Recommendations for Defense Against Viruses
Updated: Apr 9, 2020
Brian L. Jerby MD
I have had many questions about my opinion concerning the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (also called 2019-nCov or SARS-coV-2) which causes the respiratory illness termed COVID-19. My first response is to echo what the Directory of the World Health Organization (WHO) said back in February:
“We’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an ‘INFODEMIC’…This is a time for FACTS, not FEAR. This is a time for rationality, not rumors.” (1)
So let’s focus on facts and not necessarily the hype that we get from many media outlets. I would also like to repeat and support another plea of the Director of WHO:
“…work with us to sound the appropriate level of alarm, without fanning the flames of hysteria…We have a choice. Can we come together to face a common and dangerous enemy? Or will we allow fear, suspicion and irrationality to distract and divide us?…This is a time for solidarity, not stigma.”(1 , emphasis mine)
We can’t turn this in to “every one for themselves” sort of thing. This is an opportunity for all of us to band together as human beings all created in the image of God and fight our common enemy. Let us be cautious without stigmatizing. Let us put up a defense but not in a way that leads to the detriment of others. Let us be soldiers of health and not leave any soldier behind in our battle against this virus. And, please, don’t buy up all of the toilet paper. We all have to poop!
Fig 1. U.S. Public Health Service poster, circa 1918. The same common-sense approach that applied 100 years ago still applies today!
Let’s start by getting one thing straight—coronaviruses are not new. They are a large family of viruses that can cause a number of different illnesses including the common cold. The thing about COVID-19 is that it novel, meaning that our immune systems haven’t seen this one before and that there is not a vaccine that is currently available. This indeed is concerning but our immune systems have been introduced to new bacteria, fungi, and viruses before. The question is how will your immune system respond? Will it generate an effective defense against a cold virus? A flu virus, a coronavirus, ANY virus? Yes, the WHO COVID-19 Situation Reports (2) are concerning. But take a careful look at the reports. The numbers in China (where the COVID-19 virus appears to have originated) are drastically decreasing after the initial outbreak that reached epidemic proportions. So, even with the massive numbers in China and the myriad of reasons this reached epidemic proportions, this can be controlled. The numbers in the U.S. have not increased to anywhere near those numbers and with some simple defensive measures, it is possible to keep the virus from ever getting to those proportions in the U.S. It takes being smart without greedily grabbing up all the resources for yourself. It involves restricting travel, staying home if you develop symptoms of a cold or flu. It involves washing your hands for 30 seconds with warm water and soap. Cough or sneeze into your elbow or tissues and wash your hands. It’s not rocket science, and in most cases it’s just good ole common sense and mutual respect for other human beings.
Fig 2. A plea for respect for fellow human beings in 1918. Let's exercise that same respect and courtesy.
My daughter spent 3 years living in Shanghai, China. One of the most shocking things that she noticed about acceptable public behavior was was that it included spitting, uncovered coughing, sneezing, and even nose-picking without any regard for others. Let’s be sure that our behavior doesn’t reflect a total disregard for our fellow human beings. We can also learn so much from the Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918 which killed millions upon millions of people. The way that pandemic was controlled will be the same way COVID-19 will be controlled over 100 years later—and that starts with a concern for others as well as for ourselves. A vector is an organism that spreads disease. DON’T BE A VECTOR!
Having said all of that, I would like to offer some suggestions for enhancing your body's ability to fight viruses and reduce your susceptibility to serious illnesses. Remember these suggestions are not intended to be a treatment of any disease or health problem, and the FDA has not evaluated these statements.
Load up on foods and spices with antiviral properties. These include coconut oil, raw garlic, oregano, ginger, kimchi and other fermented foods, walnut, pomegranate, green tea, apple cider vinegar, and MY FAVORITE IMMUNE-ENHANCING NUTRACEUTICAL: MEDICINAL MUSHROOMS! (shiitake, maitake, reishi, cordyceps, turkeytail, lion’s mane).
Eat the rainbow. Get a wide range of colorful vegetables and fruits every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. These are full of antioxidants which will destroy the free radicals that weaken our immune system. Each color provides different antioxidant power--so the more colors you eat, the better. Smoothies are a great way to pack a lot into one serving.
Stay well-hydrated. Stick to water, herbal teas, and bone broth. No soda or sugary drinks--sorry, they are terrible for your immune system! Drink a lot, pee a lot—it’s a great way to get rid of toxins.
Get some bone broth. Bone broth has amazing immune-supporting properties. Get the organic version at the store or make your own!
Eat fermented foods. The probiotics contained in fermented foods have tremendous immune boosting powers (3). Examples of delicious fermented foods to try include kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles (try “real” fermented pickles from stores that have them or ferment your own), miso, kefir, and real kombucha (be careful of products with a lot of added sugars).
Avoid simple sugars and processed/junk food. Did you know that your blood shows lab evidence of a lowered immune system within 30 minutes of eating simple sugars (like glucose, refined sugar, and fructose), and causes a 50% reduction in your white blood cells’ abilities to kill germs? White blood cells are our “army” cells that fight off germs. This effect is most noticeable 2 hours after ingestion, but is still present 5 hours later! Keeping blood sugar levels healthy has been shown to improve immune system activity (4).
Get fresh air and moderate daily exercise. Moderate exercise can boost the production of macrophages, the kind of white blood cells that “eat” bacteria and viruses. However, intense exercise can actually temporarily decrease immune function – so don’t overdo it! (5)
Get adequate sleep. An increase in sleep actually increases the number of your white blood cells. On the other hand, loss of sleep even for a few hours at night, increases inflammation in our body which makes us more susceptible to catching the flu and having more severe symptoms. So make sure you are getting at least 7 hours of sleep nightly. For tips on getting a good night’s sleep, talk to the team at Legacy Health.
Decrease stress. Emotional stress creates physiological stress in our bodies that lowers our immune defenses and makes us more vulnerable to illness. Stress has been shown to lower our white blood cells’ abilities to kill germs, and actually creates more inflammation that may make us feel even sicker.
Here are my Top Supplements for Enhancing Your Immune System:
Combinations of N-acetyl cysteine, Alpha lipoic acid, Acetyl-L-carnitine, as well as CoQ10. Call the office if you want brand names.
Mushrooms—There are many mushroom products on the market that have little or no medicinal value. Make sure the product has been properly extracted for medicinal value. A high quality product will yield high quality results!
Fish oil, at least 2000 mg of DHA+EPA daily
Probiotics (Make sure it’s superior quality! Call if you want product recommendations. There's lots of worthless probiotics out there)
Vitamin D3, 125 mcg daily
Vitamin C (1000 mg, optimally taken 3 times a day if you can)
Zinc 15-30 mg daily
If you need more help, please give us a call. We aspire to optimal health.
Together, we can do this!