At the heart of our recovery from the pandemic is a novel approach to immune system health called “resilience”
Viruses are here to stay; they’ve always been around us, but Covid-19 has made us more aware of their potential severity. Aside from wearing a mask and social distancing, one of the best strategies to focus on right now for all of us is strengthening our immune systems for better resiliency. This focus should help greatly increase everyone’s chances of staying healthy in the face of latent viruses, breakthroughs, and future exposures.
We also recommend running lab tests for specific areas of weakness, including genetic weaknesses, to help identify and restore improvements for future-proofing against viruses that arrive on our doorsteps.
1) Check vitamin A and vitamin D levels.
Immune balance is even more important than immune boosting. What this means is that we want the immune system to “modulate” easily—to turn on and turn off as needed. If the immune system turns on and can’t turn off, that’s when we’re at risk of a cytokine storm—an overproduction or cascade of exaggerated immune responses. Nurturing the immune system so that it can function properly and optimally is key.
Discover the Risk v Reward of mRNA Technology and Why This Vaccine Is A Game Changer For So Many
Balance starts with vitamins A and D, two essential nutrients. Here’s what makes them so important:
- Vitamin A is essential for the mucosal barrier and barrier systems that are intended to keep viruses out.
- Vitamin D is essential for immunity, bone and muscle health, cardiovascular health, cognitive function, and more.
Both of these nutrients are fat soluble, which is why including healthy sources of fat is crucial for hormone and immune balance. Vitamin A and D levels can easily be checked through a blood test.
2) Check for mineral insufficiency, methylation and oxidative stress.
One of the early signs of coronavirus is neurological, meaning that some patients lose their sense of taste and smell—these are indicators of nutrient insufficiencies, particularly zinc, which is high on every list as a primary nutrient to help prevent coronavirus and virus infections in general. Taste and smell are primitive senses located deep within the brain and require healthy levels of specific minerals to function optimally, such as zinc, copper, selenium, coQ10 and glutathione as an antioxidant. These minerals can help override certain genetic weaknesses and support methylation processes.
Discover What’s In Dr Pucci’s Medicine Cabinet In Case Of Virus Infection and Which Immune Health Bundle Is Right For You and Your Family
Methylation simply refers to the way nutrients are broken down through enzymatic processes. These nutrients are then utilized or discarded in order to turn off and turn on genetic expression. One example is when B vitamins are methylated to support mitochondrial function (cellular energy); another example is how estrogen is methylated in order to break it down and move it out of the body.
Oxidative stress occurs when there is an excess of free radicals, creating an imbalance between these and antioxidants. This can lead to cell damage, which in turn can lead to a number of diseases, from cardiovascular and neurological diseases to diabetes and hypertension.
3) Use food sensitivity testing to help minimize immune system distractions (versus reactions).
Sensitivity testing (IgG + IgA) is used to help leaky gut and barrier system response, as well as to see how hyper-reactive the immune system is to certain kinds of foods. By greatly simplifying dietary choices, we can understand what needs to be modified and either a) permanently remove these triggers from our diet; or, b) eliminate them during periods of time when most susceptible to a flare-up. The simplest way to do this and to calm an overreactive immune system is to rotate all inflammatory foods out of the diet.
We tend to avoid food sensitivity testing because of the confusion it creates between food allergies (IgM) and immune sensitivity. However, when there are co-factors such as seasonal allergies, food sensitivity testing is valuable, and this information can be used as a tool to lessen reactivity.
The goal is is to have our immune systems to support us instead of fighting every battle. Being continuously on attack leaves us vulnerable to infections and causes it to potentially run amok and attack healthy tissue like thyroid, joints, and so on. People with seasonal allergies and other issues like asthma, skin disorders, a tendency toward colds and flu, etc. have a “distracted” immune system that is often more susceptible to virus infections because it’s busy dealing with ongoing issues. Think of an immune system as having several buckets that are all filled to the rim with water, it only takes a small amount of additional water—a trigger—for it to overflow. Likewise, someone with a distracted immune system (like someone who has allergies or food sensitivities) only needs a small additional trigger, such as exposure to a virus, to send the immune system haywire. To correct this, we need to support our immune system by simplifying our diets so the foods we eat stop creating inflammation in an allergy-type response.
4) Check secretory IgA (sIgA) levels and other markers for intact mucosal barrier.
The mucosal barrier refers to the blood-brain barrier, the lungs (including nasal passages and related airways), and the gut (all components of the digestive tract, from the esophagus to the colon); the skin is an epithelial barrier. These barriers help filter out unwanted particulates and pathogens, whether they’re environmental pollutants, pathogens, or toxicants. The lung and gut barrier systems are essential to warding off virus infections and nurturing immune resistance, but in order to function optimally, these systems need to be slippery, well-hydrated, and sticky, which vitamins A and D can help to achieve. Patients with leaky gut, a compromised blood-brain barrier, or some other indicator of barrier compromise are more susceptible to infections and autoimmunity in general. Testing allows us to assess the state of these barrier systems and take action where needed.
Discover the Baseline Set Of Tests We Use To Assess Immune Health, Inflammation, Barrier Integrity, and more
5) Manage stress physiology.
The importance of hormone balance in relation to immune health, including the body’s stress physiology, cannot be overemphasized enough—Cortisol rhythm, leaky gut, gastric distress, chronic fatigue, and so forth, are our signs of imbalance in adaptive response to stress. We’re all familiar with emotional stress, chemical stress, stress from overexertion due to excessive exercise or hard labor, and so on.
What many patients are less familiar with is the stress that’s created by our body’s efforts to ward off pain and inflammation, or what to do when the immune system fails.
In particular, women’s stress physiology becomes increasingly taxed as they move into peri- and post-menopause, when their adrenals are already on overdrive producing progesterone. Likewise, the same thing happens to men in andropause. As his sex hormone testosterone production in the gonads wanes, his body relies on the adrenals more heavily to produce testosterone.
As a sidebar, since cholesterol is the parent hormone for all other hormones, having too low of a cholesterol reading isn’t a good thing.
More to the point, adrenal health, blood sugar highs and lows, and hormone levels are all tools for future-proofing against virus infections, immune distractions, and lack of immune resilience. A combination of blood and salivary hormone tests are available to help examine these areas of weakness.
Dr. Douglas J. Pucci, Founder, Get Well Now, is a functional medicine pioneer and Bergen County’s Face of Functional Medicine. He was honored to receive both The Best Of 2020 Awards for Functional Medicine in Oradell, NJ, and entry into Trademark Publications’ 2020 Who’s Who Directory, Honors Edition.
New to functional medicine? Register for my FREE Informational Series on Root Cause Solution and learn about functional medicine and “How to” avoid a lifetime of medications by visiting my website at Get Well Now.