In March, we posted a blog titled: Coronavirus: What You Need to Know & Do: Plus Our New Immunity Supporting Kits to Keep You Healthy.  We wanted to follow up on that article and hone our recommendations based on new data.

First, the coronavirus now is referred to by its official name: SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2), or COVID19 for short.

Updated statistics

At the time we published our last blog on this topic, the numbers were still quite low.

  • March 1, 2020
    • One (1) death in Washington
    • 472 confirmed cases in the United States

Of course, the public health officials saw the writing on the wall.  We are quite sure they could not have predicted our autumn numbers.

  • As of October 23, 2020 (in 7.5 months)
    • 42,000,000 cases and 1,140,600 deaths worldwide
    • 8,445,250 cases and 223,437 deaths in the United States 
    • 100,525 cases and 2,289 deaths in Washington 
  • As of December 4, 2020 (in 9 months)
    • 65,771,488 cases and 1,516,035 deaths worldwide
    • 14,343,430 cases and 278,605 deaths in the United States
    • 172,380 cases and 2,900 deaths in Washington

A few more numbers based on the above and generally available data:

  • 22% of all cases worldwide are in the U.S.
  • The U.S. is only 4.3% of the world’s population. 
  • 4.4% of the U.S. population has been infected.  
  • The flu kills between 8,200-20,000 people in the U.S. per year. 

This is certainly not a bad flu.

Supporting immunity

Most of what we wrote in March regarding supporting your immune system stands.  However, we wanted to update our information, add a few supplements that have been researched and shown to be beneficial, and add some recommended time limits to some of these supplements.  We also have a new version of our Immunity Supporting Kit for those who’d like to get the whole kit at a discounted price.

The following lifestyle recommendations stand:

  • Wear a mask. This is obvious to us now, knowing how the virus is transmitted.  We are fortunate to have an abundance of masks available to us, whereas we did not back in March.  Try to use washable, cloth masks with a sleeve for a paper filter.  This pollutes far less.  There has been a tremendous increase in single-use plastic since this pandemic started. We can do our part.
  • Wash your hands frequently.  Although this virus is transmitted through aerosolized particles, you never know how recently someone sneezed into their hands and touched a surface.
  • Maintain good immune-supporting practices
    • Sleep enough.  Nothing replaces the body’s innate ability to heal when properly rested. For most adults this is between 7-9 hours a night.
    • Wear a hat outside when it’s cold; we lose a lot of our body heat through our head. If your immune system is vulnerable, this may make a difference.
    • Wash your food thoroughly; many hands have touched it. 
    • Cough and sneeze into a tissue, or if you don’t have one, your elbow, not your hands.  
    • Use antimicrobial essential oils (see below) which can kill airborne pathogens.
    • Maintain exercise habits; moderate amounts of exercise improve immunity. 
    • Stay home if you are sick.

More specifically to our realm of nutrition, here are our top recommendations.

  • Stay hydrated.  All cells perform better when we have enough water. We recommend aiming for at least half your body weight in ounces (E.g. a 150 lb person would need 75 fl. oz of water daily). 
  • Eat protein and vegetables – This is foundational to a healthy body and supplies many of the nutrients needed to fight infection. Talk with one of our nutritionists to help determine your optimal amounts and individualized targets.
  • Avoid sugar and refined flours – Sugar and flour (basically sugar that is not sweet) is a known immune suppressant, plain and simple.3,4 We recommend consuming no more than 25 g of added sugars (that’s 6 teaspoons) in a day. 

There has been some good publicity on nutritional supplements, and we’d like to extend our recommendations based on brand new research in addition to the standing research we already knew about for helping our bodies fight viruses.

  • Maintain optimal levels of nutrients – This means to take your multi-vitamin/mineral daily, and during the flu or ‘viral’ season, consider extra vitamins A, C and D.  These vitamins have antiviral properties and help your immune system when under a viral attack.  
  • Vitamin D – There is a great movement in the medical community to raise DRI (Dietary Reference Intakes) for vitamin D, finally acknowledging what we’ve known in the Northwest, that our bodies need more than the meager current DRI of 800 IU/day.  We also recommend taking vitamin D with vitamin K2 (not K1), which is also helpful for the immune system, as well as for bone and teeth health, vascular health and fighting cancer.
  • Zinc – Zinc has long been known to be anti-viral and is used in many cold and flu immune supporting products, even available in the drug store. While those doses may not be adequate either, higher doses of zinc, a storable mineral, may be taken for 1-2 months. After that, we recommend decreasing the dose to a maintenance level, and making sure you are taking the other minerals for balance in the body. If you have a good, complete multivitamin/mineral supplement, you should be covered.
  • Vitamin C – Vitamin C is required in many chemical reactions in our body for general functioning. It is also helpful in preventing illness. At higher doses, it can be a very effective antiviral and antihistamine.  Too much vitamin C will give you loose stools.
  • Melatonin – If you’ve heard of melatonin, you’ve likely heard of its use to help with sleep.  It is a naturally occurring hormone in the body that is secreted at night to help us sleep. But it is also very anti-inflammatory and even creates an environment that is hostile to cancer cells.  This supplement has also been in the news lately.  Taking melatonin nightly or near nightly for a limited time may be helpful.  There is some evidence that it may become habit-forming, so we always recommend mixing it up by taking it every other night or for a short period of time like 1 month, followed by a break, before taking it again.
  • Glutathione – Glutathione is often termed “liquid gold” as it is the body’s most prolific and important antioxidant. Made in the body from glycine, N-acetyl cysteine, glutamine, and alpha lipoic acid, those with the most severe symptoms of covid had the lowest levels of glutathione. You can take the separate nutrients that are the building blocks of glutathione or you can now take glutathione on its own.
  • Epicor – Epicor is a mushroom/fungal based ingredient that we find works so well at preventing illness.  Our clients have reported that they no longer acquire illnesses, like the flu, after flying on long flights. 
  • Aqueous (not colloidal) Silver – We at Starkel Nutrition are big fans of aqueous silver.  Silver is antimicrobial, including bacteria, virus, and other pathogens.  In contrast to colloidal silver, which we do not recommend, aqueous silver passes out of your body within 48 hours.  In the meantime, it enters cells and kills pathogenic bacteria and viruses.  We never travel without it (most of us have our own personal stash in our offices). It is conveniently available in a 4 oz spray bottle, and you can take it orally and spritz your face, nasal passages and eyes (we like to put it in smaller < 3 oz bottles for airplane carry on).  Refills are also available in 16 oz. bottles.
  • Essential Oils – Ravintsara essential oil can help prevent pathogens from lodging in the respiratory tract. Wash hands first. Place one drop in the palm of one hand, gently rub hands together and hold cupped hands over the nose and mouth and inhale (also called ‘cupped hand inhalation’). Or use it in a diffuser which can help disinfect a whole room *available as an add-on to our Immunity Supporting Kit.

When illness strikes:

    • Vitamin A is a natural antiviral as well.  In higher doses for short periods of time, it can be extremely effective at fighting off viruses within the body.  The form of vitamin A is important, and it has to be the retinol form (not beta-carotene) which is the active form of the vitamin. It is important to not take this at high doses for a long period of time (more than a month or two.) We build up and store this vitamin so after a loading period, taking only weekly or bi-weekly is sufficient.
    • Vitamin D is also very important in fighting infections and general immunity. We increase the dosage during viral infections.
  • More vitamin C.

Iodine is also extremely helpful for fighting off an infection and is important for normal immune system functioning. No known pathogen thrives in iodine which is why it was used for years to sterilize skin abrasions and prior to surgery.  However, those with autoimmune thyroid disease may want to avoid this.

For an Immunity Supporting Kit along with our recommendations for dosing, please click here.

Interested in learning more? Schedule an appointment with us to get support on your journey to body and mind health.

Written by our owner, speaker and nutritionist, Julie Starkel, MS, MBA, RDN

References

  1. https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html, accessed October 23, 2020.
  2. Polonikov A. (2020). Endogenous Deficiency of Glutathione as the Most Likely Cause of Serious Manifestations and Death in COVID-19 Patients. ACS infectious diseases, 6(7), 1558–1562.
  3. Sanchez, Albert, et al. “Role of Sugars in Human Neutrophilic Phagocytosis.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 26, no. 11, 1973, pp. 1180–1184., doi:10.1093/ajcn/26.11.1180.
  4. Takahashi, Kazue, et al. “Dietary sugars inhibit biologic functions of the pattern recognition molecule, mannose-binding lectin.” Open Journal of Immunology, Vol.1, No.2, 41-49 (2011) doi:10.4236/oji.2011.12005.
COVID-19 updates: We are open and accepting new patients! We offer 100% of our appointments via Telehealth to keep you healthy, safe and at home.

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