Flu Season, Coronavirus and Boosting Your Immune System
What you need to know
We deal with the flu on a yearly basis. There are more than 200 viruses that cause flu-like illness each year with identical symptoms as influenza, such as fever, headache, aches, pains, cough and runny nose. The flu vaccine does not prevent these illnesses.
The Coronavirus, 2019-nCov, is a virus that has never been previously seen in humans. It is suspected to have been transmitted from animals to humans. It is another enveloped virus like SARS. It joins 4 established coronaviruses that are part of annually recurring respiratory viruses, 2 of which are responsible for one-quarter of all colds.
One of the biggest challenges with 2019-n-Cov is that the incubation period is between 10-14 days. This time period means the virus has the ability to spread far and wide at a much faster rate. Symptoms include the classic cold and flu symptoms such as fever, cough, and fatigue. These symptoms, just like other flu-like symptoms, can worsen into breathing difficulties such as shortness of breath and pneumonia. So far, it is not known if this coronavirus is more or less dangerous than others. What we do know is that all seasonal-flu-like viruses are most dangerous to patients with lower immunity.
Bottom line: Supporting a good functioning immune system is the key to keeping healthy in this season of viral infections!
What you can do to help protect yourself and your family. Here are some simple tips to support your immune system and help decrease your odds of getting infected by any virus:
- Get adjusted! Chiropractic adjustments improve immune system response. One study, from the National College of Chiropractic in Lombard, Illinois, found that disease-fighting white blood cell counts were higher just 15 minutes after a chiropractic adjustment was applied to the upper back. Making sure the connection between your brain and your immune system is at its best is one of the first steps to a healthier immune system, no cell will function the way it should if it is not getting the right messages. Schedule an appointment at Stow Family Chiropractic to get your next adjustment!
- Wash your hands often and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. This is one of the most important strategies you can incorporate into your virus prevention plan. Despite popular belief, the temperature of the water used for washing is unimportant. The important action includes vigorously rubbing with soap and water for 20 seconds before rinsing your hands completely. Regular hand washing has been shown to reduce your risk of contracting a cold or flu by up to 21%.
- Don’t touch your face. Many infections are introduced by touching infected areas, like handrails, and then touching your mouth or nose. These are the areas where a virus is likely to infect your body. So always wash your hands before touching your face. Researchers have found that the average person in a public place touches their face 3.6 times per hour. That is a staggering 60 times per day for most individuals, which greatly increases self-inoculation with viruses.
- Eat the rainbow of fruit, vegetables and berries. These foods provide a wide pharmacy of phytonutrients, which are natural plant chemicals that work directly to support your immune system to more effectively fight off viruses. They also provide fiber, which is the most important factor in maintaining a healthy microbiome in our gut. Our gut is our most important immune organ as adults, containing 70-80% of your body’s immune tissue.
- Get moderate exercise, but don’t overdo it. Moderate exercise is shown to improve immunity. Intense workouts or working out too frequently can decrease your immunity for up to 72 hours. According to a study in the British Journal of Sport Medicine, adults who got at least some aerobic activity five or more days per week experienced 43% fewer sick days during cold and flu season.
- Drink water! Water helps to carry oxygen to your body's cells, which results in properly functioning systems. It also works in removing toxins from the body, so drinking more of it could help prevent toxins from building up and having a negative impact on your immune system. Also, your body needs water to make mucous. Your mucous is the protective lining on the surface of your respiratory tract. This mucus lining performs the important duty of being the first line of defense against infections.
- Lower your sugar intake. Sugar is shown to lower your immune function for up to 7 hours after ingestion. Sugar also can disrupt your microbiome, making it easier for you to contract infections.
- Get plenty of sleep. Sleep is way more important than Facebook or Netflix! Most individuals are sleep deprived and engage in media far after their body has given them the signal to go to sleep. This can cause a significant reduction in your immune system’s ability to fight off infections. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover from illness.
- Make sure your vitamin D3 levels are optimal for fighting viral infections. Vitamin D3, because of its fatty acid complex, is good at fighting enveloped viruses like the coronavirus. We recommend starting Vitamin D3 immediately for the cold and flu season at 1,000iu to 5,000iu per day.
- Improve your gut microbiome. Two great ways to improve your gut microbiome is by taking probiotics and eating fermented foods (fresh sauerkraut is my favorite). When it comes to infections, we are often quick to call bacteria the bad guys. Our microbiome is made up of good bacteria we need to colonize our bodies in order to help us perform vital processes in the digestive and immune system. Probiotics and fermented foods help contribute to a healthy microbiome along with eating plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, and lowering your sugar intake. Remember, your body consists of 10x more bacteria than human cells - they are essential to your defense system.
Here are list of recommended products that will support your immune system this flu season and that you can purchase at Stow Family Chiropractic:
- Metagenics Vitamin D3 features high potency vitamin D3—the most bioactive form of supplemental vitamin D. It comes in multiple dosages including, D3 5000 in easy-to-swallow softgels, and D3 1000™ in easy-to-swallow microtablets.
- Standard Process Prosynbiotic is a synergistic blend of four research-supported beneficial probiotic strains and two prebiotic fibers, designed to support gut flora and overall intestinal health.
- Metagenics UltraFlora provides a dairy free daily probiotic and support with highly viable strains of L. acidophilus NCFM® and B. lactis Bi-07®—“friendly” bacteria that have been shown to support a healthy intestinal environment and immune health.
- Greens First is a delicious, fast, and easy way for the entire family to get the phytonutrient and antioxidant benefits of a diet rich in dark greens and brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Greens First contains organic fruits, vegetables, barley grass which are first juiced then spray dried at low temperatures, leaving all the important nutrients and live enzymes in tact.
- MediHerb Echinacea is the best quality echinacea on the market in tincture form. This blend of echinacea supports healthy immune system function and response, and encourages healthy upper respiratory tract function.
Here are a list of fermented foods and where to buy
- Real Pickles Sauerkraut makes 7 types of kraut and kimchi, all organic and full of good bacteria.
- Farmhouse Culture Gut Shot contains more than 10 shots of wild fermented kraut juice with no added sugar or dairy, never pasteurized to keep cultures live.
- Yogurt and Kefir can be a good source of probiotics but you would need to get plain with no added sugar/fruit, and make sure that there is live culture listed on the label. This is only if you can tolerate dairy.
Idylwilde Farms, 366 Central St., Acton, MA 978.263.5943
Bolton Orchards, 125 Still River Rd., Bolton, MA 978.779.2733
Debra’s Natural Gourmet, 98 Commonwealth Ave., Concord, MA 978.371.7573
Verrill Farm, 11 Wheeler Rd., Concord, MA 978.369.4494
Harvard General Store, 1 Still River Road, Harvard, MA 978.430.0062
Whole Foods Sudbury, 536 Boston Post Road, Sudbury, MA 508.358.7700