As we finish up 2022 and head into 2023, the COVID battle continues, along with their consequences on our physical and mental health.
By now, you most likely already had COVID or will get it (again), or the Flu, this winter season. But instead of hiding away from the virus, attempting to avoid public places and people at all costs (which is actually weakening your immune system), we need to focus on naturally boosting immunity so we can continue to enjoy life.
When you boost your immune system, you will prevent severe symptoms from occurring and/or experience better outcomes after coming down with COVID, Flu, or the common cold.
This is especially important for those who contract COVID with comorbidities, are overweight, have hypertension or diabetes, or if you have low nutrients like zinc and vitamin D.
How do I strengthen my immune system to fight COVID, Flu & the common cold?
1. Reduce and Manage Your Stress
Life is stressful. I get it. But learning to manage your stress is especially crucial if you want to boost your immunity against COVID and other illnesses going around.
When your body perceives stress, it reacts as if you’re in a life-threatening situation. It goes into “fight or flight” mode, turning on your sympathetic stressed state.
This state is particularly concerning if it occurs daily. Chronic stress negatively affects both natural and specific immunity Th1 + Th2. Plus, when you’re stressed, your body exhausts vital nutrients to combat the stress, leaving your body with fewer vitamins and minerals, weakened immunity, and become more vulnerable to severe COVID and Flu outcomes.
Learn to slow down, set boundaries for yourself, practice breathing exercises during the day and even swap out your HIIT workouts for restorative movement for the time being.
2. Ditch Processed Foods + Eat Real Food
The modern diet has resulted in ongoing, low-grade, whole-body (systemic) inflammation. Processed foods are one of the top causes of diet-induced inflammation, which in the long term, weakens your immunity.
Not to mention, chronic inflammation is associated with aging and other co-morbidities, like obesity, cardiovascular disease, and insulin resistance…all increasing your risk for poorer COVID outcomes.
Not only do processed food contain inflammatory oils, but they lack the vitamins and minerals needed to keep the immune system running optimally.
Ditch processed foods and focus on consuming an abundance of organic vegetables, fruits, and whole foods. This will supply your body with the nutrients your immune system needs to function properly. Remember to also drink plenty of water!
Another thing to note is to check for food sensitivities via Functional Medicine lab testing. Underlying food sensitivities could be causing low-grade inflammation, weakening your immune system. (common food sensitivities are dairy, wheat, eggs, and sugar, but every individual is different). Reactions to foods can be an indicator of GI issues including leaky gut, SIBO/IBS or Mast Cell Activation Syndrome.
3. Prioritize Quality Sleep
Your immune system is most active during deep sleep. If you aren’t getting 7.5-8 hours of quality sleep, there’s a chance your immunity is feeling the consequences. Not giving your body enough rest and sleep can weaken immune function.
If you struggle with a sleep disorder, it can induce pro-inﬂammatory states. Getting to the root of your sleep issues is necessary to boost immunity and enhance COVID outcomes.
To help beat insomnia, try these tips before heading to bed:
- Take a high-quality magnesium supplement.
- Create a low-light ambiance in your home after dinner time.
- Avoid electronics after sunset (use blue light blockers if you are using screens).
- Take an Epsom salt bath with calming essential oils like lavender and rose.
- Work with a functional medicine provider if insomnia continues to inhibt quality sleep.
4. Reduce Environmental Toxins
While our body does have a natural detox system, it is not created to combat the intense toxic exposure load of today’s modern life. Being bombarded by environmental toxins every day (through household cleaners, beauty products, plastics, chemicals on clothes, toxic mold from water damaged building, and heavy metal toxticity) can cause low-grade inflammation and make you more susceptible to illness and infection, as well as contribute to a slower recovery process.
Not only can it weaken your immune system, but toxin exposure has been shown to cause a multigenerational weakening of the immune system, impacting offspring’s immune system as well, leaving them more vulnerable to viruses.
Reduce your toxic burden by swapping out conventional products with non-toxic alternatives, eliminating non-stick cookware, storing food in glass containers, investing in high-quality water filter, and choosing organic foods and products.
5. Take Natural Supplements to Boost Immune System
One of the best ways to reduce the impact of COVID infection is by taking the best immune booster supplements. While enhancing your diet is a must, diet alone may not provide your body with the amount of nutrients it needs for optimal functioning. In fact, low nutrient levels maybe contribute to why one person gets severe COVID symptoms, and another is fine.
Our top 4 recommended immunity booster supplements are:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin C
Zinc for Boosting Immunity
Most of the risk groups described for COVID-19 (overweight, have hypertension or diabetes) are also grouped at the same time, with being associated with a zinc deficiency. If you want to improve your covid outcomes, having zinc on hand is a must.
How does Zinc support the immune system?
Zinc helps with the respiratory system’s self-clearing mechanism of the airways, improving the removal of virus particles and directly inhibiting viral replication.
So, which zinc is best for the immune system? We recommend Zinc 30mg Pure Encapsulations.
Vitamin D for Boosting Immunity
Vitamin D enhances the function of immune cells and slows down inflammation. Research shows that people with low vitamin D levels are more susceptible to more severe COVID symptoms, requiring admission to the ICU or even mortality.
How does vitamin D support the immune system?
Specifically for COVID, Vitamin D can inhibit cytokine storms by switching the pro-inflammatory (Th1 and Th17) to the anti-inflammatory (Th2 and Treg) response.
Studies show that dietary supplementation with 10.000 IU/day versus 2.000 IU/day vitamin D during a 14-day period reduces the duration and severity of COVID-19 in a sample of hospitalized individuals.
Which vitamin D is best for the immune system? We recommend K2 with Vitamin D from Ortho Molecular: 1 cap/day – helps modulate the immune response and activate T cells to fight off invaders. If you have symptoms of infection, take 2 capules a day=10,000IU x 7 days.
Vitamin C for Boosting Immunity
Vitamin C is an excellent antioxidant and has been shown to enhance immunity. Optimal levels can prevent and alleviate viral and bacterial infections, including preventing severe COVID outcomes.
How does Vitamin C support the immune system?
Vitamin C can inhibit viral growth and reduce common winter illness symptoms by taking it regularly. It provides antioxidants, boosts immunity, and helps stimulate white blood cells to target viruses.
Which Vitamin C is best for the immune system? We recommend Vitamin C (1,000mg) from Klaire Labs: Take 1 capsule, twice a day.
Quercetin for Boosting Immunity
Quercetin is the most abundant dietary flavonoid, acting as a powerful antioxidant, and has been linked to reducing inflammation and boosting immune function.
How does Quercetin support the immune system?
Quercetin inhibits several respiratory viruses in cultured cells and inhibits their cytopathic effects. It has the ability to either block virus entry or inhibit viral replication enzymes such as viral polymerases.
Boost Your Immunity with Functional Medicine and Integrative Doctor in AZ
Are you struggling with a weakened immune system, especially after COVID? Dr. Dersam specializes in finding the root cause of illnesses by combining integrative, functional, and traditional modalities to help individuals struggling with weakened immunity and long covid, get their life back.
Dr. Dersam uses integrative and functional approaches, including diet, testing, lifestyle, and supplement recommendations, to investigate what exactly is contributing to your long covid symptoms and inhibiting your body from healing.
Book your consultation today, or contact our office at 480-621-8638 to schedule your first consultation with Dr. Dersam to finally get true solutions to overcome your symptoms and feel like yourself again!
Dr. Cheri Dersam
Dr. Dersam is board certified in both Integrative and Emergency Medicine and fellowship trained in Functional Medicine. Dr. Dersam focuses on a personalized approach that empowers each patient to achieve optimal health in mind, body and spirit.