top of page
  • Writer's pictureKristine Jelstrup

Nutritional Support For Your Immune System

There is a lot you can be doing to stay healthy! Viruses are not living organisms, they are protein molecules covered by a lipid (fat) layer. Our goal should be to break down this lipid layer so the immune system can get in and do its job!

The following suggestion are excerpted from several websites including Dr. Mark Hyman's.

How to Support Your Immune System: Let Food Be Your Medicine!

(The following is always great advice, not just during cold and flu season!)

Eat a whole foods, nutrient-dense diet.

Our immune system relies on nutrient-dense whole foods to function well. Death from infections in the developing world is often not due to the infection itself but the body’s inability to fight it because of nutrient deficiencies. Since more than 90% of Americans are deficient in one or more nutrients at the minimum dose to prevent deficiency diseases like scurvy and rickets, we all need to focus on improving the quality of our diet. Since diabetics are more likely to die from COVID-19 and one in two Americans is pre-diabetic or diabetic this is a great opportunity to cut out sugar and starch, which suppress the immune system.

  • 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 improve your overall health.

  • Ensure adequate protein intake. Protein is critical for immune function and protein malnutrition is a big risk factor for death from infections.

  • 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 bean dips and sauces. Garlic and onions offer wide spectrum antimicrobial properties.

  • Eat multiple servings of colorful fruits and vegetables high in vitamins C, A, 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 alkalize 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 soups and broths (from scratch with fresh vegetables is always best) and have them throughout the week.

  • 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. Incorporating various relaxation and breathing techniques throughout the day to help with stress and allowing the mind to rest is also very helpful!

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. Try the 7-minute workout app.

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, double down on your practice, do yoga, take hot baths, do deep breathing, practice home massage with your loved ones. Here’s a terrific tutorial for a five minute meditation: Basic Meditation Tutorial. Here are some free yoga videos. Great Yoga videos.

How to Supplement for Immune Function

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, broad-spectrum multivitamin and mineral.

Vitamin D3K2: 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%. Many need 5,000 IU or more of vitamin D3 a day in the winter.

Buffered Vitamin C: The role of vitamin C in supporting the immune system has long been known. Take 500-1,000mg throughout the day with meals and snacks.

Quercitin: is a potent antiviral and has the added advantage of inhibiting the 3CL protease8 — an enzyme used by SARS coronaviruses to infect healthy cells. As explained in a 2020 paper in Nature, 3CL protease “is essential for processing the polyproteins that are translated from the viral RNA.”

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 pumpkin seeds are the best food sources. Take 30 mg per day.

Essential Fatty Acids: 80% of the brain feeds on fatty acids, as you support your brain you support your entire nervous and immune system. MCT oil, coconut oil and olive oil are at the top of this list. 1-2 tbs/day at least.

Elderberry extract: Known to shorten influenza duration by two to four days and reduce the severity of the flu.

N-acetylcysteine (NAC): Encourages glutathione production, thins mucus, lowers your chances of influenza infection and reduces your risk of developing severe bronchitis.

Selenium: Selenium deficiency increases the rate at which viruses can mutate, promoting the evolution of strains that are more pathogenic and capable of evading immune surveillance.

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 (Arctic 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.

Natural antiviral herbs: Many herbs have broad-spectrum antimicrobial effects or immune-enhancing effects. Formulas contain different immune boosters such as astragalus, green tea extract, andrographis, garlic, oregano and monolaurin. Some studies show that St. John’s Wort can break down the lipid lining of the virus cell letting in your immune system so it can do its job.

Andrographis: Thailand just cleared the herb Andrographis paniculate to treat early COVID infections. Research demonstrates the stunning ability of this herb to fight the virus. Laboratory research in Thailand found that the plant’s extract was effective at killing the virus and preventing it from multiplying. Clinical trials on human subjects began soon after, which found that patients treated with Andrographis showed improvement after just three days of treatment.

Mushroom Extracts: such as reishi, maitake, shiitake, turkey tail, and cordyceps: These provide immune-supporting properties. Cooking with medicinal mushrooms like shiitake is also helpful.

Finally, words and thoughts matter! Be loving to yourself and others, believe you will stay healthy, tell yourself and your family every day that they are healthy and loved. I will leave you with these powerful examples of how much words and thoughts matter from my great friend Fran Spayne: The Power of Words The Power of Thoughts

Stay healthy.

Call or text if you'd like to make an appointment 617-833-3407.

Kristine Jelstrup

22 views0 comments


bottom of page