It Helps Your Immune System
by Dr. J Dunn
Stuck inside with your family? How you react to the threat of coronavirus can very much depend on the genes you inherited. If you react with anxiety, depression, or have no reaction at all, these reactions can reveal your genetic makeup. Keeping yourself balanced during this time of great stress can actually help your immune system stay better prepared for any infections that come your way. And it can keep your relationships strong!
The first step is to know your genes! Here are some examples of genes that will determine how you handle stress:
COMT (Catechol o methyl Transferase)
Persons with genetic variants in this gene tend to be “worriers”. They will be picturing the worst-case scenarios at all times. Their response is to gear up for a flight response to stressful situations. If you are homozygous (both genes inherited from your parents) for the COMT gene, then knowing this and adjusting your diet can help you stay calmer during this stressful time.
Avoiding stress is a big help for those with this genetic variant. If you have a homozygous variant in the COMT gene, breaking down stress hormones is especially difficult for you. This makes you more susceptible to anxiety, especially after a traumatic event. Learning to incorporate rest and stress reduction activities is especially important here. Meditation can be very beneficial, and avoiding caffeine and stimulants is helpful as well.
Avoid COMT inhibitors, which include: quercetin, rutin, luteolin, EGCG (green tea), catechins (in chocolate and red wine), epicatechins (in green tea, dark chocolate), fisetin (found in strawberries, apples, persimmons, onions and cucumbers), ferulic acid (found in oranges and apples), hydroxytyrosol (found in olive leaf). While these foods may be good for some, for those with COMT genes it may cause increased anxiety.
VDR (Vitamin D Receptor)
If your default response to stress is depression, it’s possible that you have inherited the VDR gene. Genetic variants in this gene will lead to low levels of serotonin and dopamine, our “happy” brain chemicals. This will also lead to apathy and low energy. In addition, if you have inherited variants in this gene, your immune system will not work as well as those who have the correct genetic code. This is critical during this time in our world.
Some things you can do to upregulate your VDR right now include; Get out in the sun! Sun helps convert the cholesterol in your skin to vitamin D which upregulates your immune response. This is a good start, but you also need to get some vitamin K2 in with it. You can get vitamin K2 through grass fed beef, grass fed butter and cheese. Egg yolks contain K2, in addition, vitamin K2 is found in fermented foods. Natto has the highest levels of any food but may be unpalatable for many. In addition, vitamin A is required to make sure the vitamin D receptor is activated. Vitamin A can be found in fish, liver, cheese. These sources tend to be better for the majority of people as some cannot convert beta carotene into vitamin A.
MAO-A (Monoamine Oxidase)
If your default response to stress is irritation, it’s possible that you inherited a genetic variant in the MAO-A gene. This gene is responsible for breaking down serotonin. High serotonin levels can lead to feeling of irritation, aggression and difficulty focusing.
Foods high in tyramine should be avoided in those who have inherited a genetic variant in this gene. That includes wine, chocolate, aged cheeses. They should also avoid turmeric as it inhibits the enzymes function further and can cause increased irritation. Spicy food can also add to the feelings of irritation, so limit those if you have this genetic variant.
Guidelines for improving your immune status:
- Get out in the sun when possible-the Vitamin D is hugely important for immune function!
- Meditate and practice thankfulness-the decrease in stress that this brings helps your immune system.
- Avoid watching too much TV or focusing on the negative
- Avoid sugar, it is a huge hit to your immune system
- Enjoy your time with your family and close friends that you’re are quarantined with, it’s a special time to come together and support each other. Maybe even time to get reacquainted!
- Get plenty of rest and sleep-This is incredibly important to immune function
- Get your genes evaluated with MyHappyGenesTM so you know how to support your mental health with specific nutrients during this stressful time!
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