And I can wholeheartedly say, “No.”
I’m not coming from a place of arrogance. Nor naivety. I’m coming from a place of understanding how the immune system works and what it needs to be healthy.
Here are 7 things I regularly focus on with my family (and that I harp on about if I feel like one of them is becoming immune challenged.) In our modern world when you are trying to boost the immune system these 7 work best altogether. Think of them as an entourage.
Remember pills and potions that we swallow, inhale or inject are not an insurance policy. The only insurance you have is the “assurance” that you’ve been investing in your health so work these 7 into your routine regularly, even when you feel as ‘fit as a fiddle.’
If you or your kids have been burning the candle at both ends learn to tune in when your body is asking you to help it get back into balance with an adjustment or when it needs you to ramp up the nutrition, the fresh air, or have some down time and extra sleep.
As you probably know your nervous system is your master controller. Instructions are sent via your nerves to every cell and organ of the body so that your nervous system can govern every bodily function from respiration to immune responses. To your bathroom habits, your thoughts and energy levels. Clearly, we want our nervous system – firing on all cylinders.
Chiropractors are experts in the care of the spine and the nervous system and are trained to detect subluxations which is when a joint of the spine is not moving correctly, upsetting the communication of nerve messages. This is not a good thing and when left uncorrected can start to compromise your health and wellbeing.
With adjustments of the spine Chiropractors aim to support the natural defence systems of the body. Seeing’s as we are talking about immune strength here’s an interesting study published in the Journal of Chiropractic and Osteopathy in 2010. The researchers took 74 age healthy asymptomatic subjects (so people with no symptoms) and randomly assigned them into three groups.
- Group 1 was the venipuncture (where a vein is punctured for blood sampling or infusion) control group.
- Group 2 received a spinal manipulative treatment (what adjustments are referred to in scientific studies) without “popping” (cavitation).
- Group 3 received a spinal manipulative treatment with “popping” (cavitation).
Blood samples were obtained from the subjects before, at 20 minutes after, and at two hours post-treatment to determine the levels of immunoglobulin G and immunoglobulin M production. Immunoglobulins are antibodies that act as defenders for the body.
The production of interleukin-two induced Immunoglobulin G and immunoglobulin M was significantly increased in cultures from subjects treated with spinal manipulation.
At 20 minutes post manipulation, immunoglobulin G synthesis was significantly elevated in subjects who received manipulation with cavitation, relative to subjects in the control group.
In conclusion, the authors suggest that spinal manipulative treatment increases antibody synthesis, influencing interleukin-2 regulated biological processes.
Chiropractic is not a cure-all for all immune issues. That’s not what I’m saying. Click here to understand more. This study however helps to explain why chiropractic plays a role in immune-boosting strategies for both children and adults.
2. QUALITY SLEEP
Shoot for a minimum of eight hours of sleep each night. Not giving your body proper rest can weaken your immunity by reducing cytokines (proteins that target inflammation and infection).
Chronic sleep deprivation and disruption of the sleep-wake cycle cause an activation of the inflammatory immune response. Lack of sleep decreases the activity of T-cells (a crucial type of immune cell).
Studies of identical twins show that the sleep-deprived ones had increased inflammation markers and worse immune markers. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep on a regular basis and avoid all-nighters.
If your weary get yourself to bed, listen to the clues that you need more rest and encourage your kids to do the same.
Gut health and gut bacteria have long been overlooked as integral players for health and wellness. Fortunately, now everyone is starting to talk about the gut microbiome and the important role food plays in hosting friendly gut bacteria. Our gut houses 70-80% of our immune system so through eating well and committing to clean lifestyle habits we help to build a robust immune system.
As a general rule focus on these but especially if you’re immune challenged.
Avoid Immunity Taxers: processed foods including cereals, breads, sugar, fats and diary.
For Macro nutrition I focus on:
- Lots of fresh organic garlic. Using it raw in dips or only partially cooked with meals. Hint add it towards the end.
This superfood has very strong antimicrobial and antiviral properties. The potent sulfur compound allicin in garlic is known to treat serious GI infections such as SIBO (small-intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and kill parasites and yeast infections. At the first sign of an infection, start taking one raw garlic clove daily, or use concentrated allicin extract.
- Fresh organic ginger in smoothies or tea with manuka honey.
Ginger contains gingerol, a substance with powerful medicinal properties. It belongs to the Zingiberaceae family, and is closely related to turmeric, cardamom and galangal which are all fabulous super foods. Gingerol is the main bioactive compound in ginger, responsible for much of its medicinal properties. It has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
Quite a bit of research also exists on the benefits of honey as a natural immune booster, natural anti-inflammatory agent, and antimicrobial agent. Manuka honey in particular—native to New Zealand and Australia—is even registered as a wound-care product in those countries.
- Fresh thyme from the garden in smoothies or added meals before serving.
Thyme is packed with vitamin C and is also a good source of vitamin A. If you feel a cold coming on, thyme can help get you back in good health. Another health benefit of thyme: It’s a good source of copper, fiber, iron, and manganese.
- Oregano oil over salads. This oil has a long history of being used and an antimicrobial, antiviral, and antifungal.
The oil contains compounds called phenols, terpenes and terpenoids, which have powerful antioxidant properties and are responsible for its fragrance:
Carvacrol: The most abundant phenol in oregano oil. It has been shown to stop the growth of several different types of bacteria.
Thymol: A natural antifungal that can also support the immune system and protect against toxins.
Rosmarinic acid: A powerful antioxidant that helps protect against damage caused by free radicals.
These compounds are thought to underlie oregano’s many health benefits.
- Vitamin D rich foods – salmon, sardines and egg yolks.
- Some milk kefir in smoothies.
- Fermented foods such as miso, kimchi, sauerkraut or kefir served as a side.
- Bone broth added to meals or as tea. See our Bone Broth E-book jock full of nutritious soups and other great recipes.
- Small portions of organic liver added to one meal at least once a week. More if needed.
- Reishi, maitake and shiitake mushrooms added to meals or if I have as loose powders mixed into a hot chocolate beverage.
- Apple Cider Vinegar(ACV) – Make an ACV tea to sip and/or gargle. Use 2 tablespoons ACV, 1-2 tablespoons honey (to taste), lemon juice (again, to taste) and a little hot water to dilute. It’s potent but the stronger it is, the faster it will work (of course you can change the amounts of everything to your liking). Use it 3-4 times a day (less is ok too but the more you do it, the better the results).
Research confirms that the essential oil “clove oil” has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Try putting it in a vaporiser, oil burner or mist spray bottle.
4. MICRO NUTRITION
For Micronutrition at any one time I’ll focus on some of the following supplements (it varies): My go-to’s most days for the boys are: Vitamin C, zinc, vitamin D, probiotics, and activated B vitamins.
Vitamin C helps with immune system function and boosts white blood cells. Research shows that vitamin C has shortened the duration of colds and can decrease the number of colds in physically active people.
Organic citrus fruits and whole fruits in general are ideal sometimes it’s hard to attain enough vitamin C this way though. Take 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C daily to ward off a cold or the flu and up to 4,000 milligrams daily when you are experiencing symptoms.
Vitamin D is produced in the body by sunlight and regulates the expression of over 2,000 genes, including those of the immune system. Unfortunately, up to 90 percent of people are deficient in vitamin D. Recent research shows that low vitamin D levels are linked to higher rates of cold, flu and respiratory infections.
Many physicians believe that current recommended daily amounts of vitamin D are far too low, and that 2,000 units rather than 200–400 units per day is a better choice. You can also order home testing kits to test your vitamin D levels.
Zinc supports immune function and has an antiviral effect. It works best when taken at the first sign of illness. Zinc may lessen the symptoms of the cold virus, but excessive amounts aren’t good for you.
Probiotics will promote healthy intestinal bacteria, which helps produce virus-fighting antibodies and aids in vitamin absorption. You can get your probiotics by supplement or by eating probiotic-rich foods such as miso, kimchi, sauerkraut or kefir.
I also give my boys supplements that contain any of the following (or combinations of them) a couple of times a week: liquorice root, astragalus root, resveratrol, myrrh, elderberry, quercetin and olive leaf.
Yes, we have a massive shelf for all of these wonderful products! If you are looking for a great probiotic, here is my favorite.
5. FRESH AIR, SUNSHINE AND EXERCISE
Immune cells are favourably affected by vitamin D levels, and natural sunlight is the best source of natural vitamin D. Your body needs vitamin D to activate pathogen fighting T-cells. In fact, vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased frequency of infection as well as autoimmune disease.
Try some sunscreen-free exposure for 20 minutes between 8 am and 10 am or between 4 pm and 6 pm, when the sun isn’t too harsh. And lose those sunglasses, because a great way to synthesize vitamin D is through your eyes.
Beyond the obvious cardiovascular, mood, and weight management benefits of regular exercise, moderate physical activity can improve our antibody response to infections. It’s important not to overtrain; however, as chronic strenuous exercise without recovery days has been associated with an increased susceptibility to infections, as well as frequency of injury.
Staying hydrated is key for producing lymph, which the colourless fluid that carries white blood cells, immune cells, and nutrients around the body to remove harmful pathogens and waste product build-up in the tissues. (Think of the lymphatic system like your body’s drainage system.) When you’re dehydrated, your lymph can have difficulty flowing and your tissues can get backed up with bacteria, setting the stage for a weakened immune system.
Stressors can be physical, chemical or emotional. Physical stress can be sitting for too long at digital equipment, poor sleeping posture, to heavy a school bag etc. Chemical stress can be too much sugar in the diet which depletes our immune system, too many additives and colourings. 5G is also a chemical stress as are household cleaning products.
Chronic stress or emotional stress also suppresses our immune response by releasing the hormone cortisol. Cortisol interferes with the ability of specific white blood cells called T-cells to proliferate and get signals from the body. In addition, cortisol also lowers an important antibody called secretory IgA, which lines the respiratory tract and gut and is our first line of defence against invading pathogens. Try to wrangel your stress.
Regularly schedule a reflexology foot massage, making time for a yoga class, or going on a 30-minute walk. Model these behaviours so your kids learn how to keep stress in context of a life well lived.
Seeing’s as both I and the Chiropractic profession in general, have come under much scrutiny and bullying from the Friends of Science in Medicine over the last few years I will try to save them time and taxpayers their money (who ultimately pay Regulatory bodies), by stating that Chiropractic is not a cure-all for any health condition.
That is not what I am suggesting or conveying.
True health comes from a healthy nervous system, gut and mind working synchronistically.
For interest sake, chiropractic is the largest natural health care profession in the world (doesn’t take a mental giant to see why we’ve been hit so hard). It also has a building body of ethical research that is not funded by big pharma. I’m not sure mainstream medicine with its mountain of research, can make that claim.
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