holistic immunity boost

Holistic Immunity

What You’re Not Hearing in the News

Any great campaign has a slogan or repeated images or phrases that are linked and easy to recall and repeat. It’s how our human brain latches on to things and makes it easy to recall and repeat: think common ads slogans we hear, CPR directions, AA motivations.

Today for COVID-19 prevention, we hear:

  • Wear a mask
  • Social Distance, Stay 6ft Apart
  • Wash Your Hands

In addition, Kaiser ads suggest that you come in for a flu shot.

The numbers are rising. The death toll is increasing. ICU beds are filling up. The vaccine is close.

While perhaps helpful (albeit scary), and necessary to reduce the transmission of infections (remember that tuberculosis and the common flu are also transmittable even when you are asymptomatic). What’s missing from this list of “to-do’s?”

There’s a lack of self-agency. There’s a sense of fear. There’s a loss of acknowledgement that our body is resilient in most cases, when we take care of it.

What about holistic immunity?

 

Whenever there is uncertainty, there is certain to be fear. So lets state some things that we do know for sure:

  • Most people who experience more severe cases and/or die from the effects of COVID-19 have co-morbidities such as heart disease, respiratory disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, to name a few. In fact, the CDC reports that only 6% of deaths occurred in those without co-morbidities. (1)

 

    • For ages 0-19 years, the odds of dying from a Covid-19 infection are 3 per one million.
    • For ages 20-49, the odds of dying from a Covid-19 infection are 1 in 50,000.
    • For ages 50-69, the odds of dying from a Covid-19 infection are 1 in 500.
    • For ages 70+, the odds of dying from a Covid-19 infection are 1 in 20.We know the death rate is actually fairly low (dependent on age and risk factors) and that many recover from the illness (albeit, some with long term symptoms).

An examination of the CDC data indicates that age matters a lot regarding the infection fatality rate and the odds of dying from Covid-19:(2)

 

  • It might be helpful to view the above data in terms of survivability rates to allow people to put their fears into context.
    • For ages 0-19 years, the survivability rate is 99.997%
    • For ages 20-49, the survivability rate is 99.98%
    • For ages 50-69, the survivability rate is 99.5%
    • For ages 70+, the survivability rate is 94.6%

 

  • We know that there are ways to boost you immunity and set it up for success—in my opinion, this is the most obvious thing missing from mainstream and county news alerts in terms of how to best prevent illness. Maybe because it’s very individual. Maybe because it’s not sexy. Maybe because it puts the agency back to those that have more power (drug companies, governments, etc)

Let’s dive a bit into integrative ways you can boost your immunity

 

I would love if the tag lines read:

  • Eat the Rainbow + Fiber
  • Reduce Sugar & Alcohol Consumption
  • Exercise Daily–preferably outside if you can–so many benefits of being outside
  • Engage in Stress Reduction Practices like Meditation, Prayer, Breathwork
  • Maintain a Strong Social Support System

Because it’s not just the external things we could be doing, but the internal things too.  You may have read articles and reports here and there about how to fight the Coronavirus. This is not one of those write-ups. This is about how to set your immune system up for its best success.

I’m hoping to give you a quick summary of how the immune system works and lifestyle and food/supplements to help it work optimally. I think you would agree, there is no time like now to make an intention towards a healthy immune system.

 

The Immune System in a Nutshell

Our immune system is located in different areas of the body: the spleen, lymph nodes, thymus, tonsils, lymphatic vessels and bone marrow. And the first line of defense are our mucus membranes, like the skin, brain, heart, lungs, and the gut.

We have what’s called an innate immune system (stress, injury, allergy response) and an adaptive immune system (T-cell activation of illness, ie infections, colds, flus). Inflammation is at the forefront of the discussion when it comes to immune function.

Immune function can be compromised by inflammation through

  • Diet
  • Environment
  • Lifestyle

The integrity of the tissues of the mucus membranes is everything. When they are leaky from stress and poor diet (leaky gut), or we’re loading them with toxins (soaps, personal care products, poor air, poor water), or when we’re overloading them with nutrient poor foods or lack nutrients to support the tissues—this can lead to inflammation. The body then sets up an immune response to fight the toxins that it sees as an invader.

 

Signs of inflammation in the body (especially if you experience 2+ of these symptoms):
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Frequent colds, flus, infections
  • Digestive issues (IBS, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas)
  • Skin breakouts or rashes
  • Chronic pain

COVID-19 results in a cytokine (any of a number of substances, such as interferon, interleukin, and growth factors, which are secreted by certain cells of the immune system) storm through inflammasome up-regulation. The secretion of inflammatory cytokines leads to the recruitment of immune cells and subsequent vascular leakage and respiratory edema and hypoxemia.  In other words, the degree of inflammatory distress signals COVID-19 severity.

 

Now for some holistic immunity boost solutions to set you up for success….these are likely to not be a surprise

1. There are some proven nutrients that help to support our immune system on the whole.

But let’s first talk about foods that may actually activate an inflammatory response in the body. Which if you do it just every once in a while isn’t so bad. It’s just an issue if this is a regular part of your regimen.

The power of “food” for better or worse

In this review, a single fast food-style meal can increase serum IL-6 (one cytokine marker of inflammation) by 100%, peaking about 6 hours after a meal. (3)

Sample meals included in the review:

  • White bread, butter, cheese, milkshake
  • Eggs, muffin, butter, sugary drink
  • Sugar, heavy cream, chocolate syrup, powdered milk
  • Bagel, cream cheese, potato, milk, apple juice

 

Other Examples of Inflammatory Foods:

  1. Sugar
  2. Cooking oils (corn, cottonseed, safflower, soy, sunflower)
  3. Trans fats (artificially created fats added to processed foods)
  4. Dairy products (not all dairy may be inflammatory for you)
  5. White flour/refined grains
  6. Excessive alcohol
  7. Browned, fried foods
  8. Red and processed meat

So here is one way we can reduce the possibility of inflammation in our body and set your immune system up for success.

Reduce your Intake of Inflammatory Foods & Increase Intake of Anti-Inflammatory Foods–simple-ish

 

Anti-inflammatory Nutrients–these are well studied in terms of supporting lower inflammation, but also supporting your immune system (9)

• Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA/DHA)–you can get these from high quality fish, fish oil capsule or from high levels of omega-3 algae (which is what the fish eat to get this)

• Zinc

• Selenium

• Vitamin C

• Vitamin E

• Vitamin D

• Vitamin K

• Vitamin B6

• Vitamin B12

• Quercetin

• Resveratrol

• Epigallocatechin gallate (from green tea)

Find a handy HANDOUT at the end for all your immune supporting nutrients
Dietary Fiber

It’s thought that most humans are highly deficient in fiber. Fiber can be associated to poor gut motility, poor gut microflora and thus increased risk of immune issues, including infections in the gut itself.

Low fiber intake is also associated with increased depression and death. Most Americans are taking in only 15gm/day.

Low dietary fiber intake has been linked to increased risk of death from respiratory and infectious disease in Americans. (8)

Soluble Fiber: dissolves partially in water, forms gel-like soft texture in intestines. Helps to form a bolus to help push food through the intestines. Bulks up the stool and may slow down transit time. Helpful if you have diarrhea.

Soluble fiber requires more chewing so you eat slower (start with this is you experience any gas or bloating—especially if you’re more Vata prone—slow down!). It also fills you up so you don’t eat as much. And usually has less calories. It can also support your gut microbiota.

 

Insoluble Fiber: doesn’t dissolve in water. Also adds bulk to the stool. May speed up the transit time, however too much may be gas producing. Helpful if you are constipated.

 

Recommended daily intake of dietary fiber:

Men age 19-50 = ~40gm

Men age 50+ = 30gm

Women age 19-50 = 25gm

Women age 50+ = ~20gm

 

Soluble vs Insoluble Fiber: Sources (7)

Soluble

Insoluble

Grains: oat bran (oatmeal), rye, barley

Grains: wheat and corn bran, brown rice, barley

Fruits: figs, prunes, plums, berries, apricots, apples, bananas, pears, guavas, avocados, berries

Fruits: avocados, unripe bananas, kiwi, grape and tomato skins

Vegetables: beans (all types), peas, soybeans, broccoli, root vegetables (onions, leeks, carrots, lentils, sweet potatoes, yams, Jerusalem artichokes, turnips, garlic), Brussel sprouts

Vegetables: green beans, peas, potato skins, cauliflower, zucchini, cabbage, celery, carrots, leafy greens

Seeds: flax, Chia, sunflower, sesame, psyllium powder

Seeds: flax, Chia, sunflower, sesame

Nuts: all nuts—almonds have highest fiber

Nuts: all nuts

Remember that hydration is also super important for holistic immunity boosting–because it helps keep your tissues hydrated and your digestive system able to process what you put in.

It’s suggested that you drink half your body weight in ounces/day.  So if you weigh 100 pounds, then you would work up to drinking 50 ounces per day. Caffeinated beverages do not count. But food with high water content does.

 

And I don’t think I need to tell you this, but I will anyhow…..it would be ideal to cut these two things down or carve them out:

  • Alcohol
  • Sugar (especially refined, added sugars)

These are just two things that increase inflammation in the body. Moderation is ok unless you have trouble with moderation. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not perfect when it comes to these buggers. But I can stop and I don’t feel out of control. And I know how I feel when I’ve had too much…..it’s all about knowing your body and staying mindful.

I’ve got a whole program designed to carve out sugar and hold you accountable. Check out the 14 Day Sugar Detox HERE

 

How you can be sure to get all your immunity protective nutrients? Eat the Rainbow

What does this mean? Every day, eat more colors of the rainbow. Packaged foods are usually devoid in color. So choose from fresh fruits and vegetables most of the time. There is science behind this method, as the colors indicate select phytonutrients and phytochemicals that can be important in reducing inflammation in the body.

 

Click the Images below for your FREE: Rainbow Colorwheel and Eat the Rainbow Toolkit Handouts

2. Exercise Daily

Get out there and move at least 35 minutes per day. That’s not asking a lot if you’re able. And make sure to sweat a little bit each day if you can. This will help eliminate toxins as well as enhance your metabolism.

  • Yoga
  • Tai Chi
  • Cardio: walk, jog, run, cycle (indoors or out)
  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Hula Hooping
  • Dancing

And make sure it brings you joy!  You’ll be much more likely to engage in it without the internal fight. Need an appropriate program for you?  Connect with me for a personalized program.

 

3. Stress Reduction

How does stress show up in the body? (I would say this comes through vata imbalance if you’re thinking Ayurvedically) (9)

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach
  • Muscle tension
  • Change in appetite
  • Emotional eating
  • Insomnia
  • Teeth grinding (bruxism)

In the mind? 

  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Impatience
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Manic states
  • Reactive

 

How does stress affect your GI tract? When we’re stressed, there is a direct response in the gut. (6)

  • Increased permeability (leaky gut)–>Reduces mucosal barrier function
  • Alteration in cytokine profile–>Exacerbate immune dysfunction
  • Influences gastrointestinal motility (speeds up or slows down)
  • Alter cortisol system (your stress hormone, that’s super helpful for mobilizing energy when we need it, but can be aberrant when we’re using too much)
  • Indirectly, stimulates stress behaviors like smoking, poor medication adherence, draw towards comfort foods that may exacerbate inflammation, lack of sleep, binging on anything

So to help, I’m sharing what I’ve already written about elsewhere:

  1. Ways to balance the mind and body. Click HERE. Stress will always be there but how are you allowing it to affect you?
  2. Engaging in a Meditation practice. Click HERE. Prayer and helping others, connecting to nature– falls in here too. Check out, Using Spirituality to Help with Pain.  This also speaks to having a sense of purpose and how that can be helpful for our nervous system, which in turn reduces inflammation.
  3. Getting adequate sleep. Click HERE. And not just quantity, but QUALITY.

 

So there it is in a VERY truncated nut shell. There is so much more to teach and learn. But hopefully this gets you off to a simple start of how to set your immune system up for success.

Want to know what I’m taking right now?

  • Liposomal D Supreme: Vitamin D + Vitamin K1 & K2 which are also important for bone health. I don’t take Vitamin D all year. But in the winter, I make sure to add this supplement because I’m not getting outside as much and days are shorter.
  • C-Biofizz: With Vitamin C + Quercitin, this is a go-to tasty drink with immunity boost. I only use it 2-3x/week this time of year because Satsumas are in season and if I eat a couple of those a day, I’ve got my Vit C does.
  • Immuno-Zin Lozenges: With Zinc and Elderberry this is another immunity boost. I only use these around the winter time and especially now.
  • Probiomed-100: for keeping my gut healthy. I don’t take these all the time either, only when I feel my diet is lacking in fermented foods
  • OmegAvail Ultra: EPA/DHA fish oil for healthy gut and joints
  • Vitamin B12 Lozenges: As a vegetarian I don’t get enough of this naturally. And this is in a readily absorbable form. Plus it’s important for immunity
  • VegeMeal Protein Powder: Also as a vegetarian and not being a foodie, I have challenges getting enough protein. This powder has protein as well as other nutrients important for immunity. I don’t always take this loaded version of protein powder. I switch off between this and a pure pea protein. But this time of year, I’m doubling up.

Get the Summary Handout to set for holistic immunity boost, by clicking the image below

And a Bonus Immune Supporting Vegetarian Recipe with Vit B6, Vit B12, Vit C, Zinc, Selenium, Vit D, Protein, Fiber, click image below

 

 

I welcome your feedback and if you find this information helpful, please share with your colleagues, friends & family. I would love to hear how you’re preparing to boost your immunity for its best resilience this year and going forward.  Contact Tianna if you’re seeking holistic ways to boost your immunity individually, perhaps by setting up an exercise plan, stress reduction plan or healthy eating plan.

 

***I’m in no way reporting here that proper nutrients, diet and stress management will keep you from contracting COVID-19. These statements made below are informative on the immune system and general benefits to keep the immune system functioning optimally. Please do not take these to mean that they are remedies or the ultimate prevention for contracting COVID-19.

 

References:

  1. Center for Disease Control
  2. COVID Antifragility: Trusting Our Strength in Uncertain Times
  3. Emerson SR, Kurti SP, Harms CA, Haub MD, Melgarejo T, Logan C, Rosenkranz SK. Magnitude and Timing of the Postprandial Inflammatory Response to a High-Fat Meal in Healthy Adults: A Systematic Review. Adv Nutr. 2017 Mar 15;8(2):213-225. doi: 10.3945/an.116.014431. PMID: 28298267; PMCID: PMC5347112.
  4. Gombart AF, Pierre A, Maggini S. A Review of Micronutrients and the Immune System-Working in Harmony to Reduce the Risk of Infection. Nutrients. 2020 Jan 16;12(1):236. doi: 10.3390/nu12010236. PMID: 31963293; PMCID: PMC7019735.
  5. Deanna M. Minich, “A Review of the Science of Colorful, Plant-Based Food and Practical Strategies for “Eating the Rainbow””, Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, vol. 2019, Article ID 2125070, 19 pages, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/2125070
  6. Sajadinejad MS, Asgari K, Molavi H, Kalantari M, Adibi P. Psychological issues in inflammatory bowel disease: an overview. Gastroenterol Res Pract. 2012;2012:106502. doi: 10.1155/2012/106502. Epub 2012 Jun 21. PMID: 22778720; PMCID: PMC3388477.
  7. Dupont HL, Jiang ZD, Dupont AW, Utay NS. THE INTESTINAL MICROBIOME IN HUMAN HEALTH AND DISEASETrans Am Clin Climatol Assoc. 2020;131:178-197.
  8. Iddir M, Brito A, Dingeo G, et al. Strengthening the Immune System and Reducing Inflammation and Oxidative Stress through Diet and Nutrition: Considerations during the COVID-19 CrisisNutrients. 2020;12(6):1562. Published 2020 May 27. doi:10.3390/nu12061562
  9. Notes from online course taken in August 2020. Sponsored by the Institute for Brain Potential: “The Science and Clinical Application of Nutritional Strategies for Immune Resilience.” Presented by Deanna Minich, Ph.D., I.F.M.C.P., C.N.S. Fellow of the American College of Nutrition and a Certified Nutrition Specialist.