At the beginning of the week I emailed you about the importance of addressing your gut health in order to protect against potential coronavirus infection.
As the week goes on, we see unexpected changes. Schools are closed, restaurants and bars are now only offering take out options, and we’re asked to restrict gatherings to 10 or less people. This is unprecedented.
I wanted to offer some practical guidance and integrative health tips for coronavirus while we all begin to hunker down.
Obviously you want to follow the basics:
avoid gatherings and limit your outings only for grocery runs, pet emergencies, etc; consider instacart for grocery delivery to your home
wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face while out and about
You’ll want to consider lifestyle habits during this time as well:
Hydrate: drink lots of clean filtered water and/or green tea. Viruses thrive in a dehydrated body. Aim for half your body weight in ounces (i.e. if you weigh 150#, drink 75 oz)
Improve your sleep routine: go to bed no later than 10:00pm and get at least 8-9 hours of sleep. Our bodies regenerate at all levels while sleeping, including your immune system.
Move your body: Exercise is a potent booster of immune function. Be careful not to over do it though as excessive exercise has the opposite effect.
Adopt an attitude of positivity: limit your social media / news reading time. Add in at least two x 15 minute sessions of meditation or listening to relaxing music. I love the Insight Timer app for this. I know our local yoga centers are offering online yoga classes, this is a great option to support a local business. Feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression can depress your immune system so it’s important we work on shifting our mindset in these difficult times. Read more about how to cultivate a positive mind-body connection.
Expose yourself to nature as much as possible: gardening, outdoor house chores, hiking, and any other low risk outdoor activities that can be done outside can help boost our mood and therefore our immune systems. Sunshine and fresh air are great ways to ward off viruses.
Just Eat Real Food (JERF): Avoid refined grains, processed foods, fast foods, industrialized fats, chemical additives, alcohol, and added sugars. Include whole foods like fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, whole grains like rice and quinoa, grass fed meats, fermented foods like non-dairy kefir and sauerkrat, wild caught salmon, fresh or dried herbs and spices. If you’re eating something packaged, choose items with simple ingredients. You can find these products at your local health food store or online at Thrive Market
Avoid added sugars: added sugars can suppress your immune system. In fact, it’s been suggested that eating added sugar could suppress your immune system by up to 75% for 4-6 hours. Limit sweets, cakes, cookies, pies, ice cream, soda, and fruit juices with added sugar. You’ll absolutely want to avoid anything labeled “diet” or “sugar free” as well, like diet soda, sugar free mints, etc which all contain artificial chemicals (which are NOT real foods, see above).
Consume fermented foods: fermented foods support your microbiome and immunity. You can make your own or purchase non-dairy kefir, kimchi, sauerkrat, fermented salsas, etc.
Consume Antimicrobial foods: foods like onions, garlic, turmeric, ginger, and spices like oregano, rosemary and thyme have broad spectrum antimicrobial properties. Add these liberally to your soups, salads, dips, eggs, sauces, and main dishes.
Consider adding nutritional supplements to enhance your immune system.
I’ve created a “COVID-19” category in my online Fullscript supplement dispensary. You can create an account free of charge, and order any of the suggested brands I list below.
These supplement guidelines are just suggestions, I do not know your individual health scenario. As always, please consult with your healthcare provider before adding in any supplements as they have to potential to negatively interact with pharmaceuticals and/or particular health diagnoses:
Multivitamin: this is foundational for any health support regimen and it’s a good way to cover the basic vitamins and minerals your body needs for day-to-day functions. Those that are given in divided doses are better absorbed than one-a-day multivitamins. My favorites are Designs for Health Complete Multi or Pure Encapsulations Nutrient 950.
Vitamin D: adequate vitamin D status is critical for optimal immune function and it 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%. Supplementation is especially pertinent for those who struggle with low vitamin D levels (optimal levels are 30-75ng/mL). I recommend about 2,000 IU daily for maintenance and up to 5,000 IU per day during an active infection or for those who struggle with low levels. My favorite vitamin D supplement is Designs for Health Hi-Po Emulsi-D3 Liquid.
Probiotics: building up your good gut bacteria is essential in keeping your immune system up to par. You can add fermented foods or add in a daily probiotic supplement 1-2 capsules daily. I recommend Designs for Health ProBioMed 50.
Vitamin C: vitamin C has been studied widely with it’s powerful anti-viral effect. It supports various cellular functions in the immune system and helps prevent and treat respiratory infections. Of note, vitamin C at higher doses can potentially cause diarrhea, that cut-off dose can vary from person to person. If you’re actively sick, you’ll want to take vitamin C to bowel tolerance which is anywhere from 2,000-6,000mg daily. For maintenance you can opt for 1,000-2,000mg daily. I recommend not doing this for long term, however, as high vitamin C doses can throw other nutrients off such as copper. One of my favorites is Designs for Health Liposomal Vitamin C.
Melatonin: it’s been stated recently that the reason children don’t get as sick as adults has to do with melatonin levels. Children (up to teenage years) naturally have high levels of melatonin, and as we age this drops off significantly (see graph below). To minimize the respiratory effect of a potential COVID-19 infection you’ll want to ensure your melatonin levels are optimized. Melatonin is also a powerful antioxidant which is helpful in fighting off viral infections in general. I recommend 3mg melatonin before bedtime such as Designs for Health Melatonin.
Antioxidants: Antioxidants are powerful modulators of our immune system. You can get these naturally from colorful fruits and vegetables, in supplemental form they’ll be at more powerful dosages. There are a few antioxidants I like to recommend and my feeling is it’s best to get a low dose of a variety of different ones. First, is PQQ (Pyrroloquinoline quinone) which is a powerful antioxidant that can be found in kiwi fruit and breastmilk. I recommend Jarrow Formulas PQQ 20mg. I also like to recommend Paleo Reds by Designs for Health, 1 scoop daily added to smoothies. Finally is NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine) which is well researched in its role in optimizing lung health, stopping viral replication, and reducing the length of infection. I like Ortho Molecular Labs NAC, 1 capsule twice daily.
Zinc: zinc is an important mineral which drives the immune system. Many people are low in zinc because they just don’t eat enough of the foods that contain it (like seafood). I recommend Zinc Balance by Jarrow, 1 capsule 1-2x’s per day.
Monolaurin: monolaurin shows powerful activity against lipid enveloped viruses, such as COVID-19. Take 1-2 capsules daily for maintenance and bump up to 4-6 daily if fighting an active infection. I like Ecologic Formulas Monolaurin.
OrganicGreen Tea: green tea contains a component called ECGC that acts as a viral inhibitor and dampens inflammation throughout the body. I don’t like to recommend ECGC supplementation because this concentrated formula has been shown to cause liver damage. At food levels, however, there’s no risk to liver damage. I’ve been personally drinking about 1-2 cups of green tea daily since COVID-19 came so close to home. I like Organic Green Tea by Lifestyle Awareness.
I know this might sound like alot of supplements for a few of you. At a minimum, I’d recommend you stick to a daily Multivitamin, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Probiotics, and an antimicrobial such as Monolaurin.
The supplements I’ve listed above are very popular immune support items so what I have listed here may sell out in the coming days. For example, there’s been on ongoing shortage of vitamin C.
You can always look around for a similar substitute for what I recommend above. When you order on Fullscript, you can click on “Similar Items” and it will provide a list of alternative similar to the item you’re looking for.
Well that’s it! I hope you found this guide helpful to keep you and your loved ones as healthy as possible during this evolving situation. Please always feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns. Wishing you health & wellness during these times.
With gratitude, ~Sarah
Sarah Neumann Haske, MS, RDN is a Digestive Health Dietitian and owner of Neumann Nutrition & Wellness, LLC. Her practice helps women heal their gut using a root-cause approach to their health. As a result of her program, her clients are able to come off medications, feel more energized, and live a radiant care-free life. If you’re interested in finding direction and accountability while discovering freedom from your digestive issues, then schedule your free call with Sarah now.