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The Best Diet to Boost your Immune System

Jennifer AdvancedMolecularLabs

Posted on September 14 2021

By Steve Blechman

 

A study published April 15th, 2021 in the journal Clinical Nutrition concluded that “better adherence to the Mediterranean diet may be associated with a lower risk of COVID-19.” Another prior study published January 2021 was entitled: “Mediterranean Diet as a Nutritional Approach for COVID-19.” The researchers in this study were affiliated with the Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts.

This report says, “In summary, adherence to the Mediterranean Diet has a favorable impact on cardiovascular diseases and other cardiometabolic disorders, such as diabetes that proposed to COVID-19 infection and related outcomes. The Mediterranean diet, having high antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and potential anti-microbial and immunomodulatory properties, is a promising and relatively easy method to attenuate the severity of COVID-19 infection. Therefore, there is a critical and imminent need for more in vivo studies and well-designed clinical trials to explore the potentially beneficial effects of the Mediterranean diet and or some of its key components, such as nuts, dried fruits and olive oil in preventing COVID-19 infection and or improving disease- related outcomes.”

A new study published June 20th, 2021, in the journal Nutrients reported the consumption of coffee and vegetables may boost immunity, offering protection and limit the spread of the coronavirus. Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine researchers acknowledged that “a person's nutrition impacts immunity.” They reported that, “Habitual consumption of one or more cups of coffee per day was associated with a 10% decrease in the risk of COVID-19 compared to less than one cup of coffee. Coffee is not only a key source of caffeine but contributes dozens of other constituents; including many implicated in immunity.” Coffee is rich in polyphenols and has “antioxidant and inflamamatory properties. Coffee consumption is associated with lower biomarkers of inflammation such as C-reactive proteins (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL- 6) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF), which are all associated with COVID-19 severity and mortality.”

“Coffee consumption has also been associated with lower risk of pneumonia in elderly. Taken together, an immunoprotective effect of coffee against Covid-19 is plausible and merits further investigation.”

Also, another study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ Nutrition, Prevention's & Health) on June 7th, 2021 reported that a plant-based diet or a fish diet may lower the severity of COVID-19 infection.

The above was a population study, which reported, “In 2,884 front-line healthcare workers from six countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, USA), individuals who reported following plant-based diets and plant-based diets or pescatarian diets that were higher in vegetables, legumes and nuts, and lower in poultry and red and processed meats, had 73% and 59% lower odds of moderate to severe COVID-19, respectively.”  The conclusion of the study was that, “individuals following a plant-based diet or pescatarian “fish diet” had lower odds of severe COVID-19 illness.

These two most recent studies are believed to be the first studies to examine the role of specific dietary intake in prevention of COVID-19.

The Mediterranean Diet has been shown to lower c-reactive protein (CRP), a measure of inflammation in the body; a simple blood test can be ordered by your physician to measure CRP. The cytokine storm, caused by the coronavirus in some people, not only damages the lungs but also the heart, cardiovascular system, blood vessels, liver, pancreas, intestines, kidneys and brain. And it causes severe blood clots all over the body, increasing the risk of heart attack, stroke, and pulmonary embolism. The anti-inflammatory Mediterranean diet is rich in fish and seafood (containing omega-3 fats), extra-virgin olive oil, nuts (rich in monounsaturated fats) and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables and red wine, and berries rich in polyphenols.

Adequate sleep, 7 to 8 hours daily, and proper nutrition is important for a healthy immune function, which includes fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C, polyphenols, plus vitamin D and important minerals zinc and selenium.

TOP 5 IMMUNE HEALTH SUPPLEMENTS TO HELP BATTLE THE CYTOKINE STORM

As I mentioned above, eating a healthy nutritious diet such as the Mediterranean Diet and getting proper sleep and exercise are the best ways to support healthy immune function.

There currently are no products or dietary supplements that are scientifically proven to treat or prevent the coronavirus, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Still, some unethical supplement companies have promoted fraudulent cures and claims and treatments not based on good science, such as colloidal silver products for coronavirus. The FDA has cautioned that colloidal silver is not a safe or effective for any disease or condition! By law, companies are not allowed on their product labels or ads to make claims intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Below is a review of what I believe to be the top immune health supplements to help support function of the immune system and battle the cytokine storm, based on the latest scientific research.

1. ZINC

Zinc is required for a healthy immune function. Zinc also has anti-viral properties in humans. It has been reported that zinc supplement can lower inflammation. A randomized double-blind placebo trial found that in 40 healthy adults, supplementation with 45mg of zinc daily increased blood levels of zinc and lowered the inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 and c-reactive protein (American Journal Clinical Nutrition, June 2010). Research has found that “zinc mediates anti-inflammatory and antioxidant pathways” (Clinical Nutrition, May 2020).

2. VITAMIN D

Research has shown that vitamin D deficiency can weaken the immune system. Many Americans are low in vitamin D. 2,000 IUs of vitamin D orally is safe and required to raise blood levels. A new study (Aging, Clinical Experimental Research, May 6, 2020) reported an association and low average levels of vitamin D and high numbers of COVID-19 cases and mortality rates across 20 European countries. Research in the past has reported an association between low levels of vitamin D and respiratory tract infections. Vitamin D has also been shown to lower inflammation and modulate phagocytic-producing white blood cells such as macrophages, neutrophils and other inflammatory cytokines and interleukin-6 (Medical Hypothesis, April 23, 2020.

3-5. VITAMIN C & POLYPHENOLS, SELENIUM & N-ACETYL CYSTEINE (NAC)

Research has shown over the years that vitamin C, polyphenols, selenium and N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) are important antioxidants in the body that can lower inflammation. When a virus particle enters your body through your nose, mouth or eyes, into your lungs, the immune system recognizes the virus and sends immune-signaling molecules called cytokines such as interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF). Normally these cytokines play a beneficial role by activating our innate immune response and certain white blood cells called macrophage, neutrophils and natural killer cells that destroy and kill certain dangerous pathogens, bacteria and viruses. These white blood cells are like killer, phagocytic Pac-Men that release reactive oxygen species (ROS) free radicals and kill these bacteria and viruses at the same time these ROS free radical species damage normal tissues and can cause inflammation and cell death. So these white blood cells in fact are a two-edged sword – they kill dangerous viruses and bacteria, or they can go haywire, causing severe inflammation, cell damage and organ failure. Antioxidant nutrients such as vitamin C, polyphenols, selenium, and N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) have been shown in the scientific literature to be potent scavengers of ROS and free radicals, helping to lower inflammation in the lungs and other organs and tissues.

NAC is clearly the most effective and important antioxidant and precursor of glutathione in the lungs! I was the first to launch glutathione and NAC as dietary supplements to the American market over 20 years ago, during my 27 years as Head of Product Development for Twin Laboratories, Inc. (Twinlab). Research has shown that oral glutathione supplements can raise liver glutathione levels in humans. Research has shown that NAC (1,200mg-1,800mg daily) is much more cost effective and efficacious than oral glutathione for raising glutathione in the lungs, liver and other tissues, and therefore the preferred dietary supplement! NAC is best taken with vitamin C as a dietary supplement (1,000mg-2,000mg) because it prevents the oxidation of NAC and acts as a reducing agent, enhancing the stability and function of NAC.

Polyphenols such as quercetin and grape skins and grapeseed extract are effective and work synergistically with vitamin C as an antioxidant, having anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. Quercetin appears to prevent viruses from entry in the cell thereby reducing viral load (Viruses, December 2016). Polyphenols also function as prebiotics and help promote healthy bacteria flora. Curcumin, a polyphenol found in the spice turmeric, has anti-inflammatory properties. There are no studies that demonstrate curcumin prevents or reduces viral infections in humans. One concern is that curcumin may increase the expression of the ACE2 receptor that makes it easier for the virus to enter the cell. This is controversial, and more research is needed to clarify this.

The mineral selenium is also an important antioxidant that functions as a co-factor and synthesis of glutathione in the body. It was most recently reported by ScienceDaily on April 29 and published in the April 28 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that an “international team of researchers, led by Professor Margaret Rayman at the University of Surrey, has identified a link between COVID-19 cure rate and regional selenium status in China.” This was a very exciting finding! Research has shown that selenium has anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. More studies are needed to determine if selenium deficiency can increase the risk of COVID-19. 50 mcg-200mcg of selenium is considered safe daily as a dietary supplement.

In conclusion, there is currently no diet or dietary supplement that has proven to treat or cure COVID-19! More well-designed randomized controlled trials are needed to establish safety and efficacy. We already know people over age of 65 are at the highest risk of dying from coronavirus. People who are overweight and obese and have pre-existing diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension are also at greater risk. A healthy diet and lifestyle changes, such as following the anti-inflammatory Mediterranean diet along with exercise, has been shown in the scientific research to safely prevent and lower the risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

Bottom line: Eating healthy and improving our metabolic health, along with proper exercise and sleep, is essential for maintaining healthy immune function.

©Copyright Advanced Research Media

©Reprinted with permission from Advanced Research Media, Inc.

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