Top Tips for Staying Healthy and Keeping Your Immune System Strong

Aka – Coronavirus Prevention Guide

It’s April 3, 2020 and we are collectively facing the global pandemic and national emergency known as COVID-19, aka the “coronavirus.” Though our amazing bodies are designed to ward off viruses and protect us from succumbing to illness, our immune systems may not be functioning optimally for various reasons, including but not limited to:

  • Stress
  • Inflammation
  • Poor diet/inadequate nutrition
  • Autoimmunity
  • Poor hygiene
  • Non-compliance of physical-distancing mandates
  • Unavoidable exposure to those with COVID-19 or other contagious illnesses
  • Excess sugar, alcohol, or tobacco (or all of the above)

Meanwhile, we are still not immune to the common cold, seasonal flu, and other upper respiratory illnesses, so it is imperative that we do all that we can to keep ourselves and our loved ones as healthy as possible. And that definitely starts with prevention.

To read the latest recommendations coming out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as more details on signs and symptoms of COVD-19, please go to:  Coronavirus Disease 2019.

Using the acronym of FREEDOM I’ve listed 8 tools and tips for strengthening the immune system.

F – Fight Free Radicals with antioxidants (vitamin C, A, zinc)

R – Reduce your intake of sugar

E - Echinacea

E – Elderberry/Elderflower

D – Vitamin D

O – Osha Root, Oregon Grape Root

M – Mushrooms, Movement, and Mindfulness 

  1. Fight Free Radicals – These are simply molecules with an electron missing, which equals oxidation, which leads to cellular damage and health consequences. When we consume a diet high rich in fruits and vegetables (all colors of the rainbow), we naturally increase our consumption of antioxidants. They conspire on our behalf to fight against oxidation and free radical damage, strengthening our immunity in the process. Think: broccoli, kale, carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, squash, spinach. And in vitamin/mineral lingo, this means, vitamin C, vitamin A, the carotenoids, zinc.

Supplementally, I recommend vitamin C (I like the Buffered or Ester C with bioflavonoid formulas) up to 5 grams daily (or to bowel tolerance). High dose vitamin C is being used orally and intravenously in the treatment of COVID-19 with very positive and promising results.

Vitamin A - I tend to recommend a good multivitamin that contains at least but no more than 10,000 IU/day).

  1. Sugar is the immune system’s biggest opponent. It knocks us down, beats us up and basically shuts down our immune response. Research suggests that consuming sugar can decrease our immune response by up to 75%; it slows recovery from the common cold. It increases inflammation in the body and will significantly delay the healing response.
  2. Echinacea (genus) is one of the most well known herbal medicines for use in preventing and treating the common cold and “boosting” the immune system. There is clinical evidence to suggest that Echinacea possesses antimicrobial and antiviral activity and may shorten the duration of the common cold. Echinacea has also been shown to reduce the incidence of catching a cold by over 50%. Caution should be exercised in individuals with autoimmune disease.
  3. Elderberry and Elderflower both contain powerful medicinal qualities. The Elderberry fruit itself boasts of flavonoids and other chemicals. This translates to anti-inflammatory, antiviral and positive immune-stimulating effects. This is great news since in the natural and conventional medicine worlds we have not witnessed a super impressive arsenal of medicines (without a laundry list of side effects) to counter the effects of flu.
  4. Vitamin D – I’ve written and talked about the importance of vitamin D for many years. Vitamin D has many important functions in the body, amongst them, increasing immunity and decreasing inflammation. Studies show the majority of North Americans are borderline to deficient in this essential vitamin, so supplementation (D3) may be extremely useful. My recommendation is 5000 IU of Vitamin D3 daily AND ask your doctor to check your serum levels. 
  1. Osha Root and Oregon Grape Root – Both of these powerful roots contain strong antiviral and antimicrobial activity. Osha root is actually part of the carrot/parsley family and supports healthy immune system functioning. Oregon Grape Root is a member of the Berberine family, which has powerful antiviral activity. 
  1. Movement – Regular exercise and adequate sleep are two daily activities that must be part of an every day healthy lifestyle. Physical activity can help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways and can increase body temperature, making it less hospitable for bacteria to thrive. It is important not to overstress the body once you are sick and also not to exercise to extreme on a daily so as to overtax the adrenal glands, which can eventually put too much stress on the immune system. Walking is the perfect exercise to help keep the immune system strong!

Mushrooms – Many mushrooms have powerful antiviral and medicinal qualities, including antiviral, antibacterial, and immune-supporting benefits. Those with strong antiviral qualities include Shiitake, Reishi, Cordyceps, Maitake, Turkey Tail. There are many blends available commercially in many forms, including coffee, capsule, powder, tincture. I like to recommend dosing mushrooms a few times a day for the most effective results.

Mindfulness and Meditation– Are key components of stress reduction. Our only choice right now is to stay calm and do not panic. If you are facing more extreme anxiety, insomnia, or panic, please reach out for support. Telemedicine is a very effective way of communicating with your health care provider at this challenging time.

I'll leave you with a few other reminders:

Wash your damn hands and stop touching your face or putting your fingers in or near your mouth.

You can order supplements (20% off retail) through my online dispensaries at Wellevate and Fullscript.

Check out some of my healthy recipes here on the blog and let me know how you are doing. The latest, Carrot Ginger Soup is a favorite.

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