The theme of 2020 in the health world is shaping up to be immune support and being healthy, and achieving optimal health as best as we could.  While we don’t have enough research to identify anything that can prevent or treat COVID-19 yet, ensuring our health is in balance can aid to support your immune system.  This involves a lot more than just finding an “immune-boosting” supplement or two.

Dr. Suhani's 8 fundamental pillars to achieving health balance that you want to address and optimize so they can support a healthy immune system are:



Getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night is paramount to having good energy throughout the day, improving mood, and keeping our cortisol levels in check (poor sleep can increase cortisol which can reduce immune function and make it harder to fight infections). Ideally, you would want to sleep through the night for 7-8 hours so if you have difficulty falling asleep, constantly waking up in the middle of the night, or just feeling so tired that even though you are getting 8 hours of sleep, you are still waking up feeling exhausted, then we have to work on improving your sleep.

For some, it can be as simple as popping a melatonin tablet but often there is a lot more that is happening behind the scenes that may impact sleep like various lifestyle habits that need to be corrected such as exercising or eating too late at night, hormonal imbalances, and possible inflammation in the body that can be affecting sleep. If melatonin isn’t working for you, then let’s work together to find a solution and what can help you catch some great ZZZzzzzzz!
Sleep Well Tips


What you put into your mouth determines the health of your body. Ensuring that you are eating whole, nutrient-dense foods the majority of the time will ensure you are getting your vitamins, minerals, protein, and other nutrients that support important body physiological processes.

This usually looks like shopping for most of your groceries on the periphery of the grocery store where all the whole foods are located. Eating fruits and vegetables to load up on your vitamins, minerals, fibre, and antioxidants; Getting enough protein in your diet since the cells of our immune system are composed of protein like antibodies and signalling proteins; Minimizing all the fried and greasy foods; Reducing alcohol consumption as it impairs your detoxification system and uses up glutathione plus alcohol can turn into sugar and stored as fat in the body; Picking complex carbohydrates like starchy vegetables, ancient grains, whole-grains over the white refined flours and grains because they have more nutrients and fibre to help you stay regular; and trying to keep sugar on the low end even though baking and carb consumption is really tempting during this current situation. Sugar can be inflammatory and trigger inflammation which will throw off your hormones like insulin and cortisol and reduce immune function. Sugar is also a food source for many microorganisms.

Nutritional supplements can be recommended by a healthcare professional where necessary to fill in the gaps that your dietary regime isn’t covering.

IV nutritional therapy can be also beneficial to help fill the voids on some quick vitamin and mineral repletion directly into the blood.
Read about IV therapy


This is huge! I am sure most of us are all feeling some kind of stress right now with the lockdown putting a business on hold and business being slow to start up again as the economy re-opens. Physical distancing and not being able to see people can create feelings of anxiety and depression which will further offset our entire hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis that makes cortisol. When our cortisol levels are high, it can shift our immune system and make it harder for us to fight infections. If you haven’t read my article on cortisol and stress, have a read here.

At this current moment, I would say most people are in the resistance stage where cortisol levels are at an all-time high and we need ways to bring this down. Furthermore, if we don’t address our cortisol hormone levels now and keep that in check while we are experiencing “pandemic stress”, we will exhaust our adrenal hormone production and this will push us into the burn-out phase which could make inflammation worse and make us more susceptible during a second wave if that were to occur.
Read more about cortisol and Stress
Fitness recovery


Keeping up with some form of exercise even if the gyms are closed is vital. Going for walks as per your public health physical distancing recommendations and wearing masks if necessary are great. Engaging in some live yoga or fitness classes on Facebook or Instagram if you have those apps can help too. Doing some freestyle dancing with the kids or by yourself or your own cardio/weight workout is important. This will help you reduce excess weight gain that can otherwise occur with the lockdown.

Abdominal fat is considered inflammatory and will increase inflammation in the body plus it will promote insulin resistance which increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Lighter exercises are preferable over very intense exercises, especially if you are prone to stress and high cortisol levels because intense exercise will pump up your cortisol even more.

Exercise can be a stress release and add some self-care to your day.


Other than ensuring good nutritional and dietary eating habits, it is important to optimize your digestion. This means you should really have minimal to no bloating, gas, heartburn, diarrhea, loose stools, and constipation after you eat. If you frequently experience any of these digestive symptoms there could be something going on in your gut from small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, another form of dysbiosis (bacterial or microbial imbalance in the gut), and/or food sensitivities. All of these can create inflammation which can then affect the rest of your body. Inflammation in the gut can affect the brain and throw off your mood and create behavioral problems; Gut inflammation can also affect your hormonal balance and induce the stress chemistry response. 70% of your immune system lies in your gut so anything creating gut inflammation will throw off your immune system.

This is why sometimes you need to work with a healthcare professional that specializes in nutrition like a nutritionist or a naturopathic doctor to determine which foods are right for you. YES! Sometimes vegetables, whole-grains, and fibre can make people feel more bloated, gassy and worse which indicates something needs to be fixed.


Addressing any inflammation in your body is also important – this can be from something acute like an injury or acute infection or something more chronic like an autoimmune condition, chronic infection, diabetes, or increased weight gain/obesity. Inflammation induces a stress chemistry response that will not only throw off your hormones but it generates free radicals in our body which increase our need for antioxidants. It also depletes glutathione – a major antioxidant that supports liver detoxification and supports our immune function to help us fight off infections. Glutathione depletion is why many who suffer from inflammatory conditions may notice that their skin has become darker since they weren’t well – it’s related to oxidative stress and glutathione depletion.
Learn more about glutathione
Emotional health


Think of hormonal balance as a very intricate spider’s web – every hormone is connected and when one is off, it will throw off the other so you really need to work with a healthcare professional to know where to start and which part of the web to address first. Really, our hormones cannot be balanced if our sleep is off, we are experiencing stress, have digestive issues, and/or inflammation in our body. When our hormones do go off it can worsen or create sleep problems, digestive issues, irregular periods, painful periods, make it hard to conceive, and more.
Vitamin D


Vitamin D is integral to ensuring immune regulation and supporting immune function. Currently, there are still investigating the role of Vitamin D and insufficient levels in the severity of the current coronavirus infection but there has been some preliminary data by Rhodes et al (2020) that is pointing to low mortality in countries south of latitude 35 degrees north (more sunlight and vitamin D exposure) and highlighting that Nordic countries fortify a lot of food with vitamin D. Even though the investigation and research is still on-going, it doesn’t hurt to ensure your vitamin D levels are optimal especially coming out of winter since we do know low vitamin D can be associated with low mood, low energy, seasonal affective disorder, and optimal levels help to support immune regulation and can benefit skin health.

Overdosing on vitamin D can be bad because it does increase calcium absorption and can increase your risk of developing calcification or kidney stones. It is best to test your vitamin D levels before you start supplementing and if you have been supplementing for a long time, consider checking your blood levels to ensure the supplement is doing its job. Medical doctors are not able to test Vitamin D unless you pay for it but a lot of MDs also refrain from ordering the test due to healthcare policies. Naturopathic doctors can order vitamin D testing (for a cost) and if your levels come back low in spite of supplementation, we can figure out what might be going on preventing you from absorbing it.

Some food sources include fatty fish like salmon and tuna, egg yolks; liver; and dairy products fortified with vitamin D. Vitamin D supplementation might be your best option for therapeutic levels especially if you are deficient.
More information on Vitamin D Here

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Rhodes JM, Subramanian S, Laird E, Kenny RA. Editorial: low population mortality from COVID-19 in countries south of latitude 35 degrees north supports vitamin D as a factor determining severity.  Aliment Pharmacol Therap. 20 April 2020; 51(12):1434-1437.


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