kris ulland

Your Nutrition Partner

The arrival of the first coronavirus vaccines less than a year after the pandemic began blew away the previous development record of four years, which was held by the mumps vaccine. Now social scientists and public health communicators must clear another hurdle: ensuring that enough people actually get the two doses per person for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines that won emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in mid-December.

More vaccines are on the horizon, including a one-dose vaccine from Johnson and Johnson. Somewhere between 60 and 90 percent of adults and children must be vaccinated or have antibodies resulting from infection in order to arrive at herd immunity, where the whole community is protected.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines, and these vaccines have undergone the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. This monitoring includes using both established and new safety monitoring systems to make sure that COVID-19 vaccines are safe.

Results from these monitoring efforts are reassuring. While some people don’t have any side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine, many people will have mild side effects after COVID-19 vaccination, like pain or swelling at the injection site, a headache, chills, or fever. These reactions are normal and show the vaccine is working. A small number of people have had a severe allergic reaction (called “anaphylaxis”) after vaccination, but this is extremely rare and when it does happen, vaccination providers have medicines available that they can use to effectively and immediately treat the reaction. Unfortunately, the fact that the coronavirus vaccine is a new type of vaccine, known as mRNA, is causing many people to consider the vaccine carefully.

Vaccines work by training the body to recognise and respond to the proteins produced by disease-causing organisms, such as a virus or bacteria. Traditional vaccines are made up of small or inactivated doses of the whole disease-causing organism, or the proteins that it produces, which are introduced into the body to provoke the immune system into mounting a response.

mRNA vaccines, in contrast, trick the body into producing some of the viral proteins itself. They work by using mRNA, or messenger RNA, which is the molecule that essentially puts DNA instructions into action.

Dr. David J. Cennimo, an infectious disease physician and assistant professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, said some side effects are “signs of an appropriate recognition and immune reaction to the vaccine.”

The side effects show that the vaccine is teaching your immune system how to recognize and attack SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, if it encounters it.

Although some of the vaccine side effects are similar to the symptoms of COVID-19, the coronavirus vaccines won’t give you COVID-19. The vaccines will also not make you contagious.

For most people, the side effects of the vaccine are mild or moderate and last only a day or two. Some research has been done to look specifically at whether acetaminophen or ibuprofen can interfere with how well the coronavirus vaccine works. Cennimo said some earlier research suggests that some drugs may affect the immune response to vaccines.

“There are data in the vaccine literature, long predating COVID-19 and almost all [done] in children, that premedication with [fever-reducing drugs] like acetaminophen or ibuprofen decrease the antibody response to the first dose of vaccine,” Cennimo said.

With less inflammation, he said, there may also be a lower immune response to the vaccine.

A study published in the Journal of Virology found that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which include ibuprofen, reduced the production of antibodies and other aspects of the immune response to SARS-CoV-2. (Antibodies are proteins made by the immune system to fight viruses like SARS-CoV-2.)

The COVID-19 vaccines stimulate the body to produce antibodies that specifically target the coronavirus without causing disease. They are designed to provoke a strong immune response.

If people experience side effects from taking a vaccine, it is usually from the activator that is used to provoke the immune system to respond.  If your immune system is weak or compromised, when asked to respond to a new pathogen it might not be fully ready to do so.  This is why boosting your immune system before you take a vaccine can help your body prevent any reactions.  And having a strong immune system can help the vaccine be more effective as your body can produce more antibody-producing memory cells when your immune system is robust.

Preparing for the vaccine, you want to support balanced immune responses (you don’t want an over-reactive response to a shot) as well as detoxification (it’s important to be able to eliminate the chemical additives from the injection).

Glutathione is the body’s main antioxidant and helps in multiple ways through supporting detoxification, supporting healthy immune system activities, and reducing inflammation. Glutathione and NAC can help you detox chemicals from drugs and pollutants as well as the ones your body creates naturally. Glutathione and NAC also help make DNA, support enzyme production and increase immune function.  Although there is no thimerosal or other preservatives in the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, the oxidative load of the replication of the COVID 19 virus itself is enough to warrant detoxification support.

There are also many studies confirming that the use of glutathione and NAC decrease the harmful symptoms of COVID 19. Take these as soon as possible and up until four weeks after your final vaccination.

Take 1 tsp of liquid or powdered glutathione daily with or without food. An affordable alternative to glutathione is NAC (n-acetyl-cysteine) which helps recycle what glutathione reserves you may have. 500 mg a day of NAC should be sufficient.

Vitamin C is a well-known anti-oxidant that helps reduce inflammation and allergic reactions. Take three times daily with or without food, 75-100mg. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits (such as oranges and grapefruit) and their juices, as well as red and green pepper and kiwifruit. Broccoli, strawberries, cantaloupe, baked potatoes, and tomatoes are also rich in vitamin C.

Liver support – The active ingredients in milk thistle are a group of plant compounds collectively known as silymarin. Milk thistle is often used to protect the liver against toxins. It is thought to reduce damage to the liver caused by free radicals, which are produced when your liver metabolizes toxic substances.

Avoid use of the aboveground parts of the plant in women with hormone-sensitive conditions (eg, breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers; endometriosis; uterine fibroids) unless under the supervision of a physician, due to the extract’s possible estrogenic effects. The more commonly used milk thistle seed extracts are not known to have estrogenic effects.

Milk thistle supplements are commonly sold as in capsule form but are also available as tablets, tea bags, and oral tinctures. Doses range from 175 milligrams to 1,000 milligrams.

Teas from dandelion and burdock root also support liver detoxification.

Multivitamin – Look for plant-based broad multivitamins.

After you receive your vaccine, add plenty of turmeric and resveratrol to your diet. These antioxidants will continue to help the liver detox and build up your immunity,  The top food sources for resveratrol include red wine, grapes, some berries and peanuts. It is concentrated mostly in the skins and seeds of grapes and berries.

For general immune support, zinc and medicinal mushrooms are good. A daily intake of zinc is required to maintain a steady state because the body has no specialized zinc storage system. Beans, nuts and whole grains have zinc. As a supplement, take 10 mg a day of zinc. Medicinal mushrooms have effective antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and other healing properties. You can find powdered blends or add maitake or shiitake to your diet to fight against pathogens in your body.

The advice to sleep well and take it easy the next day might be especially important after the second dose. Many people have a more intense reaction after the second dose, with body aches, chills, and a low-grade fever.

Until more information is known, doctors advise avoiding vigorous exercise 2 hours before and after the vaccination and avoiding hot showers 2 hours before and after, as exercise and vigorous showers can trigger allergic reactions in some people.

Resveratrol

Resveratrol is a plant compound that acts like an antioxidant. It is part of a group of compounds called polyphenols. They behave like antioxidants and protect the body against damage from free radicals. In preclinical studies, resveratrol has been shown to help in the prevention and/or treatment of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Resveratrol is produced in response to injury or when the plant is under attack by invaders such as bacteria or fungi, and even protects the plant from the ultraviolet rays of the sun.  In 1992 researchers began looking into the effect of resveratrol on human health, and it has been suggested that it may be protective against many of the most debilitating diseases, including diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

Resveratrol is rapidly metabolized by the liver.

Because of its antioxidant properties, resveratrol could be a promising supplement for lowering blood pressure. A 2015 review concluded that high doses may help reduce the pressure exerted on artery walls when the heart beats. That type of pressure is called systolic blood pressure, and appears as the upper number in blood pressure readings. Systolic blood pressure typically goes up with age, as arteries stiffen. When high, it’s a risk factor for heart disease. Resveratrol may accomplish this blood-pressure-lowering effect by helping to produce more nitric oxide, which causes blood vessels to relax.  
Resveratrol is thought to help reduce inflammation, lower LDL cholesterol, and make it more difficult for clots to form that can lead to a heart attack. Research show that resveratrol limits the spread of cancer cells and starts killing them:
  • It may inhibit cancer cell growth: It may prevent cancer cells from replicating and spreading.
  • Resveratrol may change gene expression: It can change the gene expression in cancer cells to inhibit their growth.
  • It can have hormonal effects: Resveratrol may interfere with the way certain hormones are expressed, which may keep hormone-dependent cancers from spreading.

Several studies in animals have suggested that resveratrol supplements may change blood fats in a healthy way. A 2016 study fed mice a high-protein, high-polyunsaturated fat diet and also gave them resveratrol supplements. Researchers found the average total cholesterol levels and body weight of the mice decreased, and their levels of HDL cholesterol increased.  Resveratrol seems to influence cholesterol levels by reducing the effect of an enzyme that controls cholesterol production  As an antioxidant, it also may decrease the oxidation LDL cholesterol. LDL oxidation contributes to plaque buildup in artery walls.

 

One explanation for how resveratrol works is that it may stop a certain enzyme from turning glucose into sorbitol, a sugar alcohol. When too much sorbitol builds up in people with diabetes, it can create cell-damaging oxidative stress.

Resveratrol helps prevent insulin resistance, a condition in which the body becomes less sensitive to the blood sugar-lowering hormone insulin. The condition can lead to diabetes. Researchers believe that resveratrol activates the SIRT1 gene. That gene is believed to protect the body against the effects of obesity and the diseases of aging.

Resveratrol may protect nerve cells from damage and fight the plaque buildup that can lead to Alzheimer’s. It seems to interfere with protein fragments called beta-amyloids, which are crucial to forming the plaques that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

Here are a few more benefits resveratrol may have for people with diabetes:

  • May protect against oxidative stress: Its antioxidant action may help protect against oxidative stress, which causes some of the complications of diabetes.
  • Helps decrease inflammation: Resveratrol is thought to lessen inflammation, a key contributor to chronic diseases, including diabetes.
  • Activates AMPK: This is a protein that helps the body metabolize glucose. Activated AMPK helps keep blood sugar levels low.

Plant-based supplements are being studied as a way to treat and prevent joint pain. When taken as a supplement, resveratrol may help protect cartilage from deteriorating. Cartilage breakdown is one of the main symptoms of arthritis.

The top food sources include red wine, grapes, some berries and peanuts. Manufacturers have tried create a resveratrol supplement. Most resveratrol capsules sold in the U.S. contain extracts from an Asian plant called Polygonum cuspidatum. Other resveratrol supplements are made from red wine or red grape extracts.

These supplements might interact with blood thinners like warfarin (Coumadin), and NSAID medications like aspirin and ibuprofen. That may raise your chance of bleeding.As with other supplements, the FDA doesn’t regulate resveratrol. That makes it difficult for consumers to know exactly what they’re getting or whether the product is effective. There also isn’t any specific dosage recommendation, and how much you should take can vary from supplement to supplement.

The dosages in most resveratrol supplements are typically much lower than the amounts that have been shown beneficial in research. Most supplements contain 250 to 500 milligrams. To get the dose used in some studies, people would have to consume 2 grams of resveratrol (2,000 milligrams) or more a day. Unfortunately, your body can’t absorb most of the resveratrol in supplements.

Simply eating grapes or drinking grape juice might be a way to get resveratrol without drinking alcohol. Red and purple grape juices may have some of the same heart-healthy benefits of red wine. Peanuts, blueberries and cranberries also contain some resveratrol.

How to Buy

Buy fresh, organic grapes, cranberries and blueberries when possible. Check for produce that is mold-free and vibrant. When buying peanuts, look for sources where there is a good turnover. Peanuts develop mold easily.

How to Store

Store fresh fruit in the fridge. Wash before ready to use. To preserve the quality of your nuts, keep them away from onions and other high-odor foods. They tend to take on the smell of things around them. Store shelled nuts at room temperature for up to three months. Store shelled or unshelled nuts in the refrigerator for up to six months, or in the freezer for a year or more.

Red wine is one of the best sources of resveratrol.

7 Tips for Storing Wine at Home
  1. Store Wine at the Proper Temperature.
  2. Store Wine Bottles Horizontally.
  3. Protect Wine from Light and Vibration.
  4. Store Wine at the Proper Humidity.
  5. Store Wine in a Wine Fridge, Not a Regular Fridge.
  6. Serve Wine at the Proper Temperature.
  7. Store Open Bottles of Wine Properly.

 

How to Cook

It is easy to incorpoate fresh berries into your diet. Make jam or toss them into a salad, with some peanuts for extra resveratrol.

Analysis of studies found the optimal daily intake of red wine to be 1 glass for women and 2 glasses for men. Drinking this moderate amount of wine is okay, while drinking more than that may impact your health.

 

Sweet Potato Flatbread with Roasted Grapes & Cashew Cheese

Purple Carrot

2 Servings

Ingredients

  • ¼ oz fresh thyme
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 4 oz red grapes
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 oz Treeline® Herb & Garlic Cashew Cheese, or any dairy-free herb cheese
  • 2 multigrain gluten-free flatbreads (I use gluten-free pizza crusts)
  • 4 oz baby arugula
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove thyme leaves from the stems. Thinly slice sweet potato into rounds, each about ¼ inch thick. Transfer sliced sweet potato to one side of a baking sheet and toss with 2 tsp vegetable oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sprinkle with thyme leaves and roast until tender, 18 to 20 minutes.
  • Pick red grapes from the stems. When sweet potatoes are halfway done, remove baking sheet from the oven, add red grapes to the empty side, and drizzle with 1 tsp vegetable oil. Return baking sheet to oven and roast until grapes are softened and begin to burst, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Peel and mince the garlic. Add minced garlic, cashew cheese and 1 tbsp olive oil to a small bowl. Whisk the garlic cashew cheese until smooth.
  • Toast multigrain gluten-free flatbreads (or pizza crusts) in the oven per the instructions. Add baby arugula, balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper to a medium bowl, and toss to combine. Spread garlic cashew cheese on the toasted multigrain flatbreads and add the roasted sweet potatoes and grapes. Cut the sweet potato flatbread with roasted grapes and cashew cheese into wedges and top with arugula salad.

Resources

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