Give Your Immune System a Boost
With all that’s going on right now - from cold and flu season to the global COVID-19 pandemic - we want to bring you some ways to stay healthy naturally by working within the means of your own body’s design. Your immune system is composed of an intricate network of cells, organs, and tissues all working together to prevent and limit infections and illnesses.1 And although there is no magic pill or surefire way to give yourself immunity against every illness, there are things you can do to give your body a fighting chance and let it do what it does best: protect and heal itself.
Most people don’t think to see a chiropractor to ail symptoms of the common cold; however, getting adjusted helps to clear the nerve pathways, allowing for proper communication from the brain to the body to promote optimal immune function. Chiropractors are doctors that address the health and function of the nervous system. Your nervous system controls every cell, tissue and organ function in your body. If your nervous system isn't healthy, the body does not function well and cannot heal properly. Spinal adjustments boost immune function through the correction of subluxations in the spine that cause neural dysfunction.2 Subluxation is the term chiropractors use for a misaligned vertebrae. These misaligned vertebrae increase the stress on your body, which in response, may weaken your immune system and lower its response to foreign invaders.2 Correcting these subluxations releases the body’s stress on the nervous system and boosts the coordinated responses of the nervous and immune systems.3,4
A multitude of studies have been performed to test the effects chiropractic adjustments have on the immune system. One study in particular focused on the link between chiropractic care and asthma. The results of this study showed a positive effect on patients’ subjective measures, such as reported number of asthma attacks, use of medication and quality of life.3 They also found that patients receiving chiropractic care reported a decrease in the severity of their symptoms.3 A study on patients suffering from HIV, a disease that interferes with the body’s ability to fight infections, found that regular upper cervical adjustments increased CD4 cell counts (cells that trigger the body’s response to infections) by 48% over the course of six months.6
Like the saying goes, you are what you eat. Foods are capable of influencing immune function.7 Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that contributes to immune defense by supporting the cellular functions of the immune system.8,9 When your body is deficient in vitamin C, it results in impaired immunity and puts you more at risk to infections.9 Your body doesn’t produce or store vitamin C so it’s important to consume foods high in vitamin C daily, such as citrus fruits, bell peppers, broccoli, and so many others. If you find that you’re unable to consume all the nutrients and vitamins that you need, we recommend taking a whole food vitamin, such as the fruit and vegetable blends offered at Juice Plus. Along with making sure your diet is high in vitamin C, make sure you’re getting enough protein. Protein deficiency has been shown to decrease your body’s resistance to infections since most immune mechanisms are dependent on cell replication and the production of active protein compounds.8 Incorporating foods containing probiotics such as yogurt, sauerkraut and kombucha can aid in your immune response as well. Probiotics have been shown to provide therapeutic potential for diseases by reducing the risk of acquiring an infection and shortening the duration of time in which an individual exhibits symptoms if infected.15
Regular exercise is critical in maintaining your overall health. It improves your heart health, lowers blood pressure, helps control body weight, and protects against a variety of diseases.10 Exercise improves your blood circulation, which allows immune system cells and substances to be released into the body to do their jobs efficently.2,10 “Several epidemiologic studies also suggest that regular physical activity is associated with decreased mortality and incidence rates for influenza and pneumonia.”11 You don’t need a gym to stay active. Go for a walk around the block, take the stairs, search a class on YouTube and follow along to the videos from the comfort of your own living room.
Stay Well Rested!
Sleep allows your body to reset and recharge, which allows your immune system to continue to function and protect your body from foreign invaders.2 Studies show that when an individual doesn’t get enough quality sleep, they become more susceptible to getting sick after exposure to a virus, such as the common cold.12 While you sleep, your body produces and releases cytokines into your body.13 When your body isn’t getting enough sleep, it produces far fewer cytokines.13 Cytokines are proteins that function to target inflammation and infections and are required in significantly larger quantities when your body is fighting an infection.13 Additionally, sleep deprived individuals have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body, which may help to keep you awake and alert, but it also suppresses the immune system.14 One study even found that chronic sleep loss can reduce the effectiveness of the flu vaccine by reducing your body’s ability to respond.13 Aim for a minimum of 7 hours of sleep each night, it’s been found that people who get 7 hours of sleep each night are 4 times less likely to come down down with a cold than people who get less than 6 hours.14
The best way to prevent an infection is to reduce your exposure to it. Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds, don’t touch your face, maintain 6 feet of distance between yourself and other people and continuously wipe down frequently touched surfaces. We are living in unprecedented times, many of the studies mentioned above were performed testing the effects that a lifestyle change can have on contracting the common cold and the quality of its symptoms. None of the lifestyle changes mentioned above will make you immune to or cure you from COVID-19. As a practice, we’re devoted to your health and we’re doing everything we can to ensure your safety. Making healthy lifestyle choices aids in not only your overall health, but your immune health as well. Try to get quality sleep, eat a diet rich in vitamin C and protein, exercise at least 30 minutes a day 3 times a week, maintain good hygiene and get adjusted.
- National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. (2013, December 30) Overview of the Immune System. Retrieved From https://www.niaid.nih.gov/research/immune-system-overview
- ChiroHealthUSA (n.d.) Why Chiropractic Care is Good for Your Immune System. Retrieved From https://www.chirohealthusa.com/patients/why-chiropractic-care-is-good-for-your-immune-system/
- Salehi, A., Hashemi, N., Imanieh, M. H., & Saber, M. (2015). Chiropractic: Is it Efficient in Treatment of Diseases? Review of Systematic Reviews. International journal of community based nursing and midwifery, 3(4), 244–254.
- Starr, D. (2015, Nov. 30) Surprise: Chiropractors can Treat These 5 Conditions. Retrieved From https://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2015/11/30/surprise-chiropractors-can-treat-these-5-conditions
- Rhodes, W. R. (1978) The Official History of Chiropractic in Texas. Texas Chiropractic Association. Retrieved From https://www.danmurphydc.com/Rhodes_Flu.pdf
- Selano, J.; Hightower, B.; Pfleger, B.; Collins, K.; Grostic, J. (1994) The Effects of Specific Upper Cervical Adjustments on the CD4 Counts of HIV Positive Patients. Retrieved From https://chiro.org/research/ABSTRACTS/Effects_of_Specific_Upper_Cervical_Adjustments.shtml
- Cooper, E. L., & Ma, M. J. (2017). Understanding nutrition and immunity in disease management. Journal of traditional and complementary medicine, 7(4), 386–391. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtcme.2016.12.002
- Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Military Nutrition Research. (1999) A Review of the Role of Nutrition in Immune Function. Military Strategies for Sustainment of Nutrition and Immune Function in the Field. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US) Retrieved From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK230969/
- Carr, A.C. and Maggini, S. (2017, Nov. 3) Vitamin C and Immune Function. Retrieved From https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29099763
- How to Boost Your Immune System. (2014, Sept.) Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved From: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system
- Neiman, D.C. and Wentz, L.M. (2018, Nov. 16) The Compelling Link Between Physical Activity and the Body’s Defense System. Retrieved From https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095254618301005
- Olson, E.J. (2018, Nov. 28) Lack of Sleep: Can it Make You Sick? Mayo Clinic. Retrieved From https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/lack-of-sleep/faq-20057757
- National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.) How Sleep Affects Your Immune System. Retrieved From: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-sleep-affects-your-immunity
- Levine, H. (2020, March 21) 5 Ways to Boost Your Immune System. Retrieved From: https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2020/boosting-immune-response.html
Yan, F., & Polk, D. B. (2011). Probiotics and immune health. Current opinion in gastroenterology, 27(6), 496–501. https://doi.org/10.1097/MOG.0b013e32834baa4d