HEALTHY BITE | Boosting the Immune System

What does "boosting the immune system" mean? Tune in as we chat about immune function, public health, social media, nutrition, and what can we do as individuals for our own health.

Boosting the Immune System

Now you will notice that we’re focusing on nutrition and immune function, and I wanted to revisit this with my guests, starting with Carolyn Dean. I also have some episodes that will be released shortly, where I speak with Professor Michael Gonzalez & Professor Ian Brighthope.

The immune system is an important issue because we are still hearing so little about immune function. Dr. Richard Cheng‘s report was a really sobering one, where he pointed out to us that actually in America they have launched a Covid Consumer Protection Act. And of course, in America, fake news is legendary. Half of the country believes the election was fake. I guess we do need to protect ourselves from that kind of idea. And that flow-on effect between fake news in the electoral sense can also filter into fake news in the immune function covid sense.

One absolutely undeniable thing is that our immune system is our best protection against this and future pandemics and there will be future pandemics. Richard points out that in the 200 years of the 19th and 20th centuries, he counted almost 100 pandemics, which he classified as killing over a thousand people, and in the 21st century, they’ve already been 60 of those.

How we define pandemics is another story

It suffices to say, this pandemic is a dress rehearsal for something that could be much worse. When I say much worse, I think it’s important to remember this covid-19 had a death rate of somewhere between 0.5 and 1 percent, meaning that between 90 and 99.5 percent of people who contracted the virus did not die, 0.5 to 1 percent did.

SARS, which is the covid one in 2005, had a death rate on the average of 15 percent, and for people over 65, that death rate went up to 50 percent. That was SARS, very different from the point five to one percent death rate of the covid. MERS, Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome had a death rate of 30 percent and H5N1 was even worse, 50 to 60 percent. Of course, Ebola, which killed between 22 and 88 percent, what a range with an average of about 50 percent. So you can see 15 percent, 30 percent, 50 to 60 percent is very different from 0.5, half a percent to one percent.

What is the key in dealing with this virus and dealing with future pandemics?

I’m most certainly not against the pharmaceutical approach. If you contract the disease, there are some medications and support that can help you. Certainly, the vaccines seem to be offering a level of protection that will allow us to get back to normal. I’m not anti-vaccine, but if the focus is on public health, then I would suggest that we should be engaging with all of those things. Everything that has the potential to improve immune function should be embraced and encouraged. If you go out and get vaccinated, even better, because public health is number one.

Unfortunately, anybody and we’re not talking about a social influencer here. We’re talking about a doctor with a Ph.D.. I’ve spoken to Michael Gonzalez, who has two master’s degrees and two PhDs and is a public health and nutrition professor. These are not public, these are not social media influences. These are qualified practitioners who are reminding us of something we, every health practitioner, learned at the undergraduate level, and that is biochemistry.

What keeps every cell in our body going, what keeps it healthy

For those pathways of which trillions are going on every single second of your life, in every single cell of your body, there are literally trillions of biochemical actions going on. They require cofactors or enzymes or vitamins and minerals to drive those functions normally.

Professor Michael Gonzalez made the point that sugar competes with vitamin C for the risk on receptors of T cells and T cells are a really important part of our immune function. The whole idea of requiring adequate levels, adequate levels of vitamins and minerals, particularly, if you’ve been a regular listener to this podcast, of the fact that so many of the soils in which so many of our food, modern foods are grown are deficient in magnesium, selenium, zinc, these are important cofactors.

If you go back and listen to the episode with Carolyn Dean, she talked about magnesium as being an important factor in the calcium balance, in the body, and also in vitamin D production. When you go onto the government side and you look at can you boost immune function for covid-19? This is sobering, this is a website. If you Google, can you improve immune function for covid-19? It dismisses those vitamin C and D as being just promoted by social influences and actually at high levels being toxic or being urinated out of your body.

It’s odd because Michael Gonzalez made a very good point that when you drink too much water, it gets urinated out of the body but that doesn’t mean that it’s a waste of time to have water and water-soluble vitamins if you take too much of them to get eliminated. They don’t have to go through the liver for detoxification like pharmaceutical products or other toxins do, they will be eliminated. It’s not just because you take too much vitamin C it’s eliminated, doesn’t mean you don’t need vitamin C.

The recommended daily intake is something like 50 to 90 milligrams of vitamin C a day. Michael Gonzalez made the point that at least 500 to three grams a day would be a good thing. Vitamin D deficiencies are at pandemic proportions. There was a study done in two thousand and I think it was thirteen, which showed that up to 70 percent of people that are admitted to ICU intensive care units were deficient in vitamin D, vitamin D deficiency is a huge and growing problem.

Carolyn Dean pointed out to us, it’s not just about the fact that you didn’t get enough sun, if you’re deficient in magnesium, you could be out in the sun all day and still be vitamin D deficient because you need magnesium to form effectively form vitamin D and absorb it and use it. Many of these supplements are safe, inexpensive, they’re logical because we have learned at the undergraduate level that we need them for these biochemical processes. They’re available and they’re effective. And if our focus was purely on public health, then we would be embracing all of those things.

Sadly, it doesn’t seem to be, and I have my own theories about why that is so. I think it’s obvious that there is big business in disease. This is a topic that I cover in my book [A Life Less Stressed: the five pillars of health and wellness]. It’s a topic that I will cover with some of my guests coming up soon. Professor Ian Brighthope will have a very strong view on this, as have some of my other guests more recently.

I hope you go back and have a listen to some of those episodes. The whole idea of oxidative stress and cytokine storms are mentioned and oxidative stress and cytokine storms are what occurs when you go through chronic inflammation. That’s all part of that whole process. Chronic inflammation, as you’ve heard, is the common denominator in all diseases.

The model of health that I’m promoting on this podcast and I’ve talked about in my book [A Life Less Stressed: the five pillars of health and wellness] is a balancing act between identifying and minimizing those stressors that have the potential to firstly compromise your immune function and secondly, promote chronic inflammation, oxidative stress and cytokine storms.

Identify and minimize those stresses. I talked about five stresses, emotional, environmental, postural, nutritional, and dental stress, and on the other hand, build resilience by focusing on the five pillars of health, sleep, breathe, nourish, move, and think.

The whole balancing beam pivots on our own genes and how our genes express themselves, which is called epigenetics. That’s the model of health we’re focusing on in this podcast. That’s what I’m exploring in these last few episodes with Dr Carolyn Dean, Dr. Richard Cheng, Professor Michael Gonzalez, and Professor Ian Brighthope still to come. I hope this finds you well until next time. This is Dr. Ron Ehrlich. Be well.


This podcast provides general information and discussion about medicine, health, and related subjects. The content is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice or as a substitute for care by a qualified medical practitioner. If you or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately qualified medical practitioner. Guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, experiences, and conclusions.