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Immune-Boosting Tips from Dr. Grover

Dr. Grover has provided some immunity-boosting practices for an integrative approach to prepare our bodies as best as we can during the COVID-19 pandemic. Consider incorporating these tips into your daily routine to strengthen your immune system.

Please note that the best defense against COVID-19 is social distancing (avoiding groups of any size, maintain 6 feet between individuals), hand hygiene (washing for at least 20-30 seconds with warm water and soap), hand sanitizer when not able to wash with soap and water, covering mouth/nose with elbow when coughing or sneezing (even if just seasonal allergies), avoidance of handshaking or even elbow bumping (just wave hello or do “namaste”).  This is not formal medical advice and does not substitute consulting with your primary care physician/provider.

Water Hydration

Dr. Grover suggests 3-4 liters of water daily. Hydration helps with detoxification, kidney optimization, and providing our cells the molecules they require to function at their best. Water also helps to stimulate flow through the lymphatic system which is a cornerstone of our immune system. However, if you have fluid retention, congestive heart failure, and/or kidney disease please proceed with caution and do not drink as much fluid without consulting your treating physician. 

Rest

Try to get as much rest as you can, preferably 7-8 hours of sleep per night. This is one of the most restorative and pro immunological building steps we can all take to improve our chances during this chaos.

Tips and tricks to enhance sleep

  • Avoiding blue light from screens 1-2 hours before bed, using blue light glasses if needed
  • Keep the bedroom at 68°F or cooler
  • Avoid caffeine after 2-3 PM
  • Expose the eyes and skin to daylight first thing in the morning for at least 15 minutes
  • Avoid alcohol - an excess of two drinks for a male or one drink for a female can interrupt our sleep cycles and impede our abilities to stay asleep

Diet

Focus on foods high in vitamins C, A, and phytonutrients that support the immune system. Choose more leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower), peppers, sweet potatoes, and squashes. Aim for two servings of fruits and eight or more servings of vegetables. Choose from black-, blue-, straw-, or raspberries in your daily fruit consumption. Blueberries are excellent antioxidants and are low glycemic.

The microbiome plays a major role in our immune system. This can be optimized by having prebiotic foods (i.e. unsweetened yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and tempeh). If you are unable to intake these foods, a probiotic supplement can be taken. This will help improve the immune system overall.

Mindfulness

This can be split up into a few minutes of simple deep breathing, meditation, or 4-7-8 breathing a day. Take this time to reflect on what you are thankful for with gratitude journaling which can help reduce stress and create opportunities for growth during this trying time. 

Exercise

Exercise helps with detoxification by improving lymphatic flow, which increases immunological factors to “clean up” our organ systems. Try to participate in 30 mins of exercise or 7500-10,000 steps daily. If you have any impediments, please consult a physician before trying. 

As the weather warms up, look to be outdoors with fresh air whenever possible for movement. This is an excellent opportunity to utilize local/state parks, neighborhoods, and walking trails as allowed per local ordinances. Incorporating three days minimum of body weight resistance/weight training a week is another great way to increase metabolism, improve sweating to improve detoxification, and help us secrete natural endorphins and immune boosting hormones. Research has also shown physical activity improves sleep which thereby improves immunity.

Community

As human beings, we are creatures of society and require interaction to survive. During this time, we may be unable to be present with our loved ones and friends. Fortunately, we all live in a world with excellent technology. Consider scheduling Facetime/Skype/Google hangouts with family and friends to share meals and drinks with, even if they live just down the road. This will help us all feel connected and since we know others are going through the same process of social distancing. This is also something to consider for your kids, to show them that all the kids are at home and are doing school work and that they are not alone.

Supplements/vitamins/herbs

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids

These fatty acids are great to get from your diet. Foods that contain Omega-3 include walnuts, flax seeds, hemp seeds, and fatty fish such as wild mackerel and salmon. If you are looking to supplement, focus on finding brands that have a ratio of 2:1 of EPA:DHA for anti-inflammatory effects and increasing immune function. 

  • Vitamin C

Numerous studies have shown this vitamin to be helpful to our immune systems. Look to natural sources such as citrus fruit, red peppers, broccoli, kale, and sweet potato to get this powerful booster. Preparations, such as “Emergen-C” can be helpful as well, but be wary of the additional sugar as higher sugar levels make it more difficult for immune systems to cope with infections and viruses.

  • Vitamin D/D3 

Dr. Grover aims for 4000 IU daily, or at least 2000 IU daily. However, discuss with your doctor if you have any infectious symptoms, cough, fever, body aches, nausea, GI issues, runny nose, vomiting, diarrhea because some studies show that vitamin D can make COVID-19 worse during the infectious stage. 

  • Multivitamin

When choosing a multivitamin, choose one that is preferably a non-gummy, as these carry extra sugar which can turn down our immune systems. 

  • Zinc Lozenges

If you have cough, cold symptoms or sore throat, these can be alleviating and improve immunity during any viral illness. 

  • Astragalus

This is a less popular herb, but can be effective to boost the immune system when taking 500 mg per day or twice a day if you have COVID-19 symptoms. This is also great if you are infected with a viral infection or at increased risk of being exposed to patients with COVID-19, Influenza type A or B or any other potential virus. 

  • Turmeric/Curcumin (with bioperine)

This is a work horse with both anti-inflammatory and antiseptic effects, which are both important during this crucial time. Take 500 mg at minimum and when purchasing, focus on choosing a brand that says Curcumin vs. Turmeric.

  • Berberine

Take 500 mg three times a day or at least 1000 mg daily. This is a great way to improve immune function, improve cholesterol metabolism, and maintain blood glucose levels. 

  • Quercetin

This is an excellent antiviral agent and great gut health boosting properties.Take at least 500 mg (up to 1000 mg) per day if you have more of a symptomatic issue. 

Medications and Herbs to AVOID

  • Elderberry 

This has become a controversial herb during COVID-19, so please talk to your doctor before taking. 

  • Motrin/Ibuprofen/Advil/Aleve/Naproxen 

These are non-inflammatory medications. Continue using if you have been prescribed these medications for another health issue. If you start to exhibit COVID-19 symptoms, get in touch with your doctor immediately for guidance.

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