What The Research Says About Diet and COVID (Plus Practical Nutrition Guide)

Eric levinson

If you think you are already taking precautions and proactive about your health, you may be making even bigger mistakes than those who just eat the Standard American Diet and fast food. It has been my direct experience during the pandemic that many of the “healthiest” people were the ones with the most severe and long lasting symptoms of COVID. The reasons for this are clear to me, and soon you will also understand how we have been duped into making these mistakes thinking the real problems were overly simplistic rhetoric like “sugar is bad” and “vitamin D deficiency affects everyone.” The information thoroughly presented here may lead you to question much of what you believe about nutrition.

This article is going to take a deep dive into biochemistry and research, so if you want to skip to the practical application, that will be the last two sections of the article.

We have known from as early as April 2020 that most severe cases of COVID did not present like a typical viral pneumonia.

 “The patients in front of me are unlike any I’ve ever seen. … They looked a lot more like they had altitude sickness than pneumonia,” Dr. Cameron Kyle-Sidell, a Brooklyn, New York-based physician trained in emergency medicine and critical care, told Medscape, a website that provides medical information to health professionals. This odd array of symptoms may emerge because the lungs continue to clear carbon dioxide from the blood without absorbing adequate levels of oxygen, Stat News reported. [1]

The comorbidities that suggested increased vulnerability to COVID are obviously age, but also obesity, diabetes, and essentially any other chronic illness that could impact immune function.

What should also be noted, is that “age-related iron accumulation” is a fact. And the connections between iron accumulation and the top causes of death are also clear from the medical literature and clinical observations. It’s startling to realize this, and see research showing that the only way to truly assess the extent of iron accumulation is by MRI to actually see the dangerous, unbound magnetic iron, because blood tests are incapable of predicting iron overload.[2]

 

An estimated 16 million Americans have some degree of iron overload, either inherited or acquired. Hereditary hemochromatosis is found more commonly in the white population of European background. It is estimated that one in every 200 US white patients is positive for iron overload, and 10% to 14% are genetic mutation carriers.[3] Men with primary hemochromatosis are more likely to experience symptoms than women due to lack of menses. 

 

The functional changes in the human body that result from iron overload are numerous. Excess iron deposits mainly in the liver, heart, and endocrine organs. Damage to the liver can result in chronic liver disease, cirrhosis and lead to hepatocellular carcinoma. Damage to the heart muscle can lead to heart failure and irregular heart rhythms. Damage to the pancreas can lead to elevated blood glucose levels and “bronze” diabetes. Hypothyroidism and hypogonadism can result in fatigue, hair loss, infertility, and decreased libido. Joint involvement leads to arthritis. Neurological involvement can accelerate neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer disease.[4] [5]

But again, “serum iron levels are not indicated.”[6] This means that iron overload can present as healthy serum levels, high or low levels, without indicating the extent of accumulation in organs and tissues. Millions of people present with the symptoms of this problem, but elude diagnosis because of the inability to diagnose through blood work until it is too late. Modern medicine loves to treat the chronic diseases this problem causes, without acknowledging the cause.

In Europe, researchers have established that serum iron markers are more significant relative to age, gender, and comorbidities.[7] This aligns with the fact that iron accumulation increases with age, and without making major changes, is otherwise unavoidable. Iron accumulation is directly implicated in diabetes, and many of the “healthiest” people have major issues with blood sugar which is why they fear sugar so much.[8] You do not have to be obese to be diabetic, in fact, I was an underweight diabetic who had major problems with sugar.


What does iron have to do with infections?

It’s important for the reader to also understand the concept of “anemia of inflammation.” During acute inflammatory conditions, like infection, our body competes with the infection for iron, or in the case of a virus, it uses our iron to replicate itself. The response of inducing anemia to limit the availability of iron to the infection is clearly necessary. This is why more severe, fatal cases of COVID benefit from corticosteroid therapy (which has been conflated with steroid D therapy as a prophylactic and I discussed the fallacy of this here) when the anemia is so severe as to be deadly. In this condition, the storage form of D is reduced as an appropriate response to infection and inflammation, which does not mean low D causes the problems.

These effects can last months after the actual infection has been resolved, and constitutes what has become known as “long” or “chronic” COVID.[9] This is indicated in many cases, from mild to severe, by hyperferritinemia, or elevated ferritin levels (a type of iron binding protein in the blood). The longer that lasts, the worse the damage to the lungs. The mechanism of this damage is oxidative stress caused by the iron that kills otherwise healthy cells, known as ferroptosis. During this process, lipid peroxidation and accumulation of lipid peroxides can overwhelm the organism and leads to more severe symptoms, organ damage, and death.[10] Lipid peroxidation is when polyunsaturated fats oxidize, which can happen to foods or supplements before or after we eat them.

How does diet contribute to this problem?

So, here we have a direct link to some of the most prevalent dietary problems we face in the Western world. The crazy part is, that both people who couldn’t care less about nutrition, and those who obsess over it, are likely both falling prey to these problems that all contribute to chronic disease and COVID vulnerability:

  1. Dysregulated iron
  2. Oxidation of polyunsaturated fats
  3. “Vitamin” D fortification/supplementation = calcification
  4. Excess carotenoids

Dysregulated iron

Foods have been fortified with iron since before your grandparents were born. We know that iron problems are easily passed from mother to child. But, you will see the other 3 issues I will discuss further exacerbate this problem. As do zinc supplements, fake vitamin C (ascorbates, citric acid) in supplements and food preservation, mineral waters with high iron content, pink salts with rusted iron, and any chronic inflammatory conditions.

Iron, copper, and zinc must be carefully balanced in the body. Vegetarian, vegan, and even pescetarian diets all seem to throw off this balance, just like a diet heavy in fortified foods or supplements will. As do most weight-loss diets and cleanses, especially juice cleanses and diets high in dark leafy greens, or low in saturated fat. Dysregulated iron is a major contributor to developing food, EMF and chemical sensitivities; chronic infections like mold, candida and Lyme; and chronic degenerative diseases like arthritis, fibromyalgia, and endocrine disorders related to fertility and thyroid. It’s also directly linked to cancer, neurodegenerative diseases including Autism, and of course, cardiovascular disease and stroke. Iron accumulation is a direct cause of mitochondria dysfunction that worsens with age.[11]

Interestingly, caloric restriction slows the deposition of iron into the tissues, including the brain and muscles which leads to atrophy and decline with age.[12] This is probably why so many people feel better, at first, on low calorie or intermittent fasting programs. Makes sense for the general public, but why do so many “elite biohackers” need to rely on this type of restriction for high function? Probably because they’re making all of these mistakes discussed here.

In Parkinson’s disease, the loss of smell is an early warning sign. These patients have elevated iron accumulation in the olfactory organs, as well as lipofuscin.[13] Lipofuscin is pigmented, hardened tissues bound mostly with iron, but also copper, zinc, mercury or aluminum. They are made up of plasticized polyunsaturated fats and damaged proteins, and may get their color from fat soluble carotenoids. It’s generally considered unavoidable with age, and appears as “liver” or “age” spots of dark pigmentation on the skin.

Accumulation of lipofuscin is directly correlated to age and increases with oxidative stress, unless you are avoiding its causes.[14] As you see, it’s very rare for someone to know about, let alone be avoiding lipofuscinosis. It’s more likely for proactive people to be exacerbating these causes. Take a look at the skin of some “healthy” people you know, and you may notice the excess pigmentation. The reality is, unless you understand this problem, you are at risk because we live on a predominately iron planet and anything inhibiting healthy iron regulation is likely to cause big problems.

If you ever ate fortified foods (most baked goods are, take a look at some labels in your pantry), took supplements containing iron, or drank spring/mineral water, you’ve got iron accumulation. And remember, iron toxicity can masquerade as anemia and chronic infection. It also speeds up the process of lipid peroxidation discussed next.

Oxidation of polyunsaturated fats



The presence of polyunsaturated fats, or PUFAs, have had an exponential increase in prevalence in the human diet since the early 1900s. The most common sources are “vegetable oils” like canola, soy, peanut, and corn oils. But most people don’t realize that they are not much different than the PUFAs in most nut, flax, hemp, and fish oils which are all equally susceptible to the same oxidative damage as “vegetable oils.” You might be thinking as you read this, that omega 3 is not the same as canola, because that’s “the good one.” Actually, omega 3 is more vulnerable to lipid peroxidation, the most harmful effect of consuming PUFAs, which is directly implicated in COVID severity, as was shown from studies referenced above. Lipid peroxidation depletes the body of glutathione, vitamins E and C, and disrupts iron metabolism, which is shown to get worse as we age. It is directly linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic pain, neurodegenerative disease, Autismosteoporosis, and signs of aging.[15][16]

One recent experiment demonstrated how rats fed a diet high in omega 3 PUFAs tended to gain less weight, but they also sustained significant damage and dysfunction to fat tissues. This same damage and dysfunction is observed in humans with cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative diseases. “The mice had fibrosis, or excess fibrous connective tissue that interferes with the tissue’s function; reduced anti-inflammatory response; presence of lipofuscin, a marker of tissue damage; and loss of proper nerve supply in white adipose tissue (WAT). WAT has a role in storing energy and releasing fatty acids when the body requires fuel, and plays other important roles in metabolism, and in the endocrine and immune systems.”[17]

Fish oils and DHA (added to baby formula, for example), have failed clinical trials over and over, worsening outcomes for heart disease, cancer, neurodegeneration, and macular degeneration, while causing triple the amount of lipofuscin accumulation in test animals.[18] In rats, those fed salmon oil had far more lipofuscin than those fed corn oil or lard.[19] Fish oil, high in omega 3, may actually be worse for you than high omega 6 oils.

“Ferroptosis is caused by loss of activity of the key enzyme that is tasked with repairing oxidative damage to cell membranes—glutathione peroxidase 4 (GPX4). GPX4 normally removes the dangerous products of iron-dependent lipid peroxidation, protecting cell membranes from this type of damage; when GPX4 fails, ferroptosis ensues.[20]” Just like in cancer, COVID can trigger “overwhelming iron-dependent accumulation of lipid peroxidation products” in the presence of iron dysregulation and PUFAs.[21] The levels of these lipid peroxide products, like aldehydes, are reliably present in the blood, and even in the breath.[22]

Inhalation of aldehydes is shown to cause white blood cells to enter the lungs from the blood, which is being monitored as an adverse event in many otherwise healthy people receiving the Moderna shot.[23][24] Aldehydes are also present in many fragrances, even naturally occurring ones, used in making furniture and leather, and many other sources around the home. Adding ethanol to gasoline significantly increases aldehyde emissions.

It’s so reliable, that testing breath of patients can properly identify those infected with COVID with high accuracy using tests for exhaled aldehydes similar to those used for early detection of throat cancer.[25] The oxidation of PUFAs in severe COVID cases is clearly seen in elevated levels of diols present in the blood, which are essentially plastics (BPA is a diol, and this is how they turn vegetable oils into “bioplastic” and “biofuel”).[26]

Researchers compared mortality and hospitalization rates of various countries to their consumption of unsaturated fats and found a direct association.[27] They also pointed out that damage from unsaturated fats resembles the sepsis and multisystem organ failure of severe COVID just like in rats fed high omega 3 diets, while saturated fat triglycerides offer some protection by inhibiting lipolysis. Patients showed elevated lipase which breaks down unsaturated fats. This creates free fatty acids that cause damage and insulin resistance throughout the body. Saturated fat reduced risk of death, while unsaturated fats increased it.

You can read more about how PUFAs destroy our health here.

“Vitamin” D fortification/supplementation = calcification

As many people move away from industrial agriculture by avoiding dairy, which is often fortified with “vitamin” D, a steroid hormone, they may replace it with fortified non-dairy “milks” that also contain added vegetable oils. Some people quit diary because of myths that it causes mucus, however, “the suggestion to reduce dairy consumption to prevent mucus production is not scientifically justified.”[28] Based on hundreds of studies done since the 1940s “there is no evidence (and indeed evidence to the contrary) that milk leads to excessive mucus secretion.”[29] The real problem is pasteurization and fortification of dairy. These issues do not appear when drinking raw pastured milk, speaking as someone who suffered from asthma, psoriasis, and chronic sinus infections my entire life until reintroducing raw dairy just a few years ago.

Nonetheless, many people may simply have been convinced of their non-existent “D deficiency” and started supplementing with D hormones. In 2011, Dr. Michael Holick convinced the American Endocrine Society to arbitrarily change the “healthy” range for D from 20-40 to 30-100. He made a majority of humans “deficient” overnight, despite decades of evidence to the contrary. In fact, levels above 50 are really only possible with supplements. He receives millions from the vitamin D industry, which makes billions from vitamin D tests alone. It’s the singe most prescribed test paid for by Medicaid and Medicare. Since everyone was now deficient, everyone needed to start taking it, and eating foods fortified with it. It’s added to baby formula, prenatals and multivitamins. Many people concerned about their health may use cod liver oil for extra D (and plenty of extra PUFAs, too), fermented cod liver oil being so bad as to possibly be contributing to so many Weston A Price followers’ early demise with rare cancers.[30]

The active form of D, 1,25(OH)D is not the same as what they measure in your blood, 25(OH)D, of which there are at least 2 dozen different forms. Someone who has high 1,25 will show low 25, because the body converts the stored form to the active form, but that also sequesters iron from the blood. This also occurs with supplementation, which is the 1,25 form. Both supplementation and acute infection create the appearance of iron deficiency, but it’s not true! This “false anemia” also shows up quite frequently during pregnancy. It’s a protective measure, not a failing of the body, to protect from infection. What’s crazy is, that we have known since the 50s that steroid D supplementation causes an unnatural form of anemia that is “refractory [resistant] to the usual therapeutic agents.”[31]

Supplementing with more D will cause this delicate balance to destabilize in otherwise healthy people. In those who are terminally ill, it may help suppress the cytokine damage just as any other corticosteroid would in that case, but it does not mean that everyone should be supplementing it as a prophylactic! Claiming that more severe COVID is caused by low D levels is extremely misleading. Levels of the storage form, 25(OH)D will always be reduced during acute inflammation and infection. Those low levels are the correct response to severe infection, not the cause of it. Recall that 10 years ago, the D supplement lobby arbitrarily changed the parameters for measuring D and made almost everyone who wasn’t supplementing deficient overnight.[32] They normalized hypervitaminosis D, which causes serious problems, by using surrogate outcomes in studies instead of actual direct benefits to obfuscate the observed harm. This includes higher risk of heart failure and fracture.[33]

Steroid D supplementation and subsequent hypervitaminosis D causes hypercalcemia, or excess calcium in the blood, leading to permanent calcification of soft tissues and arteries after even brief elevated levels.[34] Elevated calcium is very dangerous, and known as hypercalcemia. Other symptoms of hypercalcemia and hypervitaminosis D include digestive issues, nausea, muscle and joint pain, weakness, brain fog, and irregular heart beat. This can also be caused by retinoid toxicity, or use of synthetic vitamin A in fortified foods, supplements, and skin care products. This all leads to calcification throughout the body that does not just go away on its own, and persists indefinitely. Hypercalcemia alone is an excellent predictor of COVID severity.[35] Bacterial pneumonia takes advantage of calcification to protect itself from the immune system.[36] The original SARS virus from 2003 has a unique calcium-binding protein that does not exist on previous SARS viruses, and may contribute to its high virulence.[37]



You can read more about the problems with supplementing and fortification of D here.

Excess carotenoids

When healthy people and advertising started saying “eat the rainbow” and “strive for five,” our average carotene consumption soared. Beta carotene, which gives many foods its orange, carrot color, but is also present in many green and red foods, causes many problems. One of which, is that it dramatically increases how much iron is absorbed from food and other sources. It even overcomes the inhibitory effect on iron absorption from foods like coffee.[38]

And we have known for nearly 100 years that beta carotene depletes B12 levels in the body, and its conversion is regulated by the thyroid.[39] Iodized salt also disrupts thyroid function, as potassium iodide is used to reduce circulation to the thyroid before thyroidectomy surgery. Excellent thyroid health is critical to the efficient conversion of carotene to retinaldehyde (vitamin A), and excess carotene in the diet actually causes the thyroid function to slow.[40] That slows all metabolic functions in the body, including immune function. Iron status is directly linked to thyroid and adrenal function, and is most often indicated by chronic fatigue, and someone who is “always cold.”[41]

Each of these four issues add up to big problems for people who are proactive about their health, as much or possibly worse as for people who are not proactive and just eating a mostly processed food diet. That is because we may have been convinced to exacerbate these mistakes in the hopes that we are doing things “right.”

Dairy, COVID and Myocarditis


The demonization of raw dairy was another major contributor in the collective downfall of human health, especially when it comes to iron. Eliminating good dairy products also tends to lead to higher amounts of PUFAs and fortified foods to replace them.

Many who attempt to improve their health follow the advice that eliminating dairy will resolve many of their woes. In fact, it’s not the dairy itself, it’s actually the poor quality, adulterated dairy. Raw dairy contains our primary defense against iron accumulation: lactoferrin. It’s a natural iron chelator, and studies are showing it’s quite promising in fighting COVID.[42] The best source is raw milk, or mom’s breast milk for babies. Some babies might react poorly when mom drinks pasteurized milk, because the milk proteins become indigestible, but raw milk causes no problems. Lactoferrin is also shown to prevent and treat anemia in pregnant women, who are more at risk often because they begin taking prenatal vitamins and trying to “eat healthier” when they get pregnant.[43]

Studies clearly demonstrate lactoferrin is an effective treatment for both myocarditis, or heart inflammation, and COVID.[44][45][46][47] Now you understand that it is because of the immune activated response exacerbating iron accumulation in the heart and other organs that lactoferrin would be beneficial. Thus, we are seeing these reactions in people who are otherwise high performance athletes, and even very young, athletic individuals, who probably do not consume raw dairy and likely have iron accumulation issues. This is demonstrated by the prevalence of infertility, cancer, and other iron-related chronic diseases affecting younger and younger people.[48][49][50]

Estrogen

The function of the hormone hepcidin is greatly reduced in the presence of estrogen. Hepcidin is responsible for maintaining iron homeostasis in the blood, but PUFAs greatly enhance this and many other effects of estrogen. Omega 6 fatty acids stop the iron sequestration to keep it away from pathogens that need it, and omega 3 fatty acids increase iron absorption and accumulation.[51] Estrogen also acts as a stress hormone, increases histamine and drives iron into tissues to protect the developing baby from iron toxicity. It is well theorized that morning sickness is a protective response to excess iron absorption. In fact, with severe vomiting, a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum, it is shown that these mothers have chronic infections like H. pylori and anemia.[52] These mothers also had higher risk of premature birth and hypothyroid.[53] Despite all of that, the babies were otherwise of normal development, pointing to the protective mechanism of the anemia, excessive vomiting, hypothyroid, and preterm delivery. But perhaps we could avoid these unpleasant protections now that we better understand the underlying causes. Read more about estrogen here.

High histamine is a direct cause for many PMS symptoms, brain fog and mental health problems, skin problems related to mast cell activation, digestion problems, hypersensitivity, and even migraines. [54] This is why PMS problems have become so normalized, even with “healthy” women, and often times fertility issues are the worst with those who are very “fit” and proactive about their health. So many cancers are also hormone-dependent, and being seen in young women with no family history of cancer.

We live in a time of unprecedented infertility.[55] Although obesity is a good indication of elevated estrogen, as well as infertility, one does not have to be overweight to have these problems.[56] That’s right, having a low BMI, as well as excessive exercising, can also cause infertility.[57]

The Social Dilemma

Many people are now aware of the connection between dopamine and social media. Many people even do “dopamine fasts,” by eliminating screen time to help with problems like insomnia, anxiety and depression. That may seem interesting, but that is only one part of the problem.

What’s more interesting, is the connection between dopamine, iron, and the immune response to COVID. Tyrosine is the precursor to dopamine, the conversion of which requires whole vitamin C, folic acid, and adequate copper (tyrosine itself contains copper). It’s also critical to CoQ10 synthesis (which if disrupted, might lead someone to believe they need a CoQ10 supplement). In iron dysregulation, copper is also dysregulated and this conversion is inhibited, which I elaborate on in my other article specifically on that topic. Supplementing either of these metals in any form, or zinc, will further complicate matters. And we commonly see ascorbic acid and other partial forms of vitamin C masquerading as whole vitamin C, which in addition to interfering with copper regulation, also causes oxidative damage to tyrosine.[58][59] Tyrosine oxidation is a strong indicator of oxidative damage, lipid peroxidation to PUFAs, and protein damage in the blood.[60][61]

This is also seen in food, so citric acid and ascorbic acid are used as preservatives to prevent browning, which is caused by tyrosinase (an enzyme that acts on tyrosine) or oxidation of proteins in the presence of sugar and oxygen. Tyrosinase will turn the stuff that makes food smell and taste good into undesirable quinones (hydroxycholoroquine is related to quinones, like quinine). Whole vitamin C contains tyrosinase at its core, and the outer shell is ascorbic acid. That is why ascorbic acid can be used to inhibit tyrosinase, since they will naturally bind together in the body or in food.[62]

This is important, because many vitamin C supplements, in addition to preservatives, are just citric or ascorbic acids masquerading as a real nutrient. And their prevalence in the modern diet causes a major problem when tyrosinase is inhibited. Tyrosinase is critical to the synthesis of melanin and quinone in the body.  When this is out of whack, it can lead to melanoma, or the other extreme of vitiligo, and many other skin, collagen, and connective tissue pathologies.

In the presence of viral infections, tyrosinase may be upregulated as part of the immune response. The body may be attempting to produce more natural quinones that are known to to help the body identify and fight infections, like viruses. This may also contribute to autoimmune dysfunction, as the body may be unable to distinguish infection from host, and seen when the immune system is killing severe COVID patients instead of the virus.[63]

It gets even crazier, since tyrosine in the cells accepts a phosphate from ATP that is removed by tyrosine kinase enzymes. This is an essential part of the replication process of cells, that is hijacked by viruses. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors are being looked at because of evidence that their use in patients with diseases like MS and leukemia reduced the severity of infection because they are able to directly reduce the cytokine storm and inflammatory response.[64][65] We know that MS patients show extensive damage from iron deposition causing their disease, and leukemia patients suffer iron overload because of transfusions.[66][67] The dysregulation of tyrosine, tyrosinase, and tyrosine kinase all contribute in some form to not only a variety of disease, but to the severity of COVID.

I theorize that the rise of people who are “intolerant” of meat and dairy is related to disruption of their ability to metabolize the high levels of tyrosine in these foods. And these people would probably present other signs of metabolic disease caused by the various problems discussed here. Tyrosine is normally broken down into tyramine, which is then broken down by monoamine oxidase (MAO). This is the same pathway as histamine. So, someone with histamine issues would also likely have tyrosine issues. Very convenient for those of us who want everyone to stop eating meat. Liver problems can lead to this problem, as well.

We are also seeing research connecting COVID to alterations of the dopamine pathway, as it relates to ACE2 receptors.[68] Research has shown that dopamine plays a significant role in protecting the lungs from viral infections. This again comes back to withholding iron from the virus. “Dopamine directly affects cellular iron homeostasis by increasing iron incorporation into macrophages and subsequently promoting intracellular oxidative stress responses.”[69]

We know that dopamine requires a dehydrogenase enzyme to break down it’s metabolite, DOPAL, a neurotoxic aldehyde. Recall that lipid peroxidation and aldehydes are fundamental to the harm caused by COVID, as well as in neurodegenerative disease and even in psychiatric disorders.[70] Alcohols and aldehydes are all detoxed through this same enzyme pathway, and most people don’t realize that the various forms of vitamin A are alcohols and aldehydes. Beta carotene is actually two retinaldehyde molecules, which depletes B12 in the process of separating them. This creates the appearance of methylation issues, often addressed with methylated B12 supplementation. It’s merely an induced deficiency by excess carotene consumption, “anemia of inflammation,” and subsequent digestion problems. Combining these issues with those above, leads to the chronic neurological inflammation, accumulation of heavy metals, and other symptoms of Autism. It merely requires a spark, which could be any immune activation event, not just a vaccine. Iron dysregulation and aldehyde toxicity are key features of the disease, just as they are with almost every other chronic disease.[71][72] Disrupting dehydrogenase function is directly causative to cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke, neurodegenerative disease, chronic pain and osteoprosis.[73]

Couple all of this with the constant fear mongering of the 24/hour news cycle, pornography, social media, stimulants and alcohol, and you have the perfect cocktail for destroying mental health and the immune system.


Deadly Nightshade

Other dietary factors are clearly implicated in the severity of an individual’s response to COVID. One that has clearly stood out is how glycoalkaloids in nightshades affect the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Acetylcholine is an excitatory neurotransmitter implicated in chronic anxiety, ADHD, and nervous system disorders related to dopamine. Most people have no idea that nightshades like tomatoes and peppers are inhibiting the breakdown of acetylcholine and contributing to these conditions. The deadly nightshade of Victorian murder mysteries is a close relative of these fruits, and exerts the same harmful effects on those who eat them (although much less acutely poisonous). Belladonna is used to treat myasthenia gravis, a condition of severe muscle weakness and chronic fatigue. In this autoimmune condition, the body may be attacking over-stimulated acetylcholine receptors in an effort to protect itself from acetylcholine toxicity. This was seen in a 7 year old who experienced multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children after recovering from COVID.[74]

Some researchers have demonstrated the potential of blocking the acetylcholine receptors to avoid the cytokine storm in severe COVID because the SARS-COV2 spike protein is a glycoprotein that can activate these receptors similar to snake venom.[75] This is why so many people actually experience similar “multisystem” inflammatory symptoms from regularly consuming nightshades. In one experiment, researchers used sulfated iron (the type added to foods labelled ferrous sulfate, not to be confused with reduced iron which is literally just iron particles added to foods) to increase lipid peroxidation (rancid PUFAs turning into aldehydes and plastic) and reduced the number of acetylcholine receptors.[76] The result was significantly higher levels of malondialdehyde, which as you now know is an aldehyde, and a primary indicator of disease in the body. Aldehydes also create odor, like bad breath and armpit stink, which is why hormones and stress play a role in developing body odor. It’s also the reason for the characteristic “old people smell.”

Bringing this all back around to how our diets, even when we are trying our best, can be causing us serious problems. Check your pantry right now for iron-fortified breads, cereals, baby formula, and vitamins. If you have any baked goods, most likely they are made with fortified iron. Every fresh baked bread, cookie and cake at Whole Foods has added iron (trust me, I’ve checked). Maybe that’s why people think gluten is bad, when it’s actually the iron and PUFAs used to contaminate them. Agricultural research shows glyphosate in Monstanto’s RoundUp affects iron and copper metabolism in plants, but I could not find literature about it’s affect on humans. We are left to infer that crops sprayed or contaminated with this chemical may also impact human regulation of iron and copper. Even if you aren’t eating these foods now, if you ever did, or your mother did while pregnant, that iron is still lurking in your body somewhere.

If iron is combined with ascorbate (fake vitamin C), acetylcholinesterase (the enzyme responsible for breaking down excess acetylcholine) is damaged, which then generates toxic hydroxyl radicals.[77] Hydroxyl radicals increase lipid peroxidation, damage carbohydrates and amino acids, and cause genetic damage. In other words, serious digestion problems, food sensitivities, and multisystem inflammatory syndrome. And well regulated acetylcholine is critical to balancing the electrolytes that keep our hearts beating, so this could create the conditions for irregular heart beat, unexplained heart conditions or heart failure.[78]

Activation of the acetylcholine receptors prevents the cytokine storm, but that can’t happen if the receptors are clogged because the body is unable to break down the acetylcholine or the receptors are reduced by iron accumulation and lipid peroxidation.[79] Clogging these receptors contributes directly to “sepsis, endotoxemia, ischemia/reperfusion injury, hemorrhagic shock, pancreatitis, arthritis and other inflammatory syndromes.” As a result, researchers actually found nicotine to be protective against viral myocarditis, because it works on the same receptors to calm rather than excite them.[80] Interesting that nicotine and smoking have been so demonized after millennia of ceremonial and medicinal use by indigenous cultures. Perhaps that is why Native American peoples could eat foods seasoned with peppers and tomatoes without ill effect, by ceremonially smoking tobacco after meals.

What can we do now to address these problems?

  1. Eliminate as many sources of PUFAs in your diet as possible.
  2. Find and reintroduce raw dairy to your diet.
  3. Address metabolic/blood sugar issues with small meals of protein and carbs every 2-4 hours from the time you wake up until bed (and even if you wake up in the middle of the night).
  4. Address iron/copper issues with whole vitamin C like orange juice several times a day and reducing foods high in calcium oxalates and non-heme iron, including unfiltered water, dark leafy greens, Himalayan pink salt (the pink is from oxidized iron, iodized table salt will destroy your thyroid, so stick to high quality air dried sea salt like Celtic), and fortified foods or supplements. Eliminate foods and supplements with citric acid, ascorbic acid, or ascorbates.
  5. Possibly supplement with MK-7, mixed tocopherols, or shilajit if desired (useless if you haven’t corrected your diet); stop all other supplements (especially fish oil, D and zinc) until your diet is working well and you can be sure the supplements are not actually causing more problems!
  6. Try eliminating nightshades, including tomatoes, peppers, paprika, eggplant, and unpeeled potatoes.
  7. Lift weights and get sunlight, reduce screen time, meditate, work on developing a positive mindset and surround yourself with healthy, happy people.

Start by addressing these issues with your diet. Imagine you live on a farm, and can only eat what you or your neighbors can produce. No more crazy processed stuff, even if it’s labeled “organic” or “paleo.” What would you eat? Pastured meats, raw dairy, eggs, nutrient-dense fruits, berries, and tubers. Energy-packed grains like wheat, oats, and buckwheat. Certainly not PUFA vegetable oils, tons of supplements, “superfoods” from other continents, and other foods that require tons of time, energy and fossil fuel-based chemicals to grow like hot house tomatoes.[81]

Vitamins K2 (MK-7) and E (mixed tocopherols) are helpful antidotes to excess carotene and synthetic A stored in your body.  MK-7 also directly addresses calcification, as does osteocalcin found in bone broth. The best sources of K2 are raw cheese and yogurt, especially parmesan. So, be sure to emphasize saturated fat from meat and dairy above all to provide this fat-soluble nutrient.

Mixed tocopherols can directly address issues with estrogen, a major contributor to iron accumulation and other chronic problems. There are special enzymes in orange juice that also help with estrogen. High quality olive oil is a great source of E, but be careful about where you’re buying it.

Some people may need a B12 supplement at first, if their gut health is severely compromised and haven’t been consuming animal products. Niacinamide (a specific form of B3) can also help with vitamin A/aldehyde toxicity, blood sugar issues, liver and cellular problems until the body is back in balance.

Addressing iron issues requires switching to highly purified water, like reverse osmosis. Spring water is loaded with iron and calcium that are going to build up in your body, because they are just dissolved rocks. But trying to emphasize fruit, juices, milk and teas for hydration seems to work the best by providing structured water with sugars, and forms of metals and minerals our bodies can use. Coffee and tea are rich in tannins which also help with iron dysregulation by inhibiting absorption, but beta carotene from foods like orange carrots can overcome that inhibitory effect.  Shilajit may be a useful supplement for some.

Cutting out high carotene foods is as simple as looking up what they are, then avoiding and replacing them with low carotene alternatives. Like eating white carrots instead of orange, for example. Nightshades like tomatoes and peppers are also an important source to consider eliminating, not just for carotene but because they can contribute to inflammation and anxiety by causing the buildup of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. That’s why some nightshades are actually poisonous, like green potatoes. Luckily, peeled white potatoes are safe and delicious.

Start consuming lots of good sources of whole vitamin C, like orange juice, apples, honey, potatoes, camu or acerola powder. Try to have them when you aren’t eating other sources of iron. My favorite is a big glass of OJ mixed with coconut water and collagen protein when I first wake up in the morning. Increasing the amount of raw dairy in your diet will also help a lot with many of these problems.

What would I do if I had COVID or vaccine damage?

If I had a more difficult case of COVID or adverse effects from the vaccine, I would do a mostly liquid diet. I would still need to meet my protein and carbohydrate needs for adequate calories. Starting when I first wake up, I would have orange juice and coconut water with collagen protein. Then soon after, I would have homemade bone broth and maybe add butter, or simmer it with ginger and lemon then add some honey. I would make the broth with beef or chicken, cooked with bay leaf, reishi mushroom, celery, celery seed, white carrot, apple cider vinegar, thyme, rosemary and sage. Rosemary and sage specifically help clear blocked vitamin D receptors, which have many, many ligands (things that activate them).

The rest of the day I would alternate between those and unpasteurized whole milk, teas with honey and collagen or milk, and even a cup of coffee with a good amount of maple syrup, milk and collagen protein. The glycine in collagen, meat, and bone broth helps the body fight viral infections, but is typically lacking in the modern diet (or displaced by glyphosate). Roasted dandelion root, ginger, licorice, green and black teas are all excellent. I might eat some apple sauce or yogurt, or make gelatin gummies with honey and orange juice. Some white rice or peeled white potato might be ok with butter and bone broth. The key is to have simple carbs like sugar, honey, maple syrup or fruit juice (possibly white rice or potato) every 2-4 hours with adequate protein, to keep blood sugar balanced and minimize cortisol.

I would take oil of oregano (4-6x/day), niacinamide (twice a day), MK-7 (twice a day), mixed tocopherols (twice a day) and shilajit (once in the morning). In a nebulizer, I would use colloidal silver twice a day. At least once a day I would take a hot bath with baking soda, Celtic sea salt brine, and magnesium.

As often as possible I would get direct sunlight at least on my face. Each day I would do at least 3 rounds of Wim Hof breathing exercises to improve vascular tone, vagal tone, and immune response, while reducing the inflammatory response.[81] One thing to remember is that doctor from Brooklyn who said patients were eliminating CO2 faster than they were absorbing oxygen, and Wim Hof method is specifically intended to improve something called CO2 tolerance, or the ability of a person to maintain adequate CO2 levels for respiration. This is critical to getting oxygen levels back up when they drop from COVID. If I could, I would also use a hydrogen inhalation therapy machine for 15 minutes twice a day as it is proven to help reduce inflammation and hydroxyl radicals causing the damage, sometimes long after the initial infection has been resolved.[82]

I would drink sage tea and sage my house once or twice a day, make sure plenty of light gets in, and try to air out the house daily.[83] The worst thing to do is remain stationary. I’d make sure to walk as much as possible, and if not moving much, at least put my legs up the wall laying on my back to keep circulation from getting congested.

I recently worked with a client who was in serious decline over about 10 days on a standard “holistic” protocol. She was doing all the things everyone else says to do, but just getting worse. Within 36 hours of switching to my program, her condition completely turned around. I’ve also had several people who had recovered but suffered some chronic issues which resolved after simply stopping their D and zinc. One researcher recently interviewed by Dr. Peter McCollough equated “long COVID” with the same underlying immune dysfunction as Lyme disease, where the disease alters the immune system in a way that creates chronic illness. He says that spike protein was still found in organs including brain and kidneys 15 months after initial infection, exacerbating symptoms long after recovering from COVID.[84][85] Symptoms similar to Lyme and autoimmune disease, like brain fog, pain, and chronic fatigue may present as the virus takes advantage of the underlying nutritional problems articulated in this paper to wreak havoc throughout the body. That is why our approach has not only proven effective at helping resolve both acute and long COVID, but also chronic conditions like Lyme and autoimmune disease.

Despite all of these seemingly daunting challenges to our health in the age of COVID, the solutions are quite simple. Start with a diet that focuses on regenerative agriculture to supply the foundation of our nutrition. Pastured meats and unpasteurized dairy products, eggs, and minimally processed fruits, tubers, and grains. Highly filtered water. Also critical to healing are foods high in collagen and gelatin, like bone broth and brisket, because growing up and living with these problems severely inhibits the health of our connective tissues (causing issues like arthritis, eczema and leaky gut). One must be proactive and regularly lift weights to build and maintain adequate muscle, plus be doing breathing exercises to develop vascular resilience.

Not sure where to start or have more complicated challenges with your health? Schedule a free call to find out how you can get the support and community you want to create the Naturally Connected Life you deserve.

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