Immune Tune-Up: Twin Threat: Winter + COVID

Photo: Grateful thanks to Louis Hansel on Unsplash.

I had a brief email conversation with a friend who’s a naturopathic physician. After sharing his thoughts on the COVID vaccine, he said, “Of course, keeping your immune system functioning at peak levels is the best approach to dealing with COVID.” Not that he — or I — won’t be getting the vaccine; I, for one, consider it unquestionably the right thing to do, not just for myself but for those who would be burdened and, possibly, saddened if I were to get sick.

That said, are you taking your OptiZinc? That’s basic, bog-standard advice for COVID defense. Various companies sell OptiZinc. It’s a generic formula, its advantage being that it doesn’t cause the nausea and stomach upset that other formulas do. I recommend choosing an OptiZinc that doesn’t contain added copper, which can quickly build up in our systems and cause alarming symptoms of dementia. Here’s the formula that I buy.

Another major contributor to optimal immunity is keeping our body’s inner environment slightly alkalinized, which helps the immune system perform at its best.

Very simply, it means eating a large proportion of alkaline-forming foods. Namely, fruits, veggies, almonds, tofu, etc. Here’s a handy chart.

You can easily test the value of alkaline-forming foods. If you change your diet to predominantly alkaline-forming items after hard exercise (e.g., running a marathon), you’ll be less likely to get sick. Taking buffered vitamin C is a quick way to boost alkalinity after a hard endurance workout.

A problem with good/bad food recommendations is that our brain immediately thinks, “Uh-oh, food-restriction. I’mma stop reading right here.”

But if you check the food lists you’ll see that there are tons of good-tasting, satisfying alkaline-forming foods. Also, they tend to have high nutrient density, so they have a powerful way of turning off hunger and helping us lose weight. You won’t be as prone to grab for the nearest sugar- and carb-heavy snack when your body’s getting the nutrients it needs.

I’ve been cooking a simple meal-in-a-bowl dish that is at once filling, satisfying, and healthy.

In a pot with a steamer basket, cook some Whole Foods small bagged carrots for about 10 minutes or until they’re slightly soft. Add frozen broccoli, diced zucchini, peas, and/or French-cut or regular green beans, and cook another 10 minutes. If you’ve got some leftover baked potato, you can heat it on top for the last 1-2 minutes.

Heat a cup of Imagine Portobello Mushroom Soup (Whole Foods, Sprouts Market). Add tamari to taste and a small slab of butter. This stuff is great — it makes an inexpensive gravy and is wonderful when added to cooked veggies.


At my age (79 in five days), I have absolutely no desire to drink cold raw veggie smoothies, not even when they’re nicely spiced and smoothed with avocado. But for the youngsters, few things taste better than blended carrots, celery, spinach, avocado, tomato, and a dash of tamari (Worcestershire sauce maybe?). And there’s no more powerful immune booster.

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