Healthy Lifestyle and A Healthy Immune system

We all want to feel well, especially during this pandemic. Our immune system is what protects us from viral and bacterial infections. Healthy lifestyle choices can optimize the function of our immune system. For instance, did you know that what you eat might affect your susceptibility to COVID? Research increasingly shows that what we eat affect our gut bacteria, which in turn affects our health.  Self-care methods using nutrition, exercise and other lifestyle choices lower incidence of infection, lessen severity of symptoms, and shorten the duration of common colds and flu.

Nutrients enhance the immune response

Vitamin D

In a hospital in Spain, more than 80% of COVID patient were shown to be Vitamin D deficient. Studies suggest that a deficiency of vitamin D is associated with a higher risk of severity, including death due to COVID-19.

Our body can’t produce Vitamin D. It gets created in the skin’s lower layers through the absorption of sunlight. It’s also acquired through certain foods we eat, as well as through supplementation.

Vit D plays a central role in immune and metabolic function and reduces the risk of certain community-acquired respiratory illnesses. Up to 40% of U.S. residents may be deficient in vitamin D.  This is partly because people spend more time indoors, wear sunblock outside, and eat a Western diet low in good sources of this vitamin. Black people are more susceptible than white, as their darker skin dminishes absorption of Vit D from sunlight.

Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said vitamin D deficiency impacted people’s susceptibility to coronavirus infection and: “I would not mind recommending – and I do it myself – taking vitamin D supplements.”

The following are some foods rich in naturally occurring vitamin D; wild salmon (farmed salmon contain but a quarter of the 988 IU found in wild salmon), herring, sardines, canned tuna and other types of fatty fish; cod liver oil; eggs; wild mushrooms (commercially grown mushrooms are often grown in the dark and contain very little D2), which are the only good “plant” source of Vit D. However, mushrooms produce vitamin D2, whereas fish produce vitamin D3. Though vitamin D2 helps raise blood levels of vitamin D, it may not be as effective as vitamin D3.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C deficiency results in impaired immunity and higher susceptibility to infections. Severe late forms of Covid are due to a cytokine storm involving mediators interleukin-6 and endothelin-1. A study shows that intravenous Vitamin C in  high doses as an adjunctive medical treatment of Covid 19 symptoms by reducing these mediators.

A Cochrane review provided convincing evidence from 13 randomized placebo-controlled trials that taking zinc soon after the onset of symptoms of the common cold significantly reduces both the duration and severity of symptoms. In addition, two prevention trials found that zinc can reduce the incidence of colds in children. However, long-term safety information is not yet available. Children need to take zinc daily for prophylaxis. Given these considerations, parents may choose to wait for additional evidence about safety before considering daily prophylaxis.

Foods high in zinc include meat of all kinds; shellfish, including oyster, crab and shrimp; legumes, like chickpeas, lentils and beans; seeds, especially hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, squash and sesame seeds, but also flax and chia seeds; nuts, especially cashews, but also pine nuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts; dairy; eggs; and whole grains.

Glutathione is one of the body’s most important and potent antioxidants.  A study has shown a link between glutathione deficiency and serious manifestation and death in COVID-19 patients. Sulphur-rich foods, such as fish and meat, but including veggies like broccoli, kale, cauliflower and watercress have increased glutathione levels.

Exercise for health

Research into exercise immunology include acute and chronic effects of exercise on the immune system, and clinical benefits of the exercise–immune relationship. Although exercise immunology is considered a relatively new area of scientific endeavor with 90% of papers published after 1990, some of the earliest studies were published well over a century ago.

During moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise bouts of less than 60 min duration, the antipathogen activity of tissue macrophages occurs in parallel with an enhanced recirculation of immunoglobulins, anti-inflammatory cytokines, neutrophils, cytotoxic T cells, and immature B cells, all of which play critical roles in immune defense activity and metabolic health.

Immune-related responses have also been reported in response to Qigong and Tai Chi studies, including a number of immune-related blood markers, including total number of leukocytes, number of eosinphils, and number and percentage of monocytes, as well as the complement C3 levels following a 1-month Qigong intervention compared to usual care. Antibody levels in response to flu vaccinations were significantly increased among a Qigong group compared to usual care.

Furthermore, research published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine suggests that yoga can be a helpful way to boost your immune system and decrease inflammation in the body. One study found that yoga increased levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines. Another trial found that yoga could mediate inflammation at the genomic level, changing levels of proteins that control the DNA transcription of proinflammatory cytokine genes.

Mindfulness meditation, stress and ageing

It has long been known that stress weakens the immune system. For instance, medical students’ immunity diminished during exam time. A comprehensive examination of data from 1602 participants revealed tentative evidence that mindfulness meditation is associated with positive changes in immune system activity, including immune cell ageing.

Homeopathy for upper respiratory tract infections

What medical approach we use is a lifestyle choice. Because of excessive use of antibiotics, there is growing fear of the formation of superbugs and antibiotic-resistance. As a result, there is increasing interest in the identification and evaluation of alternative therapies for infections, with no harmful side-effects.

A study  was conducted of homeopathic Influcid {(IFC), a complex remedy consisting of Aconite, Bryonia, Eupatorium, Phosphorous, Ipecac and Gelsemium} as an add-on to symptomatic standard treatment in a randomized controlled trial in adult and pediatric URTI with fever. Those who received the homeopathic medicine experienced faster relief of symptoms and fever compared to the standard treatment group, with no harmful side-effects.

Oscillococcinum is a patented, commercially available homoeopathic medicine. The medicine is manufactured from wild duck heart and liver, a well-known reservoir for influenza viruses. Studies show that Oscillococcinum probably reduces the duration of illness in patients presenting with influenza symptoms.

Homeopathy works best when the treatment is tailored to the individual. While there is no “one size fits all” formula for enhancing immunity through homeopathy, I find that giving Aconite when a cold or flu is just beginning often brings rapid relief, particularly when the illness comes on suddenly and rapidly.
Once a cold is fully developed however, one of over 100 homeopathic remedies could be indicated, depending on how you experience it. For instance, if your flu symptoms come on slowly, and you’re feeling dopy and exhausted, barely able to move or walk, you might need Gelsemium. If there is a pain in your body as if your bones were all being broken, you may need Eupatorium perfoliatum. If, on the other hand, your pains are worse with motion, and you’re feeling extremely irritable and thirsty, Bryonia may be your homeopathic Rx. Which Rx a person needs will depend on how they experience their cold or flu.
Lifestyle can definitely help immunity before, during and after flu season. Exercise, nutrition, mindfulness and homeopathy are all excellent lifestyle choices that work well to enhance resistance. You can find more information on my holistic health care services by visiting Full Circle Healing Ottawa, or calling 613.234.5151