Caring for Your Immune System 101, pt. 1

How to boost your immune system part 1 The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is top of mind for everyone lately. It’s impacting every aspect of our lives and requiring us to be more aware of our surroundings, our personal hygiene, and how we care for ourselves and others. The first line of defense against this virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), is proper and thorough handwashing. In case you somehow missed it, they advise that you wash your hands with water and soap for a minimum of 20 seconds, or about how long it takes to sing The Birthday Song twice.

Temporary Social Distance Shift to Telehealth

Staying home, disinfecting high-touch and high-traffic areas at home, at work, in your car – all of these are recommendations to limit the spread of infection and keep you and your family safe. To keep our employees and clients safe, and to honor the City’s stay at home order, Samaritan Center closed our doors in mid-March and transitioned entirely to telehealth services. This has been great for our therapists, as they can continue to see their clients and provide invaluable mental health counseling at a critical time. The Integrative Medicine department at Samaritan Center, however, is known for offering acupuncture – kind of impossible to administer through video or over the phone, right?

More than Acupuncture at Samaritan Center

The good news is, as Licensed Acupuncturists, acupuncture is only one of many different services we offer. We help people improve their mood, sleep, and overall health through diet and nutrition. This is something that we can do via video or telephone. We also offer Tai chi and Pilates classes, also through video. Now more than ever, we need to harness the power of healthy food and good nutrition to support and build our immune systems. Back when Covid-19 was still fairly new to Central Texas, we prepared a long list of foods and supplements that boost immunity for our Samaritan Center staff. We would like to share some of those with you here. A note - before you start adding, though – consider eliminating. Sugar is not your friend right now. (It and the insulin it prompts your pancreas to release are pro-inflammatory. In fact, sugar has even been shown to suppress the immune system for up to two hours after consuming it – so go easy on the ice cream, cakes, candy, cookies, etc… (give your body a fighting chance, will ya?!).

Priority Nutrition and Supplements You Can Take to Build Immunity

Please note:  none of the below has been proven to treat or prevent COVID-19. That said – there is, under most circumstances, zero harm in boosting your immunity to incre ase your odds of fighting off infection. If you are receiving medical treatment for cancer, autoimmune conditions, or are on blood thinners or medications known to have side effects or contraindications  – please consult your physician before adding supplements of any kind.  
  • Vitamin D3 – Powerful for boosting the aspect of the immune system that specifically fights viruses; consider a liquid/drops if supplementing. Excellent food sources include egg yolks, salmon, sardines, and mushrooms. 2,000-4,000 IU daily for maintenance, and docs may prescribe more if you are D3-deficient.
  • Vitamin C – Long-documented for its effects on the immune system, too little of this critical vitamin has been correlated with increased risk of infection – in particular from the flu virus. Consider the buffered form if you have a sensitive stomach. Excellent food sources include guava, oranges, tomato juice, and cooked broccoli. 3,000 mg/day, in divided doses if possible.
  • Zinc Gluconate Lozenges – There is some research to support the use of zinc gluconate lozenges in the treatment of coronaviruses responsible for the common cold. I’ve found a few brands that also contain elderberry, but the research right now cautions against elderberry for COVID-19. To be on the safe side, try to get lozenges that do not contain elderberry. 20mg daily
The above three nutrients are by no means an extensive list, but they are a good place to start. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, we will be sharing more with you so be sure to check back.

Small Shifts Yield Big Results

In the meantime, in addition to adding Vitamin D3, Vitamin C, and zinc gluconate lozenges to your daily regimen, there is A LOT more you can do to build your immune system that will cost you nothing more than a few minutes of your time or a shift in your routine. Keep in mind – in an ironic twist, stressing out and panicking over the virus compromises your immune system. So here are several things you can do to keep your stress in check.
  1. 20-30 minutes per day, outdoors if possible. You can still get outside and get fresh air if you keep the required 6 feet of social distance from others. But indoors is good too.
  2. Make sure you get adequate sleep. 8 hours is ideal; set yourself up for success by putting away your phone 2 hours before turning in.
  3. Hydrate! 8 glasses of water/day is still the ideal.
  4. If you notice social media and the news are particularly upsetting and agitating at this time, limit your exposure. Read a book. Watch a comedy. Clean your house. Watch one of the gajillion YouTube “How-To” videos and learn a new skill or craft.
  5. Connect with a friend or family member as often as you can – whether you call, FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, or send smoke signals. Connecting, sharing experiences, helping and supporting one another can all be powerful stress-relievers.

Schedule an Integrative Medicine Telehealth Appointment

Finally, consider reaching out and setting a telehealth appointment with one of our Licensed Acupuncturists. We would love to see you, and support you with instruction in acupressure, stress-relieving exercises, meditation and/or breathwork – as well as work with you on your diet and nutrition. We’ve also made arrangements to drop ship herbal supplements from our distributors. Sessions are $15 for 30 minutes, or $25 for 45 minutes. You’ll be amazed by what we can accomplish in that little time. No matter what you choose to do, please take care of yourself and your loved ones – and check back in for more recommendations based in the science of modern nutrition and herbal medicine, and the tradition of ancient medical wisdom.  

Read Part 2 here.