10 Feb

Heart Attack Proof

By Tim Arnott, M.D. –You could be heart attack proof in three or four weeks? That’s right.  Freedom from a heart attack in less than a month. Says who? Says Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, director of the Heart Disease Reversal Program at the Cleveland Clinic.

One of his patients with restricted heart muscle blood flow, determined by positron emission tomography (i.e., PET scan) showed those arteries opened up on a repeat scan just three weeks after starting Dr. Esselstyn’s nutritional intervention.[1]

That’s great news, considering heart disease is our leading cause of death for both men and women, resulting in a heart attack every 36 seconds.[2] In fact, over 18 million adults, age 20 and older have coronary artery disease, which kills one of every four people or 659,000 people each year. Additionally, every year, about 805,000 people in the United States have a heart attack. Of those, 605,000 are a first heart attack. Amazingly, 1 in 5 heart attacks is silent—the damage is done, but the person is not aware and feels no chest pain.[3] More shocking, a sudden fatal heart attack (called “sudden death”) is the first symptom of heart disease in 60% of men and 50% of women.[4] No warning! No chest pain. No opportunity to say “goodbye” to loved ones and friends. No time to make out a last will. Never admitted to the hospital.

Wow! That’s shocking. So, how early does coronary artery disease get started? Incredibly, Dr. Napoli at the Federico II University of Naples, Italy, discovered that LDL (“bad”) cholesterol oxidative damage caused by free radical cellular exhaust and formation of fatty (cholesterol) streaks occur in the uterus during fetal development. That’s right–before birth! Both phenomena are greatly enhanced by high cholesterol in the mother. [5] Additionally, almost all persons have aortic fatty streaks by age ten. Most people have coronary artery fatty streaks by age 20, regardless of which state they are from or their ethnic origin.[6]

Won’t my physician be able to tell me my risk of a heart attack? That depends on how they read your lipid panel. The lipid panel contains all your cholesterol and triglyceride (i.e., blood fat) numbers. If the standard reference ranges are used, your risk will likely be underestimated, and you may leave your physician’s office with a false sense of security. For instance, if your total cholesterol level is 199, you may be told your level is in the normal range. The National Cholesterol Education Program of the National Institutes of Health will call your 199 level “desirable.”[7] Additionally, this organization would call a total cholesterol of 239 “borderline high.”[8] The problem is that approximately one-third of heart attacks occur in those with total cholesterol between 150 and 200. So, one in three heart attack victims have a “desirable” cholesterol level. Yet, in over 40 years of the Framingham Heart Study, the longest ongoing heart study globally, no one had a heart attack if their total cholesterol was below 150.[9],[10] Further, in people groups around the world with an average total cholesterol below 150, coronary artery disease is essentially non-existent.[11]

So, if 150 is the goal, can’t I take a statin drug to lower total cholesterol to less than 150?  Unfortunately, not. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine, in which enormous doses of statins successfully reduced patients’ cholesterol levels well below 150, showed that their diet never changed, and one out of four of the patients experienced a new coronary event (e.g., heart attack) or died within just two and a half years.[12] Probably most telling of all, Dr. Esselstyn followed 198 patients with coronary artery disease and a history of one or more coronary events (i.e., heart attack, bypass surgery, or stent). One hundred seventy-seven followed his dietary protocol for an average of 3.7 years (89% of patients). Over 99% avoided another major cardiac event! Thirteen of the 22 patients who did not follow his protocol had major cardiac events’ namely, heart attack, stroke, even death. That is a recurrence rate of 62%. Only one patient who followed Dr. Esselstyn’s dietary protocol had another coronary event a recurrence event rate of 0.6%!

So, what is Dr. Esselstyn’s dietary regimen? It’s simple. Let’s take it directly out of his book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. Namely, no meat, poultry, or fish–not even salmon. No dairy of any kind–not even skim milk or non-fat yogurt. No eggs–not even egg whites or Egg Beaters. No oil–not even virgin olive oil or canola oil. Aim for 100% whole grain products. Ingredients must say, 100% whole wheat, or 100% whole buckwheat, whole rye, etc. Avoid semolina flour in pasta. Leave off white rice. Discontinue juice. Fruit is great. A little juice used to sauté, or season recipes, or for salad dressings is fine. Eat soy products cautiously. They are high in fat (> 40%), and many are highly processed. Only use Lite Tofu (e.g., Mori-Nu or NaSoya Lite Firm Tofu). Reduce sugar as much as possible. Dr. Esselstyn uses stevia. If you have heart disease, do not eat nuts, olives, avocados, or coconut. Read all labels, especially the ingredient list! The rest of the world of vegetables, dark leafy greens, fruit, beans, legumes, 100% whole grains, and herbs is yours![13] This diet is nothing new. With the exception of excluding nuts, it’s the diet the Creator gave to our first parents as recorded in Genesis 1:29 and Genesis 3:18. Genesis, Chapters 1-3 is state-of-the-art, even when it comes to solving atherosclerosis, the Number One killer on the planet![14]

This Valentine’s Day might be a great opportunity to help your loved one become heart attack proof. If you sense the need for help on such a journey, call the Rocky Mountain Lifestyle Center at (303) 282-3676 for a free 15-minute discovery conversation with our physician. It could save their heart and their life.

— Tim Arnott M.D. is a Board-Certified Lifestyle Medicine physician and is the medical director of Rocky Mountain Lifestyle Center; photo by     Istock

[1] J Fam Pract. 2014 Jul;63(7):356-364b.
[2] https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm
[3] ibid
[4] https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/takeonestep/heart/interviews-nissen.html#attack
[5] J. Clin. Invest. Volume 100, Number 11, December 1997, 2680–2690.
[6] J. Atheroscler. Res., 1969, 9:251-265.
[7] https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/guidelines/atglance.pdf
[8] ibid
[9] JAMA 1986;256:2835-2838.
[10] http://www.pbs.org/saf/1104/features/castelli4.htm
[11] Keys A. Seven Countries: A Multivariate Analysis of Death and Coronary Heart Disease. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Horoord University Press, 1980.
[12] Esselstyn Jr. M.D., Caldwell B.. Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease (pp. 67-75). Penguin Pub Group.
[13] ibid
[14] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cardiovascular-diseases-(cvds)

27 Jan

Anti-Aging Living

By Tim Arnott, M.D. — Can we slow the aging process? Is that even scientific? After six years of study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, three behaviors exerted an enormous impact on mortality–not currently smoking, consuming a healthier diet (more plant-based), and moderately exercising at least 21 minutes a day. People with one of these three behaviors had a 40 percent lower risk of dying within the six-year period. Those with two out of three cut their risk of death by more than half. Those doing all three reduced their chances of dying by 82 percent. This study measured how much Vitamin C subjects had in their bloodstream. Vitamin C level is considered a good indicator of plant-food intake and was used as a marker for a healthy diet. The drop in mortality risk among those with the three healthier habits was equivalent to being 14 years younger! In other words, you could turn back the clock 14 years just by not smoking, walking 20 minutes a day, and having the highest intake of fruits and vegetables.

Why are fruits and vegetables protective against aging? The mitochondrial theory of aging suggests free radical (i.e., cellular exhaust) damage to our cells’ power source (i.e., mitochondria) leads to loss of cell energy production and deteriorating cell function over time. According to the theory, the resulting cellular injury causes aging. Aging and disease are thought of as the result of oxidation injury to the body. Not adequately neutralizing free radical exhaust is believed to cause wrinkles, to reduce memory, and age organ systems, causing these to break down as we get older. Thus, the free radical exhaust theory concludes that we’re rusting out.

Fortunately, there is hope. Eating antioxidant-rich foods will slow down this oxidative process. Statistics support this assertion. Individuals with the highest antioxidant intake have the lowest risk of colon cancer, stomach cancer, congestive heart failure, and cardiovascular disease. Interestingly enough, on average, plant foods may contain 64 times more antioxidants than animal foods.[i] Thus, eating various fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices each meal floods our body with antioxidant pigments helping to prevent stroke, heart attack, diabetes, and other age-related diseases.

Is there other anti-aging science that supports lifestyle changes? Yes, indeed. Eating more fruits and veggies and not smoking has been associated with longer protective telomeres, the caps on the tips of our chromosomes that prevent DNA from unraveling, just like the plastic tips on the ends of our shoelaces. Each time our cells divide, a bit of this cap is lost. Telomeres start shortening as soon as we’re born, and when they’re gone, we’re gone. The food we eat impacts how fast we lose our telomeres. For example, eating refined grains, soda, meat, and dairy has been linked to shortened telomeres. However, eating fruits, vegetables, and other antioxidant-rich plant food has been associated with longer telomeres and longer lives.

In addition to eating maximal amounts of fruit and vegetables, what other habits can lengthen our lives?  Dr. Alex Lief, MD at Harvard Medical School, states, “Exercise is the closest thing we have to an anti-aging pill.” Regular physical activity is a way of life for virtually every person who has reached age 100 in sound condition. Exercise is powerful medicine. All would agree that smoking is not good; however, “Not exercising has the equivalent impact on your health as smoking one-and-one-half pack of cigarettes a day.”[ii]

Have any other single habits risen to the surface in the anti-aging literature? Yes! Beans and legumes may be “the most important…predictor of survival in older people” around the globe. Researchers looked at “five cohorts in Japan, Sweden, Greece, and Australia.” Of all the foods they looked at, only one was associated with a longer lifespan across the board–eating beans! Whether it was the Japanese eating soy, Swedes eating “brown beans and peas,” or those in the Mediterranean eating “lentils, chickpeas, and white beans,” only for eating beans were the results of this study credible, consistent, and statistically significant for all the populations combined. The study showed an “8% reduction in risk of death for every 20 gram increases in daily legumes intake.” That’s just two tablespoons’ worth! So, if a can of beans is 250 grams, and you get 8% lower mortality for every 20 grams, you can see just how powerful eating beans could be.[iii]

So, other than the anti-aging power of antioxidant-rich plant foods, eating beans, non-smoking, and exercise, what other anti-aging science is out there?  Enter TOR. Target of rapamycin (TOR) is a cellular enzyme that controls cell growth and metabolism in response to nutrients, growth factors, cell energy, and stress. TOR, initially discovered in yeast, has been found in all plants, worms, flies, and mammals. The discovery of TOR led to fundamental changes in how we think about cell growth. It is not a spontaneous process that happens when nutrients are available, but rather a highly-regulated, flexible process controlled by TOR-dependent chemical pathways. Thus, TOR plays a crucial role in human growth, development, and aging, and has been implicated in diseases like cancer, heart attack, stroke, obesity, and diabetes.[iv]

How can lifestyle habits positively affect TOR? The TOR chemistry needs to be downsized or downregulated to slow the aging process. How can that be accomplished? Eating fewer calories can do it. That’s not always quickly done, however. Fortunately, a breakthrough came when scientists discovered that the benefits of dietary restriction may come not from the restriction of calories, but from the restriction of protein intake.[v] If we look at “the first comprehensive comparative meta-analysis of [dietary restriction] … the proportion of protein intake was more important for life extension than the degree of calorie restriction.”[vi] In other words, in order to reduce TOR and slow aging, just reducing protein, “without any changes in calorie level, has been shown to have similar effects as caloric restriction.”[vii] That’s good news, because “protein restriction is much less difficult to maintain than (calorie) restriction, and may be more powerful,”. Why? Because restricting protein suppresses both TOR and insulin-like growth factor one (IGF-1)–two chemical pathways that accelerate aging, and also is thought to be responsible for the “longevity and health benefits” of reducing calories.[viii]

Are all proteins created equal when it comes to anti-aging? No, some proteins are worse than others. One amino acid in particular, leucine, exerts “the greatest effect” on TOR.[ix] In fact, just cutting down on leucine may be “nearly as effective” as cutting down on all protein.[x] So, where is leucine found? It is predominantly found in animal foods: eggs, dairy, and meat, including chicken and fish, whereas plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans, have much less.[xi] “In general, lower leucine levels are only reached by restriction of animal proteins.” To reach the leucine intake provided by dairy or meat, you’d have to eat nine pounds of cabbage—that’s four big heads—or 100 apples. “These calculations exemplify the extreme differences in leucine amounts provided by [a more standard diet] in comparison to a [plant-based] diet.” [xii]

So, reducing animal protein is key to improving longevity. This may also help explain the longevity of long-lived populations like the Okinawa Japanese, who have half our mortality rate.[xiii] The traditional Okinawan diet was less than 10% protein and had practically no cholesterol because they ate almost entirely whole plant food, over 96%. Only one percent of their diet was fish, meat, eggs, and dairy-less than one percent—the equivalent of one serving of meat a month, one egg every two months.[xiv] Their longevity is surpassed only by vegetarian Adventists in Loma Linda, California, “giving (vegetarian Adventists) perhaps the highest life expectancy of any formerly described population in history.”[xv]  Now, we may be a little closer to answering the mystery as to why populations eating plant-based diets live the longest.

In summary, daily physical exercise and plant proteins, with their reduced leucine, downregulate two major drivers of aging, TOR and insulin-like growth factor one (IGF-1). All the above science simply endorses the following words, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food”[xvi], “you shall eat the herb (vegetables) of the field”[xvii], and “by the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made.[xviii] Truly, the Author of Scripture is the Author of science!

To make the journey of adopting a healthy lifestyle as painless and enjoyable as possible, Rocky Mountain Lifestyle Center is here for you. Call (303) 282-3676 any time to schedule a free discovery conversation with our physician who is board-certified in family medicine and lifestyle medicine.

— Tim Arnott M.D. is a Board-Certified Lifestyle Medicine physician and is the medical director of Rocky Mountain Lifestyle Center; photo by Pexels

[i] Nutr J. 2010; 9: 3.

[ii] Indian J Plast Surg. 2008 Oct; 41(Suppl): S130–S133.

[iii] Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2004;13(2):217-20.

[iv] Transplant Proc. 2008 Dec;40(10 Suppl):S5-8.

[v] Biochem J. 2013 Jan 1;449(1):1-10.

[vi] Aging Cell. 2012 Jun;11(3):401-9.

[vii] Aging (Albany NY). 2009 Oct; 1(10): 875–880.

[viii] Science. 2010 Apr 16;328(5976):321-6.

[ix] Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2012 Aug;23(6):621-5.

[x] Trends Cell Biol. 2009 Jun;19(6):260-7.

[xi] https://nutritionfacts.org/video/caloric-restriction-vs-animal-protein-restriction/

[xii] World J Diabetes. 2012 Mar 15;3(3):38-53.

[xiii] Immun Ageing. 2012 Apr 23;9:9.

[xiv] J Am Coll Nutr. 2009 Aug;28 Suppl:500S-516S.

[xv] Arch Intern Med. 2001 Jul 9;161(13):1645-52.

[xvi] Genesis 1:29. Holy Bible, New Living Translation, ©2015 by Tyndale House Publishers.

[xvii] Genesis 3:18. The Holy Bible, New King James Version, © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc: Nashville, TN.

[xviii] Genesis 3:19. Holy Bible, New Living Translation, ©2015 by Tyndale House Publishers.

13 Jan

New Year’s Resolution and COVID-19

By Dr. Tim Arnott — As we enter a new year, it is a time we begin to think about our life and what changes we would like to make. According to Statista’s Global Consumer Survey, 39 percent of U.S. adults will make a New Year’s resolution for 2022.[i] The top three this year in descending order are to exercise more, eat healthier, and lose weight.[ii] Given the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, these three are well-advised.  Patients significantly overweight are at higher risk of mortality from COVID-19 infection.[iii] This higher risk may stem from a fundamental mechanism of infection.[iv] COVID utilizes the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE)-2 receptor for entry into our cells.

Therefore, too much of this receptor in the body can facilitate COVID entry, increasing severity.  The COVID virus has a particular attraction for lung cells. Besides the lung cells, this specialized receptor is expressed in many cell types, including fat cells, kidney cells, and heart cells.

Individuals with obesity (i.e., BMI >30) have more of these “COVID access” receptors present, which may support greater virus replication and infection. This may be one reason for worse outcomes of COVID infection in people with obesity.[v] Thus, losing weight is a reasonable approach to avoid the common severe outcomes of COVID infection.

At least one key factor distinguishes individuals who are significantly overweight and/or have diabetes from individuals without such conditions; namely, greater circulating levels of glucose (higher blood sugar levels)[vi]. This factor increases the ACE (COVID-friendly) receptor expression or activity, which in turn, may worsen the severity of COVID infection. Again, high blood glucose alone can increase the expression and enzymatic activity of ACE receptors in cells.[vii] As a result, a resolution to achieve weight loss, which will lower blood sugar, makes perfect sense at the start of 2022. The question is, how?  It’s a simple math formula–calories eaten must be fewer than calories burned.  Therefore, moving muscles more is part of the solution. Consider prayer walking first thing each morning. If you walk at a brisk pace, depending upon your weight, you could burn off 100-200 calories.[viii] That’s 500 to 1000 calories a week, assuming you walk five days a week, or 2000 to 4000 calories burned every month. Thus, your weight would drop one pound a month, 12 pounds a year.  If you want to double that, simply walk one hour at a brisk pace five days a week. Then, you’d be down 25 pounds a year. That is enough weight loss to reverse diabetes in a majority of patients who are still able to make insulin, and if 25 pounds didn’t quite reverse it, losing 50 pounds likely would.[ix] Considering that overweight and/or diabetes are associated with severe COVID disease, hospitalization, and death, this kind of weight loss could be lifesaving.

Another very powerful way to reduce blood glucose levels is to walk after every meal.  Every minute walked immediately after a meal reduces your blood glucose 1-3 points. Decreasing the amount of circulating insulin and going a long way to lose significant weight could make a lifesaving difference.

Now, having said the above, you could easily wipe out any calories burned walking just by eating more. Thus, adjusting the diet is also key to successful long-term weight loss. It’s actually a simple exercise to take in fewer calories. Cooked whole grains, beans, and legumes, and fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables are 80 percent water and about 10 percent fiber.[x] Thus, they are very low in calories, and you can actually eat more volume and still lose weight by choosing these foods.[xi] The foods rich in calories are easy to spot. They are found in packages (i.e., boxes, bags, cans) with a long list of ingredients. You don’t have to read the list–just put back on the shelf any food with more than one ingredient. Further, the only other category of food rich in calories is animal products, including meat, poultry, milk, eggs, yogurt, butter, ice cream, and cheese. Limiting such foods to 10 percent of total calories or less is money in the bank toward long-term weight loss and greater protection against COVID. Fortunately, there are great unsweetened dairy substitutes to fill in the gaps, and choosing savory beans poured over well-cooked, soft, moist whole grains with a plant-based, oil-free sauce is a great low-calorie entrée.

So, go ahead. Make those New Year’s resolutions and enjoy better protection against COVID at the same time, not to mention a lower risk of heart attack, stroke, and cancer. Now, we understand the above changes are not easy and because of that, many fail to make lasting lifestyle changes.  Understanding the increased protection against COVID and improved quality of life will help keep one motivated.  Further, having outside help also makes a difference. Rocky Mountain Lifestyle Center was established to support anyone wanting to improve health through lifestyle change, so take advantage of our MD consultations, cooking school, coaching, or health classes by calling (303) 282-3676 anytime.

In summary, God’s health remedies are so wise, they improve multiple conditions at the same time.  His whole-food, plant-based (WFPB) diet has transformed the health of thousands. No wonder He pronounced His fuel of choice for man, “Very Good”.[xii]

Tim Arnott MD  is a Board-Certified Lifestyle Medicine physician and is the medical director of Rocky Mountain Lifestyle Center; photo by iStock

[i] http://a.msn.com/01/en-us/AASFCfW?ocid=se

[ii] Ibid

[iii] Nutr Diabetes. 2020; 10: 30.

[iv] ibid

[v] ibid

[vi] Nutr Diabetes. 2020; 10: 30.

[vii] ibid

[viii] https://caloriesburnedhq.com/

[ix] Kelly J. Foundations of Lifestyle Medicine Board Review Manual, 3rd Edition.

[x] Analysis based Food Processor software (https://esha.com/products/food-processor/)

[xi] Greger M. How Not to Diet. Flatiron Books: NY, NY, ©2019.

[xii] Genesis 1:31. The Holy Bible. NKJV.

04 Aug

Become a Virus Fighter: Learn how to increase your Natural Killer Cells

By Tim Arnott M.D. — Natural Killer (NK) cells are a type of white blood cell with packets filled with enzymes that can kill cancer cells or cells infected with a virus, including the SARs-CoV-2 virus. Preliminary studies in COVID-19 patients with severe disease suggest a decrease in natural killer cell numbers, resulting in decreased removal of virus-infected cells, and unchecked increase of tissue-damaging inflammation.[1]

Severe complications of COVID-19 are more common in elderly patients and patients with heart and blood vessel diseases and diabetes. NK cell functions are blunted in all these patient groups.  Also, the dangerous cytokine storm is more common in these patients, as their unhealthy NK cells cannot modulate the immune response properly.[2]

Cytokine storm involves an abnormal exaggerated immune response that causes collateral damage greater than the immediate benefit of the immune response.[3] Healthy NK cells are needed to prevent the cytokine storm. NK cells working properly clear the COVID virus-infected cells more quickly and efficiently, helping to prevent the cytokine storm.[4]

The good news is that there are things we can do to improve NK cell function and increase their numbers. “Pure air, sunlight, temperance, rest, exercise, proper diet, the use of water, trust in Divine power are the true remedies.”[5]  Amazingly, science is demonstrating these remedies improve NK cell function and number.

Consider pure air. We understood as early as 1905 “there are life-giving properties in the balsam of the pine, in the fragrance of the cedar and the fir.”[6]  Recently, scientists have discovered that pine trees release chemicals, called Phytoncides, which increase NK cell activity. For example, alpha-pinene, released by the pine tree, more than doubled NK cell activity against leukemia cells.[7]

Thus, to improve NK cell activity, spend more time outside. Phytoncides from Cypress, White Cedar, and Eucalyptus trees had the same effect on NK cell activity.[8]  Truly, there’s life in a tree.[9] God wants to feed our bodies in the air we breathe as well as the food we eat! So, take a walk outside every day. Open the windows at night. Air out the house first thing in the morning. You’ll be better prepared to fight COVID.

Sunlight also improves NK cell function. Sunlight “dramatically stimulates the expression of potent bacteria and virus-fighting proteins, which exist in … natural killer cells”.[10] Additionally, “(vitamin D) acts as an immune system modulator”, preventing the cytokine storm.[11] So, again, be outside in the sunlight and take a daily vitamin D supplement (at least 1000 IU daily) to help protect against viral infections, including COIVD.

Temperance likewise improves your ability to clear COVID. Research shows chronic alcohol consumption decreases NK cell number and function.[12]

Another way to boost NK cell function is to get your rest. Sleeping less than 7 hours a night was associated with 30% lower natural killer cell activity compared to those sleeping 7 to 9 hours a night.[13]  Thus, proper rest may likewise improve your ability to clear a COVID infection.

Get some exercise. Interestingly enough, prolonged intensive exercise (i.e., marathon) impairs NK-cell function and blunts the immune response.[14] On the other hand, moderate-intensity exercise (i.e., walking) “has a large and positive effect on the level of NK cell cytolytic activity.”[15] So, walk, walk, walk. Gradually increase your walking time up to 30 to 60 minutes a day. Check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.

And, of course, diet greatly affects our health. Can the food we eat improve NK cell numbers or function? Most definitely. We have about 2 billion NK cells circulating in our blood.[16] To test the affect of diet on NK cells, athletes ate 1 ½ cups of blueberries for six weeks. Then, they ran for 2.5 hours. NK cell counts “were almost doubled

(~4 billion) in the blueberry group prior to exercise, and this increase was maintained throughout the exercise.”[17]  Similarly, NK cytotoxic activity was twice as high in vegetarians than omnivore control subjects.[18]  Additionally, consuming the spice cardamom dramatically increased NK cell cytotoxicity against lymphoma cells. Thus, it makes sense, in the fight against COVID, to choose a diet of “(whole) grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables … the diet chosen for us by our Creator.”[19]

When adopting a whole food plant-based diet, remember to take vitamin B12 daily, and chew it. Methyl-cobalamin is preferred. Why?  Because “suppressed NK cell activity was noted in patients (B12 deficient) compared with control subjects”, but improved after methyl-B12 treatment.[20]

Drinking mineral water also improved natural killer cell activities compared to tap water.[21] Clearly, minerals are important for optimal NK cell function, but minerals can also be obtained from seeds, beans, greens, and nuts. Thus, enjoy six to eight glasses of purified water daily between meals. Check with your physician first if you have heart failure or kidney disease.

Finally, NK cell activity is impaired in those who have suffered a major loss, for example, in recently widowed women with clinical depression, compared with those without major depression.[22]  Thus, we would encourage all to seek rest, hope, and comfort in Christ.  He has promised, “For your Maker is your husband, The Lord of hosts is His name; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.”[23] Thus, take time to come into His presence each morning and “pour out your heart before Him. God is a refuge for us.”[24] Remember, “in His presence is fullness of joy…”[25]  Consider reading a chapter from one of the four gospels each morning with a prayer for the blessing of the Holy Spirit.

As you can see, there are many simple steps we can take to improve NK cell function and number, increasing our ability to successfully fight the SARs-CoV-2 virus and help avoid devastating tissue damage caused by cytokine storm.

–Tim Arnott M.D. is the Rocky Mountain Lifestyle Center physician; photo by UnSplash

This material is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for examination, diagnosis and medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Please consult your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment and/or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.




[1] Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Sep 1;21(17):6351.
[2] ibid
[3] N Engl J Med 2020; 383:2255-2273.
[4] Market M, (2020) Flattening the COVID-19 Curve With Natural Killer Cell Based Immunotherapies. Front. Immunol. 11:1512.
[5] White E.G. Ministry of Healing. Pacific Press Pub Assn:  Mountain View, CA, ©1905, p. 127.
[6] White E.G. Ministry of Healing. Pacific Press Pub Assn: Mountainview, CA, © 1905, p. 264.
[7] Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. 2006;28(2):319-33.
[8] ibid
[9] Deuteronomy 20:19. The Holy Bible. New King James Version. © 1982 Thomas Nelson.
[10] Epidemiol Infect. 2006 Dec;134(6):1129-40.
[11] ibid
[12] J Leukoc Biol. 2017 Apr;101(4):1015-1027.
[13] Brain Behav Immun. 2011 Oct;25(7):1367-75.
[14] Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci. 2015;135:355-80.
[15] Sports Med. 2021; 51(3): 519–530.
[16] Blood. (2008) 112: 461-469.
[17] Appl Physiol Nutr Metab Vol 36, 2011.
[18] Nutr Cancer. 1989;12(3):271-8.
[19] White E.G. Ministry of Healing. Pacific Press Pub Assn:  Mountain View, CA, ©1905, p. 296
[20] Clin Exp Immunol. 1999 Apr;116(1):28-32.
[21] Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2011 May 27;409(1):40-5.
[22] Psychiatry Res. 1994 Apr;52(1):1-10.
[23] Isaiah 54:5. The Holy Bible. New King James Version®. © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
[24] Psalm 62:8. The Holy Bible. New King James Version®. © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
[25] Psalm 16:11. The Holy Bible. New King James Version®. © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.