(Medical disclaimer: Nothing mentioned in this article are medical treatments for COVID-19. If you believe you have contracted COVID-19 contact your primary care physician immediately)
For many, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a host of new life stressors. There are health concerns, personal safety worries, and financial losses.
Many are having scarcity thoughts and worries of running out of food, money, and essential items.
Stress can play a critical role in our immune system. Considering there is a risk of contracting the COVID-19 Virus for everyone now I wanted to share with all of my patients ways to boost your immune system while under stress.
Zinc is an essential mineral that plays many roles in our bodies. Zinc is essential in immune system support and helps our bodies heal wounds, and supports normal growth.
Studies have shown that zinc may have antiviral properties and is used to shorten the duration of colds.
What Foods Contain Zinc?
Meat, seafood, shellfish, dairy, grains, greens, nuts, celery, and beans.
How Much Zinc Can I Take?
Read more about Zinc and your immune system:
2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” and is essential for immune system support.
“Vitamin D can modulate innate and adaptive immune responses. Deficiency in vitamin D is associated with increased autoimmunity as well as increased susceptibility to infection. As immune cells in autoimmune diseases are responsive to the ameliorative effects of vitamin D, the beneficial effects of supplementing vitamin D deficient individuals with autoimmune disease may extend beyond the effects on bone and calcium homeostasis.” Source: J Investig Med. 2011 Aug; 59(6): 881–886.
Vitamin D is critical in fighting disease and has shown in studies to decrease your likelihood of developing the flu and other diseases.
Research suggests that vitamin D may also play a role in:
- lowering your chances of developing multiple sclerosis, according to a 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association
- decrease the odds you develop heart disease, according to 2008 findings published in CirculationTrusted Source
- helping to reduce your likelihood of developing the flu, according to 2010 research published in the American Journal of Clinical NutritionTrusted Source
Other studies have shown a correlation between Vitamin D deficiency and upper respiratory infections:
“There have been multiple cross-sectional studies associating lower levels of vitamin D with increased infection. One report studied almost 19,000 subjects between 1988 and 1994. Individuals with lower vitamin D levels (<30 ng/ml) were more likely to self-report a recent upper respiratory tract infection than those with sufficient levels, even after adjusting for variables including season, age, gender, body mass and race. Vitamin D levels fluctuate over the year. Although rates of seasonal infections varied, and were lowest in the summer and highest in the winter, the association of lower serum vitamin D levels and infection held during each season. Another cross-sectional study of 800 military recruits in Finland stratified men by serum vitamin D levels. Those recruits with lower vitamin D levels lost significantly more days from active duty secondary to upper respiratory infections than recruits with higher vitamin D levels (above 40nmol). There have been a number of other cross-sectional studies looking at vitamin D levels and rates of influenza  as well as other infections including bacterial vaginosis and HIV[12–13]. All have reported an association of lower vitamin D levels and increased rates of infection.”
Source:n https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166406/ PubMed NIH.Gov
What Foods Contain Vitamin D?
Natural sources of vitamin D include:
- Oily fish like Tuna or Salmon
- beef liver
How Much Vitamin D Should I Take?
First, you don’t need to take any. Just go out in the sun for 20-45 minutes several times a week. If you do supplement, which is not as good in my opinion, most adults should take 1,500-3,000 IU per day.
Probiotics help the body maintain the delicate balance between necessary and excessive defense mechanisms, including immune responses.
Probiotics are ‘live microorganisms” which can be consumed in foods or by supplements.
Food high in Probiotics include:
Kombucha, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, kimchi, and some cheeses.
The immune system acts to give us immunity after our bodies are exposed to foreign substances or bodily injury. Our immune system plays a protective part in our body by activating an immune system response against bacteria and viral infections, and more.
A weakened immune system leads to disease, severe inflammation and tissue damage.
Most of our immune system is located in our “guts”, or intestines, by microbiota. The most studied and most common of these microbia are Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces.
Thus, manipulation of the intestinal microbiota is a potential alternative approach for maintaining health and preventing and/or treating diseases. Probiotics were defined as ‘live microorganisms, which, when consumed in adequate amounts as part of food, confer a health benefit on the host. Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces are three extensively studied and commonly used probiotics in humans and animals.
I recommend only taking enteric-coated probiotics supplements, as the probiotics should dissolve in the intestines, not the stomach.
4. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is essential to stimulate the immune system and increases the strength and response of our immune systems. Vitamin C stimulates our immune system, is anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial.
It is well established that the cells in our body that fight infection and play a role in our immune system, called phagocytes and t-cells, accumulate vitamin C and need this vitamin to perform their task, especially when fighting infections. Vitamin C deficiency causes a weakened immune response, whereas higher levels of vitamin C in our bodies enhances several immune system responses.
Foods high in vitamin c
Zinc, probiotics, vitamins C and D have been researched the most for their immune-enhancing potential.
However, although these supplements may offer a small benefit for immune health, they should not and cannot be used as a replacement for a healthy lifestyle.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle includes a balanced diet, supplementation, adequate rest, regular exercise, and not smoking.
These all are some of the most important ways to help keep your immune system healthy and reduce your chances of infection and disease.
To schedule an appointment at our Raleigh, NC location click here.
Dr. Jeffrey Gerdes, D.C. “Your Raleigh Chiropractor”