COVID-19 is an especially aggressive virus and, as such, the immune system needs all the support it can get during this crisis.
In this uncertain time, strategies to shore up biological weaknesses are incredibly valuable for our immunity to function optimally.
Everything mentioned in this article has been shown to be effective for boosting immunity against viruses and even past coronaviruses in published studies.
COVID-19 is a unique pathogen that can cause a dangerous, exaggerated immune response. As such, many traditional immune remedies that “boost” immunity are considered risky once the illness has progressed.
Good general health may not be advantageous for patients who have advanced to the severe stage: once severe lung damage occurs, efforts should be made to suppress inflammation and to manage the symptoms.
Take a quality multivitamin daily, with or without meals, before 2 pm.
Poor nutritional status predisposes to certain infections. Immune function may be improved by restoring deficient micronutrients to recommended levels, thereby increasing resistance to infection and supporting faster recovery when infected.
You just want relief from being awake. Why can’t I fall asleep? What’s wrong with me?
Maybe a sleep supplement solves the problem for a while. That is, until the solution wears off as the body builds tolerance and becomes resistant to it.
The body creates new cells that have fewer chemical receptors for the supplement’s active compound that induces sleep.
Sleep doesn’t need to be induced, though. It’s a natural process or, at least, it can be.
Maybe it’s the unnatural stuff — or even the unnatural way we do/take natural stuff — that prevents the body from being able to sleep.
Get To The Root Cause
Anxiety about insomnia can certainly make the situation worse.
That’s why it’s so important to understand what is at the root cause of poor sleep.
There’s not as much room for anxiety about poor sleep if we have a deep understanding of our body — what works for us and the general factors that improve or harm sleep.
If you find yourself struggling with insomnia, look at this list of potential causes. If you recognize something on this list, you’ll have identified a potential cause of your insomnia. Which means it can be fixed holistically.
Let’s clear some things up, and hopefully reduce anxiety about sleep.
Perhaps the premier cause of insomnia is sleeping in late.
Sleeping in throws off the circadian rhythm so deeply that, without doing anything else “wrong,” sleep can become extremely difficult.
Some folks are able to overcome the negative impact of sleeping in by being extremely active during the day — athletic types and performers can sometimes appear to “get away with” a later circadian rhythm. These people are typically younger and haven’t faced the scourge of debilitating health problems, and live on the high of sheer exhaustion. They may be able to “pass out” at night, but this is certainly a recipe for future insomnia.
For the rest of us, sleeping in greatly disrupts the ability to fall and stay asleep the following night. The circadian rhythm is delayed, meaning melatonin simply won’t rise the next evening.
Serotonin is created by morning light and, without this light stimulus, evening melatonin will not be adequately created from that serotonin.
For those folks interested in the ill effects of high serotonin, perhaps the most reasonable way to fight back is bright sunlight — which balances serotonin by raising dopamine during the day and lowers serotonin at night by properly converting it to melatonin.
Sleeping in robs the body of the necessary morning light stimulus, sets the circadian clock backward several hours and harms the efficiency and inevitability of sleep the following evening.
Insulin sensitivity (a marker of diabetes) is also impaired by sleeping in, which could directly lead to a metabolic energy deficit at night. Needing to eat late at night to induce sleep, or waking up hungry? Sleeping in could be impairing your glucose metabolism all day, destabilizing your blood sugar, and making it harder to stay asleep through the night.
On the other end, staying up late at night will contribute to insomnia, mostly because it makes sleeping in more likely. Late nights also introduce bright light at night (this is correlated with nearly every disease risk factor) which makes sleep less efficient, and thus further impairs an early rise the next morning.
When staying up late for any reason — whether socially or otherwise — it’s still best to follow natural light cycles to some extent. Better light cycles certainly make it more easy to wake up early after a late night.
If sleeping in has become the norm, the answer is to simply wake up early while supporting this change with simple circadian hygiene steps.
When shifting to earlier mornings, it will be necessary to endure one or multiple short nights of sleep. The days following short nights of sleep don’t have to miserable. The beauty of being awake early, even if tired, can shine through the temporary challenge of resetting the circadian rhythm.
Again, when coupled with other pro-circadian habits — proper light cycles, daily movement, meal timing, etc — forcing an early rise can invite exhaustion and “sleep pressure.” This sleep pressure, when coupled with better circadian habits can lead to an excellent reset of the circadian rhythm after long periods of sleeping in.
These tenets of good sleep hygiene — waking up early, being active, eating on time, and moving a little — are incredibly effective at restoring sleep in their own right and represent the solution to the type of insomnia that occurs as a result of sleeping in.
Unfortunately, there are some situations that can derail sleep to its core — on their own — and, when these situations become bad enough, sleep hygiene is not enough to overcome them. Let’s explore some of them:
Nutrient imbalances are becoming exceedingly common in the modern health world, especially in the groups dedicated to boosting metabolism and hormone production/manipulation.
Decades of science have provided studies demonstrating the pro-metabolic and prohormone effects of nearly every substance and chemical on the planet.
It only takes a little research to find lists of biochemicals, vitamins, and hormones that research suggests will boost or block a desired biological activity.
Unfortunately, this method of supplementation may be pyrite — fool’s gold.
While a young and healthy person may be able to take hormones and nutrients without apparent harm — for instance, a college-aged fitness enthusiast taking steroids, stimulants, estrogen blockers, or high doses of nutrients to increase lean muscle and burn fat — for folks who aren’t already extremely healthy this approach can be a disaster, and sleep is often where the negative symptomology is ultimately displayed.
For folks who have been battling chronic illness for several years, this “metabolic boosting” and “hormonal manipulation” can lead directly to a no man’s land of severe insomnia with no clear path out of it.
Supplemental hormones can use up nutrients, leading to depletion of minerals and vitamins.
Hormone-blockers can lead to depletion of certain hormones — and then cause the body to create new cells that are hypersensitive to the hormone being blocked. This is especially common with estrogen-blocking supplements like DIM and calcium d-glutarate, along with cortisol blockers like Seriphos (and cortisol-lowering herbs, to a lesser extent).
Over time, supplemental vitamins and minerals can cause severe nutritional imbalances, especially when focusing on boosting desired biological results. Nutrients should rarely or never be taken for their drug-like effect — whether it’s to induce sleep, alter the metabolism, nudge hormone balance, or elevate performance — and especially not long-term and in doses that far exceed 100% of the recommended daily value.
The fat-soluble vitamins(D, A, E & K) are especially known to cause sleep disturbances when levels are imbalanced or too high in the system.
The fat-solubles are incredibly powerful at boosting the immune system (they are quite antimicrobial) and are equally pro-metabolic. This means they are essential for health. It also means they can produce excellent results upon initial supplementation — with a happy honeymoon period of solid results — only to be followed by worsening symptoms that persist for weeks or months after the nutrient supplementation ceases.
When Vitamin D levels have become too high, it may even be necessary to avoid UVB light frequencies from the sun (from midday, summer light) until Vitamin D levels can return to a healthy level.
Vitamin A is a double-edged sword, much like Vitamin D. Much of the population will be deficient in both D & A, and yet some will be dangerously high in one or both (usually after supplementation). If one is low, that deficiency alone can wreck sleep. If one is high, that excess (or “vitamin toxicity”) can equally disrupt sleep.
Vitamin A & Vitamin D are just as likely to ruin sleep in excess as they are to restore sleep in deficiency.
Additionally, of particular importance is one’s sodium and potassium balance.
In chronic illness and hypothyroidism, sodium levels are often depleted, so adequate daily sodium intake can be incredibly pertinent for sleep. Any nutrient — when too low or too high — will raise levels of cortisol, and this is true of sodium in particular as a primary electrolyte.
Many folks will need to restrict sodium intake and balance it with potassium.
Monitor this critical, fragile ratio daily, doubly-so if insomnia is a recurring issue.
For example, restless leg syndrome (RLS) is especially related to sodium/potassium balance. RLS is also linked to Vitamin D/A balance, as well as calcium/magnesium balance. If any nutrient is low or high, restless legs can present.
All in all, anynutrient, when out of balance with its cofactors (read: all other nutrients), can cause persistent insomnia until supplementation has stopped and the body can balance itself once again.
It can take weeks for sleep to return when nutrients and hormones have been thrown out of whack, although improvements can often be noticed within mere nights of stopping the offensive supplementation.
Insomnia can certainly be caused when too-few calories are eaten, or when calories are eaten too late in the day.
When calories aren’t eaten early, they are less efficiently metabolize later in the day — leading to an energy deficit that can only be ameliorated by further, excessive caloric intake.
Simply put, eating too little early means even more calories must be eaten later in the day to compensate — to keep up with energy requirements of the body.
In this state, adequate caloric intake may become essential to facilitate sleep. Erratic blood sugar (possibly as a result of a disrupted circadian rhythm or low-grade infection) can directly cause insomnia. The obsession with caloric restriction as a path to longevity can directly impair health, particularly if it disrupts quality sleep.
When blood sugar regulation is a concern, it’s increasingly important to 1) eat enough calories and 2) eat those calories on time: early and not late.
The caveat: if you find yourself unable to sleep due to insufficient calories during the day — there may be no other choice but to get up and eat sufficient calories to induce sleep.
Snacking at night isn’t ideal (poor glucose metabolism, eating signals “daytime” to the brain), but insomnia is easily a worse outcome. Eat what’s needed for the night, and get back on track in the morning and over time.
Daily movement is a major component of good sleep.
Movement reinforces the circadian rhythm by suppressing melatonin and signaling daytime to the brain’s clock (suprachiasmatic nucleus).
Additionally, movement burns through glutamate stores, allowing for a more appropriate GABA-glutamate balance in the evening which facilitates better relaxation of the nervous system.
Exercise also improves liver bile flow and digestive wellness, allowing for more efficient absorption of nutrients and, therefore, improved metabolic function.
The lymph system is nourished by daily exercise and, when sleep cycles have been impaired, the lymph system depends upon movement even more to clear lymph and the toxins housed inside it. This increased reliance on movement is because the circadian rhythm is critical for lymph function. In circadian disruption, movement is all that remains to stimulate lymph flow (along with, potentially, manual lymph drainage, massage and infrared light).
Some well-intentioned health advice recommends extreme resting and avoidance of exercise. While this advice is based on some measure of truth (long-term overexertion can harm health), it mustn’t ignore the fact that daily, tolerable levels of movement are critical to digestive motility, lymph function, and preventing insomnia.
Bodily hydration is a major challenge in chronic illness.
It can be a struggle to maintain homeostasis and fluid balance due to chronic inflammation and poor nutrient absorption.
Monitoring fluid intake — as well as water quality — is important when sleep is a challenge.
There’s certainly a “Goldilocks zone” for each person when it comes to fluid intake.
The amount of water required will vary depending on the diet and intake of minerals. Sunlight, light therapy, heat therapy, exercise, and mineral intake will all greatly increase daily water needs.
In hypothyroidism, it’s common for folks to restrict water intake and increase sodium consumption. This improves fluid balance due to hyponatremia as a result of various health challenges: low hormone levels, high inflammation, poor gut health, and poor nutrient absorption.
Increasing this sodium-to-water balance may help sleep. However, it’s possible to go too far in either direction: You may find water to impede sleep during the night, and sodium induces sleep. You may wake up a few hours later dehydrated (from the sodium), and need more water.
Ultimately, this is a sign of severe fluid imbalance. Frequent night urination can be a sign of many things: diabetes, mold toxicity, high EMF exposure, and high inflammation. The root causes of fragile fluid balance need to be addressed going forward, rather than merely addressed through intense sodium/water balancing.
Poor Gut Health
Poor gut health can cause each bite of food eaten to turn into endotoxin in the gut.
In dysbiosis of the gut, nutrients will be poorly absorbed and, when absorbed, will not reach cells efficiently due to inflammation.
Pathogens become comfortable in the gut, eating food and causing inflammation. They’ll even enter the bloodstream — a place they certainly don’t belong — and trigger a strong immune response (more inflammation).
Some folks are able to find some spotty relief by removing problematic foods from the diet (such as grains, fibers, or animal products). However, this does not totally address the underlying health problems and may cause imbalances over time (due to an imbalanced diet).
If insomnia is truly persistent, it’s certainly possible gut health is a root-cause factor.
Of course, the circadian rhythm is a primary controller of overall gut health. Therefore, attacking both the gut and sleep simultaneously through great sleep hygiene and a solid gut health regimen may present a valid approach.
There’s no reason to go in-depth on this topic, here.
However, if you’re really struggling with insomnia and absolutely nothing else is helping, you might want to explore your building — and see if it’s a sick building.
When water damage grows significant mold — or air conditioning units go unmaintained and grow mold — this can cause insomnia all by itself.
Mold releases toxins called mycotoxins which directly cause inflammation. Its spores can also be allergenic and even become lodged in the mouth and nose and grow fungal colonies (possibly the gut, too). The scent of mold (technically “volatile organic compounds” or VOCs) is particularly disruptive to the sensitive body, too.
EMF, on the other hand, doesn’t affect everyone equally — but if you’re someone who is affected by it, it can cause sleep to flatline on its own, as well.
Get to know your sleeping domain — is it within high-risk distances for any of the EMF-emitting sources in this chart?
It’s an ongoing process to understanding mold and EMF in the environment.
Mold is becoming a modern epidemic as buildings are built with cheaper materials and tighter envelopes (less air exchange), and are inhabited and owned by people who are too busy, ignorant, or financially limited to properly maintain their premises.
EMF prevalence is rising exponentially, with current 2020 average exposure levels most likely exceeding previous decades’ average exposure levels on a magnitude of millions of times more radiation — and that’s just the wireless component of EMF, not magnetic and electric fields, which may have remained more constant. One thing is for certain: EMFs are biologically active and not completely inert.
If you’re struggling with insomnia, it’s most important to understand why it’s happening rather than look for a quick fix.
As tempting as it is to find a quick solution — and as sweet a relief a few decent hours of sleep might be — in the long run, the only thing worse than having insomnia now is still having chronic insomnia in the distant future.
Instead of searching for random, fleeting fixes, it’s best to see if we can analyze our situation and remove the common major obstacles that are capable of — on their own — causing debilitating, unrelenting insomnia, the kind that can occur despite even the best of sleep hygiene habits.
I’d like to personally invite you to enjoy full access to the resources on this site — and even become involved in our discussion group. — Travis
How common is it to supplement with a nutrient on a daily basis?
It’s extremely frequent.
Across health groups and modalities, each approach often has “favorite” nutrients, which are sometimes taken too frequently, too consistently — and for too long.
It’s a problem on its own, but it’s compounded by the tendency to demonize the very nutrients that might balance out this preferential supplementation. This is often done in hopes of “nudging” hormonal balance in a preferred direction.
Over time this supplementation approach leads to potentially-severe imbalances between various nutrients in the body.
Supplemented nutrients stand the risk of rising too high, while the neglected ones fall too low.
The problem, here, is that all nutrients have myriad interactions with other nutrients — throughout the body.
In a manner of speaking, all nutrients oppose each other, either competing for absorption or “using up” each other. There are some exceptions (mostly in times of relative deficiency), but even with the exceptions, the general rule still applies: increasing levels of a nutrient ultimately works to deplete other nutrients.
The question, then, is: How long does it take to cause an imbalance between nutrients?
The answer: Not that long — especially when chronic illness is in play.
In chronic illness, there’s a shortage of energy supplied to the body. Related are poor gut health and, with it, poor nutrient absorption. This leads to widespread nutrient deficiency — across the board.
An imbalance between nutrients is easy to create via uneven supplementation when the body is somewhat deficient in all nutrients. It often doesn’t take long for any particular nutrient to cause problems. It may only take a few months or, sometimes, (much) less.
Additionally, widespread nutrient deficiency can be made worse by exogenously pushing the metabolism faster than a compromised gut can absorb nutrients. Elevated toxicity due to mold, chemical exposure, and/or endotoxin creates inflammation that blunts nutrient absorption into both the bloodstream and individual cells.
Most individual nutrient supplements provide 100-300% of the recommended daily value.
Some are much higher than that.
These products should almost never be taken daily.
Even a low-dose — say, 100% RDV — will create an imbalance over time if supporting nutrients are not also supplemented at a similar rate. This can happen in mere weeks in the chronically ill. Doses higher than 100% will only hasten the imbalance.
Imbalances happen because each nutrient exists within a family of other nutrients. For example: Minerals interact tremendously with each other. Each mineral has a major partner, with whom powerful interactions, synergy, and opposition are in play.
The ratios of each mineral with A) its partner and B) other cofactor nutrients deeply matter for human health, and the body struggles to keep these ratios in balance during illness — due to aforementioned reasons.
The same is true for the fat-soluble vitamins and B-vitamins, two additional “nutrient families” for whom balance between nutrients is critical. There are even endless interactions between nutrients of different families — too many to properly be aware of on a day-to-day basis.
To supplement one nutrient, while avoiding a partner nutrient or other cofactors, will skew the ratios between nutrients over time.
These imbalances can be theoretically avoided by taking a blend of all nutrients in a family (or simply, all nutrients — as in a multivitamin) in a dosage around 100% of the RDV.
However, problems arise even with multivitamins: Very few multivitamins limit their dosages to around 100% RDV. In fact, most advertise their super-high doses as a selling point. There are other problems with most multi-vitamins, as well, including ingredient quality and imbalanced ingredients in the product, itself. It’s not uncommon to see 150% of one nutrient and 1100% of a partner nutrient.
On the other hand, if we supplement a nutrient at a moderate dose (around 100% RDV), we can usually take that nutrient about twice per week without causing terrible imbalances, provided there are no pre-existing nutrient imbalances (usually caused by uneven supplementation practices).
A twice-per-week dose of any nutrient allows for the benefits of said nutrient to be enjoyed while minimizing the risks of imbalance.
However, two things must be noted about thE 1-2x/week schedule:
Over time, imbalances can still occur at this low-dose schedule.
At some point, cofactors and supporting nutrients must be considered. We cannot supplement a single nutrient — even at 2x/week — while ignoring its relationships with other nutrients.
Many factors will determine how well a twice-per-week dose improves your health: body size, nutrition in the diet, digestive health, and current nutritional status. It is possible to require weeks or months of ongoing supplementation with a nutrient to iron out pre-existing imbalances. This may continue for a few weeks or months until the imbalance is corrected. However, this can easily result in a “false-positive” as the new nutrient improves symptoms for weeks or months (as an old imbalance is corrected), only to “stop working” and begin to cause problems (as a new imbalance is created). This false positive is also observed in the first-time supplement-taker: Any single nutrient will almost certainly yield noticeable results until problems are created and the product is (hopefully) discontinued.
The most common symptoms of nutrient imbalance as a result of improper, unsafe supplementation are insomnia and fatigue. Dysregulated cognitive and emotional function can also present, as will digestive disturbances such as constipation, diarrhea, or food sensitivities. Nearly any nutrient, when too-high or too-low can and will cause these symptoms.
To maintain already-existing nutrient balance: A low-and-slow regimen is suggested, with infrequent, balanced supplementation of all nutrients. This can be achieved via low-dose multivitamin blends and wise individual nutrient supplementation — keeping in mind the 1-2x/week rule.
Low-dose multivitamins should not be taken daily to A) avoid over-supplementation and B) to allow the body to balance itself without the influx of supplemental nutrition. Perhaps most importantly, regular days off from nutritional products can provide an opportunity for observation of how one feels without the influence of supplements.
The way nutrient interactions work, it’s very possible to overdose on a single nutrient using common supplementation practices.
Just take one or multiple daily doses of a nutrient for weeks or months. Voila — levels in the body will likely become too high.
However, this is partly a “relative” imbalance, meaning an imbalance between one nutrient and its cofactors. This nutrient’s levels may not be terribly high yet, but if the cofactors’ levels are low in the body, we observe all the symptoms of moderate or major overdose.
When the cofactors’ levels are brought up, the oversupplied nutrient levels can begin to fall toward normal as the body metabolizes the excess nutrient.
(How badly a new imbalance affects you will depend on how strong or weak your body is — and whether you’re taking few enough supplements to notice why and when you start feeling worse).
To correct a relative imbalance, you must know which nutrients are needed — which nutrients are the main cofactors of your problem nutrient.
You should also know if you’ve taken any cofactors in excess in the past. If a cofactor nutrient has also already been supplemented in excess, taking more of it will not help, and will only make matters worse.
It requires a wise understanding of nutrient interactions to safely and properly lower an elevated level of any nutrient.
Of course, by far the simplest path is to avoid over-supplementation in the first place.
I’d like to personally invite you to enjoy full access to the resources on this site — and even become involved in our discussion group. — Travis
Nothing on earth improves melatonin in the human brain like bright sunlight. Clear heat lamps can be an excellent supplement bright light on:
Days where you’re stuck indoors
Even sunny days.
One daily 20-minute session of very bright light therapy — rich in red and infrared light — is proven to deepen sleep. This supplemental light is especially necessary on days of little sunlight exposure.
Clear heat lamps are the superior source of supplemental red & infrared. They’re affordable and provide optimal light frequencies.
Sunlight, of course, is the original, best source of infrared light — just don’t sunburn.
Reduce light at night — it’s the partner of bright morning light.
The most harmful wavelengths at night is blue light — which floods our modern world 24 hours per day.
The darker the bedroom, the higher melatonin rises in the brain — which ensures better sleep.
People in modern society who are exposed to dim light at night during sleep… could show interference in their sleep, resulting in a decrease in total sleep time and poor sleep efficiency.
Inadequate caloric intake leads directly to insomnia.
It’s super important to know your daily caloric needs — and meet them.
If you’re lying in bed and unable to sleep — especially with a history of undereating, restrictive dieting, or hypothyroidism — it’s extremely unlikely you will fall asleep until you get up and eat.
In nearly all situations like this, it’s best to get up and eat enough calories to induce sleep. Sometimes, this means you’re eating a large late-night snack.
While eating at night is certainly not optimal for health, when the body is behind on calories there isn’t another choice other than to catch up, even at night.
Therefore, eat the calories needed tonight to promote sleep — but make it a point to eat early meals tomorrow than eating all evening.
Eating tells the brain “It’s daytime!”
Therefore, eating early in the day sends proper signals to the brain about when day/night is.
By contrast, eating late in the day sends the wrong signals about the time of day — and lowers melatonin at night.
Stay “ahead” of the daily need for calories! By 1 pm, the body should already be digesting 2/3 of its calories for the day.
By 8 pm, 100% of the day’s calories should be eaten.
Making up for missed breakfast and lunchtime calories in the evening is a circadian trap — and can profoundly impair sleep quality.
Eat three early, timely meals each day.
While calories and meal timing are important, creating balanced meals is of increased importance when digestion is weakened — and when sleep is struggling.
The key balancing a meal is the carbohydrates and protein ratio.
2:1 is a solid middle-ground, carbs-to-protein.
Figure out if you’re going to eat moderately high or low fat — as well as how much fiber your gut can tolerate… but these two variables are much less important than the carb-to-protein ratio.
Sugar vs Starch
Many people are avoiding one or both.
This may work for some, but when struggling with insomnia, it’s possible that a little (or moderate amounts) of both can really improve sleep.
There are certainly some exceptions to this. Everyone is different, and gut health plays an important role here, as well, because it determines the foods you can tolerate and thrive on.
Movement signals to the brain that “right now is daytime.”
This signal is transmitted to the brain via melatonin levels — which are lowered by exercise and bodily movement.
If you have to exercise right before bed, research shows that more-intense exercise is best for sleep.
Move All Day Long
Move naturally in varied ways all day rather than being sedentary most of the day and piling all your movement into a single workout session. This further connects your brain to the natural circadian rhythm.
The present data found that (sun exposure) and (sun exposure plus exercise) showed positive sleep-related hormonal responses, sleep habits, and quality of sleep.
Proper, therapeutic light will improve every facet of your health, but especially your circadian rhythm, digestion, inflammation, and hormonal balance.
Infrared is super critical for thyroid health (metabolism), as well as boosting energy levels and hormone production.
Make this first step: Get daily supplemental infrared light (15-30 minutes).
Artificial blue light during the day is harmful to the skin, eyes, and brain chemistry. However, blue light at night (from any source) is infinitely more harmful — and, therefore, important to monitor and reduce.
Even small amounts of blue light at night harm your melatonin levels throughout the night, wrecking your gut health, immunity, metabolism, and… everything.
Next, Focus On Your Circadian Rhythm
Along with severely reducing bright light at night, getting bright morning light is among the most critical steps you can take for your circadian health.
Meal timing sends strong signals to your brain about the time of day. Eat early meals (especially breakfast and lunch) to cement your circadian rhythm.
Bright daylight midday reinforces the circadian rhythm.
Brightness by day, darkness by night = circadian bliss.
Movement is also incredibly important for the circadian rhythm. Try to get some light-or-moderate exercise most days, around midday. Late morning or mid-afternoon is perfect.
Third: Food or Gut Health?
Which makes more sense for you to focus on?
Balance your macronutrients. 2:1 carb-to-protein ratio is a great start.
Don’t undereat. If you’ve undereaten for a long time, overeating may be acceptable.
Highly-restrictive diets don’t always work forever. Balance, balance, balance.
Do you need to improve your digestion? Most people do!
There is no miracle cure. And restrictive diets don’t fix the problem.
Instead, take steps each day to nudge your gut health in the right direction.
If needed, go extreme: An “augmented fast” or prescribed antibiotics might be necessary (when all else fails). Be sure to get on a strong natural gut health regimen for many months after a course of any antibiotic.
Then, Notice Your Environment
Environmental toxins are becoming much too prevalent in the modern world.
Begin noticing your environment — and whether it improves your health or detracts from it.
Living in a clean space is quite impactful to your health, especially in the “built” indoor world.
Not much time for cleaning? A simple trick is to own fewer possessions.
Last, Let’s Calm The Mind
Some things we can change — others we cannot.
A calm, clear mind will serve us in whatever direction our path takes us.
You don’t have to be perfect. Give yourself permission to be calm — even for one minute.
I’d be personally thrilled for you to join our movement, get access to the resources and, if you like, become involved in our discussion group. — Travis
Stress is only truly manageable by the body when acute: The challenge arises, the body meets the challenge, then we rest and recuperate. When stressors become continuous — or, chronic — the body has little defense.
There are four important “stressors of illness” — that appear to be primary contributors to the onset of disease.
For the time being, we will exclude emotional stress, though it is certainly as important a factor as any when discussing the onset of, and recovery from, disease.
The Four Stressors Of Illness
The world is full of countless pathogens, bombarding the body daily — from sick people and sick buildings.
Nutrient deficiency is surprisingly common — and caused by poor diet, soil quality, pathogenic infections, inflammation, and poor gut health.
The modern world is especially toxic, yet toxins are also released by pathogens inside the gut, mouth, and elsewhere in the body (endotoxins).
Every aspect of modern life has the potential to be disruptive to the circadian rhythm.
Let’s dive into the four stressors of illness, see how they all work together to degrade health, and explore ways to improve each situation.
The skin is well-suited to repel most pathogens (while microbes do live on the skin), but the mouth, ears, nose, and throat represent excellent opportunities for pathogens to enter the body.
Technically, the bodily areas where microbes flourish — the hotspots of the human microbiome — are outside the body. Nevertheless, the human microbiome greatly alters biological function.
When a pathogen gets inside the body, the immune system should quickly identify it and kill or deactivate it. The pathogen may then disappear or, more likely, go dormant until a more opportune time appears.
The healthy human immune system even regulates the microbial life in microbiomes located outside the body (gut, mouth, ears, vagina, and nasal passages). As the immune system suffers, these “external” microbiomes become less well-regulated.
A strong immune system can ward off invading pathogens, rendering their infectious capabilities, at best, acute.
When the immune system is compromised (as is common in chronic illness and aging), pathogens inside the body and in the microbiome can become resilient, very much at home in the body.
In the immuno-suppressed and chronically ill, outward signs of infection are often absent, with — instead — elevated markers of inflammation and/or white blood cell counts. Over time, the development of symptoms: fatigue, insomnia, brain fog, and poor digestion.
How do these low-grade chronic infections by these pathogens (mainly: bacteria, fungus, viruses) affect health?
It is through these means that pathogens can harm major organs and affect day-to-day quality of life — even in chronic, low-grade infections.
These low-grade infections are frequently difficult to detect by medical tests and direct observation by a medical doctor.
However, inflammation will almost certainly be high and, again, signs of elevated immune activity can appear in labs, though they likely won’t raise alarms for most doctors — when perhaps they should.
When a chronic immune response has existed for long periods of time, immune markers may over time become low: The immune system is compromised and unable to properly respond to the pathogenic threat.
The Hidden Infection
Harmful pathogens typically “hide” in various microbiomes around the body.
From these various locations, pathogens can release hormones and toxins into the bloodstream, impacting every aspect of biology. They can also enter the bloodstream, themselves, if mucosal barriers weaken.
Medical science is currently taking the first steps to understand the world of the “gut microbiome.”
Unfortunately, this new field will require much more research to truly understand it and therefore manipulate it with medical precision.
At this time, microbiome tests are starting to identify the species in your gut — but we don’t really know what to do about those findings, yet. Many alternative practicioners sell testing packages and prescribe heaps of supplements to take. Taking a thousand new products at once can make for a grueling regimen — and impossible to interpret any changes in symptoms.
What seems best is to slowly treat “general dysbiosis” of the gut, utilizing one new step at a time, while using all tactics available to boost the immune system: proper circadian rhythm habits, foods, supplements, photobiomodulation, sunlight, and improving the healthfulness of one’s environment.
In the immune-compromised, infections are rarely of a single pathogen. Instead, multiple “co-infections” exist, with each pathogen affecting the body in different, yet simultaneously ways.
When the challenges are many, multiple tactics are required to challenge the scope of the problems.
The acronym stands for Multiple Antibiotic Resistant Coagulase Negative Staphylococci. This bacteria is highly pathogenic and resistant to antibiotics because of a powerful biofilm which protects it from potential threats.
This is a newly-discovered kind of infection, typically residing in the nasal passages — although it’s being found in the mouth as well.
Dental & Mouth Infections
The oral microbiome is just as complex and diverse as the gut.
When the oral microbiome goes wrong, conditions like thrush (a candida fungal overgrowth in the mouth), gum disease, cavities, and abscesses are likely.
Perhaps worse, these infections send a constant 24/7 drip of toxicity and pathogens into both the bloodstream and the digestive system — causing chronic system-wide inflammation and gut dysbiosis.
Questionable dental practices can lead to persistent, low-grade, hidden infections in and around teeth that can even escape the notice of dentists.
Unhealthy microbes in the mouth can chronically activate the immune response — leading to body-wide inflammation and even many systemic diseases:
Pathogenic Toxicity Can Cause Every Component Of Disease
Unhealthy microbes (in the mouth, gut, nose, or elsewhere) supply your body with a steady stream of endotoxins.
As a result, the body will spend biological resources to both detoxify the endotoxins and kill off the hosts. An immune response will occurs — and never finishes.
Nutrients will be used up rapidly to meet the demands of an overburdened liver.
The body will also ramp up inflammation round-the-clock, and this will cause digestion and general absorption of nutrients to plummet. Hence, chronic, low-grade infections cause nutrient deficiency for two reasons: both depletion of nutrients for detox, as well as interference with proper digestion and absorption of nutrients.
Nutrient deficiency and toxicity cause inflammation, and all three will eventually affect sleep quality — as the immunocompromised body descends into chronic illness.
Low nutrient levels are actually common — even in the first world. But when health is suffering, the become a big cause of further issues.
Poor diet can result in nutrient deficiency on its own. Eating lots of refined grains can result in B-Vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Modern industrial farming practices have resulted in falling soil quality — and the mineral quality of our food has suffered in response.
Too much time indoors can result in a Vitamin D deficiency. Food has very, very little Vitamin D.
Eating little vegetables and no organ meats can result in a Vitamin A deficiency. An overburdened liver may have a hard time converting carotenes to Vitamin A, too (genetics can cause this as well).
Poor gut health can result in poor nutrient absorption across the board. Low levels of beneficial bacteria in the gut can lead to deficiency in B-vitamins and other nutrients and compounds such as butyric acid and Vitamin K2.
Last, we’ve already seen the two ways pathogenic infections can bring about nutrient deficiencies.
For most people strugling with illness, most or all of these factors are affecting their nutritional health.
How Does Nutrient Deficiency Cause Disease?
When nutrients are low (due to elevated detoxification requirements or poor absorption), virtually every system in the body suffers: Metabolism drops, energy storage drops, immunity drops, digestion worsens, sleep plummets, and inflammation rises.
The body adapts to fuel and nutrient shortages by slowing the metabolism — to use nutrients less rapidly. This is also known as hypothyroidism.
This is the body’s response to famine or starvation — “starvation mode” — the body will slow down its metabolic (energetic) processes to avoid churning through limited reserves and supply.
In chronic illness, nutritional immunity doesn’t lead to recovery, it means pathogens will survive longer in a weakened body. Pathogens will always opportunistically find a place to call home, if available, and when the immune system is compromised, the body is a ready host.
Chronic nutrient deficiency will also undermine sleep, hormone production, and even mental performance and emotional regulation. This can — over time — lead to a compounding situation where things just aren’t working correctly, pathogens multiply in the body, and medical tests still may not be able to find anything wrong — besides, perhaps, irregular WBC counts.
Toxins also include the more everyday-varieties we often hear about: heavy metals, industrial chemicals in our food supply our sprayed on our new products, VOC’s in new homes, and even mold in sick buildings.
Exposure to environmental chemicals is increasing globally… Toxicants are present at all stages of development, potentially accumulating to cause a lifetime of ill health.
The accumulative nature of toxicity in the body should be alarming.
We simply have no idea how our collective and personal health will fare after decades of daily exposure to the tens of thousands of untested synthetic chemicals present in modern life. What little we do know about our environmental toxin exposure isn’t very promising.
Toxicity doesn’t only show up from the environment.
One of the most important toxins to address is endotoxin from pathogens living in the gut (or mouth, nose, ears, and vagina) — the human microbiome. In the gut, endotoxins are released when pathogens (bad microbes) ferment food. This is tremendously disruptive to the body’s function — and because the toxins are released whenever food is eaten, it can make life a living hell — that’s not an exaggeration.
“The liver is the major source of the acute phase proteins, and it is constantly burdened by toxins absorbed from the bowel; disinfection of the bowel is known to accelerate recovery from stress.”
Ray Peat, PhD
Another quote from Peat, partially in reference to endotoxin:
“When estrogen overlaps with endotoxin (as it tends to do), multiple organ failure is the result.”
Ray Peat, PhD
Toxicity, in all forms, overburdens the organs.
The gut has two main functions:
Trap and transport toxins from the body (via bowel movements)
When the microbiome goes bad, it becomes home to plentiful harmful pathogens. These pathogens release toxins into the blood stream — especially when they digest food after a meal. These toxins, of course, are called endotoxin.
If there’s any reason to improve gut health, it’s to reduce the toxic load on your body that pathogens create via endotoxin. When toxicity falls and inflammation lowers, nutrition can then be properly absorbed — into the bloodstream and into cells.
Chronic disruption of the circadian rhythm is a slow-moving disaster for health.
Nearly every aspect of modern life works to undermine our circadian rhythm.
Further, an overemphasis on “hours of sleep per night” has distracted from what actually makes for a restorative and optimal night’s sleep: When we sleep those hours.
Syncing The Circadian Clocks
The body is full of circadian clock genes — each organ has clock genes, and they are tied to the brain’s central clock: the SCN (Suprachiasmatic Nucleus).
One of the major keys to restoring health is to get all of these clock genes synced up so that each organ can perform its functions in concert — and the body becomes a free-flowing highway instead of a traffic jam.
It really is this critical — studies have found nearly every single marker of health worsen due to worsened sleep. Even small, temporary shifts in sleep quality can have deep impacts on health markers. It’s no secret that most chronic illness sufferers struggle with sleep and their circadian rhythm.
Poor sleep (and poor circadian rhythm) is no benign symptom — it’s a direct cause of illness and disease. Fixing it at all costs must be priority number one to improve health.
“Viruses are well recognized to reprogram host cellular metabolism, and this has the potential to feedback and regulate core clock components. Studies showing that viruses can interact with core [circadian] clock components provide a mechanism for viruses to exploit circadian variation.”
“Experimental studies indicate that micronutrients may impact important nerve-signalling chemicals or neurotransmitters of sleep regulation, including serotonin, N-methyl-D-aspartate (NDMA) glutamate and melatonin secretion.”
“There is increasing awareness and concern within the scientific and public communities that chemical pollutants can suppress immune processes and thus cause increased development of neoplastic and infections diseases.”
Inflammation is most likely not the root cause of your health issues.
Instead, inflammation is most likely a symptom of the four stressors of illness.
Chronic Inflammation Does Cause Damage
When inflammation remains high for long periods of time, it causes many other problems, too. Therefore, even though inflammation is only a symptom it will begin to cause other downstream problems over time.
If your body is always inflamed, there’s a cause — and that cause needs to be corrected, rather than merely “fighting inflammation.”
When chronic inflammation is present, nutrients won’t get absorbed. Inflammation interferes with insulin’s driving of sugar molecules and nutrients into cells. Inflammation essentially can wreak havoc on your body’s ability to absorb all nutrients.
“Independent of the cause and location, inflammation – even when minimal – has clear effects on gastrointestinal morphology and function. These result in altered digestion, absorption and barrier function. There is evidence of reduced villus height and crypt depth, increased permeability, as well as altered sugar and peptide absorption in the small intestine after induction of inflammation in experimental models…”
These quotes are pointing, also, to an increase in intestinal permeability when inflammation is present. High intestinal permeability (leaky gut) allow pathogens from the gut access to the bloodstream — and therefore the rest of the body, where they can wreak more havoc and cause more inflammation.
Chronic inflammation can also result from injuries that aren’t healing properly (due to re-aggravation or infection) as well as any other ongoing stress that isn’t resolved.
Mold releases toxic VOC’s (mycotoxins) into the air. These VOC’s are fat-soluble and become stored in our body. They overwhelm the liver and cause inflammation. This causes the digestive process to shut down and — between poor digestion and overburdened liver detox — the body becomes deficient in nutrients. Toxicity and malnutrition disrupt the circadian rhythm, leading to compromised immunity. Ultimately, infection is the next logical step in the. process.
There has long been plenty of evidence throughout the animal kingdom that fungal species can live “inside” their animal hosts — and quite a few common diseases around the world are caused by fungi.
“Spores of these moulds spread aerially. If inhaled by those with weak immune system, they can overcome the body’s defences and start growing inside the nasal passage, sinuses and lungs. The moulds may even spread to the brain and other organs through blood.”
There could very well be a fungal (or other pathogenic) component to many of the “big” diseases. It’s possible a large component of aging is a process of slowly losing the battle to pathogens, toxicity, and nutrient deficiency — rather than mere hardwired genetic programming.
As mold (and sick building syndrome) becomes a larger and larger epidemic, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised if these diseases continue to become more prevalent.
The simplest way to think about EMF is that it scrambles your body’s internal processes via pulsed electromagnetic signals.
It’s similar to the way a strobe light can greatly harm some people (“Flicker Vertigo” — which occurs when a strobe light flashes at 1Hz to 20Hz, which is in the frequency range of brain waves).
Wireless pulses are much more rapid than a strobe light, and they pulse in the frequency range that cellular processes occur, causing serious issues with their function over time. In other words, we don’t consciously think 100,000x times per second, but our cellular processes are happening at that speed.
The body’s nervous system and cells communicate via extremely low-intensity electrical signals. Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that rapid electromagnetic pulses impact the function of our cells and nervous system.
Studies have shown EMFs effects on the body include: