As I was placing my last order of supplements from an online dispensary, the items in my cart updating to “backordered” as I continued browsing. Like so many other people, I was trying to ensure I was giving my family one leg up against Covid-19. As a nutritionist, I know the importance of immune supportive supplements, but I have also experienced and felt their effects too. As I scrambled to add Vitamin C to my cart, just to have it be backordered, I racked my brain for supplements with Vitamin C, I settled on Power Paks. Containing 1200 mg of ascorbic acid per pack and only available because the picture did not match the product. Click, I swooped them into my cart and checked out as quickly as I could in fear that they too would disappear.
Fear. What so many people are feeling now, fear of the unknown outcome that this virus could cause for them. More than just illness, this virus has effected jobs, the economy, brought the worst out in people, but then, it is also allowing us to take a hard look at our lives. We could all use a reminder of what is important. Those “things” that are most important to you are probably the people that you are forced to lock-down with. Fear of losing them? That is my biggest right now.
Back to the Vitamin C dilemma. The light bulb went off as my hypervigilant mouse-trigger-finger relaxed. What foods are immune supportive?! This is the key. I know it in my entire being. “Food is medicine” and “you cannot out-supplement a bad diet” are phrases taught within the nutrition world. Fear got the best of me, clouded my judgement. Made me lose sight of my own values. I value whole, unprocessed, traditional, sustainable, organic, biodiverse, non-GMO food. I was trying to feel safe and secure, to guard against the stress that can beat my body down if I do not keep it under wraps, all the while causing myself stress. Ok, moving on, trying to forgive myself for being myself.
This leads me to sharing the foods that my family and I have been consuming, or not, to support our immune systems and apparently, steady our nervous systems. Here are a few immune supportive foods that are easy to obtain or make during the times of social distancing.
Garlic is loaded with sulphur, which supports the liver (1). The liver has a tough job of detoxing everything that is eaten or that the body is exposed to like air pollution. The liver also performs bodily functions like metabolizing hormones and creating glutathione. Glutathione is a major antioxidant that is created by the body. Support the liver and you are supporting the entire body to function more smoothly.
To obtain the greatest benefit from garlic, grate or press it, let it sit for 10 minutes then add it to a dish at the end. Try not to cook the garlic. When garlic is grated, it breaks-down the cell walls allowing chemicals to interact and allicin to be released. However, letting grated garlic stand for more than 45 minutes degrades allicin making it less effective.
Traditionally fermented sauerkraut that is made from cabbage is packed full of Vitamin C and probiotics. Vitamin C supports the immune system (2). Probiotics support the immune system too (3). Probiotics create a more beneficial gut ecosystem that promotes full digestion and simulation of nutrients. Also, probiotics protect the integrity of the gut lining so that a condition called leaky gut is less likely.
Leaky gut is just as it sounds, a gut that leaks. This means that undigested food particles enter the bloodstream, where they should not be, activating the immune system against food particles. Now at every meal, the immune system is activated to food invaders. Constantly activating the immune system causes cortisol to continuously be released. When cortisol is in constant demand, other hormones get dysregulated. An immune system that is on over-drive uses up nutrient stores, has less reserves and resources to counter a viral infection or even seasonal allergies. This can cause a down-ward spiral in health, but as you can see, it all starts in the gut.
Grass-fed Ground Beef
Cows that live on pasture are well cared for. They eat more of their natural diet, grass, clover, and other ground-cover. They get fresh air, exercise, and socialize with other cows. Hmm, things that are good for humans are also good for cows. These cows are healthy, robust, and packed full of nutrition because they rarely get sick and rarely need antibiotics to recover. Grass-fed ground beef contains many immune supportive vitamins including zinc, selenium, iron, B-vitamins, and amino acids (4).
Refined sugar is nutrient poor. The body uses nutrients in processing of sugar, so when sugar is consumed it is basically robbing the body of nutrition (5). Nutrient poor individuals do not have an optimized immune system and therefore are at risk of getting sick whether from the common cold, flu, heart disease, or autoimmune disease. Sugar consumption directly suppresses the immune system (6). Sugar is also very addictive, so it creates a vicious cycle of constantly wanting more, thus continuously suppressing the immune system.
I hope you find this information empowering. It was birthed by fear, but expressed with love.
**These recommendations are for educational purposes only. They are not intended as treatment or prescription for any disease, or as a substitute for regular medical care.**