Inevitably, as the weather begins to change and days grow shorter, I hear patients and friends outside the office make mention to the fact that the flu and colds are coming. It is almost as if these germs roll into town like a rogue biker gang wreaking havoc everywhere they go. Most people are resigned that this is part of life and I am always interested to learn what steps people take to prepare. It seems many stock up on hand sanitizer, cough drops, and OTC drugs. I also hear many people talk about avoiding public contact with others and becoming a seasonal hermit. Thankfully, most people I talk to have learned of the risks and general ineffectiveness of the annual flu shot and many also understand the benefit of maintaining a healthy diet and avoiding the typical holiday food pitfalls that only weaken the body’s defenses.
New research from Columbia University suggests that the reason behind the “flu season” is that during the winter months, air humidity drops and provides an more favorable environment for the influenza virus to thrive. Unfortunately, we have no control over air humidity. We do, however have the ability to effect another variable.
Have you ever worked in an office, or been in an environment where most of the people are sick at the same time, but you are not? Or maybe you are one of those suffering, but the one person never seems to catch it? What is the reason for this? Have they been able to miraculously avoid contact with the germs? Not likely. The answer is more likely that their body’s defenses are better equipped to fight off these foreign invaders. It is a matter of the host being stronger than the germ. We all come in contact with many bacteria and viruses every day and likely have some living on our skin as we speak. The fact is, if the germ theory was entirely true, none of us would be alive to believe it. Germs are only successful at reproducing and replicating if the host they are attacking is not strong enough to fight it off. If the host is more capable than the invading organism, guess who wins? So how does someone become the only person in the office who doesn’t catch the bug? The key is to develop a stout immune system and to be certain that your brain, which controls your immune system and every other bodily system, is able to communicate efficiently with each part of your body so that it can react and adapt quickly when germs are introduced to the body. Here are some quick tips to help you build an ironclad immune system.
1) Let your immune system do its job. Think of the immune system like a muscle. In order to become stronger, it must be used regularly. How do you know if it is active? Well, it’s always at work. Most of the time it is fighting things off without you ever knowing about it. Other times, symptoms will make you aware of its activity. Those symptoms may include fever, increased mucous production, sneezing, vomiting, or diarrhea. While these are often regarded as the body in a state of dysfunction, it is quite the opposite. These symptoms are the body’s way of fighting bacterial and viral infections and should be allowed to runs their course. In place of typical over the counter medicines, consider using therapeutic grade essential oils which can be even more effective and much safer. Particularly, oregano, clove, tea tree and thieves oil can be helpful for this function.
2) Let food be your medicine. What you eat plays a huge role in how well your body works. If your body is in a state of constant inflammation because of your dietary choices, it will cause your immune system to struggle. If you are giving your body everything it needs and limiting what it doesn’t, it will function like a well-oiled machine. Sometimes, certain supplementation is necessary as some vitamins and compounds are difficult to get in adequate quantities through food. In these cases, it is important to find a high quality supplement.
3) Tend to your microflora. The bacteria that line your digestive tract have many useful benefits. One of the most important is their role in supporting the immune system. Unfortunately, antibiotics, the chlorine in our water, genetically modified foods, and our societies fixation on sterilization have waged war on these tiny helpers. Probiotic supplementation and avoiding the previously mentioned items when possible are a great start. If you want to take it to the next level, learn about fermenting, culturing, and pickling and how you can receive a tremendous amount of beneficial microflora through your food.
4) Neurological Efficiency is the Key! It’s an anatomical and physiological fact: the nervous system is what controls and coordinates ALL function in the human body. This includes immune function as well as providing your body the awareness that a foreign invader has entered the system. If this system is even slightly impaired in its function, the outcome is poor function and poor health. The most common source of neurological irritation are vertebral subluxations, misalignments of the spinal bones whose responsibility it is to house and protect the spinal cord and nerves. These misalignments often go undetected for years, and although they are frequently a source of aches and pain, such symptoms do not usually show up until the problem is well established. Currently, chiropractic is the only profession dedicated to locating, analyzing, and correcting vertebral subluxations and it is important to find a chiropractor that is focused specifically in this direction. Don’t lock yourself and your family away in fear of germ exposure. Build a strong immune system and enjoy being the one who doesn’t get sick like everyone else. When you do find yourself “under the weather,” be thankful that you are actively strengthening your immune system so that it will be even more effective.