How to Immediately and Effectively Help Build Immunity Against Viruses
It’s increasingly accepted that the causes of infectious diseases in general, including flu, are due more to the body’s weakened immune system response than to the invading organism itself. This is why carriers of serious viruses can remain healthy without symptoms. Further, specific dietary and lifestyle factors are well established to significantly enhance your immunity to infection.
As a quick reference, we’ve outlined easy steps to help you maximize immune defenses:
Here’s what you need to know (and do) to be well prepared
Vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent in the United States and worldwide. As many as 1/3 -1/2 of all otherwise healthy middle-aged to elderly adults have low levels of (25-OH D), the principal circulating storage form of vitamin D.
This is important because Vitamin D alone (from sunshine, supplements or ultraviolet lamps) has long been shown in numerous studies to reduce the incidence of respiratory infection. Here’s what you should know about the role vitamin D plays in supporting immune health:
- Vitamin D3 significantly enhances all immune system function, and your ability to fight off or heal from any viral attack.
- Keep blood levels of vitamin D3 near the middle of the reference range (50ng/ml). This requires D3 supplements (or UVB irradiation) for anyone not getting enough regular, full strength sunshine, or living above the 37th parallel during the winter months.
- Most adults require ~ 5000IUs/day, and most children need 1000IUs per 25lbs of body weight.
- The specific level of vitamin D you need is impacted by your age, skin pigmentation, body weight, body fat, and exposure to any number of stressors which deplete vitamin D.
- Higher levels of stress-induced cortisol block vitamin D receptors, along with caffeine which reduces vitamin D receptor expression and vitamin D uptake.
Vitamin D not only drives the immune system, but along with sulfur, cell detoxification as well, by supporting glutathione function. This is because vitamin D modulates sulfate delivery and balance by regulating proteins that enable their delivery. It also reduces cortisol, stress levels and anxiety; improves mood, and healing; and muscle and athletic performance.
Newer research indicates normal levels of vitamin A (retinol) in combination with adequate vitamin D appear to inhibit influenza pathogenesis more than just vitamin D alone. However higher background concentrations of retinol relative to lower levels of vitamin D increase the risk of severe complications.
Therefore, it’s important to make sure you are getting adequate vitamin D3, and to ensure you have adequate vitamin A by taking 3500-5000 IUs of beta-carotene. Beta-carotenes will only convert to the lower safe and immune-enhancing levels of preformed retinol as the body needs it.
Avoid Refined Sugars
One of the most important things you can do to prevent or recover from viral infections is not to eat refined sugar, or carbs. Viruses can only replicate from glucose derived sugars or lactic acid. Herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) was among the first viruses shown to be dependent on extracellular glucose. Deprivation of glucose from the medium had detrimental effects on virion production.
Balanced vitamins and minerals
Lactate (lactic acid) is also a key driver of viral replication, and hence the extra need for vitamins B1, B3, B2, B5, R ALA, and magnesium to ensure lactate is properly metabolized. Lactate is produced from sugars in our foods that we can’t burn properly -- either due to:
- a lack of vitamins and minerals from excess stress, toxins, or junk foods
- a shortage of oxygen either due to: a lack of healthy oils necessary to transport oxygen in our bodies (like those found in organic flax and traditionally produced organic sunflower oils -- not the modified high-oleic oils commonly sold in North America today); or work and exercise-induced oxygen debt
It’s not wise to under or over-exercise – as both cause oxygen debt. Too little exercise doesn’t circulate enough oxygen through your body, and too much causes over-consumption of your oxygen stores after heavy exercise or training. Therefore, the wisest exercise during flu season is moderate daily exercise (5-6 days/week), which should include weightlifting or resistance training, as this further helps to reduce blood sugar levels, by driving blood sugar into your muscles as stored glycogen, keeping it away from virus, bacteria and fungus.
Some final things to remember
We recommend getting extra sleep, washing your hands, face, and nose (always), and avoiding alcohol during a flu or viral breakout, as alcohol depletes the body of key nutrients. A high-quality HEPA air cleaner for your bedroom or workspace will make a difference too.
For enhanced immunity protection, we have an Immune Defense boost pack, that can be added to your vitamin protocol, or kept on hand for when you may feel run-down.
The complete research summary, clinical test results, and citations supporting this article can be found here.