Best Defense Against COVID19: The Functional Medicine Approach
The pandemic of the novel COVID19 has changed a lot of our way of life. And more recently, fears have arisen over the increase in the COVID19 variant known as the Delta virus.
I often get asked if it is possible to avoid this virus? Or at least minimize the potential effects. In other words, are there things we can do?
The answer is yes, there are things we can do. The way you can support your immunity is to boost it! Let’s talk a little more about this so you understand how and why this works.
Viruses, Bacteria and Disease
Bacterial and viral infections have a lot in common. Both are caused by different types of microbes. Bacteria can survive independently, where a virus can only survive with a host. Most bacteria are harmless and are helpful in digesting food, destroying disease-causing microbes, fighting cancer, and more. On the contrary, most viruses result in disease.
Both viral and bacterial infections can cause very similar symptoms when a person is infected such as coughing, sneezing, fatigue, fever, diarrhea, etc., – all of which are ways the immune system is working to rid the body of the infectious organisms.
Our body’s best defense against viral and bacterial infections and diseases is and has always been our immune system. Check out the video below which goes over how your body’s immune system works:
As has been said before, when it comes to healthcare, prevention is the best medicine. And when it comes to viruses, boosting and strengthening the immune system is key.
Immunity boosters are foods, supplements, or products that work to increase the “health” of your immune system. We have known for many, many years of most of these immune boosters.
Vitamin C is a necessary antioxidant. Our bodies don’t naturally produce Vitamin C, but it is needed for immune function, bone structure, iron absorption, and healthy skin. Vitamin C is found to be highly concentrated in immune cells and rapidly depletes during an infection.
Many studies have been done linking the benefits of Vitamin C and boosting the immune system. A study done has shown that regular consumption of Vitamin C reduces the symptoms and length of colds.
Vitamin D, also called the sunshine vitamin, is a fat-soluble nutrient essential to the health and functioning of your immune system. A large percentage of the population is deficient in Vitamin D.
Vitamin D enhances the function of your immune cells, including T cells and macrophages, that protect your body against pathogens. Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with increased susceptibility to infection, disease, and immune-related disorders. One study found that 82% of people hospitalized with COVID19 had a deficiency in Vitamin D.
Zinc is a necessary mineral for many functions in your body. Zinc isn’t stored in our body and so constantly needs to be replaced.
When it comes to the immune system, Zinc plays a vital role. A study done in 2017 found that participants taking zinc reduced the length of their cold by 33%. That is a significant improvement!
Zinc supplements also significantly reduce the risk of infections and promote immune response in older adults.
For centuries garlic has been used both as food and medicine. Garlic provides a variety of health benefits such as reduced heart disease risk, improved cognitive health, enhanced immune function, and decreased risk of certain types of cancer. Garlic is also considered to have natural anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.
When it comes to colds and the flu, garlic has some interesting statistics. Studies have shown that garlic if taken regularly, may reduce your chance of getting sick by over 60%, and also significantly reduce the length of illness in another study.
Whole garlic contains a compound called alliin. When garlic is crushed, cut, or chewed, this compound turns into allicin which then converts into other compounds considered to give garlic its beneficial properties – so make sure it is taken crushed or cut up.
The Functional Medicine Approach to COVID, DELTA and more
A healthy body is the best defense against any virus. When your body is overly tired, lacks nutrition, is dealing with an existing physical condition or stress, you are vulnerable.
Here are five things you can do to proof up against infection, or at least proof up against a more severe outcome:
- Use food as medicine. Consider what you are putting into your body. Opt for whole, real, unprocessed foods: vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and clean protein. Foods with flavonoids and anti-viral properties like cruciferous vegetables and citrus fruits, and fresh herbs like ginger, garlic, oregano, and turmeric, are especially beneficial for the immune system. Cut out all sugar, starch, and processed foods. Your immune system is suppressed for several hours after eating sugar, if you are having sugary soda with every meal your immune system could be suppressed throughout the day!
- Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands for 20 to 30 seconds with soap and water. Hand sanitizer is okay but not necessary.
- Get sufficient sleep. Sleep restores and heals the body. A lack of adequate sleep diminishes your immune system’s response. When ill, your body makes the most improvement or forward progress in fighting the illness while you are sleeping.
- Get regular exercise. Mild to moderate exercise (for approximately 30-45 minutes) helps boost the immune system. Avoid overexertion, such as training for endurance events when you are feeling run down. This will lower your immune defenses.
- Get on a program. If you have an underlying condition, address it now. Stop putting off your health. Some people have been concerned or scared to come in and start addressing long-term body problems, however, this is the most important time to do just that. Getting your body back in health is more important now than it ever has been.
We are Here to Help
While research has proven the above can help in strengthening your immune system, remember that your immune system is a complex system and requires balance and harmony.
Don’t wait until you are sick before you work on boosting your immune system and general health. We have known throughout this pandemic that the most serious cases of this disease are in those with underlying health conditions. People in good health are far less likely to experience severe if any, symptoms of COVID19.
For more information on our programs or more information on immune-boosting foods or supplements, please feel free to reach out to me. My help is yours.
Lou Higuera, N.P.
Functional Medicine Practitioner
Nashville Regenerative Orthopedics
NOTE: This blog post provides general information to help the reader better understand regenerative medicine, musculoskeletal health, functional medicine and related subjects. All content provided in this blog, website, or any linked materials, including text, graphics, images, patient profiles, outcomes, and information, are not intended and should not be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please always consult with a professional and certified healthcare provider to discuss if a treatment is right for you.