wrote to you about the coronavirus situation and I wanted to send an encouraging update on my thoughts and findings.
There is no cure. There is no vaccine. But there are things we can do to take better care of ourselves and be as healthy as possible.
Focusing on self-care, including proper nutrition, exercise, sleep, and stress management, will go a long way to supporting your health as much as you can during the pandemic.
In this article, I will highlight the key nutrients that impact our immune cell function.
Since our public health officials are predicting that 50 to 90% of the population will need to get infected with the coronavirus before the pandemic burns itself out, I am telling my tribe that we are likely to eventually get the virus.
We want our immune system to be healthy enough so we get only a mild illness.
Here is what science is telling us thus far:
- If your blood sugar is high
- You are a smoker
- You live in an area with poor air quality
- Are severely obese
- Or have silent inflammation, you are at greater risk.
We can make changes to our diet and lifestyle that will help lower our risk of complications.
- First, improve your blood sugar control.
- Stop eating foods with added sugar, like breads, pastas, and other high glycemic foods.
- Eat more non-starchy vegetables.
- Stop smoking.
- For those living in areas of high air pollution, consider buying a HEPA air filter to improve indoor air quality, if you can afford it.
In addition to reducing blood sugar, you should focus on consuming nutrients that support immune cell function, including
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
- And omega-3 fatty acids
Food sources for vitamin C include sauerkraut (you can find the kind with live cultures in the refrigerator section), greens, and citrus.
I also recommend consuming 6 to 8 ounces of liver per week (according to size and gender), because liver is rich in premade vitamin A.
Liver, oysters, and mussels are also good sources of easily absorbed minerals, including zinc.
Sulfur helps our immune cells make the master antioxidant glutathione, which is critical to helping our immune cells fight acute infections.
From a mechanistic basis, curcumin also improves our antioxidant levels as we fight infections. And apple cider vinegar improves our ability to absorb minerals, which diminishes as we get older (over the age of 50).
Finally, getting outside in direct sunlight to get fresh air and a tan (without a sunburn) improves our vitamin D levels.
This is important as low vitamin D is associated with a marked increased risk of viral infections.
If you want to protect yourself against illness and infection, the most important steps are to eat the Wahls™ diet, avoid added sugar, and get outside for fresh air and sunlight.
Paleovalley supplements can also provide support to your immune cells.
I use all three of these supplements.
I eat liver weekly, so when I travel, I take organ meat capsules with me (otherwise I am not taking the supplement the weeks I eat liver).
I take also take one gram of vitamin C twice a day. For my patients, I recommend 250 mg to 1 gram of vitamin C twice a day. Higher doses may cause GI upset or potentially very slightly increase the risk of kidney stones.
Zinc supplements ranging from 5 to 30 mg once a day may also be useful for two to four months. Long term use of zinc supplements may increase the risk of too much zinc and not enough copper.
The coronavirus infection more severely stresses the body with free radicals, which can be reduced with a diet higher in non-starchy, sulfur-rich, and deeply colored vegetables.
That is why I stress food sources for our nutrients, including organ meats and lots of vegetables.
But when it is difficult to get the right foods for the proper nutrition, supplements are a useful addition.
The Paleovalley supplements are food-based, and much less likely to cause imbalances.
As the pandemic spreads, it is important that you wash your hands, stay six feet away from others, and use a face covering when in public. I also urge you to improve your diet to improve your health.
- Drop the sugar and eat more vegetables, including greens, sulfur-rich, and colorful vegetables.
- Eat more sauerkraut and organ meat once a week.
- Take targeted supplements supporting vitamin A, vitamin C, curcumin, and zinc to support your immune system.
With the right choices, we can make this illness more manageable.
Dr. Terry Wahls