by Michelle Suber, ND
We at Iris Integrative Health have received countless calls and emails over the past few weeks from patients, most with variations on the following questions:
How can I prevent coronavirus?
What should I or a family member have on hand if I do get coronavirus?
What supplements should I be taking to support my immune health?
My invitation is to expand our questions to include these:
How can I best prevent infectious disease? While Covid-19 is unique in many ways, we will surely be faced with other viruses – and global health challenges – in the future.
How can I best prevent chronic degenerative disease? We know that excellent health is an important predictor of outcome should one become infected.
What is health? When we read that young healthy people are contracting Covid-19, we must wonder what is meant by “healthy.” Typically this means that they don’t have a “problem list” or list of diagnoses. This does not mean they are truly healthy.
What should I do to optimize immune function? What should I do to be healthy? How can I support my family and community, not only in this time, but in the future?
What changes am I being called to make? What changes are we being called to pursue globally? What is my role in this collective process?
These questions are both more productive and proactive than putting all of our focus on the effects of a single virus. By no means do I intend to diminish the significance of this global pandemic, which seems to have turned our world upside down, at least temporarily. I recognize the immense suffering. My intention is to provide a set of guidelines and things to consider not only to protect yourself and your family, but also to harness this opportunity to live with more vitality and awareness.
For the past few weeks, I have been delving deeply into the most evidence-based strategies for the treatment and prevention of Covid-19. I will focus here on prevention. Interestingly, prevention of Covid-19 appears to be very much like prevention of other viral illnesses. Should you fall ill, please do let us know; the strategies intensify and change. We are here for you and prepared should this occur. I have broken my suggestions down into three categories: what to do, what to take and what to think about. I expect that some of the more specific approaches will change as we learn more about Covid-19, but many are in place to help you be the healthiest you can be.
What to do
There are themes here that make these suggestions look a little different for everyone.
Get at least 8 hours of quality sleep every night. At least 2-3 of those hours are ideally before midnight.
Exercise daily, preferably in the fresh air. This can have a profound effect on all other health habits. I recommend different types and intensities of exercise to each patient, but aim for 60 minutes/day, which a combination of aerobic and strength building movement. Please talk with me for details if you want help with your exercise plan; we can make it very tailored to your current abilities and future goals.
Eat well. This is a big one! If you’re one of the several hundred people for whom I’ve done genotyping, you’ve got your blueprint for ideal nourishment. Good for you! If you don’t, and at least know your blood type, consider following those guidelines which are in place to optimize your immune response. If neither of these apply to you, then at least be sure to include 5-7 servings of vegetables and 2-3 servings of fruit daily. Avoid processed sugar and any junk foods. Enjoy local, clean, organic, whole food as much as possible. Take your time cooking and preparing food; then eat slowly and with awareness. A few important foods to remember right now are in the allium family: garlic, onions, shallots and leeks. Green tea is also quite anti-viral. If you have blood type A (and are therefore slightly more vulnerable to a poor outcome with Covid-19), incorporate silver dollar mushrooms, soy (real food, not powders or isolates), fava beans and Great Northern beans.
Stay warm with saunas, exercise, steamy showers. Always end these hot exposures with cold immersion/cold shower.
Spend time in nature. Slow down and listen. Observe. Relax. If you’re in a place you can go outside, do so (with no device in hand!) for at least 30 minutes. If you’re not, still turn off that phone, open your window and breathe. To that end, limit time on social media and watching the news.
Stay connected with others. Social distancing does not (and should not) mean isolation.
Find your purpose and find a way to express that every day.
Do things you love.
Feel and express gratitude.
Be of service to others. (Opportunities abound.)
Don’t skip these last 6 things! They sound soft and fluffy, but they all have solid scientific, peer reviewed evidence for their roles in the prevention of chronic disease and the promotion of longevity. They also, along with exercise and sleep (and many other things like yoga and meditation), modulate stress; and this is key to optimal immune function. If you need help with any of these concepts or want to brainstorm with us, let us know. We also can suggest some good books to help get your wheels turning.
What to think about
Certainly life will never be the “same,” even after the threat of Covid-19 is in our rearview mirrors. How can we shift our thinking from being afraid to being proactive? Consider the fact that this virus has brought movement all over the planet to a screeching halt. We are asked to stay home, spend time with our families, stop traveling so much, and pay very close attention to everything we bring into our home. We also need to be very creative about what really needs to be done in person and what can be done well remotely. Our health has become a whole new priority. Our teachers and farmers and nurses are now our heroes (they’ve always been, but we know it even more so now). Many things suddenly seem insignificant; will it serve to let these things go? The opportunity for personal and collective healing is significant. I recommend that you focus your mental energy on these things instead of worst case scenarios.
What to take
I’ll bet some of you jumped right to this section, right? I listed it as my third category because I feel that it is the least important. If you’re my patient, we talk about this all the time: in terms of importance, supplements comprise perhaps 5% of a treatment plan, and what you do and how you live is about 90%. These numbers are my own and based on 22 years of practice. That last 5%? You did the math! It is different for everyone and sometimes in the realm of the unexplainable. I like to keep an open mind about what this might be for each patient. But for now, back to supplements. They are ideally prescribed personally and tailored to the unique needs of the individual. But until we can do that one-on-one, here are some guidelines:
Vitamin C 200mg – 1500 mg 3x/day. Dose will vary per individual bowel tolerance. Choose a formula that is clean and made with integrity (this goes for anything you put in your body). My personal favorite is Potent C Guard by Perque.
Melatonin 3-6 mg before bed. If you’ve had untoward experiences with melatonin, do not take it (of course).
Curcumin. Dose will depend on preparation. A good formula is Theracurmin HP by Integrative Therapeutics, dose here is 2 capsules/day for 1 week, then decrease to 1 capsule/day.
Zinc 15-30 mg/day as a lozenge; best with food.
A high quality multivitamin. Compare yours to Multi-Nutrients III by Vital Nutrients. 3 capsules 2x/day with food.
Selenocystiene or selenomethionine 200 mcg/day *or 3 Brazil nuts/day.
Elderberry 1 teaspoon/day. In our family, we expand this approach and enjoy Fruit Anthocyanins, which includes elderberry.
Vitamin D3 5000 IU/day with food.
Most of these supplements you can find online or at Iris. Please let us know if you have any questions about dosing or reputable companies.
In conclusion, YES stay at home, YES wash your hands, YES clean everything. Do your utmost best to “flatten the curve.” These things go without saying. But remember that this is a chance for all of us take a broader view, be healthier, live better and revolutionize the way life is lived on our precious planet.
Many NDs have been particularly eloquent and comprehensive about Covid-19. One of them is here: https://drgeo.com/covid-19-a-simple-review-with-natural-approaches-for-protection/?fbclid=IwAR17tz08set2c8PDUzAeSV2lCWWcCTg4kGqY63idb0OlqRXD2K6_c9p80r4