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    Answering Your Questions About COVID-19, Long-COVID, and Staying Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

    Utilizing probiotics, melatonin, colostrum, peptides, nasal rinses, and essential supplements can be beneficial for immune support and combating COVID-19, while further research is needed for other medications and the concerns of Long COVID.

    enJanuary 19, 2024

    About this Episode

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    In today’s episode of my series I’m calling Health Bites, I am tackling a topic that has left an indelible mark on the world: the COVID-19 pandemic. As we navigate through new variants and climbing cases, it's crucial to unravel the reasons why so many Americans got so sick and died during the pandemic. We dig into the questions of why we as a nation were so susceptible to COVID-19’s deadly effects. I also explore why and how Functional Medicine steps in where conventional approaches stumble.


    This episode is brought to you by AG1, Rupa Health, and Seed.


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    In this episode, I discuss (audio version / Apple Subscriber version):

    • Why the U.S. had some of the worst COVID-19 outcomes (7:07 / 5:24)
    • The conventional medicine approach to the COVID-19 pandemic (25:46 / 22:41)
    • My take on COVID vaccines (28:30 / 25:25)
    • Optimizing our immune system to prevent serious infection and disease (39:09 / 36:04)
    • Preventing and recovering from illness using diet and lifestyle (47:19 / 44:14)
    • Supplements to support your immune system during cold and flu season (57:00 / 53:55)
    • Strategies for COVID infection and exposure (59:34 / 56:29)
    • Long-COVID (1:02:51 / 59:46)


    Connect with Dr. Mark Hyman on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube



    Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.


    🔑 Key Takeaways

    • Prioritizing health and wellness, including optimizing the immune system through lifestyle changes, proper nutrition, and supplementation, can reduce the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 and other viral illnesses.
    • Chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, pose a greater threat than COVID-19. These conditions increase susceptibility to the virus and can lead to severe cases. Addressing and preventing chronic diseases is crucial for public health.
    • Chronic diseases, high blood sugar levels, inflammation, and health disparities contribute to the severity of COVID-19 outcomes. Lifestyle changes, interventions like Metformin, and addressing root causes are crucial in reducing the risk.
    • Ensuring adequate protein intake and addressing vitamin D deficiency can significantly improve immune function in the elderly, reducing the risk of severe illness and improving overall health outcomes.
    • Prioritizing a healthy ecosystem, whether in regenerative farms or our own bodies, can lead to lower disease levels and better overall health. Understanding the limitations and benefits of various preventive measures is crucial.
    • Vaccines do reduce severity and risk, but do not provide complete protection or prevent disease spread. Natural immunity may offer better long-term protection, and vaccine side effects must be considered, especially for younger individuals.
    • By asking questions, seeking evidence, and challenging assumptions, we can make informed decisions about vaccines while also addressing modifiable risk factors to protect our health.
    • Maintaining a healthy diet, reducing toxin exposure, monitoring biomarkers, managing stress, and understanding genetics are crucial in supporting a strong immune system and reducing the risk of illness.
    • Consuming whole, unprocessed foods, staying hydrated, and incorporating nutrient-dense foods can boost our immune system and support overall health, reducing the risk of severe COVID-19.
    • Prioritize a diet rich in clean, well-raised proteins and incorporate probiotic and prebiotic foods for a healthy gut. Include colorful plant compounds and essential supplements. Focus on optimal sleep, exercise, stress reduction, and vitamin D levels.
    • Utilizing probiotics, melatonin, colostrum, peptides, nasal rinses, and essential supplements can be beneficial for immune support and combating COVID-19, while further research is needed for other medications and the concerns of Long COVID.
    • Long COVID is a real condition with a range of symptoms and higher risks for those with underlying health conditions. Functional medicine can aid recovery by addressing mitochondrial damage, inflammation, and immune system dysfunction through lifestyle changes and personalized treatment.
    • Lifestyle changes, dietary adjustments, and the right supplements can optimize your immune system and help prevent and manage COVID-19, along with additional treatments if necessary. Don't lose hope, as emerging therapies offer promise. Share this information and prioritize your well-being to stay resilient.

    📝 Podcast Summary

    The Role of Functional Medicine in Combating COVID-19 and Chronic Illnesses

    America's high number of COVID-19 cases and deaths can be attributed to the nation's overall poor health. Chronic illnesses and inflammation were already prevalent in the population, making individuals more susceptible to severe illness and death from COVID-19. This highlights the importance of addressing the root causes of chronic diseases and prioritizing health and wellness. Functional medicine plays a crucial role in understanding how to prevent and treat COVID-19, as well as other viral illnesses. Optimizing the immune system through lifestyle changes, proper nutrition, and supplementation can significantly reduce the risk of severe illness and death. By taking proactive steps to improve overall health, individuals can navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and future respiratory illnesses with greater resilience and success.

    The Overlooked Threat of Chronic Diseases and Obesity

    Chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and more are major risk factors for severe COVID-19 cases and deaths. The preexisting inflammation in these individuals makes them more susceptible to the virus and can trigger a dangerous cytokine storm. Chronic diseases are not only a problem in America but globally, with preventable diseases being responsible for 74% of all deaths worldwide. The pandemic of chronic disease and obesity is a bigger threat than COVID-19, yet it is often overlooked. Six out of 10 Americans have at least one chronic disease, and four out of 10 have two or more. The risk of death increases significantly with comorbidities and higher weight. Additionally, high blood sugar levels, regardless of diabetes type, also increase the risk of severe COVID-19. It is crucial to address and prevent these chronic conditions to protect public health.

    The Connection Between Chronic Diseases and COVID-19 Severity

    There is a strong connection between chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease, and the severity of COVID-19 outcomes. High blood sugar, insulin resistance, and chronic inflammation contribute to a higher risk of severe COVID-19. Eating a diet high in refined starch and sugar can lead to increased blood sugar levels and the accumulation of visceral fat, which produces inflammation in the body. Health disparities also play a role, with certain populations, such as African Americans, experiencing higher rates of hospitalizations and deaths. It is important to address the root causes of these chronic diseases through lifestyle changes and interventions like Metformin, which can improve insulin sensitivity. Additionally, age, compromised immune systems, frailty, and protein deficiency can further increase the risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes.

    The Importance of Nutrition and Vitamin D for a Healthy Immune System in the Elderly

    Nutrition and vitamin D play crucial roles in maintaining a healthy immune system, especially as we age. It is important to ensure that elderly individuals consume enough protein, as protein is vital for immunity and repair. Additionally, vitamin D deficiency can significantly impact the immune system, leading to increased severity of diseases, hospitalizations, and even death. Studies have found that individuals with adequate levels of vitamin D have a significantly reduced risk of severe illness and death. Therefore, it may be beneficial to distribute vitamin D supplements to improve immunity and potentially prevent colds, flus, and even Covid-19. Furthermore, addressing the poor diet in society and promoting better nutrition could have a profound impact on reducing hospitalizations and improving overall health outcomes.

    Creating Healthy Ecosystems for Better Health

    Creating a healthy ecosystem, whether it's in a regenerative farm or in our own bodies, can lead to lower disease levels and better overall health. When plants and animals in a regenerative farm are raised without chemicals and allowed to live in a natural environment, they thrive and become more resistant to diseases. Similarly, when we prioritize our own health by creating a healthy internal ecosystem, we become more resistant to illnesses. Handwashing can reduce the risk of respiratory illnesses, but the effectiveness of masks in preventing COVID or influenza-like illness is questionable, especially for children. Lockdowns, while intended to prevent the spread of the virus, have negative consequences such as weight gain, depression, loneliness, and increased suicide rates. Ventilators were initially used but proved to have higher rates of non-COVID complications. Lastly, the COVID vaccines have their limitations, as they may not prevent getting the disease or provide sterile immunity like some vaccines do. It's important for the public to understand the different types of immunity provided by vaccines: disease immunity and sterile immunity.

    Limitations of Flu Shot and COVID Vaccine

    While the flu shot and COVID vaccine may reduce the severity and risk of getting the flu and COVID-19, they do not provide complete protection or prevent the spread of the diseases. Natural immunity from having the disease may actually offer better long-term protection. Vaccines are not without side effects, and the increased risk of myocarditis and pericarditis, especially in young males, is a concerning issue. The risk of heart inflammation is higher after receiving the second dose of the vaccine compared to getting an infection. It is important to consider the risk and benefit ratio, especially for younger individuals who are generally at lower risk for severe illness but may be at higher risk for complications from the vaccine.

    Taking a Pro-Science Approach to the Vaccine Debate

    We should approach the vaccine debate with a pro-science mindset rather than adopting a black and white, pro or anti-vaxxer stance. Mark Hyman emphasizes the importance of asking questions, challenging assumptions, and seeking evidence in order to make informed decisions. While he acknowledges the value of vaccines, he also raises concerns about the safety of administering multiple vaccines at once without sufficient data on their collective effects. Additionally, he highlights the significance of modifiable risk factors, such as chronic illnesses and unhealthy lifestyles, in increasing our susceptibility to infections. By addressing these risk factors and adopting a more measured approach, we can better protect our health and make informed decisions regarding vaccination.

    Factors affecting immune function and steps to support it.

    Our blood sugar regulation, diet quality, environmental toxin exposure, nutritional status, gut health, chronic stress, genetics, and overall biology all play a significant role in our immune function and risk of illness. Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, optimizing our diet with more fiber, protein, and healthy fats, reducing exposure to environmental toxins, and paying attention to our nutritional status with adequate levels of vitamins and minerals are important steps in supporting our immune system. Additionally, managing chronic stress and understanding our genetics can provide valuable insights into our immune function. Regularly monitoring biomarkers such as CRP level, omega-3 levels, zinc levels, vitamin D levels, and blood sugar levels can help us assess and optimize our immune health.

    Prioritizing our diet and overall health to reduce the risk of severe illness and improve recovery.

    Taking proactive measures to prioritize our diet and overall health can greatly reduce our risk of severe illness and improve our ability to recover quickly. Consuming whole, unprocessed foods and maintaining a high diet quality has been shown to lower the risk of severe COVID-19. Additionally, staying hydrated, avoiding ultra-processed foods, and incorporating nutrient-dense foods rich in vitamins and minerals like vitamin D, omega-3s, zinc, and selenium can help boost our immune system. Increasing our intake of anti-inflammatory foods, antioxidants, and polyphenols can further support our immune health. Regular exercise, supplements, and including antiviral and anti-inflammatory spices in our diet are also beneficial. Lastly, ensuring an adequate protein intake during times of infection is crucial for optimal immune function.

    Maintaining a Healthy Immune System: Diet and Lifestyle Tips

    Maintaining a healthy immune system requires attention to both diet and lifestyle. When it comes to diet, focus on incorporating clean, well-raised proteins such as regeneratively raised meats, grass-fed meats, and wild-caught fish. Additionally, include probiotic foods like fermented foods, yogurt, and sauerkraut, as well as prebiotic foods like garlic, asparagus, and flaxseeds to support a healthy gut. Polyphenols found in colorful plant compounds also play a crucial role in gut health. Supplements such as vitamin D, multivitamins, zinc, and omega-3 fats can further support the immune system. Prioritizing optimal sleep, exercise, stress reduction techniques like meditation, and spending time in nature are essential lifestyle factors for immunity. Lastly, make sure to check and maintain vitamin D levels through regular testing.

    Supporting the immune system and reducing the severity of COVID-19 through various methods and treatments.

    Probiotics, melatonin, colostrum, and certain peptides like thymosin alpha one can be helpful in supporting the immune system and reducing the severity of COVID-19. These substances have shown promising results in decreasing hospitalization rates and improving overall function. Nasal rinses with Betadine and nasal sprays with iodine can also help reduce viral titers and protect against infection. Medications like ivermectin, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory treatments, blood thinners, and monoclonal antibodies may be considered in the treatment of COVID-19, but more research is needed. Additionally, taking essential supplements like vitamin D, zinc, vitamin C, and NAD can support immune health. Long COVID, which affects a significant percentage of individuals, is expected to remain a concern and will require further attention.

    Understanding and Treating Long COVID: A Comprehensive Guide

    Long COVID is a real condition that can have serious effects on a person's health. It is not just in people's heads and can cause a wide range of symptoms, including chronic fatigue, autoimmune disease, brain fog, gut issues, and more. People with underlying health conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure are at a higher risk of developing long COVID. The good news is that functional medicine and optimizing the body's own ecosystem can help with recovery. Mitochondrial damage, inflammation, and immune system dysfunction are key factors in long COVID, and addressing these through lifestyle changes, supplements, and other interventions can be beneficial. It's important to get tested and to work with healthcare professionals to tailor a personalized approach to treatment.

    Boosting Your Immunity for COVID-19 Prevention and Management

    Optimizing your immune system through lifestyle, diet, and the right supplements can help prevent and manage COVID-19. Taking care of your gut microbiome, such as consuming fermented foods and prebiotics, can also support your immune health. Additional treatments like IV support, ozone therapy, hyperbaric oxygen, and immune modulating therapies may be helpful in certain cases. It's important to consider these options and work with a functional medicine doctor if needed. Even if you have long COVID, don't lose hope as emerging therapies are showing promise. Remember to share this information with others, and make sure to prioritize your own well-being to stay resilient and prevent severe illness.

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    The Hidden Connection Between Gut Health & Mental Health That Therapy and Drugs Cannot Fix

    The Hidden Connection Between Gut Health & Mental Health That Therapy and Drugs Cannot Fix
    View the Show Notes For This Episode Get Free Weekly Health Tips from Dr. Hyman Sign Up for Dr. Hyman’s Weekly Longevity Journal Our global mental health crisis is growing at an exponential rate, with over half a billion people suffering from depression and anxiety; it’s time we rethink our understanding of the underlying root causes of mental health challenges. From treating thousands of patients, I’ve learned that depression is not in your head. It’s in your body. More specifically, your gut. When your gut is unhealthy and inflamed, your brain is unhealthy and inflamed. In Functional Medicine, we know that the gut and the brain are intimately connected and that the health of one directly influences the health of the other.  In today’s Health Bites episode, we’re diving into the gut-brain connection and sharing Functional Medicine tools to support your gut health and, as a result, your mood and mental health.  In this episode, I discuss: Our global mental health crisis (2:45) The gut-brain connection (4:18) The story of Marks's broken brain (5:15) Features of the gut-brain axis (8:57) Gut hormones that send signals to your brain (10:06) Role of the gut microbiota in mood and mental health (12:24) How stress negatively impacts our gut microbiome (20:14) The link between leaky gut and poor mental health (21:41) The Functional Medicine approach to fixing the gut (25:56) The 5R Program for fixing your gut health (30:09) This episode is brought to you by AG1 and Rupa Health. Get your daily serving of vitamins, minerals, adaptogens, and more with AG1. Head to DrinkAG1.com/Hyman and get 10 FREE travel packs + FREE Welcome Kit with your first order. Streamline your lab orders with Rupa Health. Access more than 3,000 specialty lab tests and register for a FREE live demo at RupaHealth.com.