A Functional Medicine Approach to COVID-19 | Dr. Mark Hyman

by health and nutrition advice journalist

As a Functional Medicine doctor on the front lines of our chronic disease epidemic, it has become clear to me that we can have an important impact on the trajectory of COVID-19 in our population. And it is within our reach. In fact, it may be as close as our fork.

The coronavirus pandemic is forcing us to reevaluate so much of our lives, to focus on those we love, and what is most important. As an act of self-preservation and as an act of service to all our friends, neighbors, co-workers, and fellow Americans it is imperative that we now, more than ever, focus on our personal health and well-being.  

Here’s why. These are sobering facts that I wish were not true. The faster and smarter we act individually and collectively, the more we can lessen the suffering.  This is a novel virus which means that no one has immunity. Experts estimate it will infect 40% to 70% of our population—that’s over 150 million Americans. Currently, 80% have mild or no symptoms, 20% need hospitalization, and 5% will need intensive care. The mortality rates vary depending on the population but range from 0.6% to up to 15% in elderly patients with chronic disease. 

Here’s the bad news. Only 12% of Americans are metabolically healthy. 75% of us are overweight, 42% are obese, and one in two Americans have pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes.

Those with underlying chronic diseases (diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc.)—affecting 6 in 10 Americans—are at the greatest risk with mortality rates of five to ten times that of healthy COVID-19 patients. Obesity increases the risk of death almost 3 fold. We are seeing up to 40% of the hospitalizations in 20 to 54-year olds, and most of those are obese and overweight. 

While this is a terrible finding, it is something we can quickly begin to change. Each of us must now focus on strengthening our immunity to better fight the risk of COVID-19. Then if we do get sick, the illness is mild and we can unburden the health care system which is already buckling from the onslaught of the virus. 

I have seen hundreds of patients dramatically transform their lives quickly, recovering from chronic disease in a matter of weeks using the principles of Functional Medicine and food is medicine. Like Janice, who at 65 was severely obese, a type 2 diabetic on insulin, and suffered from heart failure, early kidney failure, high blood pressure, and more. Changing her diet allowed to her to get off her insulin in 3 days and reverse all her conditions in 3 months and lose 43 pounds. This is not a miracle. It is science and it available to everyone now.

Now more than ever, is the time to double down on self-care—not just for ourselves, but as our civic responsibility to contribute to the solution.

There are five things that will help us minimize suffering, loss, and death, by slowing and stopping the pandemic:

I wish I never had to write this, that none of us had to face this in our lives. But I do and we do.  These suggestions will hopefully guide you in navigating how to take care of yourselves and your families in the midst of this pandemic. For some of these guidelines, there is strong evidence of benefit, others are common sense and yet others are more experimental and time will reveal their utility. 

In every infection, there are two factors at play. The microbe and the host. We can’t control the microbe but we have extraordinary control over us, the host. Functional Medicine is the science of creating health, of creating resilience, and making your system an inhospitable place for disease. 

Here’s what we will cover:

 How Can I Protect Myself, My Family, and My Community 

 There are many potential approaches from proven to experimental to ensure you, your family, and community remain safe. It falls into two categories. The first is how to not get it in the first place and reduce the spread. The second is how to support your immune system so you are more resilient to infection. This pandemic can bring out the best in us or the worst. It is a time for kindness, for calling friends, for Facetime with family, or hunkering down with loved ones and family in your home, cooking meals from scratch, and for finding ways to help those who are in need.  

How to Avoid Infection with COVID-19  

How to Eat to Boost Immune Function

Now, more than ever, we have time to reclaim our kitchens. Or if you have never cooked, now is the time to start. It is a wonderful, grounding, healing activity to do together with your family. And at the end, you get to enjoy delicious healing food!  

Eat Your Medicine: Food as Medicine

Focus on flavonoids with anti-viral properties:

Heap Up on Anti-Viral and Immune Boosting Herbs and Spices:

Protein for Immunity:

Supercharge Your Microbiome:

Chicken Soup:

Immune Boosting Lifestyle Interventions

What Supplements Should I Take

There is a lot of information and misinformation out there now about what supplements can help or hurt your chances of fighting off and recovering from COVID-19. There is a lot of good science on the importance of a variety of nutrients in immune function but we are all flying blind and guessing when it comes to COVID-19, with a few expectations. After decades of collective experience our team at developed the following guidelines. These are generally safe but you should always consult with your health care provider before starting anything new.

Herbal Therapies

Gut Support

What is the Status of Treatments and Vaccines? 

There are currently no approved treatments other than supportive care with fluids, symptomatic care, and ventilators if needed. However, many are hard at work looking at various treatment options. Here are the most promising:

Out of the Box Treatments  

How to Do a Sugar Detox 

The best thing we can do for our individual bodies, and our collective body is to fix our metabolic health as fast as possible. The best way to do that is a quick reset that is designed to help you get off sugar and starch painlessly, cut cravings, and fix your metabolism quickly. If you are on blood sugar lowering medicine, insulin, or blood pressure medication be sure to consult your doctor because your blood sugar and blood pressure may drop quickly when you change your diet and you will need to adjust your medication. My team and I have created to make it simple, seamless, and delicious. If you are overweight or have any chronic health conditions this is a perfect time to get your health back on track for your own protection and to make it less likely you will end up in the hospital with COVID-19 if you do get it (which is likely for most of us).

Options for Telemedicine and Functional Medicine Care

Many of us have put off taking care of our health, but now is the time more than ever to focus on getting healthy.  At our team of health care providers and nutritionists have over 60 years of collective experience in helping patients reclaim their health with Functional Medicine. We are now fully equipped to take new patients using telemedicine. Simply register at our page. Please be patient, we are getting many requests but we will be back to you. We will also be doing group visits to help accommodate the demand which are very effective for many patients.

Please stay tuned. This article will be updated as we have new information. 

Please stay safe and as my wife Mia now says: TO SURTHRIVAL!

This content was originally published here.

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