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In this post, you will learn how to strengthen your immune system during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We’re going to start by understanding how the virus responsible for COVID-19 infects your cells.
We’ll then cover how your immune system reacts to an infection.
And lastly, we’ll go over what nutrients you need to support a strong and rapidly reacting immune system that can fight CODIV-19, or any coronavirus.
There’s no need to fear. Your immune system is beautifully designed to take care of viral infections. It just needs the tools to be healthy and quickly act in the event of a viral intrusion.
Your body’s immune system is a great and complex system designed to protect you. It has evolved for many years and it already knows what to do. Make it strong the way it’s supposed to be by giving it what it needs to be strong. Nourish it. Give it the nutrition it needs.
Are you ready? Here we go.
How Does COVID-19 Infect Cells?
SARS-CoV-2 is the name of the novel virus that causes COVID-19.
COVID-19 is the associated respiratory disease that ranges from no symptoms to respiratory failure, sepsis, and multiple organ dysfunction syndrome.
SARS-CoV-2 binds to the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptors on your cell membranes. ACE2 is a protein on the surface (membrane) of many types of cells. ACE2 receptors are found in high concentrations in lung tissues and the small intestine.
Once the SARS-CoV-2 binds to the ACE2 receptor of a cell, it transfers its genetic material, or RNA, into the cell.
This viral RNA material produces an enzyme called RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRP or replicase), which is the enzyme in charge of the reproduction of the virus.
Now, once the SARS-CoV-2 has infected your cells, how does your immune system react to defend you against the infection?
We’ll cover this process in the next section.
How Does the Immune System Protect You Against COVID-19?
When the SARS-CoV-2 virus comes in your body via airways, through the intestinal track, etc., the virus injects its genetic material inside the cell in your tissues.
Infected cells express abnormal proteins (virus particles) coded by the virus on the cell membrane making them easy to recognize.
In your blood, there are cells called macrophages, a type of Antigen Presenting Cell, or APC. These macrophages travel through the tissues to these infected cells with viral particles on their surface.
These macrophages will envelop and destroy these infected cells!
Now, the importance of these Antigen Presenting Cells, like the name implies, is that they take a piece of the virus (antigen) and present it on their surface.
An antigen is a foreign substance that induces an immune response.
When the macrophage presents the viral antigen on its surface, it calls for T Cells, specifically for the Th1 cells, also knowns as CD4 cells.
These Th1 (CD4) cells bind to the viral antigen presented on the surface of the Antigen Presenting Cell and at the same time, these APCs release a chemical called Interleukin-12 (IL-12) that stimulates the activity of these T Cells to go fight anything that looks like the antigen.
Now, these Th1 cells stimulate two things:
- Th2 cells, also known as Killer Cells, CD8 Cells, or Cytotoxic T Cells (we’ll just call them Th2 cells for simplicity). These Th2 or killer cells will destroy any infected cell that’s easily recognizable by the piece of the viral material presented on the infected cell’s surface. The virus also dies with the infected cell.
- B Cells in the blood to produce antibodies. These antibodies will bind to any viral antigen and neutralize it.
Some of the B cells will become Memory B Cells, which don’t make antibodies. You also have Memory T Cells, which give you immunity for a long time.
T cell immunity is critical to clear the infection out of the body. Immunity is not just about antibodies.
Antibodies deal with what’s circulating in your blood. They cannot deal with an infected cell because they cannot get into the cell. Antibodies act outside the cell so they can prevent their target virus from getting into the cell, but once the virus is in the cell, T cells are important.
To make things even more interesting, a study found “SARS-CoV-2-reactive CD4 T cells in around 40 to 60% of unexposed people, suggesting cross-reactive T cell recognition between circulating ‘common cold’ coronaviruses and SARS-CoV-2.”
There are nutrients that your immune system needs to make all this immune response machinery work optimally. Let’s take a look at what nutrients are key to support your immune system.
How to Strengthen Your Immune System Naturally During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
You have an immune system that protects you.
Your immune system needs to be nourished to quickly engage in an immune response in the presence of a virus.
This is the key: your immune system’s quick and perfect response!
If your malnourished immune system doesn’t quickly neutralize a viral infection, the virus replicates widely causing more infected cells and a bigger immune reaction that causes more inflammation.
Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that contributes to the integrity of your immune system.
Vitamin A, including when supplemented:
- Enhances the antibody production and lymphocyte proliferation;
- Helps sustain the integrity of mucosal lining of the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts; and
- Increases T-cell production.
Children who have received vitamin A supplementation have had higher levels of antibodies in response to vaccination. “Children with mild vitamin A deficiency have a relative immune depression compared with children who have been supplemented to normal vitamin A levels.”
Keep in mind that beta-carotene is no vitamin A. Beta-carotene is the precursor to Vitamin A.
Vitamin A, especially when in balance with Vitamin D, has low toxicity except at high dosages. For instance, for adults, toxicity is typically seen after 100,000 IU/day for 6 months. When you combine vitamin A with vitamin D, higher amounts of vitamin A are needed to hit toxicity levels.
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Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that you must put in your body everyday. Remember that essential means that your body cannot make it and your body needs it to be healthy, especially to support the health of both your innate and adaptive immune responses.
It is well-known that vitamin C has effective antiviral properties used in the treatment of herpes zoster (shingles), herpes simplex (cold sores), herpes varicella-zoster (chickenpox), influenza, measles, and mumps, among others.
Therefore, in the presence of an infection, more vitamin C is needed to support the function of your immune response!
Animals that produce their own vitamin C increase their production of it during illness to support the creation of more immune cells. Humans can’t make their own vitamin C; therefore, you and I have to ingest it.
Likewise, vitamin C’s antioxidant properties are important at protecting your body against the damage from oxidative stress generated during an infection.
Oral vitamin C should be taken daily for a strong immune system and increased amounts should be taken during an infection.
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Vitamin D has a positive effect on your body’s innate and adaptive immune responses and also has a significant impact on the balancing of inflammatory processes, which are triggered by a viral infraction.
As you saw earlier, SARS-CoV-2 has an affinity for the ACE2 receptors found in higher concentrations on cells in the lung alveoli, digestive track, blood vessels, and adrenal glands. Vitamin D increases those ACE2 receptors levels in situations of acute lung injury where ACE2 levels decreased.
“Vitamin D is known to interact with a protein in this pathway—angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2)—which is also exploited by SARS-CoV-2 as an entry receptor. While SARS-CoV-2 downregulates expression of ACE2, vitamin D promotes expression of this gene.”
Around 70% of the US population are vitamin D insufficient and about 30% are deficient. If you’re hiding in your basement, you’re not getting sunlight, and you’re not making vitamin D. It is recommended that your supplement with vitamin D, especially if you’re high risk.
Vitamin D supports production of antimicrobial peptides (short chains of amino acids) in the lungs, thus making infection with the virus and development of COVID-19 symptoms less likely.
Vitamin D might help to reduce the inflammatory response (cytokine storm) to infection with SARS-CoV-2.
So, take your vitamin D every day! You’re supposed to take it anyway as it’s considered an essential nutrient. And yes, you can make it yourself with sunlight exposure, but its deficiency is very prevalent.
If you’re still in doubt, here are more studies that support the benefits of vitamin D on your immune system to fight viral infections:
- Vitamin D deficiency in Ireland – implications for COVID-19. Results from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA)
- Vitamin D and Influenza—Prevention or Therapy?
- Study confirms vitamin D protects against colds and flu
The potential benefit of vitamin D in COVID-19 has been reviewed, and authors recommend a multi-day loading of 10,000 IUs a day and a steady dose of 5,000 IUs a day.
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Quercetin + Zinc
Remember that when the SARS-CoV-2 virus attaches to an ACE2 receptor, it injects it genetic material (RNA) into the cell.
This RNA provides the instructions to make replicase, an enzyme that involved in the replication of this viral RNA.
Zinc is an essential mineral that’s known to inhibit replicase inside the cell.
That’s right. Isn’t that wonderful?
You also need to help your body drive the zinc ion into the cell.
How do you do what?
Like hydroxychloroquine, QUERCETIN is also known as an ionophore, meaning that it can transport zinc ions across the cell membrane.
In other words, quercetin helps drive zinc into the cells and inhibit viral replication!
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Omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA are also essential nutrients that support the immune system by helping resolve the inflammation caused in the body after a viral infection.
Soothing this inflammatory response could be important in the cytokine storm seen on COVID-19 patients.
Here’s the deal, EPA and DHA present at the site of inflammation are converted to specialized chemicals that function together to orchestrate the resolution of inflammation and to support healing, including in the respiratory tract.
In other words, nutritional deficiencies in essential fatty acids can result in delayed resolution of inflammation, which could be very important in the context of severe COVID-19 which manifests as uncontrolled inflammation, also known as cytokine storm, linked with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
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Sleep is a FREE nutrient and probably one of the biggest things you can do you protect yourself from any viral infection.
Sleep has tremendous effects on your immune response.
It is recommended you sleep between 7 to 9 hours a day. Between 30 to 40% of people get less than 7 hours a night.
These are the people who are at higher risk of the consequences of a compromised immune response.
When you go to sleep at around 10 PM, Slow Wave Sleep (SWS) should be present between 10 PM to 1 AM. SWS is needed in the production of Growth Hormone (GH), which has an incredible effect on your immune system response.
Good sleep supports the production of Interleukin-12 by the macrophages that calls for the Th1/CD4 cells and enhances the ability of the Th1 cells binding to an antigen presenting cell.
Sleep also strengthens the ability of Th2 cells (killer cells) to bind to infected cells and produce compounds that tell the cells it’s time to die to kill the virus.
If you go to bed late and/or wake up too early, and get 5 to 6 hours of sleep, you’re affecting your immune response.
You need to sleep more and should aim to an average of 8 hours a night.
The media has taught you that:
- you are weak;
- you can’t fight disease on your own; and
- drugs are the answer to your weaknesses.
Pharmaceuticals’ job is to serve their stakeholders by increasing their wealth. How would they do that? By selling more and more drugs.
How can they sell more drugs? By making you believe that their drugs are the solution to the weaknesses they made you believe you have.
In this way, they guarantee you take their drugs until you die.
They OWN YOU because they have something that you think you need and don’t have.
And I’m not against drugs. They have their place. However, I’m against of how they’re used.
It’s an awesome business as you become a life-long customer.
Unfortunately, this is how the system is designed.
But, you can change that!
You already have an immune system that protects you from foreign invaders. Give it the nutrition that it needs to be strong and stop eating what is weakening it.
I hope this post was informative to you.
Did you learn anything new?
Have you had COVID-19? How was your experience?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
I’d love to hear from you.
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