Your immune system is your first line of defense against all disease, especially infectious disease, and there are many different ways to boost and improve its function.
In Dr.Joseph Mercola’s words:
“Remarkably, prominent physicians have been paraded in the media saying it’s impossible to strengthen your immune system to beat the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It’s hard to understand this kind of ignorance still pervades the conventional medical system — and that they can get away with criticizing people who offer proof to the contrary.”
Role of Zinc
Zinc is a nutrient that plays a very important role in your immune system’s ability to ward off viral infections and also blocks the replication of virus.
Zinc may be a vastly underrated player in the COVID-19 pandemic. It is vital for healthy immune function and a combination of zinc with a zinc ionophore (zinc transport molecule) was in 2010 shown to inhibit SARS coronavirus viral replication within minutes.
Zinc alone is incapable of fully stopping viral replication as it cannot easily enter through the fatty wall of a cell. It needs a Ionophore that helps to transport it to the cell where the viral replication occurs.
The antimalarial drug Hydroxychloroquine is an ionophore that seems to work against COVID-19 by improving zinc uptake into cells.
Natural sources of Zinc Ionophore
The good news is drugs like chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine probably would not be necessary either (except for perhaps the most serious cases), as other natural compounds can do the same job.
Other natural zinc ionophores that improve zinc absorption include Quercetin and Epigallocatechin-gallate (EGCG).
Quercetin is a natural flavonoid, a plant pigment with potent antioxidant properties. Food sources of quercetin include millets, leafy vegetables, broccoli, red onions, peppers, apples, grapes, black tea, green tea, red wine, and some fruit juices.
Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is a type of plant-based compound called catechin. While green tea is relatively more potent, you can also find a reasonable amount of EGCG in white tea and oolong tea. Some other foods such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, plums, peaches, kiwi, and avocado also contain small amounts of EGCG.
As explained in a 2020 paper in Nature, quercetin is also a potent antiviral in its own right, and both quercetin and epigallocatechin gallate also have the added advantage of inhibiting the 3CL protease — an enzyme used by SARS coronaviruses to infect healthy cells.
To this you could also add niacin (vitamin B6) and selenium, as both play a role in the absorption and bioavailability of zinc in the body. A more in-depth exploration and explanation of both niacin and selenium’s relationship to zinc is provided in the 2008 paper, “Zinc, Metallothioneins and Longevity: Interrelationships With Niacin and Selenium”:
“Ageing is an inevitable biological process with gradual and spontaneous biochemical and physiological changes and increased susceptibility to diseases.
Experiments show that (zinc, niacin, selenium) is important for immune efficiency (both innate and adaptive) leading to a possible escaping of diseases, with the consequence of healthy ageing, because they are involved in improving immune functions, metabolic homeostasis and antioxidant activity.”
Natural sources of Zinc
Natural sources of Zinc include grains, hemp, sesame and pumpkin seeds, legumes, cacao powder and cheddar cheese.
Foxtail millet contains highest content of zinc – 4.1 mg/100 g among all grains, whereas rice contains about 0.15 mg/100 g comparatively.
However all grains contain phytates that bind to zinc and reduce its absorption.
In a research conducted by The Institute of Food Science Technology, it was found that when foxtail millets were dehulled, polished, soaked in water and cooked, the phytates decreased and the ionizable zinc increased significantly.
Hence we suggest to use dehulled and polished foxtail millet and soak it in water for an hour before cooking, to increase the ionizable zinc content.
Foxtail millets possess other minerals like Iron, Selenium, Vitamin B1 (Thiamin), Vitamin C, Calcium, Niacin, proteins and fibre, which makes Foxtail millet a wonder grain. It is gluten free and low GI (Glycaemic Index), hence good for celiac, diabetic and pre-diabetic people too.
Ionophore in Foxtail millet
Ionophores act as transporters of Zinc to the cells. Quercetin and EGCGs are natural sources of ionophores.
In “The Journal of Functional Foods”, Mr.Pradeep and Sreerama found Quercetin was the most abundant flavonoid that was detected in both Foxtail and Little millet.
Foxtail millet by itself has Quercetin and small amounts of EGCGs, the natural ionophores that helps to transport Zinc to the cells.
Shifting from a rice and wheat based diet to a millet based staple diet, ideally foxtail millet which is rich in zinc, along with consumption of other natural sources of ionophores like green tea and fruits, may be the best immunity booster for prevention of any virus including the coronavirus.
References and links
Dr.Joseph Mercola – http://www.mercola.com
Dr.Seheult – Associate Clinical Professor at the University of California