With the rise of the coronavirus it’s important we talk about measures you can take to support your immune system to increase your chances of preventing an infection.
As you may know, there is no vaccine or cure for this infection and those impacted by it simply need to let it run its course and get plenty of rest and fluids.
In this post, we are going to talk about simple yet effective measures you can take to support your immune system, specifically against viruses but with a twist and focus on hormones!
Viruses attack the immune system differently than bacteria does. They enter the human cells, and use the human mechanisms of cell replication to replicate its own genetic material. Because it hides within the cell, it is harder for the immune system to find it and attack it. However the body has elaborate systems in place to try and prevent viral replication and hence help the body recover.
What’s the connection between hormones and the immune system?
Did you know that estrogen acts as an immunomodulator and the rise and fall of estrogen throughout your cycle will have a different impact on your immune system?
As estrogen levels rise during the first half of your cycle, your immune system is on high alert, is ready to attack and it is a better time to fight off infections. These changes happen to better protect women of childbearing years in preparation for a possible pregnancy.
In the second half of your cycle, as estrogen levels begin to drop, the immune system takes a step back in order to avoid attacking a fertilized egg, in case there is one.
If your hormones are out of balance, you may be more prone to feeling run down and being less likely to fight off a bug in the second (luteal) phase of your cycle.
Due to the immune stimulating effects of estrogen, it’s also important to note that too much estrogen, or estrogen dominance can actually increase your chances of autoimmune disease, a condition where the immune system overreacts and attacks its own tissues.
Examples of autoimmune diseases that women are statistically more prone to than men, include Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease and multiple sclerosis.
The key takeaway message is that menstruating women should increase self-care and immune support interventions in the second half of the cycle, when the immune system is naturally lower. With that being said, if you are unsure of whether you are struggling with hormonal imbalance and how it’s impacting your immune system, reach out to us to learn more!
Immune system support:
There are some preventative measures that anyone should follow regardless of their gender, age and hormonal status. Any recommendations discussed below apply to all! Please remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
1. Basic Prevention
– Frequent hand washing and use of sanitizer
-Sneeze into your crook of your arm and not into your hands
-Wear a mask if you are travelling or in the presence of dense populations
-Getting proper sleep
-Supporting your stress response as it has a direct impact on your immune system
-Getting lots of fluids
Consume the following foods, which are high in certain vitamins and minerals that will help support your immune system:
a. Zinc – seafood, pumpkin seed, sea vegetables, beans, lentils and legumes
b. Vitamin D – salmon, fatty fish, egg yolks, cheese (if tolerable), mushrooms
c. Vitamin C – oranges, papayas, strawberries, kiwi, organic leafy green vegetables (spinach, bok choy, kale), broccoli, bell peppers
d. Vitamin A – liver, cod liver oil, mackerel, salmon; beta-carotene: sweet potato, winter squash, kale, collards, carrots •
e. Garlic – fresh garlic that has been crushed has the highest concentration of allicin, the active ingredient that has the antiviral effects.
a. Elderberry – this plant has a long traditional use as a natural antiviral. It’s also delicious and is a great intervention for both adults and kids. Taking elderberry while already having flu has been shown to significantly reduce the symptoms. This botanical can be taken in liquid or capsule form or in the form of lozenges.
b. Vitamin D – if you are deficient in this vitamin, and if you live in Canada, it is very likely that you are, food alone is likely not enough to correct that. We recommend you check your levels so you know the extent of your deficiency and hence what dose and frequency you should be taking it for. Ask our office or your family doctor for a requisition to get tested. Consider getting Vitamin D shots for a faster boost.
c. Vitamin C – this is probably the vitamin you are most familiar with that can support your immune system and you’re not wrong. However, too many people only grab their vitamin C when they feel under the weather. Because vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin, meaning your body can’t really store it for future use, it’s best to supplement daily. This is also a critical vitamin for supporting the stress response and hence preventing your immune system from weakening if you are under high stress.
d. Nutrient IV Therapy – intravenous infusion of high dose vitamins and minerals is another great intervention to support your immune system. Our Recover formula is specifically formulated with higher dose vitamin C, zinc, selenium as well as other supporting vitamins and minerals to give your immune system an immediate boost. Learn more about IV therapy here.
Overall the immune system is very dynamic and ever changing. A holistic approach to supporting it through proper diet, lifestyle, supplementation and preventative means will go a long way. There is no need to wait until a pandemic strikes or someone is sick around you to start supporting your immune system.
Also, remember that if you are a menstruating woman, you have additional factors to consider, such as the overall balance of your hormones, the timing of your cycle and the status of your estrogen specifically.
If you would like to learn more about your unique hormonal, nutritional and metabolic needs, learn about our comprehensive functional testing and signature hormone balancing programs!