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How to Give Your Immune System Support During Volatile Times [E058]

women in yoga classContinuing in our series on coronavirus, this episode is designed around how to give your immune system support by building, boosting AND protecting it. We’ve had an influx of questions surrounding this topic and wanted to provide you with ways to keep your body healthy during these volatile times!

Table Of Contents

Introduction To Immune System Support

Dr. Bryan: Here we are again. This is Dr. Bryan Joseph, your host of The Wellness Connection Show, and I am joined again by my wife, Dr. Olivia Joseph.

We are going to put together today a discussion around a topic that is extremely prevalent in what’s happening in the world as we speak, which is the coronavirus. You’d have to live under a rock at this point to not have heard of what’s going with this coronavirus pandemic. The fear, the emotion, the discussions around it. One of the things that we know just from our experience with research and healthcare and all the questions that seem to be coming our way is, how you build and protect a healthy nervous system and immune system?

What are things that we can be doing to try to enforce or even increase our resistance to any strange bacterias, parasites, viruses, whatever it may be that comes our way? What is a compromised immune system? Because in some of our previous discussions we’ve talked about conditions that are specifically around autoimmune conditions.

What Is The Immune System?

Dr. Bryan: We hear the word immune system and we hear the word nervous system and we hear the word digestive system, musculoskeletal system and so on and so forth. Can you just explain to everybody what is the immune system and what is its purpose?

Dr. Olivia: When we talk about the immune system, it’s how your body reacts to something that is a foreign substance, be it a bug, like a virus. It’s how well your body responds to something new.

Dr. Bryan: I think that there’s a common misunderstanding or maybe people believe that this immune system is like a shield, that kind of just protects everything that comes your way. And in essence it is. But from my understanding, it’s also there so that when anything does penetrate you. Your body knows how to begin to fight it off. There’s a natural way that that system starts to enforce itself to say it’s time to start healing.

Dr. Olivia: There’s natural immunity, there’s passive immunity, there’s also immune memory to things that you’ve gotten before, or even natural immunoglobulins that are passed down to you from your mom through breastfeeding and in utero and things of that nature. What we do know is about 80% of the immune system lives in the gut. We talk a lot about gut health, autoimmune disease, diabetes, and that is connected to overall immune health. That’s some of what makes you more vulnerable in viral cases like this.

The need to educate ourselves to alleviate stress

Dr. Olivia: Your nervous system controls every system of the body, but a majority of your immune system is in the gut. By keeping your nervous system healthy, it stimulates immune health, but the cells primarily live in the gut.

Dr. Bryan: Over the last say 50 plus episodes, we’ve had a lot of discussions about mitigating stress in all different aspects so that you can continue to maintain a healthy nervous system. If there’s an injury or if there’s a trauma or if there’s a stressor, your brain signals all sorts of responses to release hormones. You want it to be able to function at its peak and not be worn out and fatigued and stressed so that when we do talk about these immune enhancing capabilities, these are ways to mitigate stress and be able to support your body even better.

Dr. Olivia: And when we’re scared and anxious like many people are right now, we’re releasing stress hormones like cortisol. Fight or flight, people can’t sleep, they feel anxiety. What that’s doing is that’s actually lowering immune health. When you’re constantly in this fight or flight state, that becomes a priority and our immune system becomes compromised. We really have to educate ourselves because I do think that that alleviates a lot of stress and fear and then just do our best to protect our immune system. Not just washing our hands and social distancing, but also what can we do to enhance the function of the cells in our body.

Emotional response is important

Dr. Bryan: I think at the end of the day, nothing that we tell you will ever be able to trump or beat the need to control your mind and your emotional responses to any scenario from within. When you’re in a situation where you are freaked out, you are releasing a tremendous amount of negative chemicals or hormones that are going to attack your immune system support no matter how much vitamin C you take.

Dr. Olivia: We want to improve the body’s ability to respond to that stress. We’re not pretending people aren’t stressed or effected by this. Obviously, this is affecting so many people in whole world. We’re not putting our head in the sand pretending that’s not happening. One thing we want to do today is give you tips on how to boost your own immune system health and function so you can take those precautions as well as washing your hands and social distancing. They’re every bit as important. People just are not talking about it.

Mental clarity is also important

Dr. Bryan: Let’s jump into some of those tips. Before we go into chemistry and nutrition is, we are huge advocates of just creating some space mentally. And space is created most commonly using practices like prayer or meditation or journaling to be able to separate yourself from the things that you can’t control and center yourself back on the things you can control.

With that being said, let’s just say that you got your mind in a healthy spot and that you’re able to calm your nerves and now you’re ready to protect your body from a chemical stressor and support your body in a biochemical way, in any way that you can.

The Importance Of Gut Health

Dr. Bryan: Let’s start sharing some of the ways that maybe what you can be aware of to try to prepare and make sure your gut is healthy. Supplements that may help boost your immune system support. Can you share some light on that topic?

Dr. Olivia: There are a couple of strains of probiotics specifically, which we can put in the notes, that have been shown to boost immune health. And when those strains of probiotics were studied, they showed to reduce sick days. And this is particularly important when you’re talking about viral infections including the flu. We know the longer you’re sick with a virus like the flu or something like this, the more likely you are to get a secondary respiratory infection.

These probiotics have also shown to reduce the severity of symptoms such as body aches and pains, coughing, sneezing, sore throat, things of that nature. Ideally, we would have been harvesting our immune system support all the time or we would have started right when cold and flu season started. Using the right types of probiotics can be very beneficial to boosting the immune cells in your gut. And we do have research to support that.

Dr. Bryan: I know on a previous discussion on one of these other podcast episodes, we talked about the microflora, probiotics and prebiotics.

Dr. Olivia: When there’s a good balance what happens is the immune cells in your gut can function properly. They don’t get confused because they’re irritated and overworked and inflamed. They’re there protecting you. They’re there eating bad bugs, for lack of a better term.

High Dosage Of Vitamin C

Dr. Bryan: What else are you doing to boost your immune system support?

Dr. Olivia: I’m going to say it’s second because I want to go after the 80% rule, which is your immune system lives in your gut. Second after that is, without a doubt, vitamin C. When we talk about vitamin C, most people know ascorbic acid is a type of vitamin C, But one thing we do have research to support his mineral ascorbates are absorbed better and we’ll talk about what that is and it does require high doses of vitamin C. Little 500 milligrams daily is not going to give you the immune protection you need right now against any virus.

Dr. Bryan: Are we supposed to be paying attention to the type of vitamin C that we have and about how much should we be taking in?

Dr. Olivia: The research shows three grams a day, which is 3000 milligrams. In a perfect situation, you will take about a thousand milligrams of buffered C every four to six hours. You don’t have to wake up and take it while you’re sleeping, but you take it when you wake up and you take it about every four to six hours. You’re looking at about 3000 milligrams. If you are sick or come in contact with something or someone, you want to triple that. Now the worst thing that’s going to happen is you’re going to get a loose stool, diarrhea or stomach ache. And if that happens, then you lower your dose. But it’s really only a temporary issue. The research is pointing at doses that high.

Food alone is not enough

Dr. Bryan: I remember like growing up where if you’re drinking orange juice and you’re having an orange, you’re getting vitamin C. I would imagine if you’re saying three grams, like you’d have to eat an entire tree of oranges.

Dr. Olivia: That’s the problem, Bryan. One thing we know is there’s so much variability depending on where the orange came from, when it was picked from the tree, how much time it spent getting shipped. Those things do affect the vitamin and nutrient content of foods. If it’s like locally grown, picked off a tree in Florida when it’s in season, I promise you it’s going to have a higher vitamin C content than if it was picked in Spain. It’s going to have a different nutrient content.

It’s really hard when you’re really trying to boost immune health to do that with food alone. Food is important, especially reducing inflammation in your diet, reducing mucus producing foods. That’s extremely important as far as protecting your immune system. But to get all your vitamin C from food, it’s not going to be easy. And there’s a lot of vitamin C rich foods like Kiwi. Kiwi is a very, very vitamin C rich food. But when we’re talking about situations like this, and acute situations, we’re going to have to use the right supplementation. Food alone, I just don’t think will do it.

Buffered C is the key

Dr. Olivia: I just want to tell people what buffered C is. Buffered C is vitamin C that’s enhanced with different types of minerals. Studies show that it helps get the vitamin C absorbed into the white blood cell. And then your body produces natural killer cells, which are what fight infection. It’s boosting the absorption into the white blood cells, boosting your natural killer cells, boosting phagocytosis, which is just how your body produces cells that feed on these viruses.

Buffered C is vitamin C that’s enhanced with minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium. That makes it not only more absorbable or bioavailable, but it makes it easier on your stomach. If it makes it easier on your stomach, you can take higher doses without getting stomach pain or diarrhea.

Other Immune System Support Boosters

Dr. Bryan: What else are you putting in your repertoire or your immune boosting kit?

Dr. Olivia: Some other nutrients that enhance immune function are zinc and selenium. Selenium is really protective to those that have autoimmune disease or a compromised immune system supportwhere your immune system is attacking even healthy tissue. The herb echinacea is very good for viral infections and another thing that has been studied is mushrooms, particularly reishi, maitake, shiitake. Some of these mushrooms have shown to have anti viral effects.

The final thing I’m going to mention is an Ayurvedic herb called, Astragalus, because Astragalus is used in Ayurvedic medicine, which is what is primary care in places like India, and it’s used for respiratory infections and immune health. That right there is your immune boosting package. And the good news is a lot of nutrition companies are really savvy. A lot of scientists and researchers have combined some of these ingredients so you don’t have to go and get a separate supplement for everything I just mentioned.

Dr. Bryan: I know there’s a lot of varying opinions with what people believe strengthens immune system support in the human body. In addition to the items and the different products or minerals that you mentioned, or vitamins, I would contend that vitamin D is up there. I would also contend that our arginine or silver is another one.

Vitamin D to fight inflammation

Dr. Olivia: I would just want to go back and say vitamin D, you’re 100% right. What it does is it doesn’t just protect our immune system support but our body uses vitamin D to fight against inflammation. When our body is producing too much inflammation, it lowers our ability to fight infection. And this is why diabetics are particularly vulnerable. People with cardiovascular disease are particularly vulnerable to viral infections.

Keeping your vitamin D levels in the optimal range is essential for prevention. This is something we want to start practicing around October, November, because right now it would be beneficial. But some of these practices we really have to start early on.

Dr. Bryan: Awesome. I personally find lack of vitamin D if it means like no sunshine or even vitamin D supplementation, that it affects my perspective or my mind, my mood. And I’ve heard and spoke to several other people before and they say the same thing. I think you can call it seasonal depression or those types of things, but it’s very vital to make sure that vitamin D is still in our system.

Dr. Olivia: And most people think just taking 1,000 or 2,000 units is enough. It is not enough in the winter months. It’s enough year round. It’s enough for prevention. But if you live in a place that has winter, you really need higher amounts than that. And if you do have an autoimmune condition or chronic inflammation due to something like diabetes, due to cardiovascular disease, you need to keep an eye on those vitamin D levels really year round.

Closing Thoughts On Immune System Support

Dr. Bryan: That’s our little bit of immune boosting information for you in this time where we’re all wanting to make sure our immune systems are strong and supported as possible. We’ll do our best to put links to different things that, resources or different products that you may be wanting to consider putting yourself on, as you want to keep your immune system support strong. You can find this episode on If you found it valuable, and in this time, when we’re all looking for information that’s going to help us stay strong and healthy, please consider sharing this to those that you think would benefit from it. Until next time, we’ll see you.

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