Create Health: Step #3: Reinforce Your Immune Health

This blogpost is the last post in a three-part series to help you create health. There are three- easy ways that you can create health:

  1. Maximize your nutrition
  2. Optimize your lifestyle
  3. Reinforce your immune health

This post is about reinforcing your immune health holistically by including the following:

  • Getting Some Sunshine
  • Detoxification
  • Hormesis
  • Supplementation
  • Hydration

Get Some Sunshine! Spring has sprung and every day is getting longer and longer. Even though we have to practice social distancing during the stay-at-home order, stepping outside to soak up a few rays of sunshine for as little as 10 minutes can stimulate the brain chemical serotonin. This chemical has been clinically proven to make you feel happier.

Sunlight also stimulates the body’s production of vitamin D. The body makes vitamin D when skin is directly exposed to the sun. Skin exposed to sunshine indoors through a window will not produce vitamin D. Cloudy days, shade, and natural foods are poor sources of vitamin D. Most people need more vitamin D after being indoors all winter. However, it’s also important when out in the sun for more than ten minutes to apply sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or more.

Some research illustrates that the reason people who are staying home are more susceptible to getting COVID-19 is because they are not getting any sunshine and their vitamin D levels are low. In fact, Grassroots Health put out this infographic:

Did you know that low levels of vitamin D may also be associated with sleep issues? Sleep was highlighted in Post #2: Optimize Your Lifestyle. I recommend getting tested to determine if you are low in vitamin D. More on vitamin D and supplementation below.

Detoxification! Aside from restricting alcohol and caffeine, when you cut out cigarettes, sugar and processed foods, you will detoxify! By maximizing your nutrition (Blog Post #1: Maximize Your Nutrition) and optimizing your lifestyle (Blog Post #2: Optimize Your Lifestyle), you not only create health, but you also maintain health!

Research has shown that common illnesses are caused by the build-up of toxic substances in the body. Ridding the body of these toxins can help relieve symptoms, prevent future illness, and create overall health and wellness. Researchers have shown that toxic substances, including heavy metals, are secreted from the body through sweat. Therefore, the more you can safely sweat (while maintaining proper hydration), the greater quantity of toxins will be released from the body.

Just like light from the sun, infrared waves in a sauna can penetrate up to 1 1/2 inches below your skin to detoxify and revitalize your cells. The resulting deep, highly efficient sweat eliminates toxins at the cellular level.

Sauna usage is one of the most effective methods of inducing a detoxifying sweat. In a sauna detox, sweat carries toxins out of the body through the pores.  The deep penetration of infrared heat releases toxins from the fat layers just beneath the skin. It also helps your body eliminate toxins from your internal organs.

In light of the Coronavirus Pandemic, it is important to note that an Austrian study of 25 healthy subjects who regularly used saunas found they had significantly fewer episodes of common colds than those who did not. The research showed that this benefit became more significant, especially after 14 weeks of consecutive sauna use.

Since not all saunas are the same, Beyond Cryotherapy provides Sunlighten’s proprietary and highly efficient infrared heating technology. According to a recent scientific study, Sunlighten’s Solocarbon® infrared sauna heaters are the only ones clinically proven to  raise core body temperature by 3 degrees (versus simply heating the air around the body). As a result, regular usage of a Sunlighten sauna provides a truly deep, productive, and detoxifying sweat at the cellular level, where toxins reside. To fully experience immune and detoxification benefits of a sauna, Beyond Cryotherapy recommends using the Sunlighten Sauna at least twice a week throughout the year.

Hormesis: The term “hormesis” refers to a small amount of stress that trains the body to get stronger. For example, exercise is a type of hormesis. Similarly, low dose exposure to temperature stressors triggers a set of physiological and hormonal reactions to upregulate immune defenses, decrease stress and inflammation.  Aside from enhancing our immune system, hormesis can benefit our circulatory, skeletal, muscular, endocrine, digestive, nervous and respiratory systems.

The key to hormesis is to keep exposures brief. For example, just 3-minutes of Whole Body Cryotherapy can

  • Activate the lymphatic system speeding the clearance of toxins from tissues throughout the body.
  • Positively affect the central nervous system and stimulate catecholamines (like endorphins) shown to decrease anxiety and stress
  • Elevate neurotransmitters improving cognition, focus and attention, vigilance and mood.
    • Reason why cold therapy has been used to treat depression & ADHD
  • Boost production of norepinephrine inhibiting inflammatory cytokines
    • This is a Good To Know since the Coronavirus can produce a deadly cytokine storm
  • Enhance anti-oxidative cellular defenses including our internal anti-oxidant glutathione and superoxide dismutase pathways unanimously beneficial for immune strength.
  • Increase the body’s resistance to exhaustion due to increased levels of beta-endorphins.
  • Stimulate the metabolism of brown adipose tissue which has a high content of mitochondria and cytochromes.
  • Increase Reactive Oxygen Species to promote adaptive changes for muscle recovery while continuing exercise activities (This is one of my most favorite benefits!)

Whole Body Cryotherapy sessions are beneficial for immune strength, overall health, mood and wellness in addition to improving recovery post-exercise. The rapid increase in body temperature after leaving the Whole Body Cryotherapy treatment and intensive cutaneous blood flow induces the removal of metabolites and inflammatory mediators from tissues promoting detoxification. To fully experience immune and detoxification benefits of a sauna, Beyond Cryotherapy recommends using Whole Body Cryotherapy at least twice a week throughout the year to maintain health, detox, boost mood, de-stress and support immune health.

Supplementation! While a healthy diet usually provides all the necessary immune-supporting vitamins and minerals your body needs, certain environmental and health conditions can hinder the body’s ability to fully absorb these nutrients.

First, you should only buy supplements that follow the following protocol:

  • Storage: If a product is sitting on your naturopaths’ shelf, check the expiration. Now that I am a Fullscript Provider, I just sign you up, you place the order (with my discount) and your supplement immediately get shipped to your doorstep.
  • Authenticity: Yes, believe it or not, there is a black market for supplements …not just for handbags! Always purchase from a reputable company, provider or, as I mentioned above, directly from the manufacturer via Fullscript.
  • Quality: How do you know if a product has in it what it says it does on the label? How can you determine potency? Purity? Performance? This is why I urge you to only purchase medical grade supplements that meet state-of-the art practices. This is indicated on the label by showing they meet the following:
    • GMP or Good Manufacturing Procedures: In accordance with 21 CFR Part 111, manufacturers are required to establish their own quality standards for manufacturing processes, packaging, storage, and ingredient testing, and must properly document that these standards are being met.
    • USP Standards: USP stands for U.S Pharmacopeia and is a nonprofit organization that sets the federal standards for drugs, dietary supplements, and foods. Having USP means that the labels claim the correct ingredients in its correct amount and correct potency, it does not contain any harmful levels of contaminates, will break down and release in your body in the specified amount of time and is manufactured following current GMP.

Second, you should always talk with your doctor, Registered Dietitian or Naturopath to determine if you decide to take any dietary supplement to make sure it is right for you. Some supplements may be contraindicated if you are taking certain medicines, are pregnant or lactating.

The most common supplements to create health and re-enforce our immune system are noted as follows:

Multivitamins: A multivitamin is the foundation for any health support regimen. It is a great 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! I use Healthy Cell Pro because it has been shown in published studies to reduce inflammatory biomarkers. You should know by reading the Blogpost #1: Maximize Your Nutrition and Blogpost #2 :Optimize Your Lifestyle that inflammation is the cause of disease. For example, people who are obese are in chronic inflammation. For this reason, they are more susceptible to complications if they contract COVID-19.

You can order Healthy Cell Pro HERE. You should receive a $20 Discount every month on your Healthy Cell Pro.

Please note that Healthy Cell Pro contains vitamin A, vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Mushroom Extracts, Melatonin, NAC, Quercetin, Resveratrol, Turmeric Extract and Probiotics, which are further outlined below.

Vitamin A: Vitamin A deficiency is one of the most profuse nutritional deficiencies worldwide. It is associated with increased susceptibility to infectious diseases. Vitamin A acts as an anti-inflammatory agent because of its critical role in enhancing immune function. Most vitamin A is provided in the Beta Carotene form and most medical grade supplements provide 5000 IU per day for adults.

You can also get vitamin A by eating leafy greens, sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, mango, beef liver, cod liver oil and eggs.

Vitamin C: Vitamin C has a tremendous amount of research showing how it can benefit the immune system. The recommended preventive dose for adults is 1,000 mg per day with meals and snacks.

Foods high in vitamin C include leafy greens, sweet red bell peppers, citrus, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, strawberries and milk

Vitamin D: Adequate vitamin D status is critical for optimal immune function. Vitamin D deficiency is very common. Start with 1,000 IU for adults. Studies have shown that people with vitamin D deficiency are 11 times more likely to get a cold or flu but supplementing with vitamin D can reduce colds and flu by 42%. Please note that there is a theoretical risk for increased issues with COVID-19 if taking vitamin D in excess of 1,000 – 2,000 IU per day. If you are taking more than that, it should be taken in a specific ratio to vitamin A to minimize potential issues.

Salmon, canned sardines and tuna, fortified milk or yogurt, egg yolk, beef liver and cod liver oil, and mushrooms are good sources of vitamin D.

Zinc: Zinc is now being used with hydroxychloroquine to Inhibit replication of the COVID_19 viruses in cells. It basically messes with the virus’s genetic material, RNA. You can take an additional supplement or consume more foods high in this powerful immune-supporting nutrient. Zinc lozenges may also be helpful. Recommended preventive dosage is 20 – 30 mg per day.

Zinc is naturally found in beef, pork, oysters, chicken, beans

Alpha Lipoic Acid: Alpha Lipoic Acid is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight free radicals, supports liver function, boosts metabolism, enhances absorption of certain vitamins, and helps turn calories into energy in the muscles. It plays a multifunctional role in supporting both our adaptive and innate immune system response. Although our bodies can manufacture alpha lipoic acid, we often cannot make all that our body needs. For example, research shows that an adult dose of 300 mg twice daily can help strengthen the immune system.

Foods high in alpha lipoic acid include spinach, broccoli, yams, potatoes, yeast, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, carrots, beets, and rice bran. Red meat is also a source of alpha-lipoic acid.

Glutathione: Glutathione is involved in several cellular functions including antioxidant protection and detoxification. In fact, it is the most abundant endogenous antioxidant and considered a very critical regulator of oxidative stress. Many sulfur rich foods contain glutathione, such as asparagus, avocado, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, spinach, broccoli, garlic, chives, tomatoes, cucumber, almonds, and walnuts. However, a variety of factors can affect the levels of this vital nutrient, including storage and cooking. This is one reason why I love steaming veggies in the microwave. All B3yond Nutrition clients know this  –  and always get several recipes to make sure they are maximizing their vitamins, minerals and glutathione levels!

Unfortunately, glutathione can be poorly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. To that end, to support health, research has shown (in adults) more than 60% absorption when taken in 100 – 250 mg per dose per day. If you plan to supplement, I recommend doing so in addition to eating sulfur rich foods in order to maximize absorption.

Melatonin: Melatonin is best known for maintaining normal sleep/wake cycles is well known. Melatonin is a hormone the body produces naturally. It is also available in supplement form. Supplemental melatonin is often needed to replace the body’s declining production of this hormone that can occur with increasing age.

Melatonin also acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, which enhances its ability to modulate immune activity. Research shows that melatonin can protect your health and treat diseases ranging from diabetes, heart disease, cancer and neurodegenerative disorders. In fact, it is melatonin’s capacity to hold inflammation in check, and to restrain immune activity, that has brought it into the spotlight as a possible treatment for Covid-19. Melatonin has been shown to reduce the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines associated with a COVID-19 infection.

Daily long term recommended dose is 0.5 to .075 mg. Most research shows that 2- 5mg of sustained release of melatonin helps improve sleep quality.

N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC): N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) is an amino acid which increases levels of Glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant. It improves immune system by breaking up mucous and attenuating severity of flu, especially in the elderly. In the body, NAC is converted to the antioxidant glutathione, the most powerful antioxidant in your body, and the one that helps the liver to get rid of toxins.

A clinical study using 600 mg of NAC taken twice daily during flu season found that it did not prevent infection but fewer infected people were symptomatic. The recommended dose is 600 mg twice daily for adults.

There aren’t any N-Acetyl Cysteine foods, but the USDA reports that the amino acid in its cystine form can help with hair health and is a great antioxidant. Foods containing cysteine include lean pork chops, skirt steak, chicken breast, tuna, eggs, yogurt, lentils, oatmeal and sunflower seeds.

Omega-3: Omega 3 helps support cardiovascular health, mental acuity, glucose and insulin metabolism. It does this by providing the precursors EPA and DHA to help the body generate pro-resolving lipid mediators and boosts body’s ability to squash inflammation.

I like Metagenics Omega MonoPure® 1300 EC which has a three times greater EPA/DHA absorption rate than an equivalent dose of ethyl ester fish oil.

You can also find Omega-s naturally in fatty fish like anchovies, herring, mackerel, Orange roughy, salmon, sardines and tuna. Omega-3 is also found in some plant foods including walnuts, flax (seed and oil) and chia seeds.

Quercetin: Quercetin has been found in laboratory studies to inhibit a wide variety of viruses, including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV, which is related to COVID-19). It is a flavanol and a very strong antioxidant. For people who turn to quercetin supplements to support immune health, the common adult oral dose is 250 – 500 mg daily.

  • Quercetin is also naturally found in onions, capers, apples, grapes, berries, broccoli, citrus fruits, cherries and leafy greens

Resveratrol: Resveratrol is a polyphenol, a group of antioxidants that protect the body’s genetic material. Damage to our genetic material puts us at risk for accelerated aging, inflammation, cancer and heart disease. Often wine is touted as being high in resveratrol because this polyphenol is found in the skin of red grapes. It is also found in peanuts and berries.

To get about 75 mg of resveratrol, you would have to drink about 700 or so glasses of red wine – and, who knows you might be doing this during lockdown – to get the amount of resveratrol needed to support immune health.

Gut Support

Immunoglobulins: Immunoglobulins, also known as antibodies, are glycoprotein molecules produced by plasma cells (white blood cells). They play a critical role in the immune response by specifically recognizing and binding to particular antigens, such as bacteria or viruses, and aiding in their destruction.

Some whey proteins contain bovine immunoglobulins In fact all whey proteins are rich in cysteine, which is the needed by the body for NAC (see above).

I like SBI Protect, which is the only purified, dairy-free source of immunoglobulin G (IgG) available as a dietary supplement. Pure IgG helps to maintain a healthy intestinal immune system by binding a broad range of microbes and toxins within the gut lumen.

Probiotics: Aside from our air passageways, there is another way we continually expose our insides to the environment and that is with our food. Supporting our gut flora can, in turn, support a healthy gut which is a major barrier against pathogens and integral to our 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.

  • You can also eat a variety of fermented, probiotic foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, unsweetened yogurt, kefir and kombucha. Once ingested, support your probiotic by eating prebiotic foods such as asparagus, artichokes, leeks, onions, garlic, bananas, apples, flax seeds, or seaweed.

Herbal Therapies

Andrographis: Andrographis is a supplement used primarily for its immune-stimulating properties. Multiple studies have demonstrated its ability to not only reduce the duration of upper respiratory infections but also significantly reduce the severity of symptoms. The properties of andrographis are due to its ability to increase lymphocyte production.

Regarding the spread of COVID-19, a recent publication screened compounds for their ability to inhibit key enzymes of the coronavirus. From the study, it was determined that derivatives of andrographis were able to inhibit several key infectious enzymes, making them candidates to develop drugs to treat COVID-19.

Metagenics Viragraphis is an excellent source of Andrographis and Glycyrrhiza.

Glycyrrhizin/Black Licorice: Used as a for its anti-inflammatory, immune-stimulating, and antiviral properties. Glycyrrhizin’s has been shown to enhance key components of the immune system, T-lymphocytes and interleukins, making it a good supplement for enhancing the immune system’s ability to fight viral infections.

Two of my favorite Glycyrrhiza supplements is GI Revive by Designs for Health and Metagenics Viragraphis.

Curcumin:  Curcumin is not easily absorbed. To enhance its absorption, most people consume turmeric powder or extract which contains curcumin. In using supplements, curcumin absorption can be enhanced by combining it with biopeperine which is a derivative of pepper (which is one of the reasons the Healthy Cell Pro contains BioPerine.

You can easily peel and grate turmeric root, steep in hot water and drink as a tea.

Elderberry: This plant is widely known as having a strong antiviral effect. For prevention, most herbalists recommend 1 tablespoon of elderberry syrup per day. This syrup is NOT recommended if you become infected with COVID-19 because it elicits such a powerful recruitment of your innate immune defenses that it can actually enhance the dreaded COVID-19 cytokine storm.

Sinus Irrigation and a Thyme Steam: I am a huge proponent of sinus irrigation. I recommend using a netti pot or my absolute favorite, the Sinugator, several times per week, if not daily, during flu season.

When clients report lung or sinus congestion, I recommend heating 8-cups of water in a pot, add 1 Tablespoon of salt and 1 Tablespoon of fresh Thyme leaves. Place your face over the top, covering your head and the bowl with a large towel. Breathe in slowly, ideally through your nose, for 5-15 minutes. Repeat once or twice daily. Of course, use precaution. You don’t want the water too hot because you do not want to burn your face, sinuses, etc.

Hydration: Drink plenty of fluids. Consuming adequate fluids supports all your bodies’ functions including your immune system. Keep a bottle of filtered water with you at all times. Since sugar is harmful to your immune system, avoid concentrated fruit juices and sweetened beverages. At a minimum drink 16 ounces (2 cups) at each meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner) per day along with sipping an additional 16 ounces between lunch and dinner or with what B3yond Nutrition clients know as their mini-meal.

  • Make teas, soups and broths from scratch with fresh herbs and vegetables. Store and have throughout the week. B3yond Nutrition shares an amazing, healing chicken soup with all her clients!
  • You can add above herbs to soup or broths. Feel free to add in garlic and a mushroom extract to provide additional support to the immune system, especially in regard to fighting off viruses.
  • Incorporate pre-made herbal teas featuring echinacea, elderberry and turmeric. You can also use your creative genius and make fresh ginger tea adding in equal amounts of astralagus, elderberry, echinacea, turmeric, lemon balm and licorice!
  • Have a sore throat? Gargle with saltwater and follow up with garlic tea: 1 clove garlic, fresh grated ginger, turmeric and 1/4 tsp honey and sip.

A little much?

Feel free to contact me for help!

These are unprecedented times and they call for unprecedented measures. This is also a time for us to be focused on what we can do to protect ourselves, our families, our communities and our country. This is a great time to show the people whom we love that we care. It is a great time to live the example that we want to show our children and others around us how we take care of ourselves. This includes cooking whole foods, eating balanced meals and avoiding sugar, alcohol and processed foods. Now is a great time to carve out time to exercise, meditate and stick with a healthy sleep routine. It is also a time to support immune health and to consider additional holistic strategies like infrared sauna, whole body cryotherapy, smart supplementation and proper hydration.

The more we can face the Coronavirus threat or any stress with calm, levelheadedness, the better we will able to survive, thrive and motivate others to do the same.

Take advantage of the fact that insurance companies are now allowing Telehealth and waiving co-pays for nutrition counseling. Join me at B3yond Nutrition on Healthie, a HIPAA compliant platform, for nutrition counseling and take the next step to create health.

Discover what works best for you and maximize your nutrition, optimize your lifestyle and reinforce your immune health. Call me, Beth Candela, today at 973-852-3335.

CREATE HEALTH TODAY!

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Note: This article is not intended to provide medical advice and any changes should be done in consultation with your health care provider.