Date: January 1, 2021
Now that the vaccine is here…
We are excited and grateful that there are vaccines available for the COVID-19 virus. Now that we will all soon be able to get a vaccine, is there anything we can do to prepare our bodies for the best outcome?
You do not have to do any of the ideas in this checklist in order to get the COVID-19 vaccine. If you have a disease diagnosis or any new or longstanding physical discomfort or symptom that has been bothering you or have concerns about whether you should get the vaccine, please consult a doctor.
What compromises your immune system?
Stress from daily life and the pandemic, and lifestyle choices like diet, exercise, and sleep, can all contribute to how well your body creates antibodies to the virus following vaccination.
Is there anything I can do to help my body prepare to receive the vaccine?
Yes! There are things you can do to allow your immune system to be at its best prior to getting the vaccine. We have put this 5-step list together to help your body build strong immune protection.
How do the COVID vaccines work?
The vaccines all work slightly differently, but generally speaking, the COVID vaccines work by stimulating your body’s immune system to create its own antibodies, so that your antibodies will recognize the virus when you are exposed to it.
How do you prepare your body to make the most robust antibody response?
Here are 5 things to do that will help your body build a robust antibody count as a result of the vaccine
1) Sleep – Get as many nights of good sleep that you can before getting vaccinated. This means stopping all screen watching at 9 pm and falling asleep by 10 pm, sleeping for 8 hours, in a dark, quiet room. Research shows restorative sleep boosts immune cell competence (the ability to react and form antibodies.) (1) Click here to read our Comprehensive Guide to getting a good night’s sleep.
Sleep Research Summary:
Research into sleep deprivation effect on vaccine responses to the Hepatitis A, Hep B, H1N1(bird flu), and Influenza A viruses, demonstrate that sleep supports BOTH the memory phase and effector phase of the immune response to vaccination. In many studies, this effect showed that appropriate amounts of sleep doubled the vaccine immune response when compared to sleep-deprived subjects.
2) Go Sugar-Free for at least 7 days before vaccination – Sugar has a well known “stunning” effect on white blood cells, it also increases insulin levels, which further affects the immune response. Higher insulin levels can also irritate the lining of blood vessels causing more inflammation. (2a,2b) The definition of “sugar” here includes all forms of sugar, such as high-fructose corn syrup, fruit and fruit juice, in addition to white sugar, brown sugar, agave, honey, maple syrup, molasses, etc. If you want to completely cut out all sugars, also avoid all alcohol and all carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, and corn.
Sugar Research Summary:
Some pathogens that enter the body are recognized by the Mannose-Binding lectin (MBL), part of the innate immune system that recognizes patterns of carbohydrates present on bacteria and viruses. Researchers showed that fructose decreases MBL-mediated innate immune response against both influenza A Virus (IAV) and Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. This built upon a 1973 study, that fed 100grams of carbohydrates (glucose, fructose, sucrose, honey, or orange juice) to a group of 18 subjects 20 to 34 years old, and then drew their blood over 5 hours to see how immune function changed. The ability of white blood cells to phagocytize (engulf and dissolve) pathogens was reduced by 95% for as long as 5 hours after simple carbohydrate consumption. Together, these (and other) studies show that dietary sugars, in particular fructose, negatively regulate the innate immunity against viral and bacterial pathogens.
3) Get at least 20 minutes of aerobic exercise every day for 7 days before vaccination. This can be calisthenics, brisk walking, or jogging, treadmill, dancing, or whatever gets you into a full-body sweat. Get the blood pumping… Why is this important? Exercise is well known to increase the immune system’s competence, while helping to process substances in the blood and lymph through the liver, kidneys, and spleen (filtration organs). (3)
Exercise Research Summary:
Regular, moderate-intensity exercise is shown to enhance vaccination response. Natural killer (NK), neutrophil, and macrophage cells (of the innate immune system) respond to exercise through increases in number and function. Exercise also decreases levels of inflammatory cytokines, increases phagocytic activity, and increases NK-cell activity. Body movement increases the circulation of blood and lymph, quickening the interchange of immune cells between peripheral lymphoid tissues and the blood circulatory system.
4) Bath or Sauna
4) Take a Bath or Sauna – Remarkably simple, and proven depuration therapies (detox) such as bathing and sauna yield many benefits including helping the immune system. Like moderate aerobic exercise, heat increases the flow of blood and lymph, increases immune cell type and number. Heat applied to the whole body can further support the immune system by activating innate and acquired immune components, including heat-shock proteins by mimicking fever.
Sauna and bathing additionally enhance mental wellness and induce a parasympathetic (feed & breed) state required for healing. Sauna also speeds exercise recovery and improves sleep, doubling the benefit for the two other immune-enhancing steps mentioned above. (4a)
We have an upcoming book on how to safely detox your body. Click here to get a free copy as soon as it is available.
Bath/Sauna Research Summary:
A single Finnish sauna session was shown to normalize blood cortisol (stress hormone) levels and raise White Blood Cell count by 7% in non-athletes and 14% in athletes. (4b) The expression of the endotoxin receptor CD14 and the complement receptor CD11b increased after a single hot water bath (P < 0.05), whereas the expression of the Selectin CD62L, which mediates the initial attachment of leukocytes at the endothelium during inflammation, was down-regulated after hyperthermia (P < 0.05). (4c) Heat Shock Proteins (HSPs: Hsp60), Hsp70, Hsp90, and gp96, are reported to present antigens (ie. viral fragments) to help activate macrophages and lymphocytes, and help mature dendritic cells. (4d)
5) Smoking (anything)
5) Stop Smoking (everything) – Inhaling smoke creates inflammation in the lungs and blood vessels and inhibits the immune system’s reaction time. (5)
Smoking Research Summary:
Adaptive immune cells affected by smoking mainly include T helper cells (Th1/Th2/Th17), CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells, CD8+ T cells, B cells, and memory T/B lymphocytes while innate immune cells impacted by smoking are mostly Dendritic Cells, macrophages, and Natural Killer cells.
(1) Besedovsky L, et al., page 16, The Sleep-Immune Crosstalk in Health and Disease, Physiol Rev., 2019 Jul 1;99(3):1325-1380. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00010.2018. PMID: 30920354 PMCID: PMC6689741
(2a) Takahashi K, et al., Dietary sugars inhibit biologic functions of the pattern recognition molecule, mannose-binding lectin, Open Journal of Immunology, Vol 1., No.2, 41-49 (2011) doi: 10.4236/oji.2011.12005.
(2b) Sanchez A, et al., Role of sugars in human neutrophilic phagocytosis” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 26: November 1973, pp. 1180-1184.
Other Sugar Sources:
Nagham J. et al., The Effect of Short-Term Hyperglycemia on the Innate Immune System. Am J Med Sci. 2016 Feb;351(2):201-11. doi: 10.1016/j.amjms.2015.11.011.
PMID: 26897277 DOI: 10.1016/j.amjms.2015.11.011
(3) Johannsen NM, et.al., Effect of different doses of aerobic exercise on total white blood cell (WBC) and WBC subfraction number in postmenopausal women: results from DREW. PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e31319. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0031319. Epub 2012 Feb 17. PMID: 22363616
(4a) Kennedy M, Pelletier L, Detox for Everybody – How to Live a Long and Healthy Life, Acorn Press, 420 pages., 2021.
(4b) Pilch W, et al., Effect of a Single Finnish Sauna Session on White Blood Cell Profile and Cortisol Levels in Athletes and Non-Athletes. Journal of Human Kinetics volume 39/2013, 127-135 DOI: 10.2478/hukin-2013-0075
(4c) Zellner M., Human monocyte stimulation by experimental whole body hyperthermia, Wien Klin Wochenschr. 2002 Feb 15;114(3):102-7. PMID: 12060966
(4d) Tsan MF, Gao B, Heat Shock Proteins and the Immune System, Journal of Leukocyte Biology Volume 85, June 2009. pg 905-910. doi: 10.1189/jlb.0109005
Other Bath/Sauna Sources:
O’Hare P, et al., Observations on the Effects of Immersion in Bath Spa water, Br. med. J., 1985, 291: 1747-51.
Laukkanen JA, et al., Cardiovascular and Other Health Benefits of Sauna bathing: A Review of the Evidence, Mayo Clin Proc. n August 2018;93(8):1111-1121 n https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mayocp.2018.04.008
Tomiyama C., The effect of repetitive mild hyperthermia on body temperature, the auto- nomic nervous system, and innate and adaptive immunity. Biomedical Research (Tokyo) 36 (2) 135-142, 2015
Cohen M, Turning up the heat on COVID-19: heat as a therapeutic intervention. F1000 Research 9:292, https://doi.org/10.12688/f1000research.23299.2 . Extreme Wellness Institute, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.
(5) Feifei Qiu, et al., Impacts of cigarette smoking on immune responsiveness: Up and down or upside down?, Oncotarget. 2017 Jan 3;8(1):268-284. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.13613.
Other Smoking Sources:
Sexton M., Cannabis in the Time of Coronavirus Disease 2019: The Yin and Yang of the Endocannabinoid System in Immunocompetence. J Altern Complement Med. 2020 Jun;26(6):444-448. doi: 10.1089/acm.2020.0144. Epub 2020 May 7. PMID: 32380847 DOI: 10.1089/acm.2020.0144
Huemer HP, et al. ”Recreational” drug abuse associated with failure to mount a proper antibody response after a generalised orthopoxvirus infection. Infection., 2007 Dec;35(6):469-73. doi: 10.1007/s15010-007-6194-9. Epub 2007 Oct 4. PMID: 17917699
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