Would you like to glow with health and vitality? Does this seem impossible to you under the current conditions? If you’ve been feeling flabby, ill, or exhausted, read on. You are not alone. I’ve been talking to Dr Nathan Curran, who doesn’t think it has to be that way. He’s here to help us get to where we want to be.
His long experience as a medical doctor has resulted in his focus on preventing disease rather than just treating it. His special interest is in the use of personalized nutritional and lifestyle strategies for prevention and management of chronic disease.
He’s sharing his power flu attack strategy with us now.
What are your suggestions for increasing fitness levels – that anybody can start doing today?
Just start moving. Evolution has optimized every system in our body for movement, which means the absence of movement primes the body for disease. The type and amount depends on what your baseline is/where you’re starting from.
If you are basically sedentary, then prioritizing a 5-10 minute walk outside everyday is a great place to start. In fact a great biohack is scheduling walks after meals which not only improves digestion of that meal, but also increases the amount of calories your body will burn while digesting the meal – aka the Thermal Effect Of Food.
If you’re an active person, but pressed for time – the 7-Minute Workout is a time-efficient way of getting all the benefits of a high intensity interval training session in seven minutes.
It’s also a great immune system biohack – immune cells called Natural Killer cells are significantly increased in number and activity after high intensity training and this effect is maintained for up to 24 hours. These cells are key in anti-cancer and antibacterial defences. There are a number of phone apps available you can download to try the 7-Minute Workout for free.
Should we be seeking out superfoods to fight the flu?
So in my opinion any real/whole food is a superfood. It’s “super” because beyond being a source of energy, real food is information. It carries signals that speak to our immune system, hormone systems, nervous system and most importantly our genes. Real food has the ability to activate/silence disease – coding genes.
As for finding specific foods that support immune function, what’s actually more important is eliminating foods that compromise immune function, in particular sugar & refined carbohydrates – these suppress immune function for hours after consumption.
Processed foods are to be avoided – most contain chemically altered fats/oils which can reprogram immune cells to become less effective at recognizing and eliminating viruses.
The Gut-Immunity link: Immune supporting foods are what we need to seek out. 70% of our immune cells are located in the lining of our digestive tract. The gut lining is the largest interface between ourselves and our environment, so it stands to reason that it would be the barrier our bodies assign most of its defence resources to.
Got it. Go with our gut instincts. What do you recommend we try to eat?
1. Phytonutrients: Get a plant – rich diet full of immune supporting phytonutrients – to get the ideal 8 portions a day, smoothies with dried organic greens powders are a great way to easily hit the target. Click here for one of Dr Curran’s daily smoothie recipes.
2. Herbs: Oregano, turmeric and garlic have anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties.
3. Prebiotics: Prebiotics are fibers that are indigestible to humans, but are preferentially digested by and support the growth of beneficial gut bacteria which help to support optimum immune system function. My favourite prebiotic is inulin (which I add to my smoothies) and naturally inulin-rich foods include: Asparagus, chicory, dandelion root, garlic, jerusalem artichokes and leeks. You can find inulin supplements here.
4. Medicinal ‘shrooms – Shiitake, Maitake, Reishi – I tend to get dried powder which I add to everything! A great one is Navi Organics Tonic Gold Powder. You can get 10% off the usual price if you use this link: Gold ‘shroom Powder
5. Bone broth or collagen peptides: They contain proteins which are essential for the production of cytokines (immune signalling molecules) and maintaining the barrier-integrity of the lining of the digestive tract (keeps the good things in and the baddies – including viruses – out) Collagen peptides can be sourced here.
I also recommend making your own bone broth by boiling up meat bones. This makes good use of things you might usually throw away, and you can store bone broth in the freezer for easy use later. Bone broth adds flavour and good nutrition to all soups and sauces.
6. Green tea: Green tea contains plant compounds (phytonutrients) called catechins which support the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. It also directly enhances immune function by boosting the function of T-regulating cells.
These immune cells play a key role in anti-viral immunity and specifically help immune cells target virus-infected cells without damaging uninfected cells. Loss of this regulated immune response is what occurs in complicated/serious Covid and other viral infections. Catechins in green tea have also been shown to have anti-viral effects against the flu virus.
What are the top three health boosts we can give ourselves to turn things around in 2021?
Vitamin D – you should aim to achieve a blood level of at least 50, especially during the winter months. A low vitamin D level is one of the most accurate predictors of Covid-19 mortality. Also, the more pigment you have in your skin, the more you’ll need.
And no, sunshine won’t provide what you need – the angle of UV in the northern hemisphere is only sufficient for stimulating vitamin D production in our skin between May and September. Interesting fact: when immune cells encounter a virus infected cell, they will not attack it unless vitamin D is present! Source Vitamin D3 supplements online here– aim for minimum 1000iu/day and ideally 5000iu/day during winter months and global pandemics.
Fasting – Controversial yes, but hear me out. Every time we eat, the bulk of our immune system resource is diverted towards sampling digested food particles passing through the digestive tract before it is absorbed into the bloodstream. Giving your immune system a break and allowing it to patrol other areas and repair damaged tissues is a great way of supporting its function.
You don’t have to starve yourself to achieve this but merely contract the daily window in which you ingest food. A 12:8 approach is a great place to start, which gives you an 8 hour eating window and 12 hour fasting window of which 8 should be taken up by sleeping. Which brings us to…
Sleep: Getting sufficient sleep is vital, but even more so is the restorative quality of your sleep.
Deep sleep is when whole body restoration occurs and is vital for optimal immune function. Melatonin (sleep hormone) also regulates immune system activity and melatonin depletion is a risk factor for more serious viral infections and COVID-19 outcomes. Avoiding late night eating and phasing out blue light exposure after sunset will help to boost melatonin levels and ensure deep restorative sleep.
Biohack: I wear bluelight blocking glasses after sunset (all light sources emit bluelight, not only screens)
Click here for a link to source bluelight blocking glasses – You can get a 10% discount by using Dr Curran’s exclusive voucher code: JEDI1 at checkout. Pretty cool voucher code, huh?
I can personally recommend magnesium butter rubbed into your feet nightly. This gives you supple, soft feet and a deeper sleep with the interesting side effect of very colourful, exciting dreams. It’s also great for Restless Leg Syndrome and night sweats. It was William Shakespeare who said: “Sleep that knits up the raveled sleave of care,
The death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
Chief nourisher in life’s feast” He said that in 1606 in his play ‘Macbeth’ and it’s just as true today.
Deep sleep is vital for good mental and physical health. We all need a balm for hurt minds in 2021.
Magnesium has been medically proved to be more easily absorbed topically than via dietary supplements. I am using Sweet Bee Organics Sweet Sleep cream which combines magnesium with organic lavender.
Magnesium and lavender are a potent combination. Click here to get 15% off any orders from Sweet Bee Organics. If topical magnesium works for you and you want more, Dr Curran offers IV magnesium supplements at his practice at Well Works.
As an exercise junkie, you know the importance of a good playlist. What are your currant Top Ten workout tracks?
I like high octane rock during my weights workouts and 2000’s Funky House when I run/cycle:
Bear in mind that these tracks have been medically recommended.
More about Dr Curran:
Dr Nathan Curran (BMedSc(Hons), MBChB, DOccMed, AFMCP, PGCert Nutr Med) completed his medical training and an intercalated honours degree in Human Genetics at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. Following his studies, he spent a further two years gaining experience in emergency medicine and infectious diseases. Since moving to the UK in 2005 he has spent over a decade working in the private medical sector, which has afforded him a unique insight into the factors affecting the health of people working in competitive and emotionally demanding environments.
Over time, it became clear to him that the traditional, disease-focused medical approach was ill-equipped to effectively address factors such as stress, nutritional deficiencies, sedentary lifestyles and environmental toxicity, which are driving the rise of chronic disease in modern Western society.
More recently, he has completed a postgraduate qualification in Nutritional Medicine and is an accredited DNAFit (nutrition and performance genetics) provider. He was also one of the first London-based doctors to harness the benefits of intravenous nutrient therapy to help clients achieve enhanced vitality and physiological resilience.
His latest studies are in the field of biohacking – scouring the latest research and translating it into strategies that improve disease resilience, slow down ageing and elevate human functioning.
You can follow Dr Curran on Instagram as @nutrition_physician
Dr Curran’s collaborative private practice is called Well Works. Their focus is on lifestyle and nutrition driven interventions to help clients take control of their own lives and health. They are currently offering online services and virtual appointments, so you can contact them today for your personal consultation.