We’ve all been there, you wake up and your head hurts, you’re starting to feel congested, tired, maybe your stomach doesn’t feel great. It should come as no surprise that people typically tend to get sick during the winter months more frequently than in the summer months. When you come in contact with any kind of cold or flu it is directly dependent on the state of your immune system whether or not you express those symptoms. Here I’m going to lay out 4 very important factors that play into a persons immune system and outline the ways in which you can prevent getting that nasty cold bug during the winter.
It is imperative that we get enough sleep during this time of year when we are exposed to more colds and flu’s within confined spaces. When you aren’t getting enough quality sleep consistently every night it puts a lot of stress on your immune system. Your body that was capable of fighting off a cold no longer has the full effect of that defense mechanism and is now more susceptible to taking up that bacteria or virus that you were exposed to. When we do get sick we often hear “get some rest” and that is because while you are sleeping your body is better able to heal itself. If you can make sure you get enough quality rest then you can give your immune system a fighting chance and prevent the cold altogether.
We’ve all heard the amazing benefits that exercising regularly provides, it decreases stress, improves blood sugar, improves blood flow, lowers resting blood pressure, etc. Did you know that exercise also has an effect on the immune system? When you’re exercising you get an increase in the number of white blood cells (the immune system cells that fight disease) circulating which allows those cells to target the bad cells and kill them before they have the chance to build. The key here is regular and consistent exercise so that you have a better chance of fighting off any bugs that you are exposed to on a daily basis. Exercise could mean going for a run, walking, lifting weights, yoga, or really any form of activity that you enjoy. Exercise also has a large effect on your mental status and if you are of a positive frame of mind that also has a positive effect on your immune system. If you are able to get out during the day in sunny Boulder it is even better because getting sun exposure directly on your skin is going to synthesize more Vitamin D which is also very important for your immune system.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” and while that may not be fully true there is a lot of truth on how your diet impacts your immune system. By eating more fruits and vegetables you are increasing your antioxidant capability meaning that you are improving your bodies ability to fight off the cold. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can be found in many fruits as well as taken as a supplement. It is especially important to get more Vitamin C into your system when you feel a cold coming on or if you are currently fighting one off. Hydration is also going to be a factor on how your immune system is functioning. Approximately 60% of your body is composed of water so if you are chronically dehydrated it puts a lot of stress on your whole system. Drinking up to 8 glasses of water a day helps eliminate toxins and waste materials making your immune systems job easier since there are fewer toxins to begin with. Consuming large amounts of sugar is also detrimental to your immune system amongst other systems within your body. Attempting to decrease your sugar consumption and replacing it with vegetables and some fruit is going to be beneficial for your immune system.
4. Getting your nervous system checked
This one might surprise you a little bit. Getting your nervous system checked is the most important factor in you being able to fight off whatever cold or flu that you come in contact with. Your brain, spinal cord, and the nerves that supply every single thing within your body controls your immune system. Don’t you think that having a properly functioning nervous system also means that you will have a stronger immune system? We hear it from our patients all the time that they get sick less frequently, if at all, and if they do get sick they recover from it a lot faster than they would have if they weren’t under upper cervical chiropractic care. When your nervous system is balanced your body has the capacity to operate to its fullest potential.
To summarize rest, exercise, diet, and a properly functioning nervous system all play a part in your ability to maintain a healthy immune system during the winter months. In our office we specialize on the nervous system and its role in maintaining health. So if you have never had a test of your nervous system done before how would you know if you are expressing health to its fullest potential? Feel free to call our office at 303-442-5911 for a free consultation to see how your nervous system is functioning, after all, what do you have to lose?
Yours in health,
Dr. Sarah MacArthur
The Specific Chiropractic Center- Boulder