It seems like everyone knows about the importance of their immune system as the pandemic rolls on. But there’s not a lot in the mainstream about how to keep it strong…
Mainstream protections are a critical starting point
The mainstream approach to staying alive and well in this environment is an important, broad brush application, public health response – with a focus on social distancing, mask wearing, sanitizers and vaccination. All important – but they’re not the whole story.
Your body has a role to play too – because the better your body is working, the stronger your immune system will be and the better your chances are of staying healthy(er).
Other approaches can help keep you healthy
A great strategy is to enable the best operational systems of your whole body and mind.
This means that anything you do to optimise the activity of your gut, your respiratory function, your stress management and your sleep quality will also help optimise your immune system.
So how do you know where to start?
Visit a good Natural Health Practitioner and these are the sorts of questions to expect – so thinking about your answers can be helpful.
What you eat and how you eat it effects your wellbeing. So here are some starting points:
- Are your bowels eliminating well daily?
- Have you been on medications like antibiotics or corticosteroids or acid lowering drugs?
- Do you eat plenty of varied fibre?
- Do you consume alcohol and other drugs?
- Do you eat at least 40 different plant foods weekly?
- Do you have a robust appetite?
The gut is home to millions of beneficial microbes that signal your immune system when they detect adverse bacteria, viruses or fungi. So don’t neglect it.
How’s your breathing and your lungs?
- Do you have a history of asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia etc?
- Are you prone to coughs or streaming eyes and nose?
- Does hayfever make your spring time miserable?
Your nose, sinuses and mouth via delicate linings and beneficial bacteria also send immune system signals to help protect you.
How stressed are you?
It’s tough at the moment – so often we don’t even realise that we are more on edge than usual, short fused or lacking motivation.
Do you have mental health concerns like anxiety or depression?
Your mental health isn’t just mental – it can have a big impact on your immune system. So “soldiering on” may not be helpful.
How fit and active are you?
Are you optimal weight? Do you have high blood pressure? Diabetes or other chronic underlying conditions?
What is your movement regime? Your nature play? Time for fun and pleasure, social relationships albeit perhaps by phone or online?
All these aspects interplay with your immune system. We have so many protective mechanisms that we need to keep well to keep us well.
So how can you optimise your systems to protect yourself?
Think Zinc to stay “in the pink”
Having adequate nutrition with optimal levels of vitamins and minerals is imperative. A key nutrient in these times is ZINC – well known for its role in digestion, skin health, reducing inflammation and regulating the immune system. Zinc deficiency – along with Iron and Magnesium deficiencies – is more common in Australia than you may realize.
It’s early days (in research terms), but a small Spanish study has already shown that a reasonable level of zinc increased protection from severe COVID-19 disease and reduced hospitalisations and death.
How does it work? Amongst other things Zinc acts as a signalling molecule creating immune enhancing communication from the microbiome in your gut across the gut wall to the internal immune system.
Treat Zinc as the medication it is
Your Naturopath can help guide you on the optimal numbers on your blood test and ways to address any deficiency through foods and/or supplements. There can be problems with too much Zinc as it can create imbalance in other essential nutrients like Copper.
There are so many types of Zinc supplements and dosages to choose from over the counter these days it’s wise to get good advice based your blood tests, your bespoke situation and the advice of an experienced Practitioner.
Your Naturopath can also advise the best way and timing to take supplements to get the best absorption across your gut. As with any supplements, there can be positive and negative interactions with other medications and supplements you are consuming.
Other immune-boosting nutrients
There are several nutrients of particular value in supporting immune response including: Vits D, B, C, A, Magnesium, Selenium, Iron, Copper. However, getting the balance right is important, so guidance from your Naturopath is best.
“Many observational studies have demonstrated that serum levels of vitamin D are inversely correlated with the incidence or severity of COVID-19. Extensive evidence has shown that vitamin D supplementation could be vital in mitigating the progression of COVID-19 to reduce its severity” cited last month in the International Journal of Molecular Science.
So get out in the sun and consider herbal supports include Echinacea (be wary of cheap imitation brands), high dose Turmeric (Curcurma), Cat’s Claw, Baptisia, Astragalus, Ginsengs, Mushroom as supplements and food.
Let’s put it all together
Your immune system is all over and around your body, interconnected with how you think, eat and breath.
The mainstream approaches of mask wearing, social distancing and vaccination are important.
However, strategies suggested by your Naturopath can positively effect your immune system in broader ways than the vaccination by itself. They can work hand in hand with the basic mainstream steps. Tailored to your individual situation, this is powerful medicine.
Want to reduce adverse effects of your jab?
Some people are lucky with their COVID-19 jab – they have minimal symptoms. For others, it could take a couple of days on the couch to get over your system’s response.
Ideally contact your Naturopath a few weeks prior to having a jab to prepare yourself to be in the best of health to reduce any adverse effects, prime your immune system and know that you have given yourself and therefore your loved ones too the best chance at staying well.