Enhance Your Health
Health Tip of the Week: Seasonal Viruses
As we head into mid fall, it is the time of year when I discuss improving your body’s response to the seasonal viruses that circulate around us. The Covid-19 virus that has haunted us the past year and a half provided me with many opportunities to share with you ways to boost immune system function.
Those many health tips were not unique and specifically tailored for Covid-19. Covid-19 is one of many viruses that we will be exposed to in the winter time, mainly due to spending most of our time indoors in recirculated air. Germs that can lead to the common cold, sore throats and the flu are just a few of the viral infections that occur more frequently in the winter time. As I mentioned, being indoors breathing recirculated air increases your exposure.
The other main issue in the winter time related to being indoors is the decrease in sun exposure which causes our vitamin D levels to drop. Vitamin D is produced in the body with sun exposure and is widely thought of as the reason we have a flu season in the winter time. Vitamin D is an important part of immune system function. Less vitamin D means lowered immune function and more susceptibility to having a germ turn into a cold, flu and as studies have pointed out, even Covid-19.
Before I talk about ways to boost immune system function, let me first talk about germs and how they interact in the body. Germs in general do not always cause illness. They can definitely be a precursor to illness, but not every time and in everybody.
What determines whether you get sick or not is your body’s response to the germ, your immune response. The body’s immune response is dictated by how well your immune system is functioning. A strong immune system equals a productive immune response capable of fighting off invading germs. Billions of germs exist around us all the time. Why are we not sick all the time? It depends on the viral load of the germ and how well your immune system is functioning.
For instance, if my immune system is well taken care of and doing its job at a high level, I can be directly exposed to cold and flu viruses and not come down with anything. Other times if my immune system is weakened, I can catch a cold from someone sneezing across the street from me.
This can even occur with Covid-19 and explains why when of my direct family members had the virus, no one else in the house came down with it despite constant exposure of the Covid virus. Again, viral load is also an issue, a very strong viral load in the flu and/or Covid may even cause a problem for a strong immune system, meaning you may end up symptomatic. But an optimal functioning immune system means you get a mild case and are over it quickly.
What causes the immune system to work at a subpar level and not be as helpful as it could be? Lots of things. Poor nutrition, lack of sleep, high levels of stress, minimal exercise are the main external culprits. An internal source of a lesser functioning immune system has to do with what controls the immune system in the body. The nervous system is responsible for controlling the immune response. The brain to body connection via neural impulses through the spinal cord is what allows the immune system to do its job. Inadequate neural or nerve impulse flow contributes to a decreased immune response.
So now that we know what can cause our immune system to slip a few notches and cause us to be more susceptible to catching a cold or virus, the plan to prevent that from happening is easy... give the immune system all it needs to do its job properly.
Proper nutrition is paramount. Sugar and foods that breakdown into sugars (processed carbohydrates like bread, pasta, cereals, etc) reek havoc on the immune response. Avoiding sugar is the first step to being healthy.
Drinking enough water every day is also a help. The body is 70% water and not enough water intake leads to dehydration which effects immune system response. 6-8 glasses a day is the way to go.
Eating processed foods, foods that come out of boxes and cans that have been filled with chemicals and colors decrease the immune response. A whole foods diet made up of vegetables, lean proteins, natural carbs like sweet potatoes and rice give your immune system the nutrients it needs.
Nutritional supplementation is also extremely important certain vitamins and minerals help the immune system function and can even boost immune performance. Here are the essentials (in addition to a daily multivitamin), Vitamin D3 (hugely important to take in the winter months), progressive scientists and nutritional researchers recommend take 35 units per pound of bodyweight in the winter time with no sun exposure. Zinc and Quercetin (50 mg and 200-500mg daily), Vitamin C (100mg daily), Elderberry extract once daily. Taken every days these nutrients are immune system enhancers.
If for some reason you start to feel a symptom of a cold or virus, doses of these vitamins increase for added protection. For instance vitamin C would increase from 1000mg a day to 3-4000mg taken 3-4 times a day. Zinc and Quercetin would double and elderberry would be taken 3-4 times a day. Once the symptoms start to subside in a few days, dosages return to normal.
As far as the other immune system function tools are concerned it is vitally important to be getting at least 7 hrs of sleep a night. Research shows that less than that on a regular basis will lower immune system function and even contribute to heart disease.
Exercise increases immune system hormones that contribute to the fighting off of germs. People who exercise daily are producing extra amounts of these hormones and help the body to be healthier.
Stress, worry, anxiety keep your body in a constant state of survival mode which causes your adrenal glands to overload. This decreases immune response. What needs to be done is to try and lower stress levels through exercise, meditation, deep breathing and adrenal gland support supplements. These supplements support immune system function in times of great demand – stress.
Lastly, wait for it... Chiropractic. Remember the nervous system I talked about above? Decreased neural impulses can lead the immune system to not function properly. Chiropractic care removes spinal joint fixations, opening up the neural space so that nerve impulses get where there supposed to with enough flow and energy to improve function in the body.
Research has shown that when your middle back is adjusted there is an immediate increase in white blood cell production. White blood cells are your immune system germ fighting cells.
Additional research has shown that chiropractic adjustments increases the rate at which your body’s DNA repairs itself. Rate of DNA repair is an important part of immune system function.
Other studies have shown that upper cervical chiropractic care (neck care) increases lymphocytic T-Cell production.
And finally, people who undergo regular chiropractic care of at least once a month spinal adjustments were measured via lab work to have a higher level of immune system resistance enzymes then people not under chiropractic care.
Pregnancy / Prenatal Care
Fertility naturally occurs before pregnancy and is the reason that a women becomes pregnant. Some women have fertility issues that make becoming pregnant difficult. Many different medical causes can explain this problem. But there can also be a non-medical condition that can contribute to fertility issues and prevent pregnancy. This issue is spinal nerve stress to the reproductive organs. If the lower back vertebra are subluxated, decreasing nerve flow to the reproductive organs, it can be more difficult to become pregnant. Research papers have shown the relationship between spinal nerve flow and becoming pregnant. Lower back alignment can be a contributing cause to not becoming pregnant and is worth a visit to the chiropractor.