Today we’re going to talk about hope and empowerment in the time of a pandemic. Since this thing began, indeed, since we opened our practice doors in 2006, we’ve done everything we know to do to help the members of our community better understand their own health and how to truly own it, even when there’s a novel virus at the root of a world-wide health crisis.
First, we want you to understand a few things about viruses, novel or common: there are more viruses on this planet than anything else. There are about 100 million times more viruses on Earth than there are stars in the known universe. Eight percent of our own DNA is comprised of viruses. As you’re reading this sentence, there are over 400 trillion viruses inside and on your body. It may seem inconceivable that one body could host such a huge number of viruses, but consider how tiny a virus really is. The human body is 10 times more bacteria than it is cells we would call “human”. That’s an insane number of bacteria, right? We know they’re small – a bacterium is about 140th the width of a human hair. Viruses are so much tinier even than bacteria that we could fit thousands of virus particles into a single bacterium.
Viruses, unlike bacteria, aren’t living organisms. They’re more like…vampires. They appear to be alive because they can reproduce themselves and they walk among us, sometimes killing us. How is this non-living being so prolific? Viruses are highly adept at traveling on air that they can be swept up in the atmosphere and be deposited on a different continent. They travel even more efficiently when air pollution is available to give them a lift. While most of these viruses aren’t dangerous to our health (because they’re actually part of our own immune systems!), some are pathogenic and can cause illness or death given the right environment. The environment that enables a pathogenic viruses to do real harm is a compromised immune system. In the mildest sense, we see this play out with the common cold. It’s no secret that getting poor sleep, eating an unhealthy diet, feeling overwhelmed by stress, or otherwise failing to “take care of yourself” can lead to a nasty cold. Now that you know that cold virus was probably just hanging out in or on your body for a long time before you became sick, doesn’t it just make good sense to put in the effort to maintain a health immune system?
We’ll go into greater detail on each of these in future posts, but it’s shockingly simple to improve the state of your immune system, literally over night. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Your body is a healing machine, but you need to keep the parts in working order. Here’s the short list to get your started:
Take a 30-minute walk outside – this is an outstanding way to boost your natural killer (NK) cells, neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, and more – all key players in a health disease-battling, immune system!
Avoid eating sugar – sugar is such an inflammatory food, that it literally suppresses the efficacy of your immune system for hours after you’ve consumed it. It provides zero nutrients and puts undue stress on multiple organs of the body. Inflammation is the very immune response that leads to complications and death from COVID-19. This particular virus is a hyper-inflammatory pathogen. If you’re body is in a state of chronic inflammation (which eating sugar frequently will cause), you are putting yourself at great risk of illness.
Get that lymphatic system moving – the lymphatic system is, among other things, in charge of taking the garbage out. You want that lymph flowing and flowing well! That walk we mentioned earlier will go a long way towards insuring that lymph is moving. You can also do some dry-brushing, or some bouncing/jumping (that strengthens bones, too!)
Eat more vegetables and fruits – higher intakes of these nutrient-bombs lead to a reduction in pro-inflammatory biomarkers and enhance the immune cell profile. Put down the granola bar, pick up a banana!
We’ll address these and more strategies for improving immune system health in future posts, but in the meantime, please note this exciting fact: over 17 million people that we know of world wide have gotten and recovered from COVID-19. Without diminishing the seriousness and tragedy of the lives we’ve lost, focus on the ability to live with, develop immunity to, and carry on should be at the forefront of our thoughts. Stay well! We love you, and want you around for a long time!