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By J. C. Amodea, images submitted by writer
On April 24, 2020, a sobering warning was issued in a brief published by the World Health Organization. The report stated that immunity is not necessarily guaranteed to those who have had COVID-19 – even in the presence of antibodies. Furthermore, the organization stated that there is no evidence that you are protected from getting the virus a second time.
Unfortunately, the conclusion is putting a damper on governments issuing “immunity passports.” These passports were to be issued to those who have survived COVID-19 and who would then be considered safe to re-enter the workplace and into society without fear of reinfecting themselves or others.
And that leaves us back at square one.
Self-protection seems to be our number one defense at this point. Besides practicing social distancing – one local news report said Floridians can think of staying apart from others the length of an adult alligator – wearing masks, and using rubber gloves, there is something else that we can do to self-protect: boost your immunity.
One of the best defenses in the face of the current viral pandemic is to boost your immune system. This step is critical, and using supplements can help your immune system to function at its peak. Of course, before starting any new health practice, you should speak with your doctor or natural healthcare practitioner. If you have been cleared to proceed with immune-boosting supplements, and if they do not adversely interact with medications that you currently ingest, here are a few ideas of how to ramp up your immune system.
Vitamin D and your immunity
The benefits of vitamin D are many. It aids in the health of the respiratory tract and boosts the immune system, thereby lessening the number of common infections, supports bone and tooth health, and helps maintain a stable nervous system and normal heart rhythm. The benefits of getting a dose of sunlight every day to absorb natural vitamin D is well-known. In colder climates, when folks stay indoors and receive less sunlight, the chances of vitamin D deficiency escalate. Lowered vitamin D levels play havoc on our natural defenses and leave us more susceptible to colds and flu, which results in coughing, sneezing, fever, and that general feeling of malaise.
Natural sources of the vitamin are found in fatty fish like tuna, mackerel and salmon, as well as vitamin D-fortified foods that include some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk and cereals. Beef liver, cheese and egg yolks are also excellent vitamin D sources. Most often, it is difficult to consume enough of these foods, so supplementation in daily doses makes sense.
Vitamin C, too, right?
According to WebMD, “Vitamin C is considered one of the leading, safest and most effective nutrients. The benefits of vitamin C may include protection against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling.” Also serving as an antioxidant, vitamin C works to strengthens our body’s natural defenses to fight against inflammation. The vitamin encourages white blood cell production, shortens wound-healing time and aids in reducing blood pressure.
While you may see it called L-ascorbic and L-ascorbate, ascorbic acid is vitamin C in its purest form. Since our bodies do not produce vitamin C naturally, we must consume fruits and vegetables, including oranges, strawberries, kiwi fruit, bell peppers, broccoli, kale, and spinach – or take it in pill, powder or liquid form.
What else is there?
Elderberry has long been a folk remedy, known as “nature’s flu shot” to help prevent and ease the symptoms of colds and flu. Today, whether in extract, syrup, gummies or pill form, the natural immune system booster fights against viral infections like the cold and flu. WebMD states that “The berries and flowers of elderberry are packed with antioxidants and vitamins that may boost your immune system. They can help tame inflammation, lessen stress and help protect your heart.” So, if you’re looking for a different way to boost your immunity, elderberry is a tasty and holistic alternative.
A probiotic is also a good addition to the immune system arsenal as they help in promoting a strong digestive system. The good bacteria source – three main sources are yogurt, supplements, and fermented foods – has shown to have immune benefits. Your doctor or gastroenterologist can guide you on the type and amount for your best result. One combination, mineral zinc and L-carnosine, provide an improved gastric function to maintain beneficial bacterial balance in the gastrointestinal tract.
And, speaking about probiotics, they can be found in another all-around health-producing substance: apple cider vinegar that eliminates harmful intestinal bacteria. Used long ago by Hippocrates to combat infection and protect open skin wounds, it is made from fermented apple juice and has a strong acidic smell and taste, in which it is said the health benefits reside.
If you buy the type labeled “with the mother,” the product will appear cloudy with the “mother” strands that contain the beneficial probiotics floating within the liquid. The primary substance, acetic acid is said to kill harmful pathogens like bacteria. With a long history of use as a disinfectant and preservative, many swear by its properties. A couple of spoonfuls either taken straight or diluted with a little water reaps benefits. For those who find the taste off-putting, it is available in pill form and even as gummies.
Beta-1,3/1,6-D-Glucan (Beta-Glucan) is another supplement gaining attention as an add-on to the immune-fighting arsenal. Unless you ingest foods such as barley fiber, oats, and whole grains, reishi, maitake and shiitake mushrooms, seaweed, or algae that are high in Beta-Glucan, you may wish to consume the supplement. Beta-Glucan is derived from the cell wall of Bakers’ yeast and it interacts with certain immune cells that are found in the intestinal tract. Studies have shown that it plays a critical role in healthy immune system function.
If you think it is right for you and your healthcare professional agrees, who can argue that doing all you can to become immune-strong is a good thing? Stay Safe, and stay healthy.