The world has changed a lot in the last six months—but the words ‘virus’ and ‘immunity’ (and ‘economy’) are still top of mind. The world is focused on finding a cure, but I think it’s also important to talk about things we can do to support our immunity in an effort to avoid upper respiratory viral infections, with the colder weather (especially for us in Canada) and back to school on the horizon.
Healthy Diet = Healthy Terrain
Tim Spector, a notable epidemiologist and researcher recently said it best: “Whether you’re shopping for yourself, your family or for elderly relatives or friends, choosing foods that support a healthy gut microbiome is much more important than stockpiling toilet paper.”
In the health food and supplement industry, we’ve long known that a healthy diet full of colourful foods is the foundation of health and can help promote a strong immune system. It wasn’t until recent years that we learned this diet can also help to promote a diverse and healthy gut microbiome.
Thirty years ago, at my health food store on Church Street in Toronto, I saw the benefit firsthand. During this time, I discovered a supplement called greens+. Made from 23 colourful superfoods, greens+ was a product that was different from everything else on health food store shelves. Before long, my customers were telling me that their energy had skyrocketed, that they were feeling better than they had in years, and that their digestion and immune health had never been so great since they started taking greens+.
After seeing the incredible benefits that greens+ had on my customers, I knew that I had to do more. In 1992, I sold my chain of health food stores and started Genuine Health to bring greens+ to more Canadians. Not long after, we started working with University of Toronto to understand why greens+ provided so many benefits.
We launched greens+ nearly 30 years ago and the formula still amazes us to this day. greens+ is still the only superfood backed by nine clinical studies and is the only superfood that has been proven to increase energy and vitality, provide antioxidant protection from its rich polyphenol content. Polyphenols are an incredible type of plant nutrient that can act as a prebiotic, helping to support diverse populations of gut bacteria that in turn help support the immune system. greens+ has also been proven to combat the effects of an acid-forming diet (aka dietary acid load). This is so important for immune health because dietary acid load has been shown to be a form of stress to the immune system.
In addition, greens+ contains licorice and ginseng, both studied for their antiviral benefits. Plus, another nutrient in greens+ has anti-viral potential. Canadian scientists are currently collaborating with Chinese scientists in a massive 1000-subject trial to examine the anti-coronavirus properties of quercetin. Quercetin, found in healthy plant foods, already has proven anti-viral properties as it has been studied with both Ebola and Zika viruses. Incredibly, University of Toronto researchers have found that quercetin is one of the dominant nutrients found in greens+.
The Gut and Susceptibility to Viruses
A healthy gut microbiome can help to support a healthy immune response. Remarkably, the gut microbiome may even have influence on viruses that wreak havoc on the respiratory tract. This is one of the reasons why oral (encapsulated) probiotics for both adults and kids have been so successful in lowering upper respiratory tract infection rates and associated sick days.
Research has also shown that probiotics can help maintain a healthy mental outlook and support immune health during stressful periods, too. The last few months have been stressful for all, and we have been doing our best to get more advanced gut health probiotics—which populate the gut with diverse strains of healthy bacteria—to more people.
Emerging Vitamin D Research
We know that vitamin D can help to support the immune system. Interestingly, researchers from Trinity College in Dublin are looking at the role vitamin D might play in severe inflammatory responses seen in very ill COVID-19 patients. Could this be the reason that mortality rates have been higher in countries in the Northern Hemisphere? While it’s too soon to know, I will definitely continue to take vitamin D through the summer and all fall and winter.
I’ve been in this industry for more than 35 years. One very important thing I’ve learned during this time is that while we may not be able to control the outside world, we can have influence over the health of our own body. At Genuine Health, we’ve long believed that a healthy diet bolstered with quality supplements provide this foundation for good health, including immunity. The time is no more important than now.
It’s Cool to Be Kind
Numerous studies have also made links between human interaction and a healthy immune system. In a time when large gatherings, festivals, and celebrations like Pride have been cancelled, we have to think of new ways to stay connected and support our community.
As we forge a new path forward, let’s continue to do everything we can to support our health and that of others. Let’s eat well and take supplements to fill in the gaps. Let’s keep washing our hands and taking our superfoods and probiotics. Let’s protect our most vulnerable and make sure that while we may be apart, no one feels alone. Let’s take time to get outside. Let’s pick up groceries for an elderly neighbour or relative. Let’s support our local businesses. Let’s make a donation to a local organization if we can. Let’s check in on each other because we’re all in this together.
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Shibata M, et al. Potential common factors associated with predisposition to common cold in middle-aged and elderly Japanese: A community-based cross-sectional study. Medicine (Baltimore). 2018 May;97(20):e10729
Wijnkoop, I et al. The Clinical and Economic Impact of Probiotics Consumption on Respiratory Tract Infections: Projections for Canada. PLoS One. 2016; 11(11): e0166232.