Viruses evolve faster than anything else of the planet and can cause the common cold and cold sores as well as epidemics and pandemics as we are seeing now with the Coronavirus. Nutritionally there is much you can do to support your immune system in preparation for any attack on your body.

 

Human coronaviruses (HCoVs) are part of a family of viruses that can cause anything from the “common cold” to severe respiratory illnesses, although normally harmless to most individuals who are not immuno-compromised. However, the current outbreak is caused by a novel strain from the coronavirus family – so new that it does not yet have a name – it is currently labelled by the World Health Organisation as the 2019 novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV.

So, what can you do to protect yourself should the virus spread?  Outside the WHO advice which can be found here  , and manic hand-sanitisation, supporting the immune system is key – diet and lifestyle come first but there is a good case for additional supplements as many of us can benefit from additional support.    At the very least vitamin D3/K where nearly everyone in the UK is deficient during months of low/little sun.

Key nutrients and minerals required for the immune system are:

  • Vitamins A, E, zinc, selenium are all key.   Additional zinc during early stages of an acute attack can be beneficial – I often recommend zinc lozenges where the respiratory system is involved and additional benefit if a client has any suspected gut absorption issues.  Be aware some individuals cannot convert plant sources of vitamin A into its active form – so if you are vegan worth considering – I am noticing a lot of people on the roads who seem to be suffering from Night Blindness!
  • Vitamin D – if you are not supplementing already and not had your vitamin D levels checked just do it!  Many GP’s will not test vitamin D now but taking 1000IU may simply not be enough, especially if you have any form of underlying chronic infection/condition.  You can get your levels checked privately either via a Nutritionist such as myself along with a comprehensive blood panel or go to somewhere like Medichecks to arrange it yourself
  • High dose vitamin C can be very beneficial.  Again, liposomal forms (liquid formulations that are absorbed via the mouth) can increase absorption.  In the acute phase of a viral attack doses up to 6-8g can be taken safely but 1-2g on a daily basis during winter months may be sufficient.

There are many herbs and additional immune support products you can consider – some of the key ones are:

  • An immune complex containing Elderberry elderberry mat be helpful – preliminary in vitro research has revealed its strong inhibitory effect on a strain of human coronavirus (HCoV-NL63)
  • Licorice root and cinnamon oil extracts have been shown to have moderate inhibitory activity in wild-type severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (wtSARS-CoV) and HIV/SARS-CoV S pseudovirus infection.  These could be used via a diffuser or as a tincture (under qualified guidance).
  • Echinacea – a well known herbal supplement which has been shown in numerous clinical studies to show potent anti-viral properties, particularly beneficial in respiratory infections
  • Consider N-acetyl-cysteine  to support the mucosal surfaces of the respiratory tract.
  • Beta Glucans, found in a variety of food sources such a oats and mushrooms, have been used for centuries to help ‘heal’ and their immune modulating properties are well researched.  They can also be bought as a supplement.
  • Probiotics – by supporting the overall integrity of the gut your overall health is likely to improve.  The gut microbiome has many well-researched roles in modulating the immune response, however, choose your product with care.   I recommend going to a health-food shop and seeking advise or, ideally, arrange to have a functional stool test done so a probiotic can be chosen with more informed knowledge specific to you.  There are many many products out there – consideration to viability of strains, dose and strains specificity should always be given.

Finally, do not forge the importance of sleep and wholesome, unprocessed diet -and not just when ill!   Quality protein to make anti-bodies is important during an infection and healthy fats are essential for optimal cell membrane function.   If you feel yourself coming down with something GET TO BED!!   Why we still under-estimate the power of sleep I am not sure but it may be time to change a few habits.

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