The first case of coronavirus in the Republic of Ireland has been confirmed. The very first thing to do here is to follow the HSE guidelines for containment which includes frequent handwashing and self isolation if you or one of your family members has a fever or presents with flu-like symptoms.
Who is at risk of coronavirus?
Like any flu virus, the elderly and young are most at risk of coronavirus, although in many cases so far, the young patients have recovered well. Those with compromised respiratory systems such as people living with COPD, lung disease or even asthma are also high risk.
Other groups at risk might include health care workers, people who travel a lot for work or those who work in environments where transmission rates might be high, such as childcare facilities or nursing homes.
It is likely that further mass gatherings may be cancelled in the near future, and possibly international travel bans. But already we should be considering whether travel or group gatherings are necessary and reduce the risk of further spread within Ireland.
Boost your immune system
While we wait for a treatment or a vaccine for coronavirus, there may be steps you can take to help support your own health and immune system. These tips are similar to any winter health advice for the avoidance of flu. We would urge caution to be wary of claims of mega dosing of supplements. A good balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and protein should be maintained.
Zinc is necessary for the production of white blood cells, our immune army. It is one of the critical nutrients for winter health and defence against flues and viruses. Zinc is found in red meat (which should be limited due to other health reasons), nuts, seeds and chickpeas. When we carry out blood tests in clinic, approximately 60% of our patients are deficient in zinc. Often people are already taking a multivitamin and mineral and their levels of zinc are still low. It can be difficult to absorb or sometimes the bioavailability of zinc in supplement complexes is low. We recommend taking sublingual zinc to rectify a deficiency. In our experience, this is much more effective at raising serum zinc and even at doses less than the recommended daily allowance. There is no need for excessive supplementation.
This is the common go-to for winter support. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant and studies have shown that it may lessen the severity and duration of winter colds. Maintaining a good diet during the winter of fruits and vegetables tends to be more difficult. We snack less perhaps on fruit, there are less fresh berries available and we eat less salads. Our intake of vitamin C can be significantly lower during the winter months. Therefore taking a supplement may be recommended. Again, there is no need for mage doses. The most common dose is 500mg to 1000mg. Try to split the doses e.g. 500mg twice per day is better than 1000mg once per day. There is a maximum level of absorption in any one sitting. Otherwise you may end up just urinating the excess amount away.
Vitamin D is essential for our immune function. In Ireland we know vitamin D levels are typically low during the winter. We make vitamin D from the sun, and sometimes we don’t even get much of that during the summer. Over supplementing with vitamin D is not beneficial. It is fat soluble and will build up in our system and can increase to toxic levels. Most people in Ireland will benefit from 1000IU of vitamin D per day during months between October and March. In clinic, we carry out blood tests to determine the level which can then help with a tailored supplementation level. Some people will need to take 2000IU to 4000IU to rectify a deficiency but this should only be after testing.
In clinic, we recommend medicinal mushrooms regularly to support immune function. There is good evidence to show their anti-viral properties and how they can support levels of particular anti-viral immune cells and natural killer cells. We have used mushroom protocols to much success to modulate the immune system, as shown in before and after immune tests. We use a variety of mushrooms, including reishi and others, but there are other effects such as changes in hormones and impact on other medications or health conditions. Using medicinal mushroom supplements should be discussed with your Nutritional Therapist to check for contraindications and to determine a protocol that is most suitable for you. However, we can all include mushrooms in our diet regularly to gain some of their benefit. Try our Asian risotto with shiitake mushrooms – a delicious and healthy meal option.
If you would like help with supporting your immune system, call us on 01 4020777 or book online now.