Viral Vigilance

October 17, 2014
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

virus10 Steps to Outsmart a Virus

Viruses are everywhere in the news these days—and not just Ebola.

Ten states have reported an outbreak of a mysterious flu-like virus causing severe respiratory illness in kids.  Enterovirus is now being investigated.

In Kansas City, Missouri alone, more than 300 cases of respiratory illnesses were reported last month, according to the state Department of Health. In about 15% of the cases, children were placed in an intensive care unit.

Viruses, unlike most bacterial infections, don’t respond to treatment with conventional medicine like antibiotics. The key to treating them seems to be in managing the symptoms and of course, avoiding them in the first place.

Ideally, if you have a healthy immune system, your body’s natural defenses will combat the virus, and a healthy diet is the one of the best way to fortify the system.

It has long been known that people who are malnourished are more susceptible to infectious disease. The immune system needs adequate nutrition to function well.


Anti-Viral Diet


1) Nix Sugar, Reduce Grains and Maximize Magnesium.

As I have discussed many times, sugar suppresses your immune response and slows recovery. Grains also take their toll as naturally-occurring phytic acid can bind minerals like calcium, zinc, iron and magnesium and prevent them from being absorbed by the body.

This is important not just for those suffering from food intolerances, but for those who are mineral deficient—the majority of the U.S. population.

Magnesium and zinc—typically in very short supply in the American diet and “used up” when under stress—are both important nutritional weapons against any type of virus.

Topical magnesium oil and bath flakes (both sourced from magnesium chloride) are becoming increasingly popular to help the system absorb this pivotal mineral from the outside in.

Dr. Raul Vergini, an Italian physician who has spent years writing and studying about the use of magnesium chloride to fight infectious disease, says it has “unique healing power on acute viral and bacterial diseases.”

He uses higher amounts, a few grams every few hours, in the oil form because it has better bowel tolerance. According to Vergini, he’s seen a lot of flu cases healed within 48 hours.


2) Add Coconut Oil.

Coconut oil is made up of 60% medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) found by laboratory tests to be effective in destroying viruses that cause influenza and other disease-related pathogens.

According to Bruce Fife, N.D., the author of The Coconut Oil Miracle, “The antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties of coconut oil are due to the medium chain fatty acid in the oil, including capric acid and caprylic acid, and the powerful lauric acid.”

Coconut oil is excellent for cooking and baking and with a smoke point of 350 degrees, it’s also a healthy oil to use when sautéing.


3) Aim for Omega-3 Fatty Acids Daily.

Flax oil, flax seeds, chia, walnuts, and wild caught salmon are some of the highest sources. These foods are important in production of the eicosanoids and prostaglandins that are released by immune cells to quickly defend against foreign invaders. 


4) Eat Lots of Green Veggies.

Keeping the liver clean is key in controlling duplication of viruses in the body. Spinach, kale, broccoli and broccoli sprouts provide lots of liver detoxifying and nourishing plant phytonutrients and purifying chlorophyll.  Broccoli sprouts contain about 100 times the amount of glucoraphanan—the precursor to sulforaphane—a key compound that activates the body’s defense system.


5) Spice Up Your Diet with Antiviral Herbs and Spices like garlic, onion, oregano, turmeric and mint.

Toss them into your next stir fry and season salads, meats, chicken, beans, and veggies with these herbal antibiotics.  Many of my Fat Flushers add a teaspoon of raw turmeric to their daily smoothies.


Vitamin and Mineral Magic

Several key nutrients are at the core of the immune system response.


6) Select Selenium.

Selenium is a strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Research has shown that when your body’s lymphocytes are selenium-deficient, they are less able to proliferate and respond to invading pathogens. A deficiency also allows viruses to mutate and cause more severe and longer-lasting illness.

An 18-month study with 262 AIDS patients supplementing with 200 mcg of selenium daily showed lower levels of the virus and higher levels of immune system cells.


7) Implement Iodine.

Years ago Americans traditionally ate high dietary amounts of iodine in bread. Today, iodine is in short supply because there are so many elements in the environment like fluoride, chlorine, and bromine, which can displace this vital trace element and wreak havoc on thyroid heath.

Iodine-rich seaweeds or seasonings like Seaweed Gomasio are an excellent dietary source of iodine. The supplement Iodoral (7.5 mg) can be utilized on a daily basis as a prophylactic.


8) Power Up with Vitamin C.

There is no other substance that does as much to promote strengthened immune function as vitamin C. Among many other effects, vitamin C directly increases interferon and antibody production, while supercharging the functions of the white blood cells.

Vitamin C is so effective in killing viruses because of several mechanisms. Most importantly it sets them up for destruction by activating the ‘Fenton reaction’—wherein the vitamin C enters virus cells and stimulates a reaction that creates hydroxyl radicals that in turn, kill the virus.

Vitamin C is also a precursor of glutathione, the body’s toxic waste eliminator which can help neutralize heavy metals, bacteria, and virus.


9) Get Down to D.

Researchers at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, NY found that giving supplements of vitamin D to a group of volunteers reduced episodes of infection with colds and flu by 70% over three years.

The researchers said that vitamin D stimulates “innate immunity” to viruses and bacteria. Supplements of fermented cod liver oil or Vitamin D itself (1,000 – 4,000 IU) can support immunity and ax viruses.


10) Elderberry for Everyone?

Studies show Elderberry may help boost immunity by increasing the body’s production of cytokines (proteins involved in regulating the immune system’s response to disease and infection) and indicate that this herb shows promise as a flu-fighter.

In a 2004 study of patients suffering from flu-like symptoms, scientists found that those who used elderberry extract for five days (taking 15 ml in syrup form four times daily) saw symptoms disappear four days sooner than participants taking a placebo.


Many of these foods and supplements are available widely in health food stores and whole food supermarkets around the country.  Naturally, sufficient rest and relaxation are also part of the equation when it comes to fortifying your immune system.


Barak V, Halperin T, Kalickman I. “The effect of Sambucol, a black elderberry-based, natural product, on the production of human cytokines: I. Inflammatory cytokines.” European Cytokine Network 2001 12(2):290-6.y extract Sambucol.
Fife, Bruce. The Coconut Oil Miracle. New York: Avery, 2004.

Multivitamin-selenium combo may delay ill health, mortality from AIDS

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Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. Charlotte Lindstrom

    I am compromised because I am on imuran for an autoimmune disease. I worry about every little bug that comes around now. What can I do to protect myself? Would building my immunity counteract the effects I want from the drug? It is currently the only thing that is keeping me in remission.

  2. Dr Pieter Dahler, DDS, MD ND (hon Prof ) PhD

    Ann Louise and others, let me inform you about a knowledge which has been around since the early 1900s.
    The foundation of this knowledge comes from simple-to-understand human and animal physiology.
    WE NEED TO HAVE AN ACIDIC LARGE INTESTINES in order to kill off any bacterial / viral attempts at overpowering us. THEY DO NOT LIKE AN ACID ENVIRONMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Asking the question: what happens when we eat a heap of GREEN vegetables? It makes, in a natural manner, the LARGE INTESTINES ACIDIC. via buteric acid production by a healthy microbiome there.
    Think about it, MOST biochemicals in our bodies end with the word ACID, i.e. amino ACIDS, and so on at finitum.
    Just like the hoax treatments for Candida, the best an natural way to treat it is to take heaps of probiotics (with prebiotic Inuln) and overpower the unwanted critters (which by the way naturally exist inside us, it is just that in a healthy microbiome environment they do no harm.
    All that fancy, money-sucking commercial products pushing is just that, NonSense.
    What do I do and especially where I live and work in the jungles and deserts of Latin America? I load up the indigenous peoples with a vermiculo-(germ) cide preparation called LACTIC ACID YEAST. These critters, via a lozenger, travel to the large intestines and acidify the environment there (and not harming acid loving good germs) Voila, the viruses that do not like acidity are killed off. BTW, the alkaline-everything in the body hoax is a nice way to reduce the general population!!!!!!! The alkalinity result of “alkaline water to the extreme” is as an end result causing massive infections over time.
    I have done this for nearly 40 years of my volunteer service to mankind there, and everyone stays healthy in the most threatening environments one can imagine in the wet and dark jungles there.
    I am your friend: Dr. Pieter Dahler, DDS, MD, PhD, and former professor of Nutrition and Health Maintenance at a Naturopath College

    • Ann Louise

      Dear Dr. Pieter:

      Yes, probiotics can also fight viral infections. They do so by decreasing pathogen adherence to the intestinal wall to stimulate the systemic immune response and restoring natural balance to the GI tract flora. The Lactic Acid Yeast you are referencing can be helpful in some individuals but I have found a growing number of people exceedingly sensitive to the mycelium type of yeast which is generally uesed in these type of products.

      Keeping the colon acid as it should be is of course the target of all types of probiotics. If you acidify the environment, pathogenic bacteria as well as virus can’t readily exist. In the old days when naturally fermented foods like borscht and sauerkraut were regularly eaten, there were fewer GI problems to be sure.

      Since I have devoted several blogs and books to the subject of probiotics, I wanted to provide my readers with the most crucial remedies that are backed by well documented studies for their impact on the most complicated viral infections. These have the most far reaching effects in mitigating illness.

  3. dina

    Thank you for this information. I have been fighting a virus this week and it made me want to focus on building my immune system.I was wondering if you new anything about mthfr? Thank you, Dina George

    • AnnLouise

      Dear Dina:

      Thank you for your comments. The MTHFR genetic defects reveal how nearly 50% of the population cannot process folic
      acid or B-12 unless these vitamins are taken in whole foods or methylated forms via supplementation. A number of disorders
      have been connected to the various defects, many of which can be rectified when methylated sources of these nutrients are
      implemented. Since so many processed and refined flour products contain folic acid, it is important to become a label reader and avoid
      as many processed foods as possible. Detoxification can also be impeded.

      • AnnLouise

        Dina: One more thing – methylation dysfunction has an enormous impact on pregnancy related conditions and outcomes: neural tube defects, autism, down syndrome, preeclampsia, hypospadia, tongue tie, congential heart defects….So, it is most important to assess this for every pregnant woman who can protect her unborn child.

  4. Carrole Phillips

    Thank you, Dr. Peter…. I see you are a DDS….

    you are the best Doctor’s God made…. it starts in the mouth….

    Many thankful blessings for what you do… I am most grateful to you and your healing assocates…

    Carrole, Dr. of Metaphysics of many years…

  5. Ann Louise

    Hello Charlotte:

    Imuran is a potent medication which can sometimes interfere with other drugs as well as natural remedies. What I can assure you, however, is that a diet that is as “clean” and “wholesome” as possible with quality protein, essential and healthy fats, lots of green leafy vegetables, moderate starchy veggies, and limited fruits would be very supportive to your entire system. I would also includea daily undenatured, hormone-free whey-based green smoothie with plenty of filtered water. Cut out the sugar, processed and refined grains as well as artificial sweeteners and supplement with a daily probiotic or home-made kefir or yogurt if you can tolerate dairy products.

  6. monica

    Thanks for an excellent, timely, and very helpful article. I really appreciate the information about good foods to eat.
    I have been adding turmeric to lots more things these days — soups, hummus, whatever way I can get the kids to eat it. I read in Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber that adding a bit of black pepper increases the effectiveness of turmeric quite a lot. What do you think about that? If I remember from reading the Fat Flush book a few years ago, black pepper was not recommended on the program.

  7. Ann Louise

    HI Monica: You are correct re black pepper and Fat Flush. It was not recommended because allergy and food intolerance testing demonstrated it to be one of the most highly “sensitive” spices for a majority of unsusupecting individuals.

    I am also aware of the recommendation to add black pepper to turmeric to increase its aborption and utilization. I can only surmise that the combination of the two spices together would negate the allergic producing potential of black pepper alone.

  8. Dina

    Thank you so much for the information Ann Lousie. I love to read what you have to say about different health topics. I took the saliva test. it came back positive for the MTHFR mutation1298t. So I have done the fat flush plan in the past and lost thirty lbs. It was the best I have ever felt! So I think I will try it again. I just haven’t had the will power! But I will try it again. Thanks again, Dina George

  9. Kathleen

    Thank you, Ann Louise, for this excellent blog re info for our immunity!


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