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Nutrition and Immunity

Posted by Dr Michelle Woolhouse on 21 July 2020
Nutrition and Immunity
COVID-19 is a novel virus, meaning it has never been in circulation within the human population before, therefore long term research isn't available on treatment options. However, good principles of nutritional medicine are likely to be supportive to strengthen the immune system. 

The immune system is a complex whole-body system that is mainly housed in the gut wall and through the body via the antibody system, white blood cells and lymph nodes. These collections of tissues are the source of our immune defence. When we are deficient in certain vitamins and minerals we know that this has a negative effect on the immune system.

Vitamin D is a remarkable vitamin that our bodies make from the sun. If we sun avoid due to fear of skin cancer, excessive indoor time or covering our skin we may be deficient in Vitamin D even in this sunny country. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a poorer immune response. 

Zinc has long been used as an anti-viral agent, however, it has fallen from "fashion" as more pharmaceutical medicines have taken its place. Zinc is currently being research in the ICU units in some Melbourne Hospitals. Zinc is commonly deficient as our soils are over-farmed and with the latest dietary trend heading to vegetarianism, we are finding a lot of zinc deficiencies. Zinc stores within the white blood cells and acts as a first-line defence against viruses. 

Vitamin C is a ubiquitous anti-viral agent and is a potent anti-oxidant used to mop up inflammation and cell debris caused by the immune system's defence actions. Vitamin C  also supports mucous membrane healing, which may play a role in the COVID-19 mechanism in more severe cases. 

Others lifestyle medicine interventions have all good evidence to support optimising immunity, such as adequate sleep, nature-based exercise, good air quality, stress management, and connection with those we love. Our immune systems are dynamic and provide an omnipotent healing presence inside all of us. 

So along with following the DHHS guidelines, such as social distancing, wearing a mask in public, restricting contact with others, avoiding crowds and washing hands frequently and vigorously, there may be some good evidenced-based interventions worth considering. For more information and individualisation please book an appointment and speak it through with your practitioner.
Dr Michelle WoolhouseAuthor: Dr Michelle Woolhouse
About: Dr Michelle Woolhouse, Whole Medicine founder and principal GP, and her team understand the challenges patients face because they have experienced it either as doctors or patients. The practice was founded in 2009 out of a strong desire to redefine whole person care, to include nutrition and environmental medicine, and integrating mind-body techniques. The practice gained a reputation that challenged the traditional way of delivering patient care. Whole Medicine has flourished to become the choice for an inspired Mornington Peninsula community.
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Tags: Vitamins Preventative Medicine Men's Health Children's Health Chronic Illness Health and Well Being Family GP COVID-19

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