Immune Resilience with Superfood and Adaptogens by expert Olga Vita

A few weeks ago, we interviewed Olga Vita (Health Coach, Biotherapist, Sustainable Wellness Educator) to get her expert’s advice on how to empower ourselves to look after our health, especially in such a year when our immune system has been put to a test. You can find the full video interview on our IGTV (@myhealthybangkok), and here is a summary of Olga’s recommendations for a vibrant health.

Let’s talk about our immunity, its best friends and its worst enemies

#1 We have been hearing a lot about immunity lately and the information we get can be overwhelming and confusing. Can you please break this down for us? What would you say are the most important pillars to a strong immunity? 

  1. Immune Busters – OUT (Detox, De-stress, NO JUNK!)
  2. Immune Support – IN (Nourish with best food, herbs, supplements, practices),
  3. Move (restore natural flow & circulation)

#2 How to define the word resilience, and to interpret it when applied to our immunity? How is that different to focus on immune resilience vs. immune boosting?

Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, elasticity, and ability to spring back into shape. Resilience is adaptation to stress. That’s why we will talk today about an elite class of healing herbs called Adaptogens. They are our secret to overall immune resilience.

As for the immune boosting, we need to be careful with stimulants. Nowadays many of us are overstimulated. Some even have autoimmune disorders. For these people boosting is counterproductive. The wisdom of the resilient, robust health is already here. Our job is to stop sabotaging this innate natural force and support it with all the needed ingredients/building blocks.

#3 What are the common mistakes that we do when it comes to “boosting” our immunity?

A mistake can be to listen to others more than to yourself.

We are unique and our needs, responses to the dietary changes, supplements, sleep and activity patterns are different not only from other people. They differ even from our own as the time goes by.

Observe and respect the signs of positive and negative reactions to everything you do or do not do. Many time people don’t achieve the desired outcome just because the form, dose, frequency or duration of the supplementation were not adequate.

Good example is Vitamin C. When stressed we burn through our reserves of this vitamin very fast. We need to replenish accordingly. Most cases and studies that show it ineffective use 1% or less of the optimal dose for a very short period of time. So far no virus can resist the dose high enough. In the 1948 Dr Klenner cured 60 out of 60 cases of polio. Hemorrhagic fevers (yellow fever, dengue, Ebola…) may require up to 500,000mg/day of vitamin c. I reach my clients to perform a test to establish the right dose. Same goes for many other herbs and supplements.

#4 What are our immunity’s worst enemies? And how to steer clear?

Adaptogens’ benefits:

  • Combat Your Stress
  • Cut Your Brain Fog
  • Reduce Your Inflammation
  • Boost Your Energy
  • Support Your Hormone Balance
  • Increase Your Stamina
  • Elevate Your Mood
  • Strengthen Your Immune Function
  • Increase muscle output
  • Increase endurance
  • Elevate enzyme synthesis
  • Protects mitochondrial function
  • Enhance mental focus and concentration
  • Increase physical capacity, endurance, and performance
  • Improve cardio and respiratory capacity
  • Promote longevity
  • Increase resistance and ability to handle stress
  • Encourage better sleep
  • Help normalize body functions

Well-Researched Adaptogens

  • American Ginseng
  • Ashwagandha
  • Asian Ginseng
  • Cordyceps
  • Eleuthero
  • Rhaponticum
  • Rhodiola
  • Schisandra
  • Shilajit

Probable Adaptogens

  • Cistanche
  • Holy Basil, Tulsi
  • Morinda, Noni
  • Shatavari

Possible Adaptogens 

  • Codonopsis
  • Guduchi
  • Horny Goat Weed
  • Jiaogulan
  • Licorice
  • Maca
  • Manchurian Aralia
  • Prince Seng
  • Reishi
  • Russian Devil’s Club
  • White Bryony

#5 What do we know about the use of adaptogens in Thailand and in different cultures?

Even before the name was coined, adaptogens were widely used and highly revered all over the world.

In India, they are known as Rasayanas to balance 3 doshas: Vata, Pita and Kapha. Although not any Rasayana qualifies to be called an Adaptogen.

In China, they are used as Tonics (usually Yang Kidney) to balance 3 Energy Treasures: Jing, Chi and Shen.

Adaptogens are used and highly respected throughout Asia, including Siberia, in South America, Africa, the Pacific Islands, and Native American cultures.

In Thailand, we have many tonic herbs with adaptogenic properties: e.g. Thai black ginger-Krachai dum (Kaempferia parviflora), “Thai ginseng”, Amla (Phyllanthus emblica), Noni (Morinda citrifolia), Pueraria Mirifica, Mangosteen (peel), Jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum), etc.

#6 How to know if an adaptogen is good quality? And where to get them by the way?!

In Bangkok, the cheapest is probably at Makro. You can find there many adaptogens and nutrient dense superfoods: licorice, goji, cinnamon, astragalus, Jiaogulan, reishi, shiitake, turmeric, ginger, galangal, cloves, star anise, cardamom, stevia, raw nuts and seeds (even nigella sativa that, acocording to the legend “cures everything except death”… okay that is a legend but that gives you the idea!).

There are great farmers’ networks that grow some of the herbs and wild craft others.

Chinese and Indian stores are good sources of the herbs from TCM and Ayurvedic traditions.

Here are some quality online suppliers that I trust:
Herb Pharm
Mountain Rose Herbs
New Chapter
Herbalist & Alchemist
Frontier Co-op
Planetary Herbals
Mushroom Science

I am a fan of “imperfect action”. It is so easy to be paralyzed and do nothing in search for the perfect. So I propose to go for the low hanging fruit and buy the way you feel is easy: online or go to a store.

#7 What adaptogens do you recommend? What are the ones you personally use?

Goji is the most delicious. Add it to your trail mix, soups, teas, and cereal. Reishi and licorice can be simmered into a tea. Jiaogulantulsi and stevia are just steeped, no need even to simmer. Easy! Starting easy is sometimes the key to creating new healthy habits.

I personally use a wide range of adaptogens, nearly all of them in fact. Some of my favorites are chagarhodiolaeleuthero.

#8 Are adaptogens more for a cure or for long term use?

They are not first aid, crisis herbs. Adaptogens are tonics (but not all tonics are Adaptogens). The dose number 10 would have stronger effect that number 1 and number 10,000 would be more powerful than number 10. They are like food, but food with magic powers that grow with time.

#9 Could you share some 101 science on how they work on our immunity? 

Adaptogens assist the body to adapt to stress by normalizing our physiological functions thereby allowing our natural internal processes to achieve homeostasis (natural equilibrium) and, in doing so, allow the body to produce its own balanced cure thanks to the affinity to HPA axis (Hypothalamus, Pituitary gland, Adrenal glands) that control reactions to stress, regulates various body processes (digestion, immune, mood, sexuality, energy usage).

Homeostasis” is the natural tendency of the body to adjust so as to maintain a state of overall balance or equilibrium. In homeostasis the body performs with maximum efficiency.

Adaptogens both decrease and increase various biological functions as needed to normalize them.

This bi-directional function of adaptogens has no equivalent in conventional medicine. If you’re lacking energy (lethargic) adaptogens will increase your energy level. If you’re hyperactive they will produce a calming effect. If your blood sugar level is too high, an adaptogen will lower it, and if it’s low it will raise your blood sugar level. Likewise, blood pressure will be raised or lowered. Your natural systems adjust to come into proper balance.

#10 You have a holistic approach to health. What else would you recommend right now when it comes to immune resilience?

  • NOURISH: Top food, herbs, supplements to support your immune system
    Real Food | Hydration | Super Food | Immune Herbs | Immune | Essential Oils | Immune Supplements
  • MOVE (DETOX & NOURISHMENT FLOW): Immune Life Hacks to improve your disease defenses and enjoy better wellbeing
    Sun | Move | Sleep | Sweat | Ground | Breathe | Acupressure | Massage | Salt: No rinse, mouthwash & gargle


Article written by Olga Vita

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