Column #294     April 23, 2021Immunity Fends off Viruses

During more than a year of dishing out “advice” about COVID-19, the CDC has been silent about teaching people how to improve their immunity to address a possible infection. It has primarily beat the drum for masking, distancing, shutdowns, and a jab from an experimental vaccine. Doesn’t the CDC understand that individuals can do so much more if they are properly informed and positively motivated?

A body’s immune response is normally a healthy reaction because immunity detects foreign antigens (proteins) derived from invading microbes and takes appropriate steps via the immune system to destroy those organisms.

Unfortunately, immune system deficiencies can result from inherited or spontaneous genetic variations, from medications that suppress the immune system, from infections that damage components of the immune system, or most frequently nutritional deficiencies. When our immune system responds to something that is not an infectious agent, it can cause diseases or symptoms of diseases. Allergic reactions are associated with this type of immune response. Sometimes the immune system can overreact, overwhelming the body and that can cause death from a Cytokine storm. What is already an epidemic these days are the autoimmune issues people have which include diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, and migraine headaches.

There are two types of immune responses. Innate immunity responds immediately to prevent the spread and movement of foreign pathogens throughout the body. The second line of defense against non-self pathogens is the adaptive immune response which is slower to react. Adaptive immunity is also referred to as acquired immunity or specific immunity and is only found in vertebrates. The adaptive immune response is specific to the pathogen presented. The adaptive immune response is meant to attack non-self pathogens but can sometimes make errors and attack itself. When this happens, autoimmune diseases can develop (e.g., lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.).

There are simple dietary steps we can take that will beef up our immunity and prevent the failures mentioned above. I sorted through a few hundred of my research reports and pulled out those that referred to immunity. Below I have capsulated some comments and conclusions from these reports. They all refer to digestible nutrients that can help or hinder the immune system.

From DiNicolantonio and O’Keefe: “Considering that magnesium and vitamin D are important for immune function and cellular resilience, a deficiency in either may contribute to cytokine storm in the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) infection.”1

From Simopoulos: “The first evidence of the important role of dietary intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in inflammation was derived from epidemiological observations of the low incidence of autoimmune and inflammatory disorders, such as psoriasis, asthma and type-1 diabetes, as well as the complete absence of multiple sclerosis, in a population of Greenland Eskimos compared with gender- and age-matched groups living in Denmark. Most of these diseases are characterized by inappropriate activation of T cells resulting on and ultimately destruction of host tissues.”2

From Cordain: “In the U.S. we consume almost 230 pounds of nightshades per person on a yearly basis. These common foods (potatoes, tomatoes, chili peppers, and eggplants) have become such staples in our diets that few people rarely—if ever—consider that they are very recent additions to worldwide human nutrition. I believe their potential to increase intestinal permeability over the course of a lifetime, most particularly in people with diseases of chronic inflammation (cancer, autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease and diseases of insulin resistance) is troubling. A leaky gut has been recently proposed to be a universal initiating trigger for autoimmune diseases—a conclusion that I agree with, as well as promoting cardiovascular disease and diseases of insulin resistance.”3

From Cordain: “So the bottom line is that tomatoes contain two substances that are routinely used in the manufacture of vaccines, an adjuvant (alpha tomatine) and an immunogen (tomato lectin/microbial antigen complex). Hence, in theory, there likely is a scientific basis for the use of nightshade free diets in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases.”4

From Gutiérrez, Svahn, and Johansson: “Alterations on the immune system caused by omega-3 fatty acids have been described for 30 years. This family of polyunsaturated fatty acids exerts major alterations on the activation of cells from both the innate and the adaptive immune system, although the mechanisms for such regulation are diverse. First, as a constitutive part of the cellular membrane, omega-3 fatty acids can regulate cellular membrane properties, such as membrane fluidity or complex assembly in lipid rafts.”5

From Lands: “Overall, n-3 fatty acids can be recommended to a general healthy population to prevent development of atherosclerosis, thrombosis, arrhythmia and also reduce the risk of increased autoimmune conditions. The important aspect, as emphasized in Chapter 5, is to begin effective balancing of dietary EFA early enough to prevent amplified actions BEFORE cellular changes and tissue damage occur in an irreversible way.”6

From Louis-Jean and Martirosyan: “Immunonutrition is a term given to nutritional interventions that modulate the immune and inflammatory responses in critically-ill and surgical patients. This is accomplished via the enteral or parenteral administration of formulas containing an array of immunonutrients in amounts greater than normally found in the diet. Some of the more commonly used immunonutrients include arginine, glutamine, branched-chain amino acids, omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids, trace metals (e.g. zinc, copper, iron), and nucleotides or antioxidants. The human body’s natural defense depends on the integrity of our immune system, which is responsible for curbing the course of pathogens, cancer cells, and their complications.”7

From Wu, Lewis, Pae, and Meydani: “It is well-established that nutritional inadequacy greatly impairs the functioning of the immune system. In addition, it is increasingly recognized that nutrient intake, above what is currently recommended, may beneficially affect immune function, modulate chronic inflammatory and autoimmune conditions, and decrease infection risk. This includes both macronutrients (lipids such as n-3 PUFA) and micronutrients (zinc, vitamin D and vitamin E), in addition to phytochemicals and functional foods (probiotics and green tea). Many of these nutritive and non-nutritive food components are related in their functions to maintain or improve immune function including inhibition of pro-inflammatory mediators, promotion of anti-inflammatory functions, modulation of cell-mediated immunity, alteration of APC function, and communication between the innate and adaptive immune systems.”8

From Kiecolt-Glaser, Glaser, and Christian: “. . . zinc homeostasis-related effects on the activation of key signaling molecules, as well as on epigenetic modifications, are included to emphasize the role of zinc as a gatekeeper of immune function.”9

From Bi, et al.  “Despite the benefit of insulin, blockade of autoimmune attack and regeneration of pancreatic islets are ultimate goals for the complete cure of type 1 diabetes (T1D). Long-term consumption of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) is known to suppress inflammatory processes, making these fatty acids candidates for the prevention and amelioration of autoimmune diseases.”10

From Ebrahimi, et al.: “Despite the benefit of insulin, blockade of autoimmune attack and regeneration of pancreatic islets are ultimate goals for the complete cure of type 1 diabetes (T1D). Long-term consumption of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) is known to suppress inflammatory processes, making these fatty acids candidates for the prevention and amelioration of autoimmune diseases.”11

From Wessels, Maywald, and Rink: “Zinc flux, zinc wave, and homeostatic zinc signals control the adequate function of innate as well as adaptive immunity. On the one hand, zinc deficiency causes severe impairment of immune function, comprising the adaptive as well as the innate immune system. On the other hand, high zinc excess provokes an impairment of the immune system comparable to zinc deficiency (see Figure 5). This is why a balanced zinc homeostasis is crucial for either defending against invading pathogens or protecting the human body against an overreactive immune system causing autoimmune diseases, chronic inflammation or allergies. In this regard, zinc can be considered as a gatekeeper of the immune system, since the adequate function of virtually all immune cells is highly zinc-dependent.”12

The bottom line is what you put in your mouth impacts your immunity probably more than anything else. For instance, as in zinc, too much is as bad as too little. This is why supplements can be dangerous. For that reason, the diet must be balanced across the board in innumerable respects. This is why grass-fed meats, Omega-3 meats, wild-caught seafood, and in moderation some selected vegetables all provide the best, natural balance of dense and diverse nutrients with evenly balanced essential fatty acids in nice low glycemic “packages.”

The CDC has missed a major opportunity to teach all Americans how to improve their immunity. Rather than insisting on everyone to hide from the virus, they could have insisted on everyone changing their diets in order to improve their odds of survival. Rather than use scaremongering tactics promoting destructive social and economic policies they could have made some really positive advancements in the nation’s overall health. For everyone who would have followed sound dietary advice, nearly all of them would have experienced weight loss while subduing the symptoms of most of their chronic diseases. Of course this would have put a dent in the revenue of the medical industry. But, the HUGE bonus would be that millions of people could have done a better job of protecting themselves if they did catch the COVID-19 virus and, by doing so, be positive examples for everyone else to follow.

It takes about 12 weeks for a body to make the transition from being a mess, to being quite healthy. In order to do that, an individual must activate an across-the-board program:
●    Learn more about the real diet of man, rather than follow the USDA’s MyPlate guidelines which are little changed in 125 years.
●    Take an Omega-3 Test to actually determine their Omega-3 deficiency.
●    Download my Food Analysis tables,  study them, and apply them.
●    Pare down your food selections to only those items that are low glycemic, nutrient diverse and dense, with close to 1:1 balances of Omega-6 to Omega-3 essential fatty acids.
●    Then eat.13 14 15

To your health.

Ted Slanker

Ted Slanker has been reporting on the fundamentals of nutritional research in publications, television and radio appearances, and at conferences since 1999. He condenses complex studies into the basics required for health and well-being. His eBook, The Real Diet of Man, is available online.

Don't miss these links for additional reading:

1. Magnesium and Vitamin D Deficiency as a Potential Cause of Immune Dysfunction, Cytokine Storm and Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation in Covid-19 Patients by James J. DiNicolantonio, PHarmD & James H. O’Keefe, MD

2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Inflammation and Autoimmune Diseases by Artemis P. Simopoulos, MD, FACN

3. Consumption of Nightshade Plants Human Health and Autoimmune Disease by Loren Cordain, Ph.D.

4. Tomatoes Vaccines and Autoimmune Disease by Loren Cordain, Ph.D.

5. Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Immune Cells by Saray Gutiérrez, Sara L Svahn and Maria E Johansson

6. Fish, Omega 3 and Human Health Second Edition (Chapter 10 Page 95—Immune Responses) by Bill Lands

7. Immunonutrition: Modulating the Immune Response in Critically Ill and Surgical Patients Through Nutrition by Scarlet Louis-Jean and Danik Martirosyan

8. Nutritional Modulation of Immune Function: Analysis of Evidence, Mechanisms, and Clinical Relevance by Dayong Wu, et al.

9. Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Stress-Induced Immune Dysregulation: Implications for Wound Healing by Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD., Ronald Glaser, PhD.c, and Lisa M. Christian, PhD.

10. Omega 3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Ameliorate Type 1 Diabetes and Autoimmunity by Xinyun Bi, Li, and Zhao

11. Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplements Improve Inflammation and Autoimmunity by Mahmoud Ebrahimi, et al.

12. Zinc as a Gatekeeper of Immune Function by Inga Wessels, Martina Maywald and Lothar Rink

13. Get Your Own Omega-3 Blood Test and use slanker as a code for a discount

14. Food Analysis: EFA, Protein to Fat, Net Carbs, Sugar, and Nutrient Load by Ted Slanker

15. Ted Slanker’s Omega-3 Blood Test