The world is facing a lot of uncertainty as COVID-19 spreads throughout our countries, our cities, even in our local communities. As leaders make the tough choices like mandating lockdowns and encouraging social distancing, our team at ATH Organics continues to champion the best health practices for you and your family.
That includes keeping you up to date with the latest information about boosting your immune system through lifestyle modifiable factors like balancing your diet, optimizing your environment, and practicing healthy habits.
Let’s be clear that no lifestyle change, supplement, or diet will completely prevent a person from contracting COVID-19; the purpose of this article is to give our readers the tools they can use to boost their general immune system health routine.
OUR IMMUNE SYSTEM IS COMPLEX. OUR ABILITY TO FIGHT DISEASE IS DEPENDENT ON A LOT OF DIFFERENT FACTORS, INCLUDING EVERYTHING FROM OUR:
- Lifestyle and medical history (history of smoking, illness, etc)
- Exercise habits
- Even our psychological state
While there is a breadth of information characterizing the immune system free for access on the internet, parsing the most important, useful, and powerful immunity-boosting guidelines consequently becomes a challenge. That’s why the team at ATH Organics has compiled the best tips for boosting your immunity from 10 experts online; each expert is knowledgeable on the immune-boosting properties of their recommendations, and we’ve included summaries and key takeaways for each.
1. RHONDA PATRICK RECOMMENDS VITAMIN D3 FOR A HEALTHY IMMUNE SYSTEM. HERE'S WHY…
Dr. Rhonda Patrick is known for her Found My Fitness science communication brand which encompasses podcasts, articles and videos that synthesize clinically-validated methods for healthful living. Most recently, she recommends supplementing with vitamin D3 for fighting disease (she herself supplements with 4000 units a day!).
These conclusions are based on the findings of a recent clinical review that found that individuals who were vitamin D deficient and received supplementation experienced the most protection against acute respiratory infections. The immune-boosting properties of vitamin D3 are well-documented. We’ve even talked about all the benefits of vitamin D3 in a recent blog post.
Besides fighting respiratory infections, vitamin D3 offers many benefits to health, including:
- Weight loss
- Better heart health
- Lowered risk of cognitive decline
- Lowered risk of depression
If you’re going to supplement with anything, you can't go wrong with vitamin D.
2. BOWHUNTER AND ATHLETE CAMERON HANES CONTINUES HIS RUNNING REGIMEN TO COMBAT FEARS OF SICKNESS.
Hunter enthusiast and athlete Cameron Hanes is known for his love of running in all conditions; multiple sources have cited him as running two marathons a week, at about 22 miles each day! On his personal website, he describes off-training as “relatively tame 10k [runs].”
While you don’t have to necessarily reach Olympic-level running expertise like him, you can reap the benefits of consistent aerobic exercise at even moderate intensities. Up until very recently, clinicians and physiologists thought that aerobic training induced slight immunosuppression, but various new epidemiological reviews have found the opposite. Multiple studies suggest that running confers immune boosting benefits, not only in the short term, but potentially across the entire lifespan.
The mechanisms that underlie this effect have several possible explanations, including:
- Exercise delaying immune system aging
- Preserving T-cell health by way of reducing excess adipose tissue (fat).
- Reducing viral reactivation
The mechanisms are still being studied, but running and consistent aerobic exercise is a powerful addition to an immune system optimized lifestyle.
3. DR. SARA SOLOMON'S INTERMITTENT FASTING EXPERTISE HAS CRUCIAL IMMUNITY BOOSTING PROPERTIES.
Dr. Solomon has made a name for herself as the medical expert on making intermittent fasting easy and accessible for every skill level, so much so that her FAQ section on her website pretty much paints the full picture of how to fast successfully. Delving into the endocrinology and neurobiology that dictate fasting’s principles, it’s not surprising how her guidelines have become a standard for new fasters to follow.
Dr. Solomon cites a 2014 study in her work that found how prolonged bouts of calorie restriction (how we would refer to intermittent fasting) could reduce the likelihood of contracting various diseases. The mechanistic pathway that causes this effect has to do with improve white blood cell regeneration. While the effect was produced in mice over a period of 2 days, the translatability of the data is compelling, and human fasting may confer similar white blood cell improvement.
4. JESSE HAAS OF WELLNESS MINNEAPOLIS SUGGESTS LOADING UP ON PLANT-BASED FOODS FOR BOOSTING IMMUNITY.
Nutritionist Jesse Haas is known for her emphasis on ethical, clean supplementation and diet modifications, and she applies these same principles to her work in helping clients improve their immune systems. She recommends going heavy on the plants and greens.
This has to do with plants’ polyphenol concentration; polyphenols are natural substances found in greens, and are readily absorbed by the gut once eaten. They are often talked about as preventative medicines, since ideally you already eat a diet rich in plants and greens before you even worry about getting sick.
Polyphenols in plants are great boosts for the immune system by way of their:
- Ability to enhance the immune system response to foreign pathogens
- Regulate stomach mucosal immune responses by reducing inflammation
- Inhibit the release of histamine, the source of an allergic response.
Polyphenols and the category of compounds that compose them are still being studied for their ability to fight disease, and their quick mode of activating the immune system.
5. PHYSICIAN-SCIENTIST DR. WILLIAM LI RECOMMENDS A SPECIFIC DIET THAT INCLUDES MUSHROOMS AND BERRIES OVERHAUL TO FIGHT DISEASE.
Dr. William Li has been seen on The Dr. Oz Show explaining how medical professionals can help patients recover faster through lifestyle modifications. One of his most recent recommendations includes a diet heavy in mushrooms and antioxidants like pomegranates and cranberries, according to the Angiogenesis Foundation.
The idea of eating mushrooms for general health is well-documented, but using them for immune system boosts is interesting; Dr. Li explains how the beta-glucan found in mushrooms improves immune activation, especially when consuming the cap and stem, which contains a substantial amount of beta-glucan. Antioxidants operate on the gut microbiome, which assists in the immune response to various types of cancers.
6. PROJECT LIFE MASTERY RECOMMENDS A BATTERY OF SUPPLEMENTS, MOST IMPORTANT TO US BEING VITAMIN C.
Life coach and entrepreneur, Stefan James of Project Life Mastery recently released his personal immune system booster assortment of supplements and extracts. Of the array he recommends, vitamin C remains the best contender for helping protect you against disease, according to recent clinical evidence.
Vitamin C is not produced by the body, so you need to get it from your diet. Vitamin C is found in abundance in citrus foods like oranges.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is crucial for immune system health by way of:
- Boosting white blood cell production
- Regulating metabolism
- Reducing free radicals in the body
- Reducing the severity of allergic reactions
Vitamin C accomplishes this due to its documented ability to prevent T-cells from degrading in the blood.
7. NUTRITIONIST JOY McCARTHY RECOMMENDS PROBIOTICS TO KEEP OUR GUT HEALTHY.
Joy McCarthy is known for being the face of Canada’s popular nutrition trends, and it’s hard to argue when she bases her recommendations on the latest clinical science. In our research, what was notable about her immune-boosting advice was the focus on using probiotics to improve our gut microbiomes.
The gut and the immune system are deeply connected, and this has to do with the kind of bacteria that live in the stomach environment. Probiotics have been studied for their role in balancing the gut flora, which has a cascading effect on the rest of the immune system.
Probiotics are shown to have a positive influence on several immune responses, including:
- Viral infections
- Vaccine responses
Probiotics are definitely the newest frontier for improving immunity, but every paper acknowledges that their exact mechanics are still unclear, so further study is needed.
8. DR. ERIC BERG, DC SUGGEST REDUCING STRESS INDUCES IMMUNE REGULATION.
Chiropractor and health communicator Dr. Eric Berg broke down stress, explaining the cellular behavior that makes reducing stress a good tool for immune system maintenance. Stress is one of the constant threats to overall health and fitness, and oftentimes occurs in concert with chronic illness.
The reasons stress impacts the immune system so badly includes:
- Increasing stress on the cardiovascular system, increasing the risk of developing heart disease.
- Inhibiting digestion, therefore indirectly increasing the likelihood of developing gastric ulcers.
- Reducing the action of white blood cells, therefore leaving people more susceptible to opportunistic infections.
Reducing stress sometimes means making minor or even major changes to your habits, including practicing mindfulness and meditation.
9. THOMAS DELAUR CHAMPIONS TUMERIC IN THE DIET TO HELP REDUCE SICKNESS INTENSITY AND LIKELIHOOD.
Fitness coach Thomas DeLaur, known on Youtube for breaking down the how-tos of intermittent fasting and supplementation, recently held a Youtube Live Chat to share some general knowledge on the immune system with viewers. Of note, he mentions turmeric and black pepper as great, all-natural medicinal remedies for reducing sickness intensity.
When we get sick, our bodies’ immune response is the reason we experience inflammation, flushing, and that general feeling of malaise and discomfort; based on WHO’s recommendations to avoid ibuprofen due to its unclear interaction with COVID-19, other methods of alleviating symptoms are needed.
Turmeric is a great immune enhancing supplement, and it is found in abundance in nature; it’s also called curcumin, and has been studied for years for its role in human health. Of interest, it’s one of the only two known dietary substances that has been clinically shown to improve cognitive health in controlled clinical trials, the other being resveratrol.
Besides turmeric’s helpful hand in brain health, its immune-boosting properties include:
- Anti-cancer benefits by stimulating the immune response to tumors
- Lack of adverse interactions with kidney or liver enzymes.
- Reduce exercise-induced inflammation
With all the confusion surrounding immune system boosters and general maintenance, it is important to separate the fact from the fiction. Each of these recommendations is based on a combination of personal experience and science, which is always constantly correcting. As our society comes together to help reduce the impact of the current pandemic, ATH Organics will always be here to share our tips for living healthily and well.