Myth Busting Episode 5 – The Immune System and Immune Support
LAST UPDATED: November 10, 2022
Adam Pivko, Co-Founder of Autumn DNA: Hey everybody, Adam Pivko Here, the co-founder of Autumn DNA, and I decided to bring on one of our experts today to continue our Myth Buster series. And today we’re talking about immune support and immune health and what you can do to improve your immune system with the incredible Dr. Brooke Sheehan. So Dr. Brooke, why don’t you take a quick second and tell everybody a little bit about yourself?
Dr. Brook Sheehan: Absolutely. Thank you, Adam. I am a functional medicine practitioner. And I focus on finding the root cause of illness by addressing the body according to its needs.
What is the immune system?
Adam: Dr. Brooke, thank you for that background. I’m super excited to chat with you. Let’s dive right into it. You know, the top-of-the-line question here is what is the immune system? Can you dumb it down into layman’s terms for everybody to understand?
Brooke: Yeah, of course. So the immune system is exactly that. A system, not a single entity. It’s made up of specialized organs, tissue cells, all sorts of different things that protect us the host from different pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and even cancer cells.
Is Vitamin C as important as people think it is?
Adam: I understand the immune is the immune system is exactly that. Totally get it now, me I, I don’t know too much about it. All I really know is, hey, when I’m starting to feel sick, I just pound back some vitamin C, there’s all these different companies out there that service and sell vitamin C, I never really think about how much I’m getting or what I’m doing. But Vitamin C is always my answer, is that as important as most people think it is?
Brook: well Adam, is important. But it is possible to have too much vitamin C. Now you can get an adequate amount of vitamin C through your diet, right, eating not only just citrus fruits but things like an orange, strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli even. And that can provide substantial vitamin C for your diet or for your immune system moving forward. Unless you have a rare genetic disorder that can cause you to not absorb vitamin C very well, it is important to not over supplement, or overly consumed vitamin C.
What are the risks of too much Vitamin C?
Adam: Alright, I get it, I get it. So you can definitely have too much vitamin C, what are the risks with getting too much vitamin C?
Brook: So many people say that because vitamin C is water soluble, that there is no risk of overdosing, because they can just excrete the rest. But that really isn’t the whole picture. Have you heard of expensive urine? One particular area of concern is for people who have genetic deficiencies, where they might have too much iron. Now vitamin C in this case can cause more serious health problems, like kidney stones, some of the actual symptoms that could happen as a result of too much vitamin C is diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, heartburn, headaches, and at times, insomnia. So all of these symptoms actually are a result of too much vitamin C, in many cases, instead of from your actual illness. Isn’t that kind of funny?
What about getting too little Vitamin C?
Adam: It’s crazy to think that somebody could have an illness, be hyper dosing vitamin C, giving themselves additional symptoms of what they think is the illness. And yet here they are, you know, causing the inverse or doing more damage to their health and, you know, by not taking vitamin C or just taking a cup of strawberries, if you will. Okay, so you’ve touched on getting too much vitamin C, but what about the inverse? What about somebody who’s not getting enough vitamin C not eating enough fruits, or, you know, citrus fruits or supplementing with vitamin C? What about the risks for those types of individuals?
Brook: Well, Vitamin C is not only important for the immune system, which is what we’re discussing here today. But it’s also important for your heart health, it’s important for your connective tissue for your blood vessels, and really just to protect other organs. So by not getting enough vitamin C in your diet, you are causing immune system dysfunction, as well as other problems within the body.
Who should supplement with Vitamin C?
Adam: Okay, so we’ve talked about getting too much we’ve talked about getting too little, who should supplement with vitamin C?
Brook: Okay, so people who do have those genetic deficiencies which Autumn can help people discover, people who smoke actually need more vitamin C, people who identify as getting sick multiple times per year or maybe don’t feel like they recover very well from injuries or cuts or bruises, people who have skin conditions, women who are pregnant or trying to conceive, and my favorite keto enthusiast who really aren’t getting enough vitamin C in their diet and a whole host of other people.
What lifestyle choices can you make to improve your Immune system?
Okay, so that’s a huge list of people who should potentially consider supplementing with vitamin C. But what about like lifestyle choices? Can you do anything different in your lifestyle in order to improve your immune system or really help you along the way as opposed to thinking about supplementation or vitamin C?
Brook: Absolutely. So eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables, as well as low in sugar, not smoking, if you’re gonna drink, drink very minimally or just have moderate amounts of drink, like in moderation. If you maintain a healthy weight, get a lot of good sleep. All of these are factors that can help boost that immune system.
Stress relief to benefit the Immune system?
Adam: Yeah, I’ve also read, like trying to minimize stress is one of those important ones. And I was like, you know, how is that lifestyle advice is like, oh, okay, I’m just gonna avoid confrontation. Like, I’m not gonna drive in traffic, like, what am I? What am I supposed to do? Like, I don’t know, I when I was reading about that, I thought it was so funny.
Brook: Stress is definitely a big one. And there are many, many ways to handle stress. But stress is, is definitely going to cause the immune system to not work as well as it can. Just simple things like breathwork can help minimize stress.
What other vitamins and minerals can really boost the immune system?
Adam: That’s a great tip, breathwork. Yeah, that’s something I should think about while I’m having road rage. Exactly. Cool. Other than vitamin C, what other vitamins and minerals can really help boost the immune system? Because I think vitamin C gets all the spotlight.
Brook: Vitamin C definitely gets a lot of spotlight but things like zinc, iron, copper, folate, vitamin A, vitamin D six, and vitamin E can actually help with supporting the immune system.
What are the real risks of not taking care of your immune system?
Adam: Okay, so we’ve talked about the immune system, immune support, vitamin supplements too much too little. But like, what are the real risks of not taking care of your immune system?
Brook: Well, Adam, there is a great adage, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So if you start taking care of yourself early on, you avoid having immune system dysfunction later on in life. This makes people more susceptible to pneumonia, respiratory disease, COVID-19, influenza, and all sorts of other different things that could happen. So it’s important that we take care of ourselves in our younger years, so we are able to kind of safeguard ourselves into our older years.
Adam: Thank you so much for that Dr. Brooke she had this has been another Mythbusters with Autumn DNA. I hope this helps you, definitely check out our blog at blog.tryautumn.com or check out the business that we’re in which is personalized vitamins and supplements based on your DNA and lifestyle. Thanks so much.