In this final instalment of a three-part offering, I will be discussing phytochemicals (plant-based medicine) and probiotics in relation to immune enhancement. I will also get personal and share details of my own protective program, for any of you who might be interested.
Phytonutrients to the Rescue
There are several immune-enhancing herbs and plant-derived nutrients that could be enlisted in our protective regime at this time, but the most important of these, in my opinion, is a flavonoid called quercetin.
Sometimes, as the Covid-19 infection runs its course, our response is not about a lack of immune response. In fact it can be almost the opposite. Our immune system is all about checks and balances, but if that system is dysfunctional, we can lose this critical self-balancing capacity. This loss of control can lead to a massive overreaction. The subsequent overproduction of immune cells and their signaling molecules can create a cytokine storm. In fact, this is a common outcome for those who succumb to this disease. Here, the immune system effectively turns on its host. The uncontrolled immune cells flood the lungs, which leads to the pneumonia that has proven so destructive.
Herein lies part of my enthusiasm for quercetin. Substantial research in China and Canada highlights the considerable potential of this plant-derived flavonoid to reduce the likelihood of these cytokine storms. It can apparently help dull these ravaging storms through inhibiting the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Quercetin is also a powerful immune booster and broad-spectrum antiviral. My goodness, this certainly looks like a tailor-made component of a protective protocol.
Quercetin is one of the most abundant of over 8000 flavonoids found in food. It is actually termed a ‘flavonol’, one of the highest natural sources of which is red onions and spring onions. I remember coming across a fascinating study while researching my prostate book. In this research, it was reported that consumption of one spring onion a day reduced all forms of cancer by 71%. Now we have a second reason to include luxury amounts of spring onions in every salad! The highest levels of quercetin in a red onion are found in the outer layers, at the base of the onion.
500 – 1000 mg of quercetin per day, in divided doses, is the desired productive dose rate.
The Mighty Curcumin
No consideration of phytochemicals would be complete without factoring in the potential of curcumin, the powerhouse yellow pigment found in turmeric.
Curcumin has been described as ‘the most powerful anti-inflammatory ever researched’, and there has been no shortage of that research. There have been over 700 published papers singing the praises of this substance over the past nine years (check PubMed for details). It has now been linked to protection from heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, stroke and cancer.
However, there is a bigger picture involved here. Inflammation is a primary player in all degenerative and infectious disease, so the benefits are profound.
Covid-19 sponsors inflammation on a major scale, so there appears an obvious role for a natural anti-inflammatory in the protection equation. Ibuprofen has been the choice of many to quell the free radical fires driven by this new disease. Unfortunately, there has been some new research suggesting lower Covid recovery amongst those choosing Ibuprofen to relieve symptoms.
In India, there has been a massive run on turmeric powder, as Ayurvedic practitioners have touted its potential benefit in their war against the virus. This powdered option makes sense, as the dehydration process quadruples the concentration of curcumin.
It is important to understand that curcumin is poorly uptaken, so there is great benefit in assisting that uptake. The synergists that have been shown to be most effective for this purpose include black pepper (linked to an active ingredient called piperine), coconut oil, and full-fat milk (because curcumin is fat soluble).
There is an obvious place for turmeric lattes, golden milk, golden paste, or concentrated curcumin supplements as part of your defense regime.
We are increasingly recognising the importance of our life within. In fact, our microbiome is intimately linked to every aspect of our health, including brain health. 80% of our immune system is located in our gut, learning from our gut organisms and constantly fine tuning our immune response. We have assaulted these creatures with a range of biocides, ranging from antibiotics to food stabilisers, prescription medicine and chlorinated water.
It is no accident that the longest living people on the planet are those that consume lacto- fermented food on a daily basis. It makes one wonder if the impressive Korean Covid-19 bounce-back could possibly be linked to their daily consumption of kimchi.
It is remarkably easy to make your own sauerkraut or kimchi. Similarly, anyone can source a jellyfish-like skoby (the “mother”) and feed it with black tea and sugar to create your own kombucha probiotic. Kefir also requires a mother starter, but this powerful probiotic simply involves combining the starter with milk, and harvesting the diverse probiotic you have created on a daily basis (leaving 20% as a starter for your next 24-hour batch). These can be great productive strategies to occupy both adults and children during what could be a lengthy period of social isolation.
There are multiple commercial probiotic formulas available, but try to seek those with the greatest diversity.
What is my Personal Protective Program?
I am often asked about my personal immune-building strategies. I am certainly stepping up to the plate to ensure I reduce the odds of a bad outcome, if and when the insidious virus visits. It may seem like a lot of things to do, but it takes just a few minutes a day and I am confident it is a worthy investment.
I am very aware that I do not want to dilute this important information with product marketing. There is way too much Covid-19 opportunism happening out there, and I do not want to be part of that sad parade. In this personal program, I am obviously choosing to use some of the products I have developed, but there are many similar products you can source.
Here is my daily protective regime:
Graeme’s Daily Program
1) 30 mg of amino chelated zinc - Taken each evening, directly before bed (this can be sourced from most supermarkets or online supplement stores). I wash down this pill with a mouthful of Bio-Bubble™, my broad-spectrum probiotic drink, as the zinc response is magnified whenever you put the microbes behind the minerals.
2) MagSorb™ - I spray this transdermal magnesium concentrate under my arms and on the soles of my feet each morning.
3) Epsom salts baths - Once a week, I enjoy a hot bath before bed. I include 2 cups of Epsom salts and soak for 40 minutes.
4) Selenium and Brazil nuts - I take 200 mcg of selenium each day and I also include a couple of Brazil nuts with my green smoothies in the morning.
4) Iodine in fruit juice - I supplement with 5 drops of Lugol's Solution in a glass of pomegranate juice each evening.
5) Vitamin D3 and Vitamin A - I take 3000 iu of vitamin D3 each day, along with a tablespoon of cod liver oil, with the juice of a lemon. I also drink a glass of fresh carrot juice each day infused with two heaped teaspoons of chia seed. I leave this juice overnight to form an orange-coloured, drinkable gel. This practice actually initiates the sprouting process in the chia, and effectively doubles its antioxidant levels.
Chia seed is also the highest source of the powerful anti-inflammatory, omega-3 fatty acids. The carrot juice delivers high levels of carotenes, which become vitamin A. Vitamin A stores in your fat for three months and can deliver a vaccine-like effect during that period.
In one US research project, mentioned earlier, it was found that 400,000 iu of vitamin A outperformed the flu vaccines, over a 12-week period. There is 47,000 iu of vitamin A in a 250 mL glass of carrot juice, so ten glasses over ten days should do the trick!
After that, you just include carrots in a mixed juice, which might also include things like beetroot, celery, apples and ginger.
6) Vitamin C, magnesium, herbal support and curcumin - Every evening I combine the following in a glass of water: one heaped teaspoon of BioSpark™ (my fully buffered, vitamin C supplement with high levels of bioflavonoids), two heaped teaspoons of Curcu-Life™ (the powdered organic Turmeric concentrate from my own farms, which includes 9% organic pepper), one heaped teaspoon of Immuno-Drive™ (the immune-supporting powder I developed for our NTS Health range) and 600 mg of magnesium, in powdered form.
Here are the ingredients of Immuno-Drive™, if you want to to source something similar in your region.
Whey protein concentrate (as a source of glutathione), spirulina, broccoli sprout powder, MSM, aloe vera, dimethylglycine, probiotics, beetroot powder, beta sitosterol, maca root powder, lactoferrin, taurine, L-lysine, selenium yeast, biotin, chrysanthemum leaf, folic acid, quercetin, hesperidin, 1,3 1,6 glucan, fermented algae, turmeric, alfalfa, calcium ascorbate, magnesium aspartate and L-glutamate.
7) Quercetin - I supplement with 1000 mg of this antioxidant each day.
8) Probiotic drinks and food - I drink 100 mL per day of my Bio-Bubble™ probiotic, containing hundreds of different beneficial gut organisms. This dose delivers over 50 billion organisms to boost our protective life within. I also have a couple of tablespoons of homemade Bio-Bubble™ rainbow sauerkraut each evening, and I start the day with Bio-Bubble™ muesli. I am essentially populating my gut with the “good guys” that have been shown to strengthen our immunity.
The other obvious immune supporters are good sleep, reduced sugar, and try not to bombard your wonderful system with too much alcohol.
I guess you can chart the success or failure of this 8-part recipe by observing my progress, as I fall within the high-risk age group. If my blogs suddenly stop, you can assume it was a failure, hehe!
Seriously though, I will take this opportunity to wish you all the very best health and protection in these difficult times. Please feel free to email me with any questions.