As the coronavirus continues to spread around the world, there is so much uncertainty about what’s to come. What we do know, however, is that roughly 98% of the people who contract this virus will recover. That’s great news. Sadly, for the 2% who succumb to this disease, one of the words we continue to hear is that the majority had some sort of Immunosuppression. In other words, they were struggling with other health issues like hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes and obesity.
We are constantly exposed to infectious diseases, bacteria and viruses (antigens), all intent on running amok and wreaking havoc. Without any built-in defenses to keep these invaders at bay, we’d all last about five minutes on this planet. Thank goodness we have an immune system. A strong immune system is the backbone of overall good health and the best way to keep us from getting sick or at the very least from staying sick. I have done some research into the immune system – what it is and how we can keep it as robust as possible. I hope you find this information helpful.
Definition of immune system: the bodily system that protects the body from foreign substances, cells, and tissues by producing the immune response and that includes especially the thymus, spleen, lymph nodes, special deposits of lymphoid tissue (as in the gastrointestinal tract and bone marrow), macrophages, lymphocytes including the B cells and T cells, and antibodies
Definition of immune response: a bodily response to an antigen that occurs when lymphocytes identify the antigenic molecule as foreign and induce the formation of antibodies and lymphocytes capable of reacting with it and rendering it harmless
Our immune system is an amazing and very complex network designed to fight off any viruses and bacteria that our body comes in contact with each and every day. However, if our immune system is weak, dysfunctional or unbalanced, when we are faced with a virus or bacteria instead of combating the “bug” easily, our immune system can go into hyperdrive creating what’s called a cytokine storm. At this point, our body is attacking itself. Learn more about the cytokine storm here.
Here are some easy ways we can show our immune system some love and keep it working at its best:
Wash your hands.
Yep – we have all heard this a lot lately, but it’s a great start to keep the bad stuff from entering our system. Be sure to wash for at least 20 seconds using good old-fashioned soap. Living with dogs and feeding raw, I usually wash my hands a lot anyway. Now I am making sure to wash a lot more frequently and more thoroughly. Learn more about the CDC’s guidelines for hand washing here.
Get enough sleep.
Sigh … seems like we are all struggling with this. I know I feel better when I have a decent night’s sleep. My Fitbit tells me that my sleep pattern is cyclical. Several “fair” or “good” nights followed by 3-4 “poor” nights. Quieting my mind seems to be my nemesis. However, when it comes to our health, sleep plays an important role. While more sleep won’t necessarily prevent us from getting sick, skimping on it could adversely affect our immune system, leaving us susceptible to a bad cold or case of the flu. In a study in 164 healthy adults, those who slept fewer than 6 hours each night were more likely to catch a cold than those who slept 6 hours or more each night.
Sleep is also important because our bodies are busy repairing and building our immunity to thrive. Our damaged tissues and cells are being healed and restored. If we don’t get the right amount of sleep, then we are more susceptible to disease and infections. Learn more about how sleep can help our immune system here.
True confession – I used to smoke – a total of maybe 5 or 6 cigarettes in my 20s. That’s about all I could tolerate. For those who do still smoke, you should know that the cold you just can’t seem to shake might actually be hanging around due to your smoking habit. Not only does smoking cause serious health conditions like cancer, but it also lessens your body’s immune response, making you more susceptible to infections. You may also find it harder to shake everyday illnesses that are no big deal to most healthy adults. Tobacco products damage virtually every system of the body, and the immune system is no different. Read about the ways smoking affects the Immune System here.
Find ways to manage your stress.
My life hasn’t really changed that much with this “pandemic”. I am self employed and have worked out of my house for almost 30 years. However, it has changed enough. And, the more I read and learn, I am really concerned about what life will look like in a few months, not only for me but for the rest of the world. This has caused many sleepless nights (see above).
Interestingly, short-term stress, the “fight or flight” response, can actually stimulate your immune activity. The immune system is crucial for wound healing and preventing or fighting infection. Read more about this interesting study here.
Keep in mind that today, we are not really dealing with short-term stress but the long-term kind that throws our bodies out of whack. What we should be striving for is homeostasis. Learn more about homeostasis here.
Our bodies are better at fighting infections and viruses when they are not also dealing with emotional and psychological stress. Today, it feels like we are all struggling with emotional and psychological stress by staying at home, staying away from friends and sometimes family and not knowing when or how this will “end”.
Some experts claim that stress is responsible for as much as 90% of all illnesses and diseases, including cancer and heart disease. Because the effects of stress are cumulative, even ordinary, day-to-day activities can eventually lead to more serious health issues. High stress levels also can cause depression and anxiety, again leading to higher levels of inflammation. In the long-term, sustained, high levels of inflammation point to an overworked, over-tired immune system that can’t properly protect us.
Find is a great list of things you can do to reduce stress here.
Eating “well” does not mean eating a lot. It means eating the most nutritious and appropriate foods to fuel our bodies.
“We can really boost our immunity through diet alone. Consistent intake of the micronutrients that help our bodies fight disease, is a natural solution to infection prevention,” says Cassie Majestic, M.D., an emergency medicine physician at UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange, California. “Micronutrients, or vitamins and minerals, are vital to disease-prevention and health development.”
Find 15 foods that boost the immune system here.
Eating well also means cutting out or at least cutting back on processed sugar. Sadly, there is sugar hidden in so many otherwise “good” foods. It makes me crazy to check ingredients on items like peanut butter only to find that sugar is the SECOND ingredient on some popular brands. Really? Time to start reading labels! Recently, I discovered Crazy Richard’s peanut butter – originally purchased for the dogs but I think it’s the best flavored peanut butter that I have ever tasted. What’s in it? Peanuts. Go figure. Check out Crazy Richard’s All Natural Peanut Butter here.
Add Vitamins to your Diet.
In a perfect world, we would eat a perfect diet and our food would supply every nutrient our bodies needed. While I do try to eat well, it is far from “perfect” … whatever that means. My mom started us on vitamins when we were kids and I have taken supplements most of my life.
Here’s the bulk of what I currently take – I buy these from my holistic chiropractor.
Start with a good multi: Catalyn by Standard Process. Find more info here.
Add a great Vitamin C: Optimal Liposomal Vitamin C by Seeking Health. Find more info here.
And the more I learn, adding Vitamin D3 is essential. Check out Metagenics with added Vitamin K here.
Some specific information about Vitamin D3 (found on the Medical Newspress website):
One of vitamin D’s most important roles is keeping your immune system strong so you’re able to fight off the viruses and bacteria that cause illness. Vitamin D plays an important role in immune function.
2 things you NEED to know when selecting a D3 supplement:
- 1. Never take Vitamin D without Vitamin K2
- Just as important as vitamin D3 is taking vitamin K2! Taking Vitamin D without vitamin K could actually be harmful to your health!
- When it comes to calcium metabolism, vitamins D and K work together. Both play important roles. Vitamin D gets calcium into your blood and Vitamin K gets it to the bones and prevents the calcium from accumulating in your arteries, kidneys or heart.
- You don’t want rogue calcium going to the wrong places, causing joint stiffness or arterial plaque. Vitamin K2 insures that your body uses calcium properly.
- 2. Most D3 Supplements are NOT absorbable.
- When D3 cannot be absorbed, your body is unable to assimilate. So, do your research and find one that is absorbable for maximum benefits.
Find a full list of important vitamins and minerals that you should think about adding to your diet here.
Get off the sofa and exercise.
Here’s a headline for you:
Hospital analysis finds nearly 50% obesity in small sample of COVID-19 patients
Data was provided for 178 patients, about 12 percent. Of that group, 90 percent had an underlying medical condition, including:
- Hypertension: 49.7%
- Diabetes: 28.3%
- Chronic lung disease: 34.6%
- Cardiovascular disease: 27.8%
- Obesity: 48.3%
For patients aged 18 to 49, obesity was the most prevalent underlying condition, according to the study. Nearly 60 percent of those hospitalized were obese. Read the entire article here.
Walking has been my form of exercise for over 20 years. I figure that as long as I am able to put one foot in front of the other, I will walk every day … hopefully with a few dogs. Two years ago, when my bad hip was so very painful, I was still walking my dogs. And, even with the current “pandemic”, I am walking each day soaking up fresh air and sunshine and racking up some serious Steps. Find a great list of how walking is beneficial here.
If you have the ability to get out of your house, please DO! Keeping up regular, daily exercise at a time when much of the world is in isolation will play an important role in helping to maintain a healthy immune system. Learn more about how exercise helps maintain our immune system here.
And last, but definitely not least, find a really good CBD product and take it every day.
A couple of years ago, a remarkable thing happened when CBD became legal in all 50 of the US states. If you remove CBD from the THC coming from the cannabis plant or the hemp plant CBD is now legal to use as a nutritional supplement. Since that time, of course, the market has exploded with interest and this conversation today is about the physiological effects of CBD on the human body. Truly, CBD is not just another nutritional supplement.
CBD tends to be very effective in strengthening the immune system. CBD is an immune suppressor, so it has positive effects when the immune system becomes hyperactive or weakened. A hyperactive immune system causes overreaction when met with allergens or diseases and can even self-harm the body. This is the cytokine storm that I mentioned earlier.
The endocannabinoid system is said to control and regulate the proper balance between humoral and cell-mediated responses. Therefore, the stimulation of ECS through active cannabinoids like CBD helps in enhancing the health, balance, responsivity and functions of the immune’s system. The CBD and ECS are extremely involved in maintaining the optimal functioning immune system.
The Zilis UltraCell CBD is a great addition to help keep your immune system running smoothly and at it’s best. With the high absorption rate of between 85-94%, we get the full benefit of each and every drop. Check out the full line of Zilis CBD and CBG products here. If you would like to try any of the products you can order directly at Zilis.com/lisagraham or you can contact me for more information.
If you would like to dig deeper into how CBD helps improve the immune system, here are a few more resources:
How CBD can help improve the immune system
I hope this list will be a resource for you to learn many of the natural ways that you can improve your own immune system. In addition to helping fight off the current coronavirus, for better general overall health, you will do yourself and your immune system a big favor if you implement most of these suggestions.
Beautifully written Lisa. Don’t forget to stay well hydrated and love on those pups —that for sure is an immune booster !
I will add that when it comes to supplementation one does not work for all and dosage needs to be guided by your healthcare provider who specializes in functional nutrition.
Ana – Thank you so much for your input and I agree, if anyone is interested in adding very viable and highly absorbable vitamins to their diet, please ask your GP or in my case, my most excellent chiropractor!