Watch the episode here
Despite recovering from COVID, many people continue to battle long COVID conditions. These persistent symptoms have been at the center of so much disagreement in medicine, arguing whether it exists or not. For Dr. Paul Anderson, this is actually not new. In fact, we have been treating it all these years as a post-infectious illness. In this episode, he joins Corinna Bellizzi to help us understand the relation between post-infectious illness and our immune system, especially as we navigate the path towards recovery. Dr. Paul Anderson is a recognized educator and clinician in integrative and naturopathic medicine with a focus on complex infectious, chronic and oncologic illness. Tune in as he shares his expertise and more!
Key takeaways from this episode:
- The relation between long COVID and post-infectious illness
- Treating post-infectious illness
- Finding your anti-inflammatory diet
- How to set yourself up for long-term success against infectious diseases
- Lessons from the oncological world to the treatment of infectious diseases like COVID
Guest Social Links:
Finding The Path To Recovery From Post-Infectious Illness With Dr. Paul Anderson
I'm honored to be joined by Dr. Paul Anderson. He is a recognized educator and clinician in Integrative and Naturopathic Medicine. He focuses on complex infectious, chronic, and oncologic illnesses. That means cancer. In addition to his few decades of clinical experience, he served as Head of the Interventional Arm of a US-NIH funded human research trial using IV, vitamin C, and other therapies in cancer.
He founded Advanced Medical Therapies in Seattle, Washington, a clinic focused on the care of patients with cancer and chronic diseases. He is a co-author of the Hay House book, Outside the Box Cancer Therapies with Dr. Mark Stengler, as well as a co-author with Jack Canfield in the anthology Success Breakthroughs.
He is a frequent speaker and writer for the medical community. He has his own podcast, Medicine and Health with Dr. Paul. He has 323 episodes out in the world as we are recording this, with each targeted on a specific topic and many that are bite-sized, less than fifteen minutes. Before we commence this conversation, it is doubly important that I share a simple health disclaimer. When we dig into the science of nutrition and health, remember that this show is offered purely for informational purposes only. If you have a specific health condition and concern, you will want to connect with your healthcare provider. Dr. A, welcome to the show.
Thank you for having me. It is good to be here.
As we get started, I am curious, what does nutrition without compromise mean to an integrative medical doctor like yourself?
When I think about that concept, my way of looking at nutrition has always started with how we live, which extends to how we eat, what we eat, and what we allow into our bodies. We can get to other areas, such as supplementing our diet. When you are looking at the base level, what I have always tried to tell patients and tried to do in our family is to get the best either locally sourced or cleanest type of food products we can have to keep our bodies working well. We can digest those food products and get the micronutrients out of them, all the other good chemistry from the plants, and all the other things we eat. You have that as your base, and you can work outward.
It makes perfect sense to me. I wish that in the medical system, there was a little bit more focus on that inside-out nutrition for health. We interviewed a doctor about culinary medicine. I thought the concept of that cater and tailor-making food constructs for people to help them with their health conditions specifically. It is an interesting and emerging field. You have chosen to focus your work on some challenging health conditions that can be pervasive, long-term, debilitating, and degrading to your emotional and physical health. That is hard work. Why did you choose that path?
The shortest version of my story as a clinician is I started as a general practitioner. This is a few decades ago. I had a family practice. I saw babies as old as you could live. Within the first couple of years of having that practice, because I was also doing a lot of integrative care, intravenous nutrient therapies, and other things, people started to bring family members who had advanced cancers and seemingly diagnoseable or untreatable chronic illnesses. My practice, in a short amount of time, shifted to focusing on those types of patients.
Most of those three decades have been occupied with a split between advanced chronic illness of all types and most advanced cancers. That led to being involved in doing research and a lot of writing and training with other doctors. It grew out of a need that was in my community and a little bit of my own way of thinking and neurological bent toward complex problem-solving.
You follow things down the rabbit hole, and it sounds like you got into medicine for all the right reasons, wanting to help people. Cheers to you.
That was the original goal. It is still the goal, I hope.
Much of your work is focused on helping people who suffer from symptoms of long COVID with a myriad of problems. Many people suffer persistent fatigue and difficulty sleeping. I escaped COVID for a couple of years, and in May 2022, while I was at a podcasting conference in Florida, I came home with COVID. I felt fine after about a week. There is no real issue. Every time I started to return to what was my normal activity, I got throttled back. The flu symptoms would return, and the body aches. It felt like I got the flu again.
I had to do something abnormal for me because my weekend days would be like this. I go for a hike with my dog for an hour in the morning. I do some gardening. I might even go to the gym later, push some weights, and do some resistance training. That wasn't something I could do for a few months. I have heard from another dear friend of mine who has had terrible sleeping issues. She has not slept a full night since she contracted COVID.
She has struggled with various medications and other technological or physical approaches. She is now doing cold baths to shock her system back to its more primal state. I know a tiny bit about how these things work, but I'm curious how your practice has helped to address some of these things or what you are finding to be the most effective in long COVID cases.
Long COVID could be an extremely long discussion, but to get down to the core, when we started to see people getting as sick as they were with COVID from the beginning, I had this sense that it would be like many of the other viral or chronic bacterial problems we see with patients, where the initial insult might be very bad or mild. The immune dysregulation that is caused can cause a post-infectious syndrome.
When people started to have what we call post-COVID, long COVID, or post-acute COVID syndrome, all the names for it and they identified it, we were already treating it. It was, in some ways, no different from all of the other chronically ill people who had a post-infectious illness. This is why there is so much disagreement in the bigger picture of medicine around long COVID between people saying it doesn't exist and people saying some other crazy things about it. It is causing the medicine to focus on something they have minimized for many years. That is the post-infectious illness. We have been treating it all these years. There is no surprise.
People with long COVID syndrome are in some ways no different from all the other chronically ill people who had post-infectious illness.
I do a lot of training for healthcare providers in this space, and one of the things that are hardest to get over with both the patient population and the healthcare population is you could go into something like COVID that you can think of it as jumbling up your immune function. You go through the initial phase, and that might be flu-like. It might be bad, and you are hospitalized. You get over that, and you think, “Finally, that is done.” You start having all these problems.
During that initial phase, your immune system responds heavily to the insult, in this case, COVID. It has some unique things that it does that are a little different from other infections, where it may be jumbled up your immune chemistry a little bit more, but you have a response to the acute problems, “Get better.” Your whole body has to shift around to this immune dysregulation that is not back to normal.
The part that is hard or disturbing for patients and doctors is, that can manifest in any system in your body. You could have had no problems before the infection with those parts of your body. The doctor will assume you didn't have a hormone problem before. You can't have a hormone problem now. You weren't sensitive to toxic things before. You can't be sensitive now.
I'm not talking about if you are getting better on your own anyway. There are people we see who are 6 months to 2 years into long COVID symptoms. There is something deeper wrong there if it is hanging out that long. It is the initial infection, the immune response, that tries to do the right thing because our body does have this way of dealing with infections, thankfully. That immune response gets sidetracked. All of these core areas of your body function don't get back on track.
One of the biggest common denominators in many of the patients is in the neurology literature. This is not some theory or something like that. COVID can create infection and a traumatic brain injury state with no injury. What some of the larger neurology publications are saying is based on the chemistry changes from the infection and the post-infectious changes. It is like you hit your head hard in an accident. Your brain is not auto-regulating. You get things like sleep disturbance changes. You can get anxious, depressed, and have pain syndromes, and anything your brain does can not work correctly.
There is certainly much more to it than that, but I’m trying to be as concise as possible. You have this injury that you can't see, which is frustrating for your doctor for you because there are not great tests for this thing. You have to treat something that is hard to put your hands on. It is not like you broke your arm or got a strep infection, and we can swab it or something like that.
We have to move towards. What can we do with your body? If there is an acute problem where you need a drug or something, you need that. What can we do with your body to help it heal this thing that it didn't know was coming and doesn't know how to heal without a little bit of help? That is one example. There are people who have hormone shifts after being in the long COVID space that set them up for a more chronic picture where their energy will never return.
What I usually try and tell people, especially the healthcare providers, is if they are getting generally better on their own, you think of small, medium, and large long COVID problems. If it is a smaller problem, you need body support. Those are things that you can do, and you can guide people to, but they can do it at home. That is getting better sleep and making sure they are eating, especially eating in a way that has a low inflammation diet as possible. It is things that don't spike your insulin because spiking insulin creates a lot of inflammation, and other things like don't eat foods you are intolerant to.
Sleeping is huge. If you can't sleep, that puts you into the maybe medium or large category. You need some help with that. You got to get people to sleep and eat correctly. You have to do it slowly. As you experienced, and I had this same experience myself coming out of an infectious illness, you can feel like you have 10% of the energy used. I remember very distinctly, in my own personal case, I would try and get back in my gym cycle or do things outside physically. I felt like, if I was at level 7 before, I'm at 1 now.
It takes a while because when you are that sick, these immune chemicals are all over the place. It sends messages out to the mitochondria, the nucleus of your cells, and the energy-producing areas to slow down because you need to recover. It is taking your energy away from you. That is a natural process. In order to get back from that, and when you have a post-infectious illness, like post-COVID, it is a harder inhibition that your body puts on it.
When it comes to the big things, sleep, diet, movement, and exercise, exercise has to sometimes come back slowly. We call it graded exercise tolerance. It is frustrating because if, before you were sick, you could go and work out four times a week and do all this stuff, no problem, now you do a 10th of it, and you feel like you ran a marathon, your head can't wrap around that. You have to retrain yourself in baby steps.
If you think of small, medium, and large COVID, you can heal yourself a lot by sleep, what you are putting into your diet and body for food that doesn't inflame you, and moving your body. It turns the signals back on that we are going to heal up here. When you have things that don't work, like your friend, you know, who is not sleeping or in a lot of pain, that is when you have to go and say, “Maybe I need something else looked at. I need to figure out why this is going on.” That is when something interventional might be the most helpful.
I'm wondering because there are a couple of treatments I have heard about before, long COVID, like long-term fasts or the deep cold water plunges, as examples. These are things that could be in an individual's control as part of their treatment plan, but even in these cases, would you advise that they work with their medical professional on a plan like that?
As you said at the top of the program, people should not take what I'm saying as medical advice. I'm giving information about what we do with patients. If you have long COVID that has been going on, it is not getting better, and you need to kick up your therapies, yes. We have talked on our podcast about a lot of different things. We have a series on long COVID that is seemingly endless at this point.
You have broken it down into fifteen-minute bits.
I keep it bite-sized, which is hard for a professor type to break down.
It is helpful for somebody who is trying to digest it.
I don't want to overwhelm people. You mentioned hot and cold therapies. Cold and getting re-tolerated to cold do things to your nervous system to help it get back on track. Heat therapies are the same thing. Fasting can be profound, but you should work with somebody who can monitor you and who knows about those therapies.
What I often tell folks, especially on the podcast, where you don't know where it is going, is you want to find a practitioner who knows about that therapy if you are going to do it. That might not be your primary care doctor. In many cases, it is not. If you are going to use herbal medicine, Chinese medicine, or something else, or you want to work with fasting or do something else, there are practitioners who are trained to do that. You don't need to do that to see them for everything. If you are going to do fasting, you should be with somebody who can see if you are appropriate, monitor you, and help you through the process. I promise you. If you do fasting therapies, there is a lot that can go on.
It is the same with hot and cold therapies. You can do hot and cold at home easily. If you are near hot or cold water, that is easy. You need somebody to help guide that because it is not so much the doing it. It is what happens if my body reacts in a way I wasn't expecting the therapy. What if I start fasting, and it turns out my blood sugar is not well controlled, and I don't feel well? How do I deal with that? It is important to get some guidance.
The reason I mentioned that and brought it up is that many people are doing things like joining private Facebook groups for people who are COVID long haulers, for instance. The individuals there are bonding through the community. They might also be sharing what they are going through or the things they are doing. People in the audience might say, “I will try that,” without getting the proper guidance or the proper plan for them. That can produce negative results.
I took ice baths after running marathons. I'm familiar with doing that within my own home. You can fill your tub with some ice and cold water. It is 32 degrees. It is cold. I'm not doing that for more than fifteen minutes at a time. I don't need a practitioner to help me with that. It is a post-exercise treatment. Doing something like this where the guidance could be different isn't the same. I want people, when it comes to these sorts of things, if they are going to try those therapies and they work with someone, at least in the beginning, who can help them along the path.
I wonder if there are specific foods because you mentioned not necessarily low glycemic index but foods that aren't going to spike your insulin levels and are anti-inflammatory. People speak to the Mediterranean diet or something like that, but something rich in whole plant foods, a diet generally like that is also one that would be consistent with an anti-inflammatory diet. Are there any other tips that you would give people to help them guide themselves on the correct path there?
We all have individual sensitivities to food that we may or may not know. For example, if there is a particular plant or animal category of food, you don't feel well when you eat it. It doesn't matter how good it is for everyone else in the world. Don't eat it because that in itself is inflammatory. Part of the reason you don't feel good when you eat particular things is that your body has an immune response, and you don't need any more of that.
Part of the reason you don't feel good when you eat particular things is that your body's having an immune response, and you don't need any more of that.
That is me and broccoli. Broccoli is supposed to be good for you.
You find this all the time with people. For everyone else, that is great for you. It is not your thing. We'll talk about inflammatory triggering like insulin in a second. If you look at the plant kingdom that gives us food, if you eat the foods that come from plants in as whole of form as you possibly can and alter them as little as you can within reason of culinary needs, they have not only so much nutritional value but they also have many micronutrients. Plants give us many polyphenols, flavonoids, and all good chemistry that are extra to what we would call micronutrients.
Those things in and of themself are immunoregulatory. They feed our bodies. For the most part, most of the plant kingdom is not going to trigger a lot of these inflammatory things if you're not sensitive to it, especially in the healing phase after an insult. I try and drive people towards looking at that as a base. You can look at the types of fats you are getting in, how good, bad, clean, or inflammatory those are, and other protein sources you can build outward from there.
When we talk about insulin triggering, if you had to pick one thing you do with your diet that has the most inflammatory effect aside from eating a poison or something you are allergic to, it is triggering insulin. People think, “You would be dead without it.” That is true. If you eat things that trigger too much insulin is you use what you need, and the extra doesn't do its job on your GLUT receptors, the extra insulin runs around your body and turns on inflammatory switches.
For example, the fatty acids that we need to pull out of our cell membranes and make the series like one in three cytokines that come from omega-3s and stuff like that turn on enzyme systems that shunt that process into inflammatory lipids. There is a reason for that, but it is not what you need. Your body does it, but the insulin that is running around extra hijacks your lipid biology.
Let's say somebody who consumes a good balance of omega-3s and omega-6s is closer to that one-to-one ratio, that rare individual. Maybe there are 3 to 1 omega-6 to omega-3. If they were to consume something that spikes their blood sugar, it could negate some of the positive effects of having that balanced diet. Is that what I'm hearing?
It does. The better you are on the front end with the intake, the better it is going to be downstream, but without getting too deeply into it, there are these things that we need to process. The fats that come in are called delta desaturase. There is a particular one that is usually quiet, and it is in the middle of series one, and insulin in excess turns it on. All that good, for example, omega-3 substrate suddenly is going down into a pathway that is not where it is supposed to be. It is inflammatory.
Here is the bottom line. If I'm focusing on the carbohydrates I get from whole plant materials that have a lot of nutrients, fiber, flavonoids, and all the goodies, I'm going to have a hard time triggering a whole lot of excess insulin. On the other hand, if you look at the standard North American way of eating, most of what I get in that is in the carbohydrate category isn't from plants. It is going to be the A-train over to your pancreas-making insulin. That is a huge thing.
I used to always send people to look up the internet. You can find anything, but it is not always true, like glycemic index, there are hundreds of sites, and they all say the same thing. There is something called the insulin index now that is a little bit easier. You can look at, "These foods are less likely. These foods are more likely." The bottom line is all stuff your grandma told you that is on the better end of the spectrum.
Your diet, being able to move your body, and sleeping are the three huge shovels you can use to dig out of a chronic illness. People get frustrated because they don't work quickly. If it is like exercise and you are not used to exercising, you got to go slow because you will feel worse for a while. Long term, even with all the interventional stuff that we do with chronically ill people, the ones who get on the other side and stay better are the people who have controlled the basics of their diet, sleep, and all that.
This is consistent with everything that Dr. Joel Fuhrman shared with our community around his work, specifically on getting people to more whole foods plant-based diet where meat is a condiment. You don't necessarily eat it the same way. You are not sitting there with a slab of steak or a hamburger as frequently and not as frequently.
This may be Greek to some people, but you start to talk about desaturates, cytokines, prostaglandins, and all these things that are triggered by omega-3s, alpha-linolenic acid, or linolenic acid. When we are getting everything from a plant source, if we are not consuming fish, and if we are not getting a direct source of EPA and DHA, we have to have certain enzymes that work to translate all of those nutrients into the end products the EPA and DHA, which are used to regulate a lot of systems within the body.
These are integrated into structural components of the cells, which help with synaptic firing in your brain and mental clarity. Omega-3s do a lot, as do omega-6s, but given that you might have some issues with an insulin spike, you might not have the perfect diet, and you are in some immunological issues. If you are taking an omega-3 in its form with EPA and DHA, are you somewhat protected and insured that you are going to create a more anti-inflammatory state?
That gets to the concept we shared in the beginning, which is to do everything you can with your diet, putting it into your body. In most cases in North America, and there are certainly exceptions to this, many people are not eating in a way that gets them enough either substrate for omega-3 and maybe omega-6 or direct omega-3. Either changing your diet so you get enough or taking some, which in most people is what is required, at least where we live, is necessary.
If people feel like lipid biology is difficult as a patient, your doctor probably struggles with it too. I teach it to doctors. Sometimes, I will use cartoons so they don't stop listening. You think, “If I eat fish, why is that a faster way to get omega-3?” It is because the fish run the food they eat through their system, which has these saturates. When you eat them, they have already converted it to EPA and DHA. That is closer to making the anti-inflammatory cytokines that we need.
Some of the algae strands produce their own EPA and DHA.
Some of the sources of non-animal omega-3s are algae. That is important to remember. For the average person, having a good clean omega-3 supplement can be a wonderful baseline to do what you can in addition to your diet that can go along.
What are supplements meant to do to be a supplement to a healthy diet? One of the themes that people have heard throughout this show, and they will hear from medical professionals like yourself, is, “You can throw some supplements on top of a terrible diet and still not have a good outcome.” Another theme I often share with people and help it sink in is, “Consume a little less of these processed oils like the seed oils.”
Even going to the store and getting some salad dressing because you are trying to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables in creative salads, most of it is full of seed oil. You are getting canola oil, soybean oil, and processed oils that are high in omega-6 and low in omega-3. Omega-3s have been removed from those oils in order to improve shelf stability.
What do you do? You make your own salad dressing at home, substitute olive oil or avocado oil, which have omega-9s in them. Healthy fat is still fat, but at least it is not going to throw off the balance that you are in this inflammatory cascade constantly. As Dr. Fuhrman says, “Use nuts and make your own salad dressing. Do some creative things with your blender.” He got recipes in his book Super Immunity, which is incredible. I will point people to that. Yes. Thank you so much for that context.
I do want to bring up here that we are sponsored by Örlö Nutrition. If people are reading this blog, if you are ready to go and try omega-3, you can peruse the omega-3, DHA, and prenatal DHA products available at OrloNutrition.com. These are in the polar lipid form. They are more bioavailable than standard fish oil or algae oil. This can mean that the omega-3s get straight to work in your body. They don't repeat up on you because they don't create the same aldehyde byproducts. You don't have to have that fishy burp.
You can go to OrloNutrition.com, and we do have a coupon code for our readers, which is NWC10, for an extra 10% off your order at checkout. Use the code NWC10 for Nutrition Without Compromise 10 at OrloNutrition.com. Let's talk about the giant in the room, inflammation. Inflammation has been the topic of a lot of focus since COVID erupted. A big part of the reason that our Americans responded poorly to COVID overall is that many people got sick, and the unaddressed health issue that relates, which is connected to increasing obesity and challenges of losing weight because of an inflammatory state.
I would like to know what you think people can do to set themselves up for success long-term to prevent severe COVID cases from occurring in themselves. Give themselves the best shot. Understanding that people are getting 2nd and 3rd infections at this time. Since they might be getting that 2nd or 3rd infection of COVID, we need to address the inflammation issue. It is not omega-3s or insulin. It has a lot to do with lifestyle. How would you counsel our audience broadly to help tackle that big giant sitting in the corner in the shadows?
It is good to call it the giant in the room because another thing that is hard to wrap your head around is you can have people who appear physically different, even with their lack of disease or presence of disease. One group might look healthier and have less diseases on their list. Others may look less healthy and have more diseases. They will all be equally inflamed potentially because inflammation is not one thing that happens. It is a whole lot of things. Your body might do inflammation one way, and another person is a different way.
We see this pattern with COVID and other infections where if you come into it, you are inflamed, and you have all the diseases. You may not do well. We see people who look healthy, but in the underlying biology of their body, they are as inflamed, and they don't do well either. When it comes to thinking of those things, there are certainly genetic things that can shift that too.
There is even now research coming out which proves what seems logical in the cancer world to show this. Being hydrated enough is one of the biggest anti-inflammatory benefits in your body. That is because we think, “I'm hydrated.” Most people who are even trying to hydrate are not hydrated enough. You have to have enough water in your plasma. It can carry nutrients and good stuff into your cells. There is a compartment issue where around the cells, there is one concentration in the cells.
The most important thing is in is good, but if you don't have enough fluid to go in and push the junk or toxins out, you build up a lot of cellular toxicity, which triggers inflammation because your body is trying to deal with it. Hydration is one of the best things you can do for your inflammatory response. All the things we spoke about with regard to eating are other things that you can do. The next thing is what is hanging out in the area around your cell, in your cell membranes, or inside the cell. That has to do specifically with antioxidants.
The primary antioxidants are glutathione, vitamin E, and vitamin C, and they all back each other up. The one we don't make at all is vitamin C. When we get sick, our vitamin C levels go to zero. If you don't have enough of that in, all of your antioxidants slow way down. In the recovery period after being ill, it is hard to get those back up and get them working. If you look at the way that spirulina works, for example, one of the things in research about that is it has this nice way of keeping the vitamin E, vitamin C, and glutathione little family working.
It is one of the big things about lowering inflammation naturally the way your body does it. That is an important thing, especially if you have been sick and you want to think that system took a big hit because it was overworking. We need to get it working back again. If I get enough hydration, the next step is I need those antioxidants to be working. They need to work together. We need anything we can that improves their activity. You can get specific things like what your cell membranes do with the fat balance we were talking about, for example. That is the next level.
If somebody is working to self-treat themselves, at least, I'm not saying they have had a need to be in care, but they are trying to set themselves up for success. They might already have heard that they should take supplements like omega-3s and vitamin D. They may have heard something about glutathione and vitamin C because people speak about immunity with vitamin C across the board, but there are a lot of ways that people can bring these things into their diet.
There is some disagreement both in the literature and with medical doctors about how much vitamin D you might need to help support your immune system. Do you have a standard like, “This amount is safe, one 2,000 IU of vitamin D a day?” At what point do you want people to be seeking help from their doctor when they are self-medicating with vitamin D and these other things?
It is an effect of the media coverage of COVID and people like me and the 1,100 other people talking about stuff you can take. What we are seeing now is a wave of people where when they get tested, their vitamin D levels or zinc levels are high. You find out the only mineral they have been taking for several years is zinc, which is good to have zinc and vitamin D, but it has to be balanced.
Before COVID, it was common for us to say, “If you are taking 2,000 to 5,000 international units of vitamin D a day and you are the average North American person, you are not going to overdose yourself.” That is a maintenance dose. Even before that, vitamin absorption and the way your body metabolizes complex fat stuff because it is a fat-soluble nutrient. The most important thing is if you have never taken it before, you have a big window where you can take those doses. The problem comes if you are doing a maintenance dose like 2,000 to 5,000 and you are low. It takes quite a while to build that up.
It is like three months before you even test again.
That is why it is safe. The only thing I would say is, “If you have been taking it above those levels for a long time, you should have your vitamin D level checked.”
I ask for it with my annual. I'm always a little bit lower than I think I will be. I'm like, “I have been supplementing. I'm getting out in the sun.” Even though I'm pale and have Mediterranean skin, I don't make vitamin D as well as a lot of people. I don't think about the fact that I'm mostly covered. They say, “If you are not exposing your belly for fifteen minutes, you may not produce enough vitamin D on your own.”
The Immunity Boost formula that we created with Örlö is spirulina. Just 1,000 IU of vitamin D. Thinking about this, it is safe for everybody of all ages because it is a small amount. To your point about zinc and minerals, we also have a smattering of B vitamins in there, and they are balanced. Often, we look to one vitamin. We are like, “I'm going to take vitamin B12.” We don't think about what that does to the other B vitamins and how they have to be in a synchronous combination in order to work best in your system.
While I say this, I'm also going to mention most vegans don't get enough vitamin B12 and omega-3. You should be supplementing. You can also check these levels in your annual or by soliciting something like a blood spot test from OmegaQuant for $50 for the low-tier test to see what your levels are, and you are not guessing anymore.
Depending on your insurance, that might be cheaper than going through your medical office. Sometimes these are things you have to ask about. To the point about spirulina, I am curious if you have had the chance to look at the literature and why it might work as well as it does in support of our immune system and energy levels.
I have certainly read a lot of research about spirulina. I'm not a spirulina expert by any means, but there is a lot to know there. There are some good summaries that have been written in the last several years around spirulina where they have looked at a lot of data and said, “This is what we see here.” It is nice. You don't have to read the other 300 papers.
The takeaway that I see, which is common to a lot of things that come from plants, is we have this notion that we need to boost our immune system. We are always boosting things. The way your body works, what you need is balanced. Deficiencies and excess cause balance, but they are fluid. In the plant kingdom, what you often see with things that are helpful with immune and inflammatory problems is they are not as much immune-boosting or anti-inflammatory as they are leveling to the system because the system is complex. The more level it is, the more it can do its job.
The immunobiology, when you give people spirulina, all of the studies show that it does particular things with your innate immune system, like natural killer cells and cytokines that do pro or anti-inflammatory. What it also shows is that the “sicker” a person is, the more need they have. The more out of balance they are, the more you are likely to see that thing, which is also what we see with curcumin and all the other plant things. There is a lot of nutritional value that is naturally there in spirulina.
There are oxidants that aren't present in our diet. It is hard to get enough.
Supporting your own innate antioxidant system, which it does well. As something that you could put into your body that you are probably not putting in through any other means, got a broad ability to be supportive through returning the ability to balance back. That goes back to what we were talking about with long COVID.
People get upset and frustrated because they feel like they are healthy, and they get this long COVID that is not going away. They probably weren't as healthy as they thought they were because we live in a tough world. We are dealing with toxic levels that I didn't have when I was a child, and my parents never had several years ago. We have a bigger challenge. Our food supply is not great.
If you are eating a credit card's worth of plastic a week, that is alarming. These are not things that are food. Our grandparents may have done a disservice to us by introducing trans fats and highly processed fats, like partially or fully hydrogenated fats, which are trans fats. They are one chemical molecule away from plastic. You can put a tub of margarine, throw it in your garage on a hot day, and leave the garage door open. No bugs will fly into it. You do the same with butter, and there is going to be a fly on that thing within seconds.
This should be an indication of food and not food. We are at a point now where it is almost impossible not to eat non-food things because they have become a part of the foods that we consume. Going to Whole Foods plant-based, trying to buy local, shopping at your farmer's market, trying new produce, and being creative in the kitchen, are all things that can help. I wanted to ask you a question that is perhaps a little bit deep and get your perspective because you have done so much work in cancer research and COVID. Are there lessons we can bring from that world or that we are bringing from that oncological world into the treatment of things like COVID?
There are a lot of parallels. That is not to say it is the same thing. One of the things we focus on now a lot more than we did several years ago is health in survivorship, people who get into a durable remission with their cancer or have no evidence of disease. Their goal and the healthcare provider's goal should be, “Let's not only live but let's make the body as healthy as possible so t is resistant to recurrence." You live longer, but you live with good quality of life. Your health span improves, and we know more about how to get people there.
Let's not only live, but let's make the body as healthy as possible.
It is a tough job, but we know. When it comes to long COVID but also, prepare yourself for whatever may come because I can promise you, COVID as an infection is going to be like the flu and the common cold, where it is now part of the human experience. You are going to get it over and over. What we hope is it will keep degenerating to be an irritation over time, but there are going to be other new things that come along. It isn't the last thing we are going to have to deal with as humans. Everything old is new again now.
The two things that are critical and are a downer to think about. I might get this again, but you will. One is making yourself a small target. That is the prevention side. We are all going to get something at some point. It is how our immune system gets challenged. A smaller target doesn't mean I'm not going to get sick. It means I'm going to weather the illness as best I can. If I do get sick and get into this infectious illness like long COVID, it is recovering my body function so that my quality of life and function returns back to normal, which can be a chore if you get into that long COVID side.
The tenets are the same. It is making yourself a small target and looking at not prevention because if it is infectious, you may be exposed and get it. What experience am I going to have with that illness? That is the prevention side. Those are all the things that we talked about. The big three, like sleeping, how we eat, and moving our body.
On the recovery side, you have to do those things, but you often have to add to them so you can come out the other side and build up. It is the same as if I'm teaching someone cancer prevention. It is the same tenets as we teach them to do in recovery, having a good health span, and survivorship. It is just you got a lot more work to do once you have already had the disease. It is the same with something like COVID. It's prevention and making yourself a small target. It is all the good things you do. In recovery from long COVID, you got more work to do because your body is in a hole you have to dig out of.
It may take longer than you think it will.
It always takes longer than you imagine it will, unfortunately.
You mentioned feeling like lifting that weight. You might be able to do 10% of what you did before. It was different for me. I could do all the things at the same level. I had only been sick for a little bit, but I would then get throttled back. I was continuing because I felt good and I would get throttled back. To understand, even though I felt okay that I still had to act as if I had it for good solid several weeks without returning to normal activity. That was mind-numbingly difficult for me because I am a goer. I fell out of my gym routine in a certain way. I'm still struggling to catch back up because I was a seven-day-a-weeker. I had my routine.
I had a day that was fairly light, but it was also my escape from my daily routine of rearing young children. If I go to the gym for a couple of hours, it would be a break. I find that I'm now struggling with returning to that level of balance to claim those couple of hours every day for me. I know that is critically important for my long-term health. That would be a closing thought from me to the audience. Do you have any other closing thoughts you like to share before we part?
If you are somebody who, unfortunately, is dealing with long COVID, especially if it is nothing seems to budget, you have to give yourself a little more space and grace for healing because it is not going to be like other things you may have experienced, which is frustrating but true. The other thing is if you truly are in a cycle where you are not getting better, and you feel like you are doing as much as you can, you got to look but find somebody who is working with post-infectious illness patients or long COVID patients. Get some advice from a healthcare perspective about, “What else could I do? What could I add to what I'm doing?" Do as much as you can for yourself. If things are stuck, get somebody to take a look at what is going on with you and give you some pointers, direction, and maybe some other treatment.
Give yourself a little more space and grace for healing.
Thank you so much for that beautiful sum-up. I enjoyed our conversation. I hope that you can come back in the future and we can dig into another topic together.
It was fun. Thank you.
To find out more about Dr. Paul Anderson, visit DrANow.com. Check out his podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen. It's called Medicine and Health with Dr. Paul. With that, I want to thank Dr. Paul again for joining us. If you learned something, I hope you will subscribe to Nutrition without Compromise on your favorite platform. While you are at it, please give us a thumbs up, a five-star rating, and even write us a review. This will help more people discover the show so that they can achieve their best health naturally.
As a reminder, readers of this show also receive an additional 10% off at OrloNutrition.com by using NWC10. You can check out Immunity Boost with spirulina as well as our omega-3 products. This show is all about serving you. If you like us to dive deeper into specific topics or have questions that you like to see us address, send us a note on social channels @OrloNutrition, or you can email us directly at Hello@OrloNutrition.com. As we close this episode, I hope that you will raise a cup with me, improve your hydration, and ensure that you are getting enough water each day. As I say in my closing words, “Here's to your health.”
- Dr. Paul Anderson
- Outside the Box Cancer Therapies
- Success Breakthroughs
- Medicine and Health with Dr. Paul
- Become a Nutritarian to Supercharge your Immune System and Health with Joel Fuhrman, M.D., the 7x New York Times Bestselling Author of Super Immunity and Eat for Life - Past Episode
- Super Immunity
- Örlö Nutrition
- Immunity Boost
- Apple Podcasts - Medicine and Health with Dr. Paul
- @OrloNutrition - Instagram
About Paul Anderson
Dr. Anderson is a recognized educator and clinician in integrative and naturopathic medicine with a focus on complex infectious, chronic and oncologic illness. In addition to three decades clinical experience he also was head of the interventional arm of a US-NIH funded human research trial using IV Vitamin C and other therapies in cancer patients. He founded Advanced Medical Therapies in Seattle, Washington, a clinic focusing on the care of patients with cancer and chronic diseases.
He is co-author of the Hay House book “Outside the Box Cancer Therapies” with Dr. Mark Stengler as well as a co-author with Jack Canfield in the anthology “Success Breakthroughs” and the upcoming Lioncrest Publishing book “Cancer… Living your Life while you Have it.”. He is a frequent CME speaker and writer and has extended his educational outreach through his CE website www.ConsultDrAnderson.com - Former positions include professor of Pharmacology and Clinical Medicine at Bastyr University and Chief of IV Services for Bastyr Oncology Research Center.