I receive an overwhelming amount of messages from customers, friends and family almost everyday about what we personally do to stay healthy during times when viruses are on the rise. Many of you are traveling right now and are wondering what we take when we travel or fly. While I cannot give medical advice, or suggest that any of the below will treat, cure or prevent a disease, I can however give you a peek into what we take and do in our home to try and stay healthy.
#1 Eat the Rainbow
I know, I know. It's so cliche and we are tired of hearing our moms tell us to eat our veggies. But there is legit reasoning behind this. We try to focus on eating healthy as a lifestyle but we are even more diligent during the colder months when viruses seem to thrive in the dry winter air and lack of sunshine. We focus on lower sugar/carb and tons of fruits and veggies. We aim to eat fruits and vegetables that are abundant in carotenoids. Carotenoids are vegetables and fruits that are dark in color ranging from orange/purple/green/yellow/red. They provide antioxidants and enhance your immune system. They are also converted to vitamin A which helps to protect our cells against viruses trying to attach and replicate (aka what makes you sick as a dog is the replication). This is also extremely beneficial for eye and brain health. There is a reason I listed eating the rainbow as #1 and that is because you can’t supplement your way out of an unhealthy diet. We also make sure to eat loads of raw garlic, turmeric and ginger. I buy them in season when they are fresh. I peel and then freeze them so we have it on hand all year round.
Other top immune boosting foods that we are eating:
Blueberries, kiwi, pineapple, lemons, bone broth (my recipe here), wild caught fish, walnuts, mushrooms, manuka honey, asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, thyme, oregano, oranges, cabbage, apple cider vinegar (with the mother), carrots, onions, grapefruit.
#2 Vitamin D
We always make sure we are receiving adequate amounts of vitamin D. Less sun exposure in the winter months sets us up for low vitamin D and more viral infections, including flu viruses. Most holistic physicians agree that your blood work should show levels between 70-100. Mine is chronically low, even in the summer when I walk an hour everyday, so I supplement with it all year round. I have written about vitamin D and the brand we use in a previous post here. My daughter gets 500 mg a day via vitamin D drops with K2 in her elderberry shot every morning. The only brand I use for vitamin D is seeking health brand. Click this link here to find all of their supplements that are completely aligned to my high standards, including their vitamin D drops and vitamin d pills.
#3 Vitamin C
We personally take Ascorbic acid (very affordable) or liposomal vitamin C. For every day prevention I take around 2,000 mg of ascorbic acid in water everyday and my three year old gets 250 mg. When traveling we take the liposomal packets along for the ride, they are more expensive which is why we mainly only use them when traveling. Vitamin C is virucidal – it kills viruses on contact so it's important to have some on hand. As mentioned above, a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables will supply you with vitamin C. If you are not eating enough then you will most likely need to supplement. If we feel like we are getting a viral infection, we take 2,000 mg every two hours until lose bowels occur and then back off to the previous dose.
We strongly believe in the power of elderberry in our household (obviously). It is an every day staple during winter months in our home. We typically take around 1 tbsp of our elderberry and honey tonic every day, but this year with the flu being so rampant and the threat of this new virus we are taking it twice a day. If we are exposed to someone who is ill or are traveling we up that even more. Speaking of traveling there are two options with our elderberry. One, you can pour our elderberry tonic into a small container (like a recycled liquor shot bottle) and as long as it is kept cold with a little ice pack you are good to go. The easier solution, when traveling, is our elderberry glycerin tincture which does not require refrigeration even once it has been open due to the glycerin. It's 2 oz so you can take it on the plane without issues. We get the strangest looks on airplanes as I am passing around the dropper and squeezing it into my husbands and daughter's mouths every two hours. Typically a dark purple mess ensues due to a wiggly three year old and we get even more attention, but it's all worth it to us.
***Side note on elderberry*** Recently there have been some concerns posted by some bloggers that elderberry could cause a potential cytokine storm in the body. There is no data to back that up and it is just their speculation and opinion. We have to work within the regulations set by the FDA and the Department of Agriculture. Therefore we cannot claim that our products prevent, mitigate, or cure disease, nor are we able to provide medical advice. This practice protects our customers as well as our business. In this time of uncertainty, many of you are searching for information on elderberry and cytokine storm. Since COVID-19 is a brand new virus, research is inconclusive on ALL treatment options.
I will let my favorite herbalist speak to it here in her article. In addition, a 2016 study showed that a formula based on elderberry inhibited harmful cytokines in people who had atherosclerosis.
This is another great article by my favorite holistic MD.
Dr. Avivva Romm MD stated, “the association with elderberry and cytokine storm is implausible; Elderberry is not able to cause cytokine storm whether used for prevention or invention, or during infection. Were one experiencing cytokine storm, one would be far too sick for herbal therapies; this is an ICU/life support level crisis.”
Dr. David Berger, a pediatrician in Florida, says "In an attempt to reduce the chances of a viral infection, in addition to our other immune supporting recommendations, at the first sign of viral symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath upon exertion, fatigue, body aches, or diarrhea, which early evidence suggests may also be a symptom of COVID-19), we continue to support the judicial use of black elderberry as a component of our complete protocol, along with other supplements, designed to keep the immune system strong and balanced. We acknowledge the concern of cytokine overstimulation exists; however, we feel that, based on elderberry’s antiviral effects and a long history of use within the practice of integrative medicine, the benefits of use outweigh the currently understood risks." Here is a link to his full article.
As always, check with your physician if you have any concerns.
#5 Cod Liver Oil
This is a great source of natural Vitamin A & D and fatty acids. I personally do not like to take the vitamin A listed below every day and feel more comfortable with cod liver oil as a preventative. The adults in our family take about 1 tsp a day and my 3 year old gets 1/2 tsp in her elderberry shot every morning.
This is the brand that I trust.
#6 Vitamin A
If we wake up feeling under the weather we take around 50,000 IU of Optimal Vitamin A Drops from this brand. They go out of stock easily so we always make sure to have a couple of bottles on hand and we always travel with it. There are some holistic doctors that recommend upwards of 400,000 IU per day for two days to abort the viral infection. We have not experimented with anything that high but if we were to be hit with the measles or something extremely serious I wouldn't hesitate to take that amount to strengthen our cell membranes. There is a lot of fear surrounding vitamin A and liver toxicity, but that only happens if you take high amounts for a long time. I feel comfortable with my family taking 50,000 IU - 100,000 IU of vitamin A once a day for three days. Always trust your gut and ask your doctor.
#7 The Gut
So much of our immune strength can be reflected back to our gut health. There is a lot I could say here, and I am sure there is a potential future blog post in me regarding this but for now I will stick to the basics of what we do to ensure our guts are thriving.
Hydrochloric acid (HCL) helps your body to digest and absorb nutrients from food. It also eliminates bacteria and viruses in the stomach, which is kind of a big deal. Many of us are chronically low, especially the very young and the elderly...see a correlation there with the two populations that seem to get hit the hardest with illness? There are some great HCL supplements that you can take with meals to build it up but I don't over-rely on this method because I don't want our bodies to get reliant on the supplement and stop making HCL naturally. We do have the pills on hand if needed and we travel with them.
Fermented Foods also help to build up the good bacteria in our stomach that help fight off the bad bugs. We don't love sauerkraut so we do fermented pickles, kombucha, apple cider vinegar with "the mother", etc... I relied on this method when my daughter had reflux as an infant. I did not feel comfortable giving her prescription antacids so I gave her fermented sauerkraut juice in tiny doses via a needleless syringe and it 100% healed her acid reflux within two weeks. No more back arches and horrible screaming episodes at night so we got a LOT more rest because of something as simple as fermented juice. If you don't love fermented foods be sure to take a high quality probiotic.
Herbal digestive bitters are another way to build up the stomach acid if taken right before meals. This brand has some great options.
#8 Nasal Irrigation
When we have been out and about we do a squirt of this product in our noses and this one for my little one. It has grapefruit seed extract in it that helps to fight infections and viruses (I could do a whole post on grapefruit seed extract and it's amazing benefits). Stay tuned.
#9 Hybrid CR
This is another product we keep on hand at all times. I personally know the pharmacist that created this herbal blend and trust his quality and expertise. Per their website, in regards to one of the ingredients in the blend, Andrographis, "This potent and effective herb activates your immune system and tells your body to start building more defensive immune cells.* Andrographis helps manage the severity of an immune challenge by activating a strong, speedy immune response and supporting a healthy inflammatory response. Popular in Scandinavian cultures, this herb has been proven effective in multiple clinical trials." We travel with it and if we have any signs of illness we take immediately. Only for ages 12 and older.
#10 The Obvious Stuff
Hand washing, hand washing, HAND WASHING.
Drink 1/2 your body weight of water in oz everyday. If you weigh 150 aim for 75 oz of water.
Apply "heat" to your body via exercise, sauna, hot bath, etc... Viruses hate heat, hence the body fighting bugs off with fever.
And there you have it! A peek into what my family does to try and stay immune strong.
*The content of this post and website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute as medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. None of the above supplements have been approved by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease.