Viral Infection Survival Strategies
Boost Immune Function
Selenium is the most important nutrient that your immune system needs to fight viral infections. Selenium deficiency creates a weakening of the defense against infectious diseases, especially those caused by viruses. Selenium deficiency may lead to viral genome mutations from a benign (mild) virus to a highly virulent (dangerous) virus.
An adequate supply of macro- and micronutrients is vital to support host immune defense and resistance against dangerous disease-causing microorganisms. The modern-day diet is often not sufficient to meet the increased demands for micronutrients in infectious diseases. Many areas of the world have selenium deficient soils.
Dietary supplements containing selenium up to 100 to 200 μg/day have potential as safe and inexpensive additional therapy in viral infections. Dietary supplementation with selenium-containing multi-micronutrients might also be useful to strengthen the immune system of patients suffering from newly emerging viral diseases, such as in the current epidemic of Ebola fever in West Africa. Populations in several countries most afflicted by past and current outbreaks of Ebola fever (e.g., Liberia, Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo) show a high risk of selenium deficiency. Interestingly the lowest dietary selenium supply in Africa was reported from Liberia, with a daily intake of only 23mcg of selenium.
Selenium has been known as “the viral birth control pill” because it can reduce the ability of viruses to increase in numbers.
A study in 1998 found that patients with severe viral infections have rapidly decreasing concentrations of selenium in their body. Almost half of a person’s selenium concentrations may disappear during such infection, which can be life threatening, if the person’s selenium levels are already low.
This study discovered the unexpected degree to which selenium is used up, when the immune system is activated by the virus. Even in people who get adequate amounts of dietary selenium, additional supplementation will be beneficial.
Selenium protects the genetic material from mutations in humans, animals and viruses. When a virus infects a human or animal lacking selenium, the virus can undergo mutations making it far more dangerous. If the virus also lacks selenium, mutations can occur making it even more dangerous. There is a risk that many viruses could become more virulent by passing through a selenium-deficient host.
Protect Your Lungs
In today’s world there is many threats to your lungs, especially polluted air from industry and bush fires. There are also new and more dangerous viruses emerging which can attack your lungs causing pneumonia and respiratory failure.
What can we do to protect our lungs?
N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) is an amino-acid derivative (small protein) with over 40 years of scientific research to back it up. NAC’s powerful health benefits derive from its ability to restore levels of glutathione (GSH).
Have you heard of glutathione?
If not, you need to know about it because it is the body’s most powerful naturally produced internal antioxidant. This antioxidant can reduce cell damage from free radicals produced by viruses and toxins. Glutathione can repair damage in many parts of the body, including the lungs, kidneys and liver. Glutathione helps the liver to protect you against toxicity, and it is most needed by those with liver or lung disease.
Today researchers are now realizing just how vital glutathione’s actions in the body are. According to Stanford University’s Dr. Kondala R. Atkuri, “NAC has been used successfully to treat glutathione deficiency in a wide range of infections, genetic defects and metabolic disorders, including HIV infection and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Over two-thirds of 46 placebo-controlled clinical trials with orally administered NAC have indicated beneficial effects of NAC measured either as trial endpoints or as general measures of improvement in quality of life and well-being of the patients.”
NAC neutralizes toxins and pollutants including heavy metals that accumulate in the lungs, liver and kidneys.
Restoring glutathione levels with NAC supplements makes liver cells and lung cells more able to protect themselves from ongoing damage caused by viral infections, toxic air, drug overdose and autoimmune inflammation.
How can we get more glutathione in our body?
Oral glutathione supplements are available in some health food stores and pharmacies and do not require a prescription. The main problem is that glutathione is not well absorbed from the gut, as it is broken down by digestive enzymes before it has a chance to be absorbed. For this reason, it is far more effective to take its precursor (building block). NAC is the most important precursor to glutathione synthesis. NAC is easily absorbed from the gut and is rapidly turned into glutathione.
Approximately 150 milligrams daily of glutathione is obtained from the average diet, mainly from fruits and vegetables; however, most of the glutathione is manufactured from NAC within the cells of the body. It is interesting to know that around 80% of the glutathione produced in the liver is transported to the blood stream to be used by the lungs and kidneys for detoxification.
For people with severely depleted levels of glutathione in their body, taking glutathione intravenously would be best, but this is impractical. The practical solution is to take NAC, the main precursor to glutathione – a component the body’s cells need to make their own glutathione.
How is NAC taken?
NAC does not require a prescription and is taken as an oral supplement in doses of 600 to1800 mg daily. NAC is taken two to three times per daily, or as recommended by your healthcare provider. NAC can be taken with or without food but is best absorbed if taken 15 minutes before food with a whole glass of water.
With over more than 40 years of use in a wide range of medical disorders, NAC has been proven to be safe for long-term treatment. If you have histamine intolerance or peptic ulcers talk to your doctor before taking NAC.
It is important to remember that antibiotic drugs do not help your body to fight viral infections.
On days with high pollution it is beneficial to wear a protective mask such as P2 or N95 masks.
De Rosa SC, et al. N-acetylcysteine replenishes glutathione in HIV infection. Eur J Clin Invest. 2000; 30:915-929.
Ghabril M, et al. Drug-induced liver injury: a clinical update. Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2010 May;26(3):222-226. Review.
Published in the November 2006 journal Apoptosis, one trial investigated if NAC could inhibit liver cell death in acute severe liver failure. Based on an animal model, the researchers concluded that NAC shows a liver-protective role for this type of liver failure.
Published in the January 2008 journal Liver Transplantation, a retrospective study found that children treated with NAC for acute liver failure had a better outcome than matched controls not treated with NAC.
Adv Nutr. 2015 Jan; 6(1): 73–82.
Published online 2015 Jan 7. doi: 10.3945/an.114.007575
Dietary Selenium in Adjuvant Therapy of Viral and Bacterial Infections, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 133, Issue 5, May 2003, Pages 1463S–1467S, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/133.5.1463S
Forceville X, et al. Selenium, systemic immune response syndrome, sepsis, and outcome in critically ill patients. Crit Care Med. 1998;26(9):1536-44.
Beck MA, et al. Host nutritional status and its effect on a viral pathogen. J Infect Dis. 2000;182 Suppl 1: S93-6.