Your immune system is a living, breathing organism that needs boosting on a regular basis. In times of viral pandemics, however, we rely on our immune system to protect us from what can be a deadly disease.
Last week, we talked about how to set up your immunity to resist viral infections.
Eating a balanced diet, making sure your gut is more alkaline than acidic, exercising regularly (especially after meals) and sleeping well — all set you up to support your immunity. This week, I am offering you four more steps, all supported by extensive research and peer-reviewed studies, that help build your immunity from the inside out.
Keep in mind that your immune system is made up of a network of pathways that has at its core the same goal: to protect your brain and body from outside invaders. The novel coronavirus is just one of many environmental pathogens that have the potential to wear down your natural ability to fight off viral infections. As physicians, we refer to the body’s armor as its “innate” immune system. In this article, I offer you six specific ways that you can rally the troops and help prepare for warfare against viral infections, the flu, and even the common cold.
How To Reboot Your Immune System to Resist Viral Infections
Step One: Replace Probiotics with Prebiotics
Distinct from probiotics, prebiotics is your gut’s own good bacteria that help keep your digestive tract and colon stay healthy. We create our own prebiotics naturally from fibrous foods that we eat — vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. The more fiber we ingest through food, the more our microbiome stays healthy and in ph balance. As I mentioned last week, the more acidic our guts, the more prone we are to illness and disease. Our ancestors foraged for foods and regularly ate wild plants, naturally keeping their guts and microbiomes able to fight off viral infections. Today, we have to be more conscious and try to consume at least 25 grams of fiber daily for women and 38 g/day for men.
What does this mean? A medium-sized apple contains 4.4 grams of fiber. A piece of whole-grain toast offers 2-3 grams of fiber. A bowl of steel-cut oatmeal contains 5 grams of fiber. A serving of steamed spinach has 2.5 grams of fiber. You get the picture. The more fiber you eat at every meal, the better.
If you are not sure you can eat this much fiber, then give yourself a pre-biotic supplement every day. Along with exercise and a balanced diet, prebiotics has been shown to fight against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, weight gain, and colorectal cancer. Prebiotics also help with appetite control. But perhaps most important today, prebiotics support your body’s own immune system by increasing T helper cells, macrophages and neutrophils — the front line soldiers of your immune system, increasing your natural “killer cells”.
Advice: Eat 25-38 grams of fiber a day OR supplement with a prebiotic (10-15 grams daily).
Step Two: Include Collagen Peptides
Most of us associate collagen with our skin. But collagen has a more complicated role. Indeed, in a recent study, supplementing with collagen peptides (ingested as powders with water or in a smoothie) was shown to help with wound healing, repair of UV skin damage, and enhance the growth of the skin, hair, and nails. But one of the more important uses for collagen peptides is its ability to regulate our T helper cells and manage immune and allergic responses. The study shows that collagen peptides improve the body’s immune response and calm down the body’s allergic responses.
Advice: Add Collagen Peptides to your diet (2.5-10 grams daily)
Step Three: Reverse Your Vitamin D Deficiency
Most of us are woefully deficient in Vitamin D, putting us at risk for a number of diseases, including osteoporosis, certain cancers, inflammatory bowel disease, psychological and cognitive disorders, obesity and auto-immune diseases. But there’s an even more pernicious hidden danger to a lack of Vitamin D.
In this age, when we know that bacterial and viral infections are going to be on the rise and become part of our everyday landscape, we need alternatives to antibiotics, to which many have become resistant.
The answer? Vitamin D supplements along with Vitamin K2. Why both?
Vitamin D alone can cause calcification of bones and tissues (ie an over-production of calcium that is not absorbed but builds up in places where it’s not needed and instead causes problems.) When Vitamin D and K2 are combined, however, they act as a Super Immune Booster, signaling the body to produce, up-regulate, and use more of a powerful anti-oxidant called Glutathione. Vitamin D needs Glutathione to become activated. When our body makes more of Glutathione, we improve the mitochondria of the cell, making it more efficient. And when cells become more efficient, they become powerhouse immune protectors.
Advice: Include Vitamin D3 (1000-3000 IUs daily) + K2 (100 mcg daily) (600-1000 mg daily)
Step Four: Discover Aged Black Garlic (AGB)
Raw garlic has been known to be a powerful anti-oxidant. But let’s face it, how inclined are any of us to chomp on this strong-tasting, odoriferous root? Not likely. But we do have another option for benefiting from the healing properties of garlic — and the science is real: aged garlic has been shown to be
- Anti-oxidant (helps get rid of free radicals, those cells that cause damage, trigger disease, and weaken our immune response)
- Anti-inflammatory (helps decrease inflammation, which is at the root of ALL disease)
- Anti-cancer (helps inhibit the triggers for cancer cell growth)
- Anti-obesity (helps to maintain weight gain and improve metabolism)
- Anti-diabetes (helps to regulate blood sugar)
- Cardio-protective (protects the heart)
- Hepato-protective (protects the liver)
In a recent study, ABG was also found to work at a more micro-level, boosting the body’s immune system by stimulating certain immune powerhouse cells, such as macrophages, enhance the functioning of the immune system by stimulating certain cell types, such as macrophages, lymphocytes, natural killer (NK) cells, dendritic cells, and eosinophils. Together, these cells deter certain functions that cause cells to turn on themselves.
Advice: 600-1200 mg daily
Just like you, your immune system is smart. You have much more power to improve your immune system than you may realize. These four steps — which require little time, energy or cost — can support, feed and prime your natural immunity. At the cellular level, you are making your cells more efficient, which means they have more energy and power to protect you. You can prevent viral infections and colds from taking hold; you can resist illness; and you can recover faster and better.