How to Supplement for Immune Function

November 10, 2021

How to Supplement for Immune Function

Eat a whole foods, nutrient-dense diet. Our immune system relies on nutrient-dense whole foods to function well.

Cut out sugar and refined starches. Now has never been a better time for a sugar and junk food detox. Studies have shown that refined sugars can suppress your immune system for hours after ingesting. Limiting starch and sugar will help your immune system function better and your overall health improves.

Ensure adequate protein intake. While most Americans eat adequate amounts of protein, some do not such as the elderly and vegan populations. Protein is critical for immune function and protein malnutrition is a big risk factor for death from infections. Eat approximately 1 gram/kg or about half your body weight in grams of protein a day, or about two four-ounce servings of organic, clean animal protein. Plant-based proteins (legumes, nuts/seeds) are adequate if consumed in enough quantity. Try tofu and tempeh (preferably fermented) from non-GMO soy for the highest protein concentrations for Vegans.

Add garlic, onions, ginger, and lots of spices (oregano, turmeric, rosemary) to your meals! Add these to your soups and vegetable dishes, as well as salads and stews. Garlic and onions offer wide spectrum antimicrobial properties.

Eat multiple servings of colorful fruits and vegetables high in vitamins C, beta carotinoids, and phytonutrients that support the immune system. Choose more leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower), peppers, sweet potatoes, and squashes. Aim for 2 servings of fruits and 8 or more servings of vegetables! A serving is half a cup.

Eat fermented foods to support your microbiome and immunity. Eat sauerkraut, kimchi, natto, miso, tempeh, unsweetened yogurt, kefir. They also keep well.

Alkalize your body. Sugar and processed foods tend to make your body slightly more acidic and more receptive to the COVID-19 virus. Eating whole plant foods and lots of them, 5 to 8 cups a day, is a good way to alkalinize your body. Try making big vegetable and bone broth soups which can help improve your pH.

Drink plenty of fluids, especially warmer fluids. Consuming adequate fluids supports all your bodies’ functions including the immune system. Make bone broth. Drink herbal teas like ginger and turmeric tea. Keep a bottle of filtered water with you at all times. Avoid concentrated fruit juices and sweetened beverages, as the sugar content is harmful for the immune system.

Get sufficient sleep! We all know sleep restores and heals the body. Without adequate sleep, optimal immune function is next to impossible! Get in a better rhythm and head to bed earlier. Aim for seven to eight hours a night.

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. If you are able to exercise outside in less populated areas, great. If not find workouts and yoga classes online.

Practice meditation and yoga. The data are clear. Increased levels of stress increase susceptibility to viral infections. In one study volunteers had cold viruses injected into their nasal passages. Only the ones who scored high on the stress questionnaire succumbed. Now is the time to learn meditation, do yoga, take hot baths, do deep breathing, practice home massage with your loved ones.

Start a garden. If you live in an area with a lawn or some access to land, grow some of your own food. During WWII, victory gardens produced 40 percent of the food in America.

How to Supplement for Immune Function: Ultimately, it is your immune system that will protect you.

There is an increasing number of health claims and the promotion of supplements has also increased in the coronavirus frenzy. It’s important not to go overboard and be sensible.

Multivitamin/Mineral: This is the foundation for any health support regimen. It’s a good way to cover the basic vitamins and minerals your body needs for day-to-day functions. If you aren’t on a good multivitamin you should get and stay on one. Look for a high-quality multi with activated B-Complex, Vitamin D3,Vitamin K2, zinc and selenium. Be sure there are no synthetics or fillers.

Vitamin D3: Adequate vitamin D status is critical for optimal immune function and this cannot be achieved without supplementation during the winter months. Studies have shown that people with vitamin D deficiency are 11 times more likely to get a cold or flu, while supplementing with vitamin D can reduce colds and flu by 42%. It is best to get your levels of 25-OH vitamin D checked for accurate dosing. Start with 2,000 IU for adults, 1,000 IU for children. Remember to always take Vitamin K2 with D3.

Whole Food Vitamin C: The role of vitamin C in supporting the immune system has long been known. Take at least 1,000mg a day of whole food based Vitamin C.

Zinc Citrate: You can take an additional supplement or consume more foods high in this powerful immune-supporting nutrient. Seafood—especially oysters—red meat, and sprouted pumpkin seeds are the best food sources. Take 30 mg per day.

N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is a sulfur-containing amino acid that facilitates the production of glutathione. NAC is a powerful antioxidant that promotes healthy immune function and helps protect the body from toxic insults and oxidative stress. NAC also promotes bronchial, respiratory, liver and immune health.

Probiotics: A healthy gut flora supports a healthy gut, a major barrier against pathogens and integral to the immune system. Look for brands that offer several species of good bacteria and contain at least 5-10 billion organisms per capsule. Lactobacillus plantarum and spore forms of Bacillus are the best for immunity.

Fish Oil (Cod Liver Oil): This old-time remedy for good health and robust immunity still stands true! In addition to the good fats, this cod liver oil contains additional vitamins A and D for added immune protection. Vitamin A has been shown to inhibit viruses from adhering to the cell surface. Also, eat liver. It is loaded with natural pre-formed Vitamin A and is considered nature’s original multi-vitamin.

1-3, 1-6 Beta Glucans: Research has shown that these compounds up-regulate the function of the innate immune system. This part of your immune system is the first line of defense against viruses and bacteria. It helps your white blood cells bind to and kill viruses and bacteria.

Note: Patients with autoimmune diseases should not take this.

Mushroom Extracts: Chaga, reishi, maitake, shiitake, turkey tail, and cordyceps: These provide immune-supporting properties. Try them in your morning coffee, taken as a capsule or made into tea. Cooking with medicinal mushrooms like shiitake is also helpful.

Chaga: This medicinal mushroom, in particular, has a higher ORAC value than any other food. This means it supports the immune system like nothing else can. Add a powder to your morning coffee or smoothie, or drink as a tea.

Quercetin: A plant pigment (flavonoid). It's found in many plants and foods, such as red wine, onions, green tea, apples, and berries. Quercetin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that might help reduce swelling, kill cancer cells, control blood sugar, reduce histamine, support lung health and help prevent heart disease.

Resveratrol: The top food sources include red wine, grapes, some berries and peanuts. This compound tends to be concentrated mostly in the skins and seeds of grapes and berries. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. It has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity, protect the brain, support the immune system and have anti-cancer effects.

Turmeric: Has been shown to boost cognitive function, support detoxification, mood, weight loss and heart health. It is highly anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting. Look for supplements with biopepperine which increases turmeric bioavailability by 2,000%.

Support Your Immune System’s Efforts With Anti-Virals:

Pau d’Arco: This herb has known anti-viral properties and can easily be consumed as a tea, capsule or tincture.

Cat’s Claw: This herb also has known anti-viral properties, supports the immune system and is anti-inflammatory.

Elderberry: When properly prepared, elderberry can be a powerful anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and be a powerful treatment for respiratory viral infections.

Astrgalus: Astragalus polysaccharide (APS) has significant immune-enhancing and antiviral qualities.

Lysine: Lysine inhibits the replication of viruses. Arginine, on the other hand, supports viral replication. It is wise to eat foods high in Lysine (fish, yogurt and cheese, poultry and meat) and avoid those high in Arginine (citrus, apples, nuts, chocolate, potatoes, coffee). Take 500mg Lysine/2x day when a viral infection starts.

Black cumin seed oil: There are multiple benefits of this oil. It is an anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, it combats anxiety, poor digestion, viral, bacterial and fungal infections. It has been shown to aid in weight loss, gut health, memory and immune support. It is a natural, effective antihistamine that helps with asthma, allergies and skin conditions.