Updated: Apr 1, 2019
Lisa Goodman, DC, CCSP, CACCP
It is that time of year again, the beginning of cold and flu season. There are many ways you and your family can stay healthy this season (and get healthy quicker if you do fall ill!). There are some handy choices, such as the flu vaccine and other effective natural choices to building a strong immune system throughout the winter. Here is a summary of how the immune system works and how to boost it this winter.
How does your immune system work?
As your body is exposed to viruses and bacteria it is able to mount a response to fight it off. Fighting off disease generally includes the outward expression of illness such as a fever, cough, sore throat, chills, runny nose and even rashes. Each time your body is exposed to a virus or bacteria it is building immunity for future exposure.
How the flu vaccine works
The flu vaccine works by creating a false immune response and preparing your body to fight if the actual virus is present. It makes antibodies that are at the ready for several months after receiving the vaccine. It provides protection against the strain that is anticipated for the season. The CDC recommends the vaccine for people ages 6 months and older but is especially important in compromised patients (those over 65 and those with chronic health conditions). There is a chance of developing flu-like symptoms after receiving the shot.
Boost your immune system naturally
Because not all illness is influenza - only about 10% of flu-like illness (fever, body aches, sore throat, cough, fatigue) test positive for Influenza - it is important to have a strong immune system to also fight off colds and other viruses. There are a few very simple things you can do starting today:
Get plenty of sleep - at least 8 hours
Exercise regularly - cardiovascular exercise and strength training promotes blood flow - flushing out the body of toxins and spreading nutrients to all parts of the body
Reduce your sugar intake - it suppresses the immune response
Practice good hygiene - wash your hands frequently with soap and water, cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing
Supplement with relatively high doses of Vitamin D (1000 IUs for every 25 pounds you weigh) daily from October-March.
The best way to gain permanent, immunity from colds and the flu is to fight them naturally.
Get Healthy Faster
If you are feeling any symptoms of illness there are ways to shorten the life of a cold or flu.
Stay home - keep kids home from school if they are sick, stay home from work and away from others if you have symptoms of illness
Rest - stay in bed, sleep as much as you can and let your body heal. The best way to stay sick longer is to over do it.
High doses of Vitamin C
Avoid all sugar
Eat well - vegetables, protein, broth and citrus fruit
Getting a chiropractic adjustment at the first sign of illness can alleviate sickness altogether or help the illness move through quicker by boosting a coordinated response from the nervous and immune systems.
Talk to your Doctor
Some people may choose not to get the flu vaccine. Typically healthy families who may be able to tolerate a moderate illness and in the long run, build stronger immunity in the future may chose to opt out. Talk to your doctor about reasons you should or should not receive a vaccine.
While recommended in pregnancy, the flu vaccine has not been tested on pregnant populations of people or animals
If you have an egg allergy or have had a reaction to a prior vaccine you may not be a candidate for the flu vaccine
Moderate/common side effects include flu-like symptoms, redness, soreness. There are other more serious side effects, I always recommend reading package insert before taking any medication or receiving any vaccine.
Washington Park Chiropractic is the only practice in Denver, Colorado specializing in Sports Chiropractic, Prenatal Chiropractic and Pediatric Chiropractic. Our Wash Park Doctors are expert certified and trained in Sports, Pediatrics and Prenatal Care including massage, acupuncture, Webster Technique, Graston Technique, Laser, K-Laser, Kinesiology Tape, RockTape and Normatec.
Lisa Goodman, DC, CCSP, CACCP is a Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician (CCSP) and Certified Prenatal and Pediatric Chiropractor (CACCP). She is a CrossFit L1 and CrossFit Kids Certified Trainer. Dr. Goodman founded Washington Park Chiropractic in 2006 in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Goodman incorporates sports chiropractic techniques with prenatal and pediatric patients, she teaches mobility and taping classes locally, and is a contributor to POPSUGAR, Urban Life Wash Park and DC Aligned. She is a committee member on the boards of the ACA Pediatrics Council and the ACA Sports Council. Areas of special interest include prenatal care, ankle and wrist injuries, instrument assisted soft tissue techniques, strength training, and pediatric fitness. Stay connected with Dr. Goodman on Instagram @washparkchiro or @lisakgoodman