As I have strictly limited my media supplied sources on COVID 19, I’m not sure what everyone has learned about this epidemic. I want to just make a statement that I’d be glad to discuss further with anyone interested…in fact, we have ‘telemedicine’ set up for the office, so we could have a zoom discussion if you’d like! The statement is: COVID 19 is not what is killing people, it’s the body’s response to the virus that is.
Why does that matter? Because while the researchers are actively racing for vaccines and treatments, WE can be focused on what we can do to help our body do what it needs to respond appropriately when faced with this – and any future – virus or illness. WE actually can impact our body’s response. And my goal, now and into the future, is to make sure I do what I can to be prepared. How do we prepare our bodies? By giving them everything they need to maximize our immune system and minimize inflammation!
When we focus on exercise and moving – we are doing just that. Exercise – not extreme, elite athlete level exercise, rather daily 10-20 minute (preferably multiple times a day) of walking, yoga, yard work, cleaning – normal stuff! Exercise decreases stress – and stress weakens the immune system. So Exercise will help improve your immune system! And you all know how important I feel your calf muscle is for your veins – it’s the HEART for your veins. Part of why I spend so much time talking about strengthening your calf is because the stronger your calf muscle is, the less ‘trash’ of metabolism sits in your legs…that trash leads to inflammation. Inflammation stresses your immune system. Decreasing inflammation will help improve your immune system!
I want to add a bit about some essential vitamins and nutrients that are also important to your immune system. There’s a lot to talk about, so we will take it a step at a time. Essential vitamins and nutrients are ones that your body does not naturally make – you have to supply your body with them through your diet and/or supplementation in some way. The vitamins we will start with are vitally important for the proper functioning of your immune system.
It’s sunny today, so let’s talk about Vitamin D. Vitamin D has an impact on the adrenal gland (important for our ‘fight or flight’ stress response) and may help suppress a hyperinflammatory response (which is a huge issue with COVID 19). It is a ‘fat soluble’ vitamin, so we store vitamin D in our liver and fat cells – which means, while we definitely need to get vitamin D in, more is NOT always better! Some of you have already had your vitamin D levels tested – which is helpful when choosing dosing. My husband and one of my daughters (who are both extremely fair skinned and wear sunscreen much of the time), both had extremely low vitamin D levels when tested…so that test definitely impacted their dosage needs- they both need to be ‘bolstered’, meaning a huge dose (50,000IU/week for 3 months!), before starting on a more reasonable regular dose daily. The most efficient way to get vitamin D into our bodies is: sunlight! One of the issues in the northern hemisphere – like here in NE Ohio – is our average number of sunny days per year is around 60 or so. Not a lot, if you ask me! And, sunscreen will block the ability to absorb vitamin D through your skin. Too much sun exposure increases your risk for certain skin cancers. Therefore, a balance needs to be struck with exposure to the sun. In many cases, especially in NE Ohio, we need to get Vitamin D from other sources most of the time. Food sources of Vitamin D include fatty fish (like salmon, tuna and sardines), egg yolk and enriched foods such as milk, breakfast cereals (choose low sugar ones!) and orange juice. You can also get vitamin D in multivitamins (usually in smaller amounts like 400-800IU). In general, without actually testing your vitamin D levels, you should be aiming for between 1000IU to 3000IU per day. Good quality supplements from a cGMP (certified manufacturer) are an option as well. Always look at the label – or get your supplement from a reputable source who has done the research on quality producers. We will provide a link below for a source I know to be cGMP certified.
As we hang out more at home during these crazy days – let’s continue to focus on building (or rebuilding) your body’s immune system. Get out for a good walk today, while the sun is out! Soak in the vitamin D – and focus on foods or other nutritional supports to make sure you get the essential vitamins and nutrients you need! Keep your food journals going!!
Here’s to a Happier, Healthier YOU!
Dr. Stiller, Stacy, Nicole and Chris