A sensible approach to viral infections
We are all concerned about the risk of the Coronavirus and want to protect ourselves as much as possible. Other than the practical techniques of washing hands and avoiding contamination, maximising your immune system is critical. Good nutrition is essential for good health and boosting your immune system. Eating a balanced diet high in plant based foods should be the focus, enhanced by high quality supplements where appropriate. On the whole your immune system does a remarkable job of defending you against disease causing micro-organisms.
In addition to good nutrition, your immune system is optimised by holistic healthy living strategies, which include regular exercise, sleep, hydration and reducing stress levels.
To aid you in selecting any dietary supplementation, we have listed specific nutrients to look for that boost immune health:
Vitamin D has been shown to help prevent respiratory infections. Vitamin D3 is the preferred form of Vitamin D for best absorption. A maximum dose of 5000 IU a day can be taken. Children under the age of 12 years should not take more than 1000 IU a day. Being a fat soluble vitamin, blood levels should be checked if vitamin D is taken on a longer term basis. If not testing blood levels 3 months of vitamin D supplementation should be sufficient.
Vitamin C plays a role in producing white blood cells and antibodies that fight off infection. Vitamin C can be boosted when you feel you are getting sick by supplementing for a short period of time. Ensure sufficient water intake at the same time as high levels of vitamin C can promote kidney stones when dehydrated.
Zinc is another mineral important to a healthy immune system. People with a low zinc levels tend to have a poorer immune response to infections. Zinc is needed to produce and activate some types of white blood cells that help fight infections. Good sources of zinc include: lean meat, poultry, seafood (especially oysters), wholegrain products, beans, seeds and nuts. Zinc supplements if used shouldn’t be more than 25mg a day.
Herbal products offer another line of defense for boosting immune function. These supplements enhance innate and adaptive immune function as well as increasing white blood cell production. Andographis (androgrpholide) has anti-pyretic, anti-inflammatory and immune enhancing properties. Taraxacum (taraxasterol) has direct anti-viral and immune modulating properties and Flos Lonicera (chlorogenic acid) has anti-microbial activity. Anti-viral supplements cannot be taken safely on a long-term basis and are intended for management when required. Gentle immune boosting herbs however can be taken safely on a longer-term basis. These need to be discontinued during acute stages of illness. They are contra-indicated for all organ transplant patients.
As always, please consult your health practitioner for advice before taking any supplementation.