Covid-19 is largely known, at this time, as a respiratory infection similar to but different than the flu. While we’re still learning how it impacts your throat, lungs and ability to breathe, current medical literature links covid-19 infection with a high degree of lung inflammation and depressed respiratory function.
For those of us interested in any combination of longevity, performance and health, the question that routinely comes up is how can we prepare our bodies to fight and potentially prevent ourselves from getting covid.
The answer is that we need an holistic approach to strengthen our immune system against covid-19.
What’s your body weight?
Did you know that one study shows being overweight increases your risk of getting covid-19 by 72%? I’ve never understood why there’s so much debate, when you carry excessive body fat, it’s not just the body fat. It’s all the associated hormonal, inflammatory, aging and immune system changes that happen because of that body fat. It’s a vicious cycle. If there was ever a time to eat better and train harder, now is the time.
Exercise And Diet
At this point, it doesn’t really matter how you train since I know gyms are closed. It could be walking, running or you could of designed a home gym like me. You’ve got to make a point to move every single day. We’ve written a lot of articles on diet on the site but in a one word summary
Eat less sugar and starches, more healthy fats and protein every 2-3 hours.
By varying your food intake, particularly fruits and vegetables, you’re getting microdoses of a variety of nutrients that strengthen your immune system. A diet filled with high quality meats, fruits, vegetables, healthy olive oil and coconut oil and “good” carbohydrates like oatmeal and potatoes provides your body with daily nutrients
Improved Sleep Quality
It often is not about HOW much sleep you get but the quality of sleep. Most people go to bed too late, thus not getting a full REM cycle of sleep. Data shows that we need to be asleep by at least 11:00 pm for a full cycle of REM sleep, which typically occurs between 2-4 am. The later you get to sleep, the less of that REM block you can enter. (1)
There’s also the stress factor of staring at your phones and tablets before bed then turning the light off expecting to fall sleep. There’s no relaxation phase pre bed that allows your body to calm down.
Reduced sleep quality weakens the immune system and increases inflammatory markers.
Optimize gut health
Your gut is made up of a variety of bacteria and microbes that fight infection. Your gut microbiome is critical to having a healthy immune system, reducing inflammation and increasing overall wellness. If you’re looking to strengthen your immune system against covid-19, there are two routes for strengthening your immune system.
-Supplement with a quality probiotic. The Physique Formula ultra probiotic 10 contains ten unique strains of helpful bacteria including lactobacillus plantarum, lactobacillus casi and lactobacillus paracasei which have all been shown to enhance immune system function and fight upper respiratory tract infections. (2)
Zinc, Vitamin D and Vitamin C
I want to lump these three immune system boosting supplements together to avoid making this entire article about supplements.
Zinc seems to reduce the length and intensity of illnesses. While zinc is present in red meat and seafood, most Americans do not get enough zinc in their daily diet. Not to mention that whole food sources of zinc may not be as absorbed as efficiently as supplemental forms. Even though the data is split between male and female doses, there seems to be a sweet spot around, at minimum, 25 mg’s per day. though levels vary based on age, activity and overall health. (3)
This does not account for the actual efficiency of Zinc. The Physique Formula Multi vitamin includes zinc glycinate which is a bounded form of zinc that is readily delivered to your tissues. I’d aim for 30 mg’s per day in active individuals.
Vitamin D has gotten a lot of early covid love due to recent studies demonstrating how Vitamin D may reduce covid’s impact on your lungs by reducing inflammation. Vitamin D also seems to be able to protect individuals from short term respiratory illnesses. There seems to also be a correlation between Vitamin D3 intake and immune system health. The recommended daily intake of Vitamin D3 is between 1,000 to 1,5000 IUs but, again, that depends on your current health status and activity levels. (4)
I workout a lot. Genetically I also use up more Vitamin D3 and personally I take 5,000 IUs per day.
Vitamin C is the first thing that most people think of when it comes to immune system supplements. While much of the research on Vitamin D is done around low levels of 200-300 mg’s per day, and that shows immune system benefits it doesn’t account for unhealthy gut absorption and inflammatory bowel conditions that we see more and more these days.
Studies on upward of 2,000 mg’s of Vitamin C have been shown effective at raising immune system function without digestive distress. Doses between 1,000 and 3,000 mgs per day produce short term peak concentrations two to three times higher than individuals taking 200 mg’s per day.
What that means and have been shown, that high doses of vitamin C between 2,000 and 3,000 mg’s per day maintains peak vitamin C levels. Higher doses of Vitamin C increase and maintain levels two to three times as high as the intake. Further studies found that supplementing with at least 2,000 mg’s of vitamin C per day while experiencing a cold greatly reduced the severity and duration of that cold by 26% compared to a 1,000 mg’s dose. (5)
Again, there are special considerations for active individuals. My recommendation is to take 2,000 mgs of vitamin C per day. You don’t seem to need to spread the dose out but if you’d like, go for it.
There are a variety of other immune system supplements that can help you. Garlic and oil of oregano seems to reduce harmful bacteria in your gut and activate immune boosting genes. Ginseng has been shown to reduce the risk and duration of respiratory symptoms on elderly individuals by upward of 55% (6)
B vitamins, especially B12, increases the activity of natural killer cells. Vitamin B seems to improve respiration function and the integrity of cells, defending them against “invasion” of covid-19. (7)
Interesting, B12 seems to reduce the impact of covid-19 on your internal organs. In singapore covid-19 patients were given B12, Vitamin D, and magnesium, they expired reduced COVID-19 symptoms, the severity of the disease and the reduced need for oxygen. (8)
When there's so much uncertainty around you, the only place that you can fority is what you can control, that's your health and your mindset. Get to it.