Category Archives: Immune Support

Are these foods in your kitchen?

These foods help improve your immune function and can easily become dietary stables.

  • Green Tea. Green tea contains beneficial anti-cancer and anti-oxidant compounds. The best way to get the most out of your green tea is to re-steep the tea leaves with each cup of tea. It is ok to add other tea to the used leaves. Beneficial compounds become more available with each steeping.  Alternatively, consume the full leaf green tea as matcha powder.
  • Turmeric. Turmeric root has liver supportive nutrients and is a power anti-oxidant.  Its orange color provides the color for curry powder.  Add turmeric or curry powder to steamed vegetables, stews, or stir-fry.  Purchase raw turmeric root and add to protein smoothies. Prepare raw root by cutting into ½ inch portions and freezing until needed.   A little fat (coconut oil) or oil (fish oil, olive oil) taken at the same time is helpful for absorption.
  • Mushrooms.  Mushrooms have amazing immune enhancing properties. They are best used raw. Cut into salads or add to protein smoothies. Do not consume mushrooms if you are mold sensitive.

Improve your gastrointestinal biome. Our total health depends on gastrointestinal health.  The following foods help support healthy bacterial populations.

Pre-biotic foods supply food for beneficial bacteria:

  • Jerusalem Artichoke (sun spuds)
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Spices: Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme, Basil, Cinnamon

Probiotic foods contain beneficial bacteria:

  • Kimchi
  • Kombucha
  • Sauerkraut
  • Yogurt  – Choose high protein/low carb varieties.

Herbs to support your stress response and reduce inflammation. These herbs help lower the inflammatory protein Interleukin-6 that may be related to the COVID-19 inflammatory response. They are also very helpful to support the stress response.

  • Lemon balm. This garden weed helps to improve a relaxation response. Easy to make a sun tea from this herb.
  • Passionflower is an anti anxiety herb. It is usually combined with lemon balm in natural sleep formulas.
  • Ashwaganda is an herb used for thyroid and adrenal support.

Immune supportive Nutrients

If I were to suggest 7 supplements to support your immune system, I’d list them as:

  1. Vitamin C
  2. Vitamin C
  3. Vitamin C (3000 milligrams daily)
  4. Vitamin D (2,000-5000 IU daily)
  5. Selenium (200 micrograms daily)
  6. Zinc  (10-20 milligrams daily)
  7. Magnesium (400 milligrams daily)

The reason I suggest Vitamin C as the top 3 immune support nutrient is that humans do not make Vitamin C. That means we need to obtain this very important nutrient from our food or from a nutritional supplement. Vitamin C helps reduce the inflammatory response and protects cells against oxidative damage to cells, thus protecting cells against an inflammatory response to infections. Vitamin C is also important for neurotransmitter dopamine production, collagen and other connective tissue formation, and cortisol production.

The following recommendations are suggested due to their known immune system support.  Additional nutrients may be needed if you feel ill.  Please be aware, these recommendations are to improve your immune system; they are not intended as a cure for Covid-19.   I’ve listed references at the bottom of the article if you want to read more about these key nutrients.

Visit Fullscript for supplements if you think you are not getting the levels suggested from your diet.  

Vitamin C Goal: 3000 mg/day.

Vitamin C taken in divided doses throughout the day helps to maintain a good circulating dose and improves ability to absorb in the digestive system.  Vitamin C can be obtained as ascorbic acid. To reduce any acid affect on the stomach, ester-C / buffered formulations can be obtained.  Additionally, taking small doses (i.e., 500-1000 mg) throughout the day may reduce stomach or other gastrointestinal disturbances. Diabetics need to be cautious with fruit and Vitamin C intake as both may affect blood sugar values.

Vitamin C Containing Foods Vitamin C level (milligrams)
Guava (1 cup) 377 mg
Orange (medium size) 70 mg
Sweet red pepper (1/2 cup) 95 mg
Kiwi (1 fruit) 64 mg
Lemon (1 fruit) 44.5 mg

Vitamin D Goal:  2000-5000 IU (50-150 mcg)

Do not rely on the amount of sun exposure you get to determine your Vitamin D levels. The best way to determine if you have adequate blood levels of Vitamin D is to get a blood test.  One study suggests that the a serum Vitamin D level above 38 ng/ml or higher “should significantly reduce the incidence of acute viral respiratory tract infections…”

Vitamin D Containing Foods Vitamin D Content (International Units)
Cod Liver Oil (1 tablespoon) 1360 IU
Rainbow Trout (3 ounces) 645 IU
Salmon (3 ounces) 570 IU
White button mushrooms, exposed to UV light under controlled conditions (1/2 cup) 366 IU
Egg (1 large) (Vitamin D in yolk) 44 IU

Selenium Goal: 200 mcg/day

Selenium helps with anti-oxidation in the regeneration of vitamin C and glutathione. It is also involved with thyroid function.

Selenium Containing Foods Selenium content (micrograms)
Brazil Nuts (1/2 ounce = 2-4 nuts) 272 mcg  
Halibut, dry heat cooked, (3 ounces) 47 mcg
Sardines   (3 ounces) 45 mcg
Ham, roasted (3 ounces) 42 mcg

Zinc Goal:  10-20 mg/day

Zinc is very important the immune system.   Zinc may reduce viral replication in cells. Quercitin (500-1000 mg) and molybdemnum (1 mg) can help zinc get into cells. Please note, that chronic overdosing of zinc may deplete copper levels. Take 1-2 mg copper for every 15 mg of zinc. Pregnant women should not take more than 25 mg zinc daily.

Zinc Containing Foods Selenium content (milligrams)
Oysters (3 ounces) 74 mg
Beef, braised (3 ounces) 7 mg
Pork chop, cooked (3 ounces) 2.9 mg
Pumpkin Seeds, dried (1 ounce) 2.2 mg
Cashews, dried (1 ounce) 1.6 mg

Magnesium Goal: 400 mg daily.

Magnesium is used in hundreds of biochemical reactions that have implications for muscle pain, bone density, mood, energy, detoxification, and immunity.  Significantly, magnesium deficiency may lead to an inflammatory response. One of the issues with Covid-19 is its ability to turn on a strong intra-cellular inflammatory reaction.  Adequate supplementation of magnesium is very important to reduce the risk of a strong inflammatory reaction.

Magnesium Containing Foods Magnesium content (milligrams)
Almonds, dry roasted (1 ounce) 80 mg
Cashews, dry roasted (1 ounce) 74 mg
Soymilk (1 cup) 61 mg
Peanut butter, smooth (2 tablespoon) 49 mg

I hope you are getting these nutrients from your food. However, it may be difficult to get everything you need. Visit Fullscript for supplements if you think you are not getting the levels suggested from your diet.  

References

Maggini, S et al. A Combination of High-dose Vitamin C Plus Zinc for the Common Cold. The Journal of International Medical Research.  2012; 40: 28 – 42

Sabetta, JR et al.  Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and the Incidence of Acute Viral Respiratory Tract Infections in Healthy Adults. PLoS One, 5 (6), e11088. 2010 Jun 14  PMID: 20559424.  PMCID: PMC2885414.  DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0011088

Wintergerst ES1, Maggini S, Hornig DH.  Contribution of selected vitamins and trace elements to immune function.  Ann Nutr Metab. 2007;51(4):301-23. Epub 2007 Aug 28

Tam, M et al. Possible roles of magnesium on the immune system.  European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2003) 57, 1193–1197. doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601689

Laires MJ1, Monteiro C. Exercise, magnesium and immune function. Magnes Res. 2008 Jun;21(2):92-6.

Shanka, AH and Prasad, AS.  Zinc and immune function: the biological basis of altered resistance to infection. Am J Clin Nutr 1998;68(suppl):447S–63S.

National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements.  https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/list-all/

Autoimmunity

Do you have an autoimmune disease or know someone who does? Want to learn more about treatment without immunosuppressant drugs?

Autoimmunity occurs when the body’s immune system fails to recognize the body as part of itself, resulting in organ damage. Different types of autoimmunity will affect different organ systems. Rheumatoid arthritis, Celiac disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Scleroderma, Type I Diabetes, Lupus, Crohn’s disease, Sjögren’s, and Ankylosing Spondylitis are all types of autoimmune disease.

Many times, prescription medication is provided to suppress the immune system. Unfortunately, the suppression of the immune system may increase the risk of infection and cancer. Alternative approaches exist that may be beneficial to reduce the imbalance of the immune  system. Remission may be possible.

Dr. Rodgers offers the following strategies to identify and treat the underlying causes of immune dysregulation.

Dr. Rodgers offers the following strategies to identify and treat the underlying causes of immune dysregulation.

  1. A thorough medical intake and physical exam including lifestyle, diet, stress levels, past medical history help determine cause and extent of the disease.
  2. Identify and remove any inflammatory foods, including those triggering the immune system. This includes food sensitivity evaluation and Celiac evaluation. Removing foods that trigger inflammation empowering you to take charge of your health on a daily basis.
  3. Digestive analysis to determine gastrointestinal health including inflammatory makers, immune status, and microbiome composition. The GI system is home to the largest amount of immune cells in the body. A compromised gastrointestinal system negatively influences the entire immune system. It is important to identify gastrointestinal bacteria as some bacteria have been known to trigger the onset of autoimmunity in susceptible individuals.
  4. Obtain a nutritional overview using an organic acid test to determine nutrient status, mitochondrial status, oxidative stress burden, detoxification function, and microbial-related products. This testing is highly informative and determines what nutrients are needed and if certain microbes need to be eradicated or supplemented.
  5. Blood sugar balancing. Both elevated and low blood sugar can have an impact on the immune and hormone systems.
  6. Hormone evaluation including cortisol, DHEA, testosterone. If needed a full hormone panel completed.
  7. Identify and remove environmental triggers such as fragrance, toxic metals, mold, etc.

To schedule your evaluation with Dr. Rodgers, click here.

Food Sensitivity – How to Identify

Food Sensitivity

The immune system protects us from infection. When activated by infection, the immune system produces proteins called immunoglobulins and other inflammatory compounds.

Foods can also trigger similar immune reactions when food particles pass through an inflamed intestinal barrier.

Sometimes, these reactions cause a histamine release that can lead to severe tissue inflammation as seen in anaphylaxis. Histamine reactions fall in the category of Allergy.

What is Food Sensitivity?

Foods can also trigger non-histamine immune reactions that result in numerous non-specific symptoms such as fatigue, muscle aches, headaches, skin rash, mood disturbance, digestive complaints (i.e., constipation, diarrhea, nausea, acid reflux, etc.) and more. These non-histaminic reactions are classified as sensitivity reactions.

As a Naturopathic Physician, Dr. Rodgers offers two methods for identifying food sensitivities. By using these tools, patients are provided a powerful method to help identify and control the underlying cause of inflammation.

  • Elimination-Challenge of the most common foods notorious for causing inflammation.
  • IgA/IgG food sensitivity blood testing.

Call 208-275-0007 if you would like more information about these diagnostic tools.

Backyard Medicinal Herbs

I garden, therefore I weed.

I have a small backyard garden that provides lettuce, tomatoes, basil and other vegetables. To make sure these vegetables get all the soil nutrients they deserve, I ruthlessly remove all weeds.

I define a weed as any plant growing where I don’t want it to be. I use 2 toxin-free weed removal methods.

  1. Pulling weeds by hand.
  2. Spraying of concentrated vinegar on stubborn plants.
  3. For added help, the Northend Organic Nursery has an organic yard care program.

Five beneficial weeds also reside in my yard. I don’t try to grow weeds, but I do leave one small area in my yard where I don’t eradicate them completely. In that space, they magically transform from weed to beneficial medical herbs.

Mallow.  Mallow leaves contain both vitamins and minerals: beta-carotene, vitamin C, selenium, iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium. If one is not willing to use in a salad, the plant can be dried into a powder and added to soups or smoothies. The leaves and roots are slippery (mucilaginous) and can be used to soothe the digestive tract.

 

Dandelions seem to be the bane of every home owner. However, this is one of the most powerful medicinal herbs we all have at our disposal. The leaves can be used as additions to spring salads. As medicine, the leaves help increase urination. The roots contain compounds to strengthen the cleansing action in the liver. 

 

 

 

Lemon Balm. Like most mints, Lemon Balm has the propensity to take over any garden if left to its own devices (i.e., make sure to plant in a container). Lemon balm’s leaves are easy to pick for making tea. It is calming and helps reduce anxiety. Leaves can be used fresh or dried. Cats and bees also love it.

 

I love Burdock as an herb until a velcro inspiring seed pod becomes lodged in a pet’s fur. The root is used in many liver-cleansing formulas.

 

 

 

A new weed arrival to my yard this season: Mullein.  This statuesque desert plant’s spring leaves are used in lung tonic formulations.

Making Summer Fun and Healthy

Eating well and exercising is sometimes a chore. Here are some ideas to make life fun and healthy.

Zesty vinegar spritzer. Combine your favorite cooled sparkling water with an infused vinegar. This has become a summer favorite. Pour 1-2 Tablespoons of your favorite flavor infused light balsamic vinegar with 8-12 ounces of sparkling water. I really enjoy a lemon vinegar with sparkling water.  Not only does this drink taste great, it helps to create an alkaline balance. Olivin in Boise offers a variety of high quality infused vinegars and olive oils.  One tablespoon of balsamic vinegar may provide ~3 grams of carbohydrates.

Quick yoga workouts. There are some days that are too busy to go to yoga class. Find a quick work out on Youtube to help reset the mind, body, and spirit. I’ve been following Yoga with Adriene , but there are others you can follow to get in a quick rejuvenating yoga set.

Morning workouts. Research shows that exercise helps to increase mood and brain health. Even if you can’t do a full work out in the morning, a quick summer morning walk or bicycle ride can help set you for a productive and smart day.