A Functional Medicine Approach for Covid Health
If you’re like many people, you’re probably ready for the Covid-19 pandemic to be over. After nearly a year of social distancing, hand washing and mask wearing, many of us are eager to get back to normal life.
Unfortunately, even though more and more people are getting vaccinated every day, new, more contagious variants of the virus are spreading quickly, meaning that many more people could become infected in the next few months before they are able to receive a vaccination.
So what can you do to protect yourself? In addition to continuing to wear a mask and socially distance, Dr. Kelsie Lazzell, DC, DN, a functional medicine practitioner at the Center for Holistic Medicine, says there are also dietary and lifestyle choices you can make that can help support your body’s immune system, which may make you less susceptible to getting sick.
And, if you do get Covid, Dr. Lazzell says there are things you can do that may help your body fight off the virus, and to support your body after the illness to regain your energy and strength.
Here are some of Dr. Lazzell’s top tips for Covid health:
IMMUNE SUPPORT TIPS
Although there is no way to completely prevent getting Covid-19, there are steps you can take to support your immune system, which can make your body less susceptible to getting sick.
- Eat a Mediterranean Diet
A Mediterranean diet is one that consists mainly of vegetables, fruits, beans, fish, protein, quality fats (such as olive oil or avocados), and complex carbohydrates. It does not generally include dairy, sugar or trans fats. This type of diet can help you reduce inflammation and boost your immunity.
- Take a Vitamin D Supplement
Studies have shown that people who are Vitamin D deficient are more likely to get Covid-19, and also more likely to die from the disease. The best way to get vitamin D is to spend 30 minutes a day in the sunlight, but since we’re living in the Midwest in the wintertime, most likely you’ll need to take a vitamin D supplement. For proper dosage levels, consult with your healthcare provider.
- Take Supplements to Reduce Inflammation
The goal of your immune system is to fight off foreign invaders, such as bacteria, viruses or our own damaged cells, also called inflammation. And the more inflammation you have in your body, the weaker your immune system will be overall, because your body can’t fight off too many things at one time. That’s why it’s a good idea to reduce as much inflammation as you can, so your body will be well equipped to fight off the Covid-19 virus if it enters your body.
Some supplements Dr. Lazzell recommends you can take to reduce inflammation include low dose melatonin, bioflavonoids like quercetin and green tea extract (two to three cups of green tea daily), turmeric, and vitamin A and C.
- Reduce Your Stress
Did you know that your stress level also plays a huge part in how your immune system functions? When your body is under stress, your body releases cortisol, which suppresses the effectiveness of your immune system. “It’s important to maintain an active stress reduction routine,” Dr. Lazzell says. To reduce your stress, try breathing, meditation, or turning off the news. Dr. Lazzell also offers acupuncture for stress and anxiety reduction.
Dr. Lazzell also suggests trying a magnesium bath, because magnesium is a nutrient that is used in almost every cellular function in the body and is also one that many people are deficient in. To make a magnesium bath, simply add two cups of magnesium flakes, one cup of Epsom salt, half a box of aluminum-free baking soda, and one tablespoon of Himalayan sea salt to your bath water one to two times a week.
- Treat Underlying Dysfunctions
When your body is fighting other underlying conditions, it can be hard for your body to have enough energy left to be able to fight off outside viruses. So if you’re suffering from gut dysfunction, heavy metal toxicity, metabolic syndrome or other underlying issues, you may want to see a healthcare practitioner to treat those conditions to keep your body as healthy as possible.
HEALTH TIPS DURING COVID
- Take Higher Doses of Supplements Above
One of the unique aspects of Covid-19 is that once you’re infected, your immune system can go into overdrive, also called a cytokine storm. So once you have been infected, Dr. Lazzell says the goal is to dampen the immune response to prevent that cytokine storm. Dr. Lazzell says the best way to do that is to increase the dosage of the same supplements listed above: vitamin D, melatonin, vitamin A, vitamin C, and quercetin.
- Take NAC
Because Covid-19 typically attacks the lungs, Dr. Lazzell also recommends taking NAC, which is a precursor to glutathione, the main antioxidant that can improve function in the liver and lungs.
- Take Prebiotics and Probiotics
Another important way to support your health while you’re fighting Covid-19 is to make sure you have good gut health, because your gut flora comprises about 75% of your immune system. To do that, Dr. Lazzell suggests taking prebiotics and probiotics.
HEALTH TIPS FOR POST-COVID FATIGUE SUPPORT
- Eat Low Glycemic Foods
After you recover from Covid, it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle that will help boost your energy. Dr. Lazzell suggests eating low glycemic foods; clean, quality proteins; and quality fats and avoid processed foods.
- Take Supplements for Mitochondrial Support
Mitochondria — known as the powerhouses of our cells — help turn the energy we get from food into energy that our cells can use. Because people typically struggle with low energy after fighting Covid, supporting our mitochrondria is important in helping boosting energy levels. Lazzell suggests taking supplements such as NAC, CoQ10 and NAD, as well as supplements that
- Supplements to Re-Activate Your Immune System
After suppressing your immune system during your bout with Covid, when you enter in the recovery phase it’s time to activate your immune system again. “Medicinal mushrooms are excellent here,” Dr. Lazzell says.
- IV Therapy
Sometimes, getting vitamins injected directly into your body is the fastest and most effective way to get them into your blood stream. Dr. Lazzell suggests getting supplements like vitamin C, glutathione, and NAC through an IV, which you can get administered either at an outpatient clinic or at home from an at-home care provider.
- Continue to Keep Stress Low
As you build up your immune system again, Dr. Lazzell says you should continue to manage your stress levels, because again, when your stress levels are elevated, it can dampen your immune system. So keep up your self-care routine of breathing, meditation, baths and anything else that keeps you calm and relaxed.