Essential Nutrients for Fighting Cold & Flu
By Heidi Toy, NPT
November and December are thought of as the holiday season months. They are also two of the prime months for the pesky “flu season” and the push for receiving the flu shot.
There are a number of reasons why one should reconsider getting the flu shot. The biggest one being that they contain mercury, and mercury is one of the most toxic neurotoxins, because it easily destroys brain tissue.
A common urban myth is that the mercury has been taken out of vaccines. This is not true. Several of the flu vaccines contain a neurotoxic ingredient called thimerosal (mercury).
The purpose of the flu shot is to assist the body’s ability to fight specific strains of flu. However the problem here is that every year the influenza viruses in the seasonal flu vaccines are selected through calculations about what flu viruses are most likely to cause illness in the coming season. The FDA, acting in concert with the CDC, decides what vaccine strains for influenza vaccines will be sold in the United States. Do you know how the flu strain is picked to put into the vaccine every year? The “experts” guess.
Instead of getting the flu shot, which is both ambiguous and dangerous in what it has to offer, why not strengthen your own immune system and give your body the natural ability to fight any bacteria, virus, or microbe? Most folks who contract the flu already have a subclinical deficiency of a nutrient, which means that the body cannot function at optimal performance. Add in emotional stress, weather changes, less sunlight, and the holiday goodies to the borderline deficiency, and we have created the recipe for functioning at a lower performance level. The result is that bacteria and viruses gain temporary control; we call that the cold and the flu. Two major nutrient deficiencies that I test for in my clinic at this time of year are zinc and Vitamin D because both of these nutrients play a critical role in warding off colds and flus.
Zinc is crucial for a healthy immune system and is a co-factor in over 200 enzyme systems. We need zinc to make proper amounts of hydrochloric acid or HCL (go here to read about it www.educatednutrition.com/heartburn-remedies.html). Zinc is also necessary for the improvement of cardiovascular function and supporting female and male reproductive health, wound healing, healthy skin, GI cell repair, the reduction of inflammation, healthy cell membranes, the metabolism of essential fatty acids (Omega 3/6), and for the production of white blood cells.
Low zinc produces a direct and rapid decline in T-cell function. Killer T-cells hunt down and destroy cells that are infected with germs or that have become cancerous. The other main type of T-cells are called helper T-cells.
Helper T-cells orchestrate an immune response and play important roles in all arms of immunity. Four out of five people that I test in my office for zinc deficiency test with suboptimal levels. Unfortunately our soil and water is devoid of minerals and therefore, so are we.
Another crucial nutrient that almost everyone is deficient in, that aids in building a healthy immune system, is Vitamin D. Vitamin D, which is more like a hormone than a vitamin, is responsible for the regulation of over 2,000 genes in our body. Vitamin D plays an important role in helping the body maintain blood sugar, a healthy gut, the reduction of inflammation, the activation of the immune system against microbes, alkalizing pH, and maintaining healthy bone mass. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin along with Vitamins A, E, and K. Vitamin D should be taken with fat at your largest meal of the day. Studies show that Vitamin D helps the body make more glutathione in both the liver and the brain.
Glutathione is the body’s master antioxidant, and without it we are not able to detox metals, toxins, and chemicals. In scientific studies when subjects were givenVitamin D, glutathione production was increased. However, those who had a zinc deficiency had the lowest increase.
This master antioxidant outweighs the importance of any antioxidant you can take by mouth. It is so important that it deserves its own article as it affects every system in the body, especially the immune system, the nervous system, the GI system, and the lungs. Glutathione cannot be taken as a supplement. It must be made in the body.
Most people know that Vitamin C is also great for combating the common cold. Unfortunately many people lack the enzyme that is required for the last step of Vitamin C synthesis. The body will make due by recycling the oxidized version of vitamin C, but in order to complete this step glutathione must be present. Additionally most people consume more sugar, which places the uptake of Vitamin C in direct competition with the uptake of sugar by the cell. This is due to what is known as the Glucose Ascorbate Antagonism (GAA) theory. The GAA was aptly named in the 1970’s when Dr. John Ely discovered that Glucose and Vitamin C (ascorbate) have a very similar chemical makeup. When glucose levels are elevated, they compete and effectively restrict Vitamin C from entering the cells. Blood glucose levels become elevated by eating sugar or when we have insulin resistance and or diabetes. Both glucose and Vitamin C depend upon the pancreatic hormone insulin and its signaling effects in order to get into the cells. This means that the greater the amount of circulating blood sugar, the less Vitamin C will enter the cells. This is one of the many ways that sugar dampens our immune system and why we face more colds and flu during the highest sugar consumption season of the year, which runs from Halloween through Valentine’s Day, and not because of the weather as many suspect.
The most effective way to combat disease and illness is to develop a wellness program that includes a whole food diet and a professional-grade supplement regime year-round. The nutrients written about here are so crucial to our well-being that for the month of November my office will provide anyone who brings in this article a free zinc screening and 10 percent off the purchase of Vitamins D, Zinc, NAC (what the body needs to build Glutathione), and Vitamin C*.
Test dates are Thursday November 12 and December 3, 2015, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. by appointment.
(*New Clients only/Not redeemable for cash). Heidi Toy, NTP, is a functional medicine nutritionist who specializes in helping people who are fatigued, depressed, gaining weight, experiencing heartburn and other digestive problems, and battling with female hormone issues collectively, what she calls the “Big Five.”