As I am writing this, we are still in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Few Americans have ever experienced anything like this. Millions are unemployed, streets are empty, stores are devoid of toilet paper, not to mention many food items. Unless you have been living under a rock, this pandemic has got your attention. But look on it as an opportunity—a wake-up call to pay attention to your health, to learn how to choose health, and to become a healthier and stronger you.
It doesn’t matter what the infection is. Whether it be the common cold, flu, coronavirus, or something else, the single most important factor in whether you will get sick, how sick you will get, and how fast you recover is this: the state of your immunity. Not everyone who is exposed to a virus gets sick. The stronger your immunity, the less likely you are to get sick, the less severe your illness will be, and the shorter your recovery time.
Few are aware of the nineteenth-century debate regarding infections. Chemist Louis Pasteur advocated that germs cause disease, that the cause of disease is infectious microbes invading the body, impairing the functioning and structures of different organ systems and wreaking havoc.
Pasteur’s contemporary, physiologist Claude Bernard said not so fast. Bernard maintained that the body becomes susceptible to infectious agents only if the internal balance—or homeostasis as we now call it—is disturbed. Homeostasis in the state in which the body is in balance, communicating with itself, self-regulating, and self-repairing. When you are in homeostasis, you are healthy, and when you are not in homeostasis, you are diseased. Did you ever wonder why when some bug is “going around” some get sick and others don’t? It’s because the bug is not the cause. The people who get sick are those whose internal balance is the most disturbed—who are out of homeostasis—who are already diseased. Pasteur is said to have renounced his germ theory on his death-bed, saying that “Bernard is right. The microbe is nothing. The (internal) environment is everything.”
That was in the 19th century. In the 20th century, microbiologist René Dubos agreed with Bernard saying that microbes become the cause of disease only when a disturbance upsets the equilibrium of the body. Yet, the outmoded germ theory is the basis for our treatment of infections and the foundation of entire industries producing antibiotics, antivirals, and vaccines. Given how much money there is in selling these products, we may be stuck with the nonsensical germ theory for a long time to come.
So there, in a nutshell, you have it. Germs don’t cause infections, you do! You cause infections by creating an internal environment that invites infection. So, to prevent and cure infections, it is not the germ but this environment we should be paying attention to. The objective should be to maintain and/or restore homeostasis. Personally, I am not concerned about the coronavirus or any other virus. I consider myself virus-proof, while at age 83, I am in the so-called high-risk group.
Unfortunately, rather than supporting our immunity, most of us sabotage our immunity. If you are willing to make only one change in your diet to improve your immunity, get refined sugar out of your life. Even a couple of teaspoons of sugar is enough to suppress the body’s immune responses for up to six to eight hours after ingestion, reducing the ability of white blood cells to kill pathogens by up to 50 percent. This means if you are constantly snacking on sweets or drinking soda, your immune system will almost never function at full capacity.
Also important are adequate sleep and exercise. Missing even one night of sleep will depress your immunity and getting less than seven hours of sleep on a regular basis will do the same. Regular, moderate amounts of exercise improve immune function, reducing the risk of infection. Environmental toxins, including the fluoride in your toothpaste and drinking water also suppress immunity. Vaccinations, flu shots, antibiotics, alcohol, and numerous prescription drugs, including statin drugs for cholesterol, are all immunosuppressive.
It is difficult for a virus to make you sick. Numerous obstacles must be surmounted in order to cause an infection and the virus can be stopped at each of those obstacles. For example, a virus must be able to attach itself to a cell membrane, be able to penetrate the membrane, then replicate inside the cell, and spread the newly created viruses to other cells.
If you want immune support that works, there are certain nutrients that provide obstacles to the viral infection, and you must supply them in adequate amounts. While every essential nutrient supports your health and your immunity, there are several that are especially useful and should be supplemented. This list includes vitamin D.
Vitamin D stimulates immune cells to produce powerful antibacterial and antiviral compounds that kill invading bacteria, fungi, and viruses. It is noteworthy that nations with the highest mortality rates from coronavirus—Italy, Spain and France—also have the lowest average vitamin D levels among countries affected by the pandemic. Black Americans are dying of coronavirus at a higher rate than whites. But it is well known that blacks suffer more vitamin D deficiency than whites.
Sadly, vitamin D deficiency is a pandemic. A study of over 2000 college athletes found that only five percent were getting the RDA for vitamin D, and the RDA is too low for optimal health. Most people should be supplementing with at least 5000 IU per day, and for many 10,000 IU would be even better. Test your vitamin D status and keep your blood level in the upper half of the normal range.
Vitamin C is the queen of this group. Using high doses of vitamin C to both prevent and combat virus-caused illness is well-established science. Virtually any viral infection can be dramatically slowed or completely stopped with high doses of vitamin C. Taking a bowel tolerance amount of vitamin C in divided doses throughout the day is a clinically proven antiviral. My bowel tolerance is 16 grams. That’s how much I take daily, and I don’t get or worry about viral infections.
Zinc is another critical nutrient, and most of us are zinc deficient. A virus cannot replicate without using the machinery and metabolism of a host cell. The replication process produces dramatic biochemical and structural changes in the host cell, damaging the cell while producing more viruses so the infection can spread to other cells. If replication is inhibited, so is the infection. An adequate amount of zinc in a cell is known to inhibit viral replication. I supplement with 50 mg of zinc per day, and someone with an active infection would do better at 75 mg.
Magnesium is another critical nutrient, and most of us are magnesium deficient. Magnesium is one of the most critical minerals for overall health, and virtually every known illness can be associated with a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium has a strong relationship with the immune system in both nonspecific and specific immune responses, and a deficiency interferes with these complex interrelationships. Magnesium is also critical for maintaining normal pH in our cells. Normal pH is critical for maintaining homeostasis. Changes in intracellular pH can affect virtually all cellular processes including immune response. Abnormal pH both encourages the growth of pathogens and results in tissue/organ damage, weakening the immune system. Measure your first-morning urine pH daily and keep it in the normal range of 6.5 to 7.5. Supplement with as much magnesium as needed to maintain normal urine pH. There are many forms of magnesium, each with varying degrees of absorbability and side effects (some even cause loose bowels). How do you know which to trust? A minimum of 400 mg per day is recommended, while many take 1000 to 2000 mg for optimal health.
Quercetin is a powerful immune booster and a broad-spectrum antiviral. Importantly, quercetin inhibits the ability of a virus to infect cells as well as inhibiting viral replication in already infected cells. It also inhibits the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. It is cytokine storm activity that appears to be the cause of death with these viral infections. I normally take 4000 mg per day, but during the coronavirus pandemic, I am taking 8000 mg.
If you want immune support that works, you must be careful not to sabotage your immunity with things like sugar, flu shots, and statin drugs. Then, if you support your immunity with the above nutrients along with a high-quality multivitamin, you will be well on your way to creating a virus-proof body.
~ Raymond Francis