Virtual—A healthy immune system begins with the food you give it. Unfortunately, there are lots of people who get that wrong. Fortunately, it’s a problem that can be addressed.*

At the #NaturallyInformed event Taking Control of the Immunity & Wellness Market, which took place June 11-12, keynote speaker Mark Hyman, M.D., told event attendees: “88% of us are at high risk for COVID-19 because of poor metabolic health, thanks to poor diet.” He explained that “it’s not the virus itself that kills people, it’s the body’s inflammatory response on the one hand and inefficient immunity on the other hand.” In other words, the immune system isn’t strong enough to prevent the illness in the first place, and then once the disease is contracted, the immune system overreacts, causing an inflammatory cytokine storm that harms the lungs.

The encouraging news: “[Poor diet] is a completely fixable problem,” Dr. Hyman continued. “You can shift your diet from inflammatory to anti-inflammatory in a matter of weeks. Food is medicine. It’s not just calories, it’s not just energy, it’s information, it’s instructions that tell the body what to do. Inflammation and cytokines are modified by what you’re eating in real time.”

Dr. Hyman offered advice on what to eat, noting that most of it is common sense: “Eat whole foods, real foods. You really wanna stop eating industrial processed foods. Not just because it’s inflammatory, but because it’s nutrient poor. Our nutritional deficiencies are driving so much of the problem. Broccoli, for instance, is 50% less nutritious than it once was.” That doesn’t mean that there’s no point in eating well, though—there are, he noted, 25,000 phytochemicals in plants. And for those who eat animal products, he suggested wild and grass-fed, which contain many of these phytochemicals, albeit in not as potent a form as straight from the plant.

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Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., also spoke to diet in her keynote presentation on stress and anxiety—and she, too, emphasized how rapidly a change can be made. “When you’re stressed, you go for the carbs—no one gets stressed out and starts craving salad. And we all know food affects how we feel. But even when we’re stressed, we need to start thinking about that, because big sugar spikes make you feel momentarily good, and then you crash.” She referenced one study, published in the December 2016 edition ofAppetite, that looked at 82 healthy adults. They were fed either a high- or a low-glycemic diet for five days, given a two-week washout period, and then fed the other diet for five days. A high glycemic load diet resulted in a 38% higher score for depressive symptoms, a 55% higher score for total mood disorder, and a 26% higher score for fatigue/inertia—“And that’s just in five days!” Dr. Low Dog stressed. “Imagine what would happen over a longer period of time.”

Martie Whittekin, CCN, author and radio host  who presented on Aloe vera and the science behind Lily of the Desert’s Aloe, summed up a couple rules-of-thumb regarding food and health: “Give the body everything it needs for optimal function, and don’t gum up the works with excesses it can’t handle…we need water, sunlight, sleep, exercise. A diverse, robust microbiome. Protein, the good fats—for a long time we were told that fat was bad period, and that’s turned out to be bad advice—and vitamins and minerals and whatnot. We need to avoid things like smoking, air pollutants, water pollutants, too many things in our food that don’t belong there like pesticides and herbicides and chemical additives.” Her tip: Consider aloe vera, which “provides upwards of 200 biologically active constituents, acts as a prebiotic, and has been shown to detoxify the blood.”

Missed the event? You can access the sessions on demand here.
For all of our coverage on the #NaturallyInformed event: #NaturallyInformed: Advice for Retailers #NaturallyInformed: New Product Development Insights From the Immunity & Wellness Market Event #Naturally Informed: Immune Health Supplement Education
The next virtual event in the Naturally Informed series, powered by WholeFoods Magazine and Trust Transparency Center, is “Driving Value Through Sustainability Across the Supply Chain. It will take place August 26-27. Register here.

*Note: Information in this interview is intended for educational and scientific purposes only. It is not intended as medical or nutritional advice for the treatment or prevention of disease. For medical advice, consult your personal health care practitioner.