Immune Support in Pooler
There is a tremendous amount of fear at the moment surrounding the Coronavirus.
I am not going to say that there is nothing to worry about; however, there has been much more fear generated than is merited. And all of the attention is put on how bad it might get instead of on what you can do to build your immune resistance in Pooler. The tragedy is that is where all of our empowerment would be. It is important to remember that exposure to any virus or bacteria is the smaller part of the equation. It is much more important focus your efforts and energies on building and boosting the function of your immune system.
Remember that the reason medical doctors and nurses are not all constantly sick even though they have non-stop daily exposure to sick patients coughing and sneezing all around their offices is that when your host resistance, your immune function, is high the germ doesn't get a chance to establish itself and cause sickness. The reason that we are still here after all of these years and the dominant species on Earth is that our immune systems are fully capable. If you don’t feel that yours, or a loved one’s, is then change that and if you’ve been told by the experts that there is nothing that you can do be one of those people that proves the experts wrong. People are told every day that it’s hopeless for them and then they do the thing that the doctor laughed at, told them not to waste their time with, and get better. Maybe you can be one of those people too.
Immune Support in Pooler
I want to share with you what I am doing to protect myself and my wife, Jen, during this time.
Here’s the disclaimer: these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, the CDC, the FBI or the KGB. This is what I am doing for myself and since COVID-19 is a medical condition and I am not a medical doctor it would not be within my scope of practice to tell you how to treat or prevent COVID for yourself or your families. Hopefully that satisfies anyone that is particular about that sort of thing.
To begin with; why should you listen to me? I have not had a single day of worked missed in almost 25 years now. That is not to say that I have not had any sort of cold in 25 years. What it means is that when I have, I got over it in less than 24 hours in most cases and it was a minor nuisance that rarely was anyone else able to detect. But perhaps I am just genetically stronger you say? When I was a child I was constantly sick. I was always green either in my nose, or sinuses or lungs. Every cut or scrape I ever got became infected. I lived on antibiotics and cold medicines. I was more friends with the nurses at my doctor’s offices than with the kids down the block. My mother never let us eat any kind of junk except on one of our birthdays, but otherwise there was no soda, chips or Little Debbie’s in the house. I was fed duck, lamb, veal, asparagus, spinach and everything else that is really healthy, but not the kind of foods kids usually like to eat so that should have kept me pretty healthy, but nonetheless I was not. Until I was 10 years old and started receiving Chiropractic care that my health changed for the better. I am, apparently, not genetically superior to everyone else, yet I have found a system that has worked to keep me much healthier than the average person, I would argue, and it could work for you too.
Also, I have not needed any medication in over 20 years now. No ibuprofen, no antibiotics, no Neosporin, nothing. That should speak volumes too.
If you want Cliff’s Notes version or are allergic to reading any more than 1 page here it is. If you want more detail about the specifics of what I do for each of these strategies keep reading.
The key pillars of what I do to keep my immune system high:
- Eat Extremely Well (I am very diligent about knowing what I am putting into my body and what has been added to my food)
- Stay Well Hydrated
- Stay Active
- Get Great Quality And Quantity of Rest
- Get Plenty Of Sun To Keep My Vitamin D Levels High
- Releasing Stress
- Cultivating My Microbiome (the good microorganisms that live inside of our bodies that make up 70% of our immune system)
The cornerstone of all of those things is keeping my nervous system in peak performance mode with Chiropractic care.
There are specific things that I do differently with each of these things when I am either having or trying to avoid, an immune response, like right now.
This is a time when I find it to be even more important than usual to purify my diet. That means no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. No foods known to be highly contaminated with insecticides (mostly neurotoxins) or weed killers (seen the news stories about the link between Roundup and cancer and how much Roundup has made it into our food supply?). That would include genetically modified organisms (GMO) such as corn, canola and soy as well as crops that are intentionally killed to make the harvest easier like wheat and many other grains. I think a grain-free diet is always a good idea, but especially now not only because of the Roundup issue but also because the impact most grains have on blood sugar is pretty high and that suppresses the immune system. Also, and this is the least fun one, no alcohol at all during that time. I am a dark beer kind of guy and even brew my own beer, but during this time and until it has blown over, I will be abstaining. If I am supposed to be going out with friends for a drink after work and I have the tiniest little bit of a sore throat, then I either don’t go or I nominate myself to be the designated driver. It’s not worth it to me to let it turn into something bigger. I also jack up the servings of vegetables and fruits and dial down the amount of meat for a while. Most beneficial bacteria thrive in an alkaline environment and most pathogens thrive in an acidic environment and so I am trying to alkalize my body a little more, or at a minimum, not acidify it. Sodas, coffee, teas, grains, and meat all push us towards acidity in our body and greens and other veggies push us towards alkalinity. I don’t feel that I need to rush out and get the pH 8.4 bottled water, just drink water that is not in plastic bottles and avoid the acidifiers. My usual serving count of fruits and veggies is 10/day but during an immune issue, I will take it up to 12 a day. Juicing is key to being able to do that. My Vitamix gets a lot of use.
Whereas I might normally indulge in a caffeinated coffee either Saturday or Sunday (but not usually both) I will either avoid the coffee altogether or choose the swiss water method of decaffeinated coffee. If I am already feeling the beginnings of a cold then I avoid it altogether, no matter how good it smells. The usual quantity of water for me is 100 oz of water but I’ll go even higher when dealing with a cold or trying to prevent one. And like I already said I avoid anything dehydrating. Other culprits that are dehydrating are high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, sweeteners, colors and additives, carbonation (yep, even your “essenced” sparkling water is dehydrating), and of course, alcohol.
Notice I did not say exercise. We should not need exercise if we are active enough throughout the day. When exercise becomes a need is when we have to concentrate a whole lot of movement into a pretty short period of time to offset sitting for most of the day. I do sit some, but I have no place to sit at my computer at all and while I am caring for patients it is a ton of movement. The common thought was that, since our immune system requires a lot of energy, it was wise to rest during an immune response. More recent research has found that while we are actively exerting ourselves we are producing higher quantities of immune globulins and interferons, immune-boosting chemicals. During an immune situation exertion and increased activity becomes a higher value for me. But I am not really a gym and weights kind of guy; it bores me to tears. Instead, that is the day that I will decide to take on a hard project out in the yard and moving fast while doing it, enough to get a good sweat going. If you like the gym then you could do that.
Work hard and then rest hard. I generally fall asleep easily and wake after 6 hours of sleep ready to go. But, from time to time there is something that is worrying me or stressing me and I don’t fall asleep as easily. Then I will use a technology called binaural beat technology. Binaural beats cause our brain waves to speed up or slow down, depending on the frequency of the binaural beat used. Slowing our brain waves down the right amount and right way can make it easier to get to sleep when sleep is not coming easily. The effect is only while listening to the binaural beats; there is no lasting change. There are a ton of apps you can put on your phone for binaural beats, but I steer clear of those and stick with the pioneers of the technology. I could pick up a guitar and make some noise, but not anything that would be functional as listenable music. I could put brush to canvas, but I couldn’t paint anything that would function as art. Any monkey can use simple software to create binaural beats, but there is a real art to creating something that will work and get the change you are looking to see. The brand of that I recommend is Hemi-Sync. They have a lot of options to help with sleep, but ‘Sleeping through the Rain’ and ‘Seaside Slumber’ are my go-to’s. I feel that the idea of choosing a temperature to keep the room at because some studies found that most people sleep better at some cold temperature makes no sense. Are you ‘most people’? I am certainly not. I sleep best when I am toasty and warm. And fortunately, for now, so does Jen. I will probably be able to sell tickets to the knockdown drag-out fights over the thermostat that will be coming someday.
There is no getting rid of stress, but we can change our body’s response to stress. That’s where I focus. For me, accomplishment is one of my best stress relievers. Knocking things off of the to-do list and having a sense of accomplishment makes the stress melt away better than anything else, with the exception of vacations. Perhaps that is because, for me, one of the bigger sources of stress is seeing the list of things that have to get done grow faster than I can get them done. The other key to successfully handling that is getting more critical with what I let on my list. Anyone and everyone will put more and more on our plates if we let them. Getting realistic with what can be accomplished in a day and a week and being willing to say “No” is super important to keep the stress from getting out of control. I set control measures in place when I first established my practice to be sure that I would have the time to get done the other things that have been done in addition to caring for patients and then still have times on the weekend to just be with myself and be with Jen. I could push harder and build an even bigger practice and be even more successful, but watching my mentor go through his 4th divorce taught me that finding work-life balance had to be a high priority for me, and for the quality of care that I want to provide. No one gets better when the doctor is burnt out. But, in spite of watching like a hawk who I am letting put what on my plate, things will happen and the proverbial poop will hit the fan. The cortisol that our bodies produce to help us deal with the kinds of stress that are life or death situations is still produced with today’s much less intense, but persistent, types of stress. Cortisol has many functions in our body and one of them is to suppress the immune system. Who cares about germs if you have a saber tooth tiger trying to eat you? Hemi-Sync is a powerful tool that I use for helping with high stress situations too. “Surf” is my go-to for stress release. And if all of that is not enough for the stress of a crisis there is always my boat. For others there is shopping, or golf or crocheting, but for me getting out on the water is the best stress release of all, as long as the motor starts.
Vitamin D is a important part of the immune system and most Americans seem to be very deficient in it these days. The long sleeves and pants that are part of many of our work attire, the indoor jobs and the pervasive use of sunscreen that we have been convinced is the smart thing to do has us deficient in something that human kind has always had all it could need. Vitamin D is found very little in any foods and our gut does not absorb it very well. What I do for myself is to go outside early in the year, late February to early March here in the Pooler area and get my shirt off and be outside in shorts. I get as much skin exposed as possible when the sun is not intense enough to burn and start working on building a base tan so that I can be out on the water all day later on in the year and not burn. I will only use sunscreen if I am traveling somewhere that the sun is much stranger than home earlier in the year than I have been able to get a base tangoing and know burning would be unavoidable. Even then, I make my own sunscreen from Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, coconut oil, mango, and shea butter, beeswax, and honey. I know everyone has been convinced that sunscreen is the solution to all of life’s woes, but the research does not support that, or the safety of the chemicals in commercially available sunblocks. Research suggests that sun exposure does increase one’s risk of skin cancer but decreases the risk of mortality from all types of cancer as a whole. The FDA has recently recognized that the chemicals in sunblocks do cross the skin barrier and get into the bloodstream (I suspect that the spray-on sunblocks are even worse since the person spraying and everyone around them is breathing in those chemicals and most likely getting them into the blood that way) and that many of those chemicals are unsafe. I believe that our bodies are incredibly intelligent and just can’t buy into the idea that the sun that has always been there in the sky above us for all of our existence on Earth is the most dangerous thing in the universe. I expect someday research will show that it is the avoidance of the sun and then suddenly getting a high exposure that is the problem. If I am feeling the start of any immune issue I will get outside and sunbathe a good bit. But there are times that the weather is not conducive to getting Vitamin D from sun exposure and I still need that immune boost that Vitamin D can give. I have seen many patients taking really high doses of Vitamin D their medical doctor has prescribed for them only to say that their Vitamin D levels are the same, or even lower than before. Unsurprisingly, the doctor usually increases the dose even higher instead of realizing that they are just not going to get the Vitamin D levels up that way. Instead I use sublingual drops and hold them under my tongue for 60 seconds before swallowing it, although I could just spit it out instead. Sun is best, but this is the next best option. I would get 5000 iu’s on a usual day, but if I was already dealing with some immune issue I would double it to 10,000 iu’s.
70% of our immune systems is not “us” cells, but instead our microbiome. That means all of the good, desirable microorganisms (bacteria, yeast, viruses and that live inside of us and perform lots of valuable functions for us, including making vitamins for us and fighting undesirable germs for us. But, the microbiome doesn’t just take care of itself and we are, without intending to, doing more now than ever to harm our microbiome. Many food additives, insecticides and herbicides have germicidal properties to them and when consumed will harm our microbiome. Taking cycles of antibiotics, antiviral and antifungals, whether truly needed or not, will upset the microbiome as well. But even if we lived in a utopia with no chemical exposure at all, our own stomach acids and enzymes will create a certain amount of attrition in our microbiome. Until relatively recently in human culture this was naturally countered by eating most of our food raw and inoculating everything from mouth up to the sinuses and down to the anus with microganisms with every bite of food we took. When we picked the pepper right off of the plant and put it directly into our mouth without cooking it or washing it first it was covered in life and was the original probiotic. Now, even with eating most of vegetables raw and buying mostly organic I still don’t think I am getting the same probiotic exposure that humans once did and taking a probiotic supplement is an important strategy in my immune strategy. But when I am dealing with the beginnings of an immune issue, or concerned about preventing one, I use them differently than most. The first site of incubation for most germs is the back the nose and the back of the throat and that’s where I want to inoculate myself with probiotics in this situation.
I open the capsule and sprinkle the powder out into my hand (or on saucer because when else do you get to use those things these days) and then I dip my pinky finger into some water, into the powder so some of it sticks to my finger and then put that barely up into my nostril (there is no need to go all the way up into the brain). Then use a different finger (that’s important) into the water, the powder and then the other nostril. Then, since you didn’t use the same finger, you can lick the rest of the probiotic powder off of your palm and make a thin paste out of it with a tiny sip of water, or just a good bit of saliva, and swish it all around your mouth, gargle with it, and keep repeating as long as you can before swallowing it. The more contact time the better the inoculation. Don’t worry, it tastes like powdered milk; nothing gross. Oh, and while swishing and gargling this is a good time to wash one’s hands. Four criteria you want to make sure your probiotic has:
- It has been kept refrigerated. Otherwise, it is not viable.
- It contains many different strains, not just buttloads of one.
- In particular, it should have Lactobacillus Plantarum. That has the word ‘plant’ built into it and this strain is the one that grows the most on the surface of fruits and vegetables and would be the dominant strain in the guts of hunter-gatherers.
- It was produced without any dairy, corn wheat, or soy. They have antimicrobial effects. My favorite brand of Probiotic is Innate Choice’s Probiotic Sufficiency. Then you have to feed your microbiome. If you put good bacteria in and then starve them, while feeding undesirable yeasts, that won’t help. The main food source of good inhabitants of your microbiome is going to be soluble fiber, the fiber that is found in fruits and vegetables, not grains. Jacking up your servings of fruits and vegetables like we discussed earlier will help here too. Juicing can be a big help to them too, as long as you don’t use a juicer that discards the pulp. The Vitamix, Ninja, and Nutribullet style juicers leave all of the fiber in.
It is also important to not consume foods that would have an antibacterial impact. Dairy that is not organic will contain antibiotics which will impact your microbiome. Foods contaminated with Glyphosate (the weed killer RoundUp) will also damage your microbiome. This includes all genetically modified corn, soy and canola and all of their oils, proteins, starches and other derivatives.
What does someone’s back have to do with the immune system? Not much, really, but the nervous system has everything to do with the immune system. They are inseparable; we have nerve endings that sense a wide array of different immune chemicals, white blood cells have receptors that respond to neurotransmitters. Chiropractic is all about caring for the nervous system and, in turn, optimizing and supporting the immune system. Remember how I started this article off by saying how sick I was as a child up until 10 years old? The thing that changed for me was that I started getting Chiropractic care for scoliosis. In the process of correcting misfiring nerves, called subluxations, my brain was better able to get my immune system to recognize that dust, pollen, and dog hair were trying to kill me and free up resources to handle the germs that actually were. In a few short months, I went from the sickest kid in class, constantly leaving school early for yet another doctor’s appointment to the healthiest kid in class that never missed another day of school for years. I went from taking 12 medications every breakfast and dinner and sucking on an inhaler constantly to, now, I haven’t had a single medication, no aspirin, Tylenol, ibuprofen or antibiotic in 20 years now. Research studies have found that there is an immediate and significant increase in white blood cell counts following an adjustment, that people getting Chiropractic care can respond better to immune stresses from carcinogenic loads and repair their DNA. The children of Chiropractors have dramatically different rates of ear infections, need for antibiotics, and many other ‘typical childhood issues’. This is a very powerful tool I use to help keep my immune system optimized. I get adjusted weekly during the usual course of events, but I increase my frequency of care whenever I have an immune concern. If I wake up with a runny nose, sore throat or anything that might indicate I am going to develop a cold I get myself adjusted multiple times a day that first day. I have been able to do that all but a couple of times in the last 21 years and every time I could I woke up the next day with no symptoms at all. I also ate extra well, avoided coffee and alcohol, got some extra sun, put the probiotics up my nose and the other tools I have described above, but even before I developed those strategies getting adjusted multiple times a day that first day has kept me from needing to take a single sick day for over 20 years now.
Almost everything we are being instructed to do right now might be strategies designed to help slow or stop the transmission of Coronavirus from one person to another but, unfortunately, are also things that work against our own immune systems. Foremost, is the constant fear that is being generated that pushes people into a Fight and Flight state, during which your body intentionally suppresses its immune system. This Fight and Flight vs. Rest and Digest system was intended for scenarios where you were fighting for your life against some form of predator and in those situations, a germ was not a very big concern, yet. If you got eaten by the predator germs no longer matter and your immune system requires a good bit of energy to run and decreasing immune function frees up at energy some more muscle activity so that you can fight harder or flea faster.
Stress is one of the most potent immune suppressors there is, and our media has become a fear and stress-centered machine as that increases viewership and, therefore, revenue. Isolating ourselves also increases this Fight and Flight stress response. Not being able to work and earn a living, not being able to freely travel, go to the restaurant/bar, not being able to find necessities like toilet paper, milk, and eggs all keep pushing us into Fight and Flight and suppress our immune systems. Sanitizing everything with Lysol and Purell and other disinfectants not only kill germs on the surfaces, breathing in the fumes from those disinfectants also damages our microbiome in our nose, sinuses and lungs; the very places that the coronavirus infects. Eating nonperishables because we are trying to not have to go out where the carriers might be instead of fresh food also weakens our immune systems. I doubt we will ever see any statistics on how many cases of COVID were caused by trying to avoid COVID, but it would be very interesting to see so we could learn for the future.
I see a lot of people online having very visceral reactions to the idea that anyone would do anything other than quarantine because they or someone they love are immunocompromised. Of course, we all care for, and about, those people and their loved ones, but it is worth remembering that we are also putting others at risk from the lifestyle changes that are coming with quarantining healthy people. There is no option that won’t put someone at risk and everyone will choose the option that protects them the best. Perhaps the best thing we can do is try to remember the other person’s view and that it’s not just an issue of inconvenience for any of us.
What I will do during all of this is to remember that the one thing I have control over is how well I care for myself and that is my best protection anyway. I hope you find a way to do that too. Eat well, move a lot, hydrate, release stress, rest up, keep your Vitamin D up, keep your microbiome strong and stay well adjusted.
Steve Ranicki, DC