Can Common Food Fight Viruses?
Hippocrates, the father of medicine, stated “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
I love this, as I consider the kitchen to be my lab and food to be the chemistry.
Let me share some of the latest research with you about six common immune-supporting compounds found in common foods with powerful anti-viral properties.
Before I get into the specifics about nature’s pharmacy, I want to give you a basic explanation about what viruses are and how they work.
Viruses want to live.
How do they operate? Simply put, they attach to our cells, infiltrate, replicate their parts using the RNA of our cells, reform themselves, reassemble themselves, and then spread out into our body…and beyond.
Viruses have attachment structures made out of proteins and carbohydrates (in the coronavirus family these are called spike proteins). These spike proteins attach – or “dock” – to a part of our cell’s membrane surface like a key in a lock and attach specifically to a receptor “lock” on the cell membrane called the ACE-2 receptor. This is attachment.
Once attached, the virus sends RNA into the host cell. The virus then takes over the host cell’s RNA manufacturing ability. This is infiltration.
Once the virus takes over the cell’s RNA, it uses it to tell the cell to make more of the viral parts of the virus, not of the cell itself. This is translation.
This results in a pile, so to speak, of parts of the virus (which are proteins made off the RNA of the host cell).
Then the enzymes of the virus take these “parts” and activate them, reassembling them into the actual virus. This is activation and reassembly.
Once reformed, these newly manufactured viruses break out of the host cell, and they spread into the next adjoining cell and to the next, circulating into the host body. This breaking of host cells and spreading is how the virus circulates into the host, finding the parts of the body it likes best.
Different viruses target different body tissues. The novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 targets the lung cells, causing Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
As this process continues, your immune system goes to battle, working hard to knock out the viral load. But as in any battle, there is collateral damage. Your own tissue likely will take some of the punches, getting injured itself as your body fights a war against the virus.
Certain foods can interrupt each step of the virus “life cycle.”
The good news is that each one of these steps – attachment, infiltration, translation, activation and reassembly – presents an opportunity to defeat the virus. And the virus is vulnerable at each step to six special immune-supporting bioactive compounds called bioflavonoids that I’m going to tell you about.
Bioflavonoids are a specific group of polyphenols. Certain foods, especially fruits, herbs and vegetables, contain a lot of them, and have been shown to boost our gene expression positively, leading to beneficial health outcomes…which includes anti-viral effects!
Based upon scientific literature, six flavonoids could potentially be the most helpful in reducing infection risk:
- Quercetin and its derivatives are flavonols (a class of bioflavonoids). Quercetin is an abundant flavonoid found in red, green, and purple pigmented foods such as apples, berries, broccoli, kale, and shallots. Another particularly rich source of quercetin is the outer skin of onions. It is found in dock (which is a wild lettuce also known as sheep sorrel, sorrel, red sorrel), watercress, cilantro, radicho, asparagus, okra, red leaf lettuce, kale, Serrano peppers, elderberries, cranberries, blueberries, juniper berries and apples.
- Naringenin Eat grapefruit, water mint, Greek oregano, tart cherries, tomatoes and cocoa.
- Hespertin Eat the vine fruits that are dark in color such as elderberry, black raspberries, Concord grapes, blackberries, marionberries, blueberries and black currants.
- Luteolin Eat celery, onion, Mexican dried oregano, sage, thyme, juniper berries, arugula, all cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage), collard greens, Daikon radish, horseradish, Bok choy and my favorite: turnips.
- Hesperidin Eat grapefruit, blood oranges, tangerines, lemons and limes. Hesperidin becomes concentrated in juice form and the pith or the white part of these fruits where 80% of the vitamin C is found. I love to peel the pith from the outermost skin and throw it into my blender along with the actual fruit to maximize the immune benefits of all citrus. Also, peppermint has an abundance of hesperidin as well. A healthy delicious drink to sip throughout the spring and summer is peppermint tea. I make it as sun tea and add some lemon balm to it.
- EGCG (epigallocatachin-3-gallate) is a very specific flavanol derivative. Drink green tea for the most abundant source, but also nuts like hazel nuts, almonds and walnuts, and blackberries, raspberries, plums, peaches, onions, avocados, apples (eat the skin), and carob (also known as locust bean gum).
Each one of the above fruits, herbs and vegetables contain these powerful compounds to improve your health, strengthening your own body to resist a viral attack and inhibit a virus’ spread.
This information comes straight from peer-reviewed scientific studies. In fact, these foods and the powerful compounds they contain demonstrate how “food is medicine,” as they have been studied as thoroughly as any pharmaceutical as healing agents. I’ve got a chart at the end of this article that shows how and at which stage each of these compounds works against a virus.
Eat 50 different kinds of plant life every 30 days, and add the above foods to your list of 50.
I encourage you to consume high amounts of all these foods. Get creative and include at least some of them in every single meal. You can add to snacks, throw into your smoothies, and make them a part of every recipe. I tell my own clients to eat 50 different kids of plant life every 30 days. This is what I myself do, and I know it helps keep my microbiome happy and my body strong.
Note: I’ve noticed something, which strikes me as very ironic: it’s the canned and processed foods that are being horded and cleared off the grocery shelves. But those foods have little to no vitality or living enzymes to actually balance your immune system. I think that’s tragic! REAL FOOD has always been a cornerstone to become and stay healthy. If nothing else, this novel coronavirus is showing us that we are not living in harmony with nature – which IS US – if we are only eating food that’s processed and packaged. Plants give us symbiotic solutions that we need to be strong and healthy, and we need to consume lots of them.
Although understanding the immune system and viruses can get infinitely complex, improving your health and staying healthy is not. It starts with FOOD.
Sometimes it is difficult to source these foods. Or you want to level up. That’s the time for supplements.
Have you given your body immune enough to support its own capabilities to fight viruses? You may want to level up your intake of these beyond what you can consume via food. For that reason, I stock high grade supplements – to be used as powerful tools – to give you the option you may want…especially now. (Free shipping over $200.)
Start with food, and level up when needed.
Your turn – get into your own “kitchen lab.” Create your own health. Eat real food!
The chart below shows where and how each of the compounds works (from my review of THIS ARTICLE from WhatisEpigenetics.com (which cites 16 selected references from well-respected scientific journals):
|COMPOUND||TARGET SITE||HOW IT DISRUPTS VIRUS||VIRUS CYCLE|
|Quercetin||Molecular cell membrane||Docking receptor site interference||Attachment, Infiltration|
|Blocks viral enzyme and replication function||Translation|
|Luteolin||Molecular cell membrane||Docking receptor site interference||Attachment|
|Decreases transmission of virus||Activation, reassembly|
|Herspertin||Molecular cell membrane||Docking receptor site interference||Attachment|
|Interferes with virus replication||Translation, Infiltration|
|Hesperidin||Molecular cell membrane||Docking receptor site interference||Attachment|
|Interferes with virus replication||Translation|
|Naringenin||Molecular cell membrane||Docking receptor site interference||Attachment|
|Interferes with virus replication||Translation|
|EGCG||Molecular cell membrane||Docking receptor site interference||Attachment|
|Interferes with virus replication||Translation|
|Activates immunity-related gene
function to combat viral load
9 thoughts on “Virus-Busting Foods”
Awesome, Thanks Doc.
God bless you and your loved ones on Resurection Sunday
Hi Chris. Great to hear from you!
Thank you Dr. Binley for providing this information since maintream medicine has little to offer except to isolate. Very much appreciated!
There is much we can do to stay healthy! Thanks for reading.
Wade, I just loved this latest blog on virus fighting foods. Thanks for your extensive research and for writing so clearly and articulately about your findings. Not only that, but your suggestions are actually yummy and appealing.
What can I say but: Understanding + Clear Action = Greater Peace of Mind.
With gratitude and Love,
Hi Shana – sorry for the tardiness of this reply. For some reason, I’m just seeing this. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. It’s my pleasure to contribute.
Hello from Portugal…..
Bob and I are doing well. Moving into our villa on 1 1/2 acres with 50 fruit trees in 10 days. Meanwhile we have been moving around staying in airbnb homes. Very low cases where we are in southern Portugal along the coast. We have been isolating for three weeks.
We can feel the love that you have for your patients/friends coming through your efforts to help us.
THANK YOU for being you
Lots of love and a big virtual hug,
Bob & Lyn
Love this advice. Our family has been consuming garden fresh kale, mint, plantain, lettuces, borage, oranges, lemons, cilantro, parsley, blackberries and wheat grass from backyard. We also have a local organic farmer 2 blocks away that provides us with blue berries, tangelos, apples, peaches and avocados. We are so grateful for our vibrant health and look forward to joining with more health attics like yourselves.
Ed & Lin
Sorry for this tardy reply, Lin – am just seeing this! Wow – what a rich food life you have going! Sounds wonderful.