As we enter yet another cold and flu season, COVID-19 continues to threaten our health. This trifecta of miserable illnesses highlights the importance of supporting, strengthening, and boosting your immune system function—more so now than ever before.
The best way to protect yourself from any acute illness this winter is to reduce as many risk factors as you can. When it comes to COVID-19, data shows that advanced age and gender play a role in speed and ease of recovery. You can’t do anything about these factors, but you can change a few of the other major risks for severe COVID-19 infection and complications.
A study out of England that examined the records of more than 17 million adults (10,962 of whom died of COVID-related issues) identified three major COVID risk factors that could be improved: diabetes, obesity, and compromised immune function.1
As you likely know, diabetes and obesity are connected. By losing weight, you can manage or even reverse your diabetes—and lower your risk for countless other diseases in addition to COVID-19.
If you have diabetes and/or are obese, now’s the time to do something about it. Even losing just a few pounds can have a major positive impact on your health.
Your Diet Can Boost Immunity
Enhancing your immune function is another thing you can easily do right now to help safeguard against COVID-19, flu, and other seasonal infections.
Along with exercise, healthy diet and nutritional supplementation are the most important things you can do to decrease duration and severity of infection if you do end up catching something.
A recent study published in the journal Nutrients investigated the role of diet and nutrients in COVID-19 recovery and outcome. Of course, diet cannot fully prevent COVID-19 or any other illness, but the researchers did conclude that “nutritional status plays a significant role” in how well patients fare.”2
They continued, “dietary patterns and individual nutrients can influence systemic markers of immune functions.”
The body’s inflammatory response very much plays a role in COVID-19. In most people, it helps fight the infection so that the virus is destroyed by the body. But for the most vulnerable among us, uncontrolled and excessive inflammation can lead to a variety of serious complications.
The researchers of this study wrote, “It is thought that underlying systemic inflammation may exacerbate COVID-19 infection. For instance, in COVID-19 patients with underlying [cardiovascular disease], the respiratory symptoms of infection seem to be more severe.”
This is the perfect example of why, when we are healthy and feeling good, it’s important to do everything in our power to minimize this inflammation.
We can do that by eliminating factors that can cause chronic low-grade inflammation in the body—for many Americans, diet is the #1 culprit.
The Western diet is notoriously pro-inflammatory. Sugar, oils, trans fats, and processed meat trigger inflammation in the body—not to mention lead to obesity, which can lead to a higher risk of complications due to COVID-19.
According to the researchers, following an anti-inflammatory diet such as the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet is a smart move.
But if you are not ready to follow a new eating plan, then do yourself this favor: Simply eliminate processed junk food and sweets. Those two “food groups” alone contribute to inflammation and the vast majority of inflammatory diseases we see today.
And, where there is a gap in your healthy eating, find natural ways to fill them.
Vitamins Fill in Nutritional Gaps
Multivitamins are the foundation of every supplement regimen. No matter what your age, sex, or health status, you need to be taking a multi every day. (Yes, even if you eat a Mediterranean or similarly healthy diet, a multi is still important!)
Because the body doesn’t just need the daily minimums, it needs robust levels of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to function at its peak. And even the best diet can sometimes fall short in terms of giving your body everything it needs to remain in the best health.
Several years ago, a survey found that if seniors took multivitamins every day, it could save the government $1.6 billion in Medicare costs over a five-year period, by improving immune system function and preventing disease.3
Remember, the senior population is at particularly high risk of complications not only from COVID-19, but from the flu as well. Often this is due to nutritional deficiencies, most commonly vitamins B, C, and D, and zinc—all easily solved by taking a multi.
Unfortunately, the cheap drugstore brand multi formulas often fall short. They usually contain only the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA). The problem is, most RDAs are notoriously low and do not provide levels of nutrients needed to promote peak health. Higher-quality multis will contain levels of vitamins and minerals that are significantly higher than the RDA.
LifeMax is one example of a superior multivitamin that provides nutrient levels well above the RDA. Not only that, the vitamins and minerals are naturally sourced, rather than synthetic. Plus, it’s loaded with the power of 30 super fruits and vegetables that can help extend lifespan by up to 5 years.
For added immune support, you can add extra vitamin D and zinc to your daily regimen. One easy way to do that is to go outside and get some fresh sunlight every day. Studies show that deficiencies in both are especially detrimental in the fight against COVID-19.
One study found that people with low D levels were 45% more likely to contract the virus—and 95% more likely to end up in the hospital!4
As for zinc, one study succinctly states:
“As zinc is essential to preserve natural tissue barriers such as the respiratory epithelium, preventing pathogen entry, for a balanced function of the immune system and the redox system, zinc deficiency can probably be added to the factors predisposing individuals to infection and detrimental progression of COVID-19. Finally, due to its direct antiviral properties, it can be assumed that zinc administration is beneficial for most of the population, especially those with suboptimal zinc status.”5
While this cold and flu season is different from most, the key to staying healthy hasn’t changed. Support your immune system by providing your body with the best “armor” possible against all the nasty viruses out there, healthy eating, exercise, and a high quality multi.
Stay strong, stay healthy, and take good care.
- Williamson E, et al. Factors associated with COVID-19-relaed death using OpenSAFELY. 2020;584:430-6.
- Zabetakis I, et al. COVID-19: The inflammation link and the role of nutrition in potential mitigation. 2020 May;12(5):1466.
- Multivitamins save billions in health care costs. Last updated July 9, 2008.
- Merzon E, et al. Low plasma 25(OH) vitamin D level is associated with increased risk of COVID-19 infection: an Israeli population-based study. FEBS J. 2020 Jul 23;10.111/febs.15495.
- Wessels I, et al. The potential impact of zinc supplementation on COVID-19 pathogenesis. Front Immunol. 2020;11:1712.
Disclaimer: Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Last Updated: December 3, 2020
Originally Published: October 31, 2020