Category: Blog

keep up your immunity

Practical Advice So You Can Keep Up Your Immunity 

Why is it harder to stay well during the winter months? There is a reason they call this the “cold and flu season”.

When the weather turns cold, we spend less time outdoors and more time indoors – in close quarters where the cold viruses of people get recycled through the air. Flu viruses are more stable in cold air, and the low humidity of the winter months helps those virus particles remain in the air.

With these factors at play, it’s even more important than other times of year to focus on keeping your immune system working to fight off illness.

How can you do this? For starters, let’s all get on the same page regarding how our immune systems work.

How it all works

Your immune system is a complex system of cells and tissues that protect the body from harmful foreign substances.  These cells and tissues include the tonsils, thymus gland, spleen, lymph nodes and corresponding vessels and white blood cells. Your immune system is working overtime each day fighting against environmental toxins, abnormal or cancerous cells within your body and viral and bacterial germs that you may have come in contact with.

You are exposed to germs on a daily basis. That’s a fact of life that won’t change unless you decide to live in a bubble or never leave your home (or let anyone else in!).

The difference between getting sick and not getting sick is whether your immune system is strong enough to fight these germs before they proliferate enough for you to come down with the cold, flu or bacterial infection. The key to not getting sick resides within both long-term and short-term strategies for building up your immune system.

Long-Term Immune Boosting

keep up your immunityKeep in mind…the immune system is a complex system. Being such, it doesn’t get stronger with a few weeks of immune-boosting activities. However, a longer-term, healthy lifestyle can do wonders in cultivating a strong immune system. It’s not as hard as you think, but with our hectic lifestyles, we often fall down on the fundamentals. By being intentional with a few things over time, you will see a difference. Start with a focus on:

 

Healthy Diet – The optimal way to keep your body healthy is to eat a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet that is full of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, as well as lean protein. Limiting processed foods, pro-inflammatory grains and refined carbohydrates is also helpful.

 

Water – Drinking enough is essential for your cells to function properly. Staying hydrated is a boost to your immune system in that water helps produce lymph. Lymph carries your white blood cells throughout the body to fight infection. So by drinking enough water, you’re creating the right transportation system for your body’s best infection-fighting tool (your white blood cells).

 

Exercise – Physical exercise has the potential to help remove bacteria from lung tissue and airways. Exercise also helps circulation within your immune system and can even cause favorable changes to your antibodies. The brief rise in body temperature from exercise can also kill germs. Finally, it also helps reduce immunity-lowering stress hormones.

 

Stress – The more your body perceives stress, the higher the levels of cortisol within. Cortisol lowers your body’s immune function, or ability to fight illness. Therefore, finding ways to bring balance and harmony into your life can do wonders for your immune function.

 

Rest – When you sleep, helper T cells, beneficial to your immune response, peak in production. Studies show that sleep deprivation lowers T cells and raises pro-inflammatory markers in the body. Sleep is also the time when your body has a better ability to produce fever, which helps to fight infection. So as simple as it sounds, sleep is one of your best tools for building up your immune system.

 

Vitamin D – Besides the many other benefits of Vitamin D, maintaining optimal Vitamin D levels helps to fight against viral infections such as cold in flu. Optimal Vitamin D levels are between 50 and 70 ng/ml. If your diet isn’t providing enough of this essential vitamin, consider adding a daily supplement.

 

RELATED: Getting in the “sweet zone” with Vitamin D

 

Vitamins A, C, E and selenium – These are very powerful antioxidants and immune stimulators.

 

Probiotics – Having healthy gut flora helps to strengthen the immune system and fight against infections. To improve your gut flora, take probiotics and eat fermented foods such as kefir or one of these recommendations.

Short-Term Immune Boosting

keep up your immunityYou tried your best to maintain a healthy lifestyle but your schedule and stress level got away from you. Now you find yourself sick!  What should you do?

  • Keep your air humidified. Keeping your air passages moist will help your airways to heal faster. Even better, inhale some steam with a drop or two of pure Eucalyptus Oil.
  • Drink a lot of fluids in order to keep you hydrated and to thin your mucus. Try adding two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to your water. Apple cider vinegar helps to thin your mucus.
  • Sleep, sleep, sleep. Remember, your immune system is more active during sleep.
  • Use a saline wash or neti pot to help rinse the congestion, dust, pollen and mold from your nasal passages.
  • Take 1000 mg of Vitamin C daily.
  • Take zinc lozenges throughout the day. Studies show that taking zinc during a cold can speed up the recovery time by three times!

By employing long-term tactics year-round and using short-term tactics when you do get sick, you can minimize the frequency, extent and duration of your illnesses. If this advice makes sense, please make sure to share this with your friends and family – so everyone in your life can benefit and STAY WELL this season!

 

Dr. Sharman

prevent pain while playing a sport

How to prevent pain while playing a sport (it’s all in how you prep!)

Golf, basketball, tennis, softball….these and other sports are fulfilling hobbies for adults.

You don’t have to do sports as an elite athlete or professional to get the benefits of staying physically fit while developing life skills such as teamwork, leadership and dedication.

But whether you are a pro or hobbyist, we want you to be able to play your chosen sport with as little pain or injury as possible. Staying pain-free and uninjured is critical – for enjoyment as an amateur or for your livelihood if it is your profession.

So how do you stay a step ahead…and prevent pain while playing a sport? Here are four preventative strategies we recommend – and our role in each of them.

 

Condition before you start playing

It is critical to condition yourself ahead of time before jumping into a sport. A person can’t just throw themselves into a new sport without gradually conditioning the body to develop strength, flexibility, speed, endurance and the skills unique to the sport.

Start by getting a sports physical before you begin playing your sport. At Life Care Chiropractic and Wellness Center, we are able to assess and correct your faulty movement patterns. Every athlete has a weak link somewhere that can make them more prone to injury. So, we’ll help you identify yours. Improving these weak links or poor movement patterns can go a long way in helping you stay well and injury-free.

Next, develop your core strength and work on your breathing.  Believe it or not, an athlete’s core is involved in just about every action, stabilizes the spine and pelvis and providing a firm anchor for the extremities. Breathing correctly matters too! Proper movement of the diaphragm stabilizes the body and prevents injury by creating stabilizing intra-abdominal pressure in 360 degrees. At Life Care Chiropractic and Wellness Center, we have processes that evaluate the breath and determine if there are deficiencies in intra-abdominal pressure that could leave you vulnerable to injury or pain – please take advantage of this!

Finally, develop a habit for both a static stretch and a dynamic warm-up to do before you participate in your sport. Studies have shown that the dynamic warm-up is even more important than stretching for injury prevention. It warms up the muscles and prepares them for the activity coming next. We like some of these pre-exercise warmup ideas from Men’s Fitness.

prevent pain while playing a sport

 

Make sure you have the right footgear

Another critical component of playing sports pain-free is wearing custom-made foot orthotics. Your feet are your foundation, after all. Pronation, arch collapse or even unsupported high arches can leave you vulnerable to pain and injury. In our office, we do a 3D foot scan to assess the condition of your feet and prescribe Foot Levelers orthotics when needed. Foot Levelers has done research showing positive effects of athletes wearing orthotics during their sport. From reducing football injuries, creating some improvement of vertical leap and improving balance and proprioception in golfers, orthotics have been shown to have positive effects for athletes.

It is no secret that most professional athletes and Olympians are routinely treated by a chiropractor. And no wonder – seeing a chiropractor on a regular basis helps to achieve optimal function and performance of an athlete. Chiropractors are uniquely trained to looks at biomechanics, nervous system function, balance and posture. If an athlete does experience pain, chiropractic is a great way to quickly get the person out of pain naturally and effectively.

Getting connected with a chiropractor before you begin playing a sport or have a sports-related injury is a smart move. Tom Brady of the New England Patriots said, “Chiropractic just makes you feel so much better. When I walk out of the clinic, I feel like I’m about three inches taller and everything’s in place. And as long as I see the chiropractor, I feel like I’m one step ahead of the game.”

 

Fuel your body properly

You may not realize this but nutrition is critical in staying fit and pain-free. It starts with proper hydration and electrolyte balance to prevent muscles from going into spasms and generating cramps and strains. But proper nutrition is also essential in maintaining strength, speed and endurance during play. If you do end up in pain after playing your sport, there are many ways to turn down inflammatory pathways with food and supplement protocols. Tumeric and Omega 3 fish oils are great for reducing inflammation. Also, we actually have a way of testing your Inflammation Index through a finger prick test and can use the results to make a plan for reducing your inflammation.  Just ask us about it.

 

Move in other ways

Our last preventative strategy is to find ways to move your body in ways that aren’t the same as the repetitive movements of your chosen sport. Anytime you do a motion over and over again, you run the risk of injury. Variety of movement is important to mitigate this risk. Take a yoga class once a week, get together with some friends for a friendly game of softball or kickball or go for a hike on the weekend. Just do physical activity that is different from your normal sport. And remember that everyone needs a rest day so that the body can heal and restore itself.

It may be impossible to go through a season of sports with absolutely no pain or injury, but there you can lessen your odds for an injury, how much pain you will be in and how long you will be in pain. Just follow some of our preventative strategies. And maybe just maybe, you can get through your season completely pain-free!

 

Dr. Sharman