Strengthening Your Immune System
Updated: Jan 6, 2021
COVID-19 - What to do from WHNCenter... We want to be sure that you have access to nutritional methods and self-help techniques to create and support a strong immune system.
Other techniques and ideas not covered in this handout can be found on the CDC and WHO websites as well as www.ny.gov.
The human body has many defense mechanisms to handle pathogens like the COVID-19 virus. Despite this, pathogens can still make their way through our body’s defenses. You have the ability to positively or negative affect this process through your dietary, exercise, sleeping and hygiene habits. The more well rested, hygienic and nutritionally strong you are the better your chances of defeating pathogens.
The steps below are not just for the COVID-19 virus but are applicable to any and all mold, parasites, bacteria, fungi and viruses that come your way. Once the COVID-19 burns out, you should maintain your improved dietary habits.
Remove From Your Diet
1. Remove all processed sugars from your diet. Processed sugar increases inflammation in your body, weakens your immune system and steals much needed nutrients from your body.
2. Remove pasteurized dairy from your diet. Pasteurized dairy is a mucus creating food and can cause congestion in the lungs and sinuses. In addition, it can negatively affect those with lung conditions like asthma and COPD. Pasteurized dairy can also create additional work for your immune system if you have leaky gut, IBS or autoimmune issues.
You can get all the calcium you need from green leafy vegetables.
Most people do better with yogurt than milk. If you do have yogurt, make sure to get the plain yogurt and add in your own fruit and spices to avoid having all the extra sugar usually found in flavored yogurt.
Butter is generally fine for everyone but for those who are extra sensitive, ghee is the better option.
3. Remove all processed grains from your diet. Processed grains are highly refined, low in nutritional value and break down quickly into glucose (sugar). These foods also create inflammation, weaken your immune system and steal nutrients from your body. It doesn’t matter if the processed grain is gluten free, the effects are the same. See below for healthy grain options.
4. Remove foods that contain additives and preservatives. Additives and preservatives create more work for your liver as it has to process them. Your liver is vital to your immune system and there is no point giving it more work to do. In addition, additives and preservatives can negatively affect those with digestive and joint issues.
5. Eat your fruit don’t drink your fruit. Fruit juice contains as much or more sugar than soda. While fruit juice has a good amount of nutrients, the amount of sugar that comes with it creates the same issues as processed sugar.
The proper functioning of your liver and kidneys is vital to the proper functioning of your immune system. They are the primary way to eliminate waste and detox the body.
Add To Your Diet
1. Eat lots and lots of veggies. If you have a problem with raw veggies, make sure to steam them. Vegetables provide a wide range of nutrients and provide the cleansing actions your body needs to stay healthy. Vegetables are great at making sure your kidneys, liver and large intestines detox which is key to a healthy immune system.
Beets are probably the best vegetable for your liver and asparagus is great for your kidneys.
All Cruciferous vegetables are great for your liver.
2. Bone broth (chicken or beef) and vegetable broth are great ways to get easily digestible foods in the body while providing a wide range of nutrients. The healing qualities of chicken soup stem from the fact that chicken soup was made with chicken broth. If you make or buy real bone broth, keep the fat that rises to the top. This is especially nutritious. Most broth found in stores is of poor quality because the fat is eliminated.
***Local resources include: Whole in the Wall, CoreLife, front street Farmer’s Market. If you do buy bone broth from the store a brand like “Pacific” is a good option but you will need to add fat like coconut oil to the broth.
3. Add blueberries, strawberries, blackberries to your diet. These fruits are comparatively low in sugar while containing nutrients to support your health. Blueberries are great at protecting your arteries.
4. Eat oranges and other citrus fruit for their protective benefits like vitamin C. Drinking hot water/tea with lemon juice is a great idea.
5. Drink fluids all day. Water and herbal tea like dandelion and chamomile are important to focus on. Your body relies on water to keep moving the “gunk” out of your cells and organs so it can be eliminated. Water ensures that your kidneys and liver function better. You want to make sure that your urine is very light in color which indicates a well hydrated person. Don’t drink junk like Gatorade to hydrate.
6. Don’t be afraid of fat. Healthy fat from foods like avocados, butter, unrefined coconut and olive oil, nuts, seeds, bone broth and wild caught fish are good examples. Healthy fat helps to reduce inflammation, helps you to absorb vitamins A and D and supports your immune system.
7. The good old raw apple cider vinegar drink is always helpful. Mix raw apple cider vinegar to taste in either water or herbal tea with lemon and 1 tsp of raw honey. Drink this all day long. This drink will give your immune system an edge in preventing bacteria and viruses from taking root.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals allow your immune system to function. The higher your nutritional bank account the better off you are. Your nutritional bank account refers to the vitamins and minerals stored in your cells and tissues as well as what is found in your blood. Eating nutrient dense foods and taking the right supplements will improve your nutritional bank account. Eating processed food will decrease your nutritional bank account.
Pathogens like the COVID-19 are opportunistic and exploit weaknesses in your immune system or general health.
Therefore, it is so important to always work on having a robust nutritional bank account and not just try to improve it when emergencies hit. Just like your financial bank account the more robust it is the more likely you are to easily handle an emergency.
All vitamins and minerals are important. Below are some highlighted ones since COVID-19 has a tendency to affect the lungs.
Vitamin A: Sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, collard greens, butter, wild caught fish, eggs, cheese and everyone’s favorite LIVER (highest amount).
Vitamin C: Papayas, oranges, brussel sprouts, rose hips, kiwis, parsley.
Vitamin D: Wild caught cold water fish like cod, herring, sardines and salmon, eggs, cod liver oil, mushrooms.
Vitamin D is vital to your immune system.
Most people in the northeast do not have Vitamin D levels sufficient to maximize their immune system. The cut off is 30 ng/mL but you really what to have at least 50 ng/mL since you need Vitamin D for many other functions such as bone health and hormone production. If you do not know your Vitamin D level this is the time to get them checked. If you have historically low Vitamin D levels or you haven’t done anything since your last low Vitamin D result now is the time to fix that problem.
Zinc: Nuts, seeds (especially pumpkin seeds), red meat, shellfish, legumes.
Calcium: Yogurt, collard greens, spinach, kale, sesame seeds, chia seeds, sardines, salmon, yogurt, almonds, beans, lentils. (Calcium is good at putting viruses “to sleep”. They may be in your body but there will be inactive.) ***You do not have to have milk to get plenty of calcium. As mentioned above, I suggest leaving pasteurized milk out of your diet.
This is not an exhaustive list of helpful nutrients and food. It is important not to focus only on a few nutrients. Vitamins and minerals work together and rely on sufficient amounts of each to work properly. Eating nutrient dense whole foods is the best way to ensure that you are creating a robust nutritional bank account.
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