It’s September, the leaves are changing, the mornings are cool and brisk, and if you’re like the rest of our office we’ve all been hit with stomach bugs and runny noses already. With that in mind, I decided it’s time for Dr. Alex’s immune system boosting, nasty bug fighting guide to staying healthy this fall and winter!
Before we jump into this, it’s important to remember that the definition of health is NOT how you look for feel. You can look good and feel good and be very unhealthy. Rather, health is defined by the World Health Organization as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” This means that health isn’t just how you look or feel, but is more how well your body is functioning.
In no particular order, here’s the things I do to keep my immune system strong, and my body functioning well so that when the colds and stomach bugs strike, I know my body is equipped in the best way possible to handle them.
Dr. Alex’s Top Six General Stay Healthy Strategies:
- Get adusted biweekly
- Take vitamins daily: multi, omega three’s (fish oil), probitoics, 5,0000-10,000 IU’s of vitamin D3, 2,000-4,000 mg of vitamin C (men 3,000-6,000, kids 500-1,000 depending on stomach tolerance).
- Exercise at least 3-4 x per week (at least 30 minutes heart rate up, sweat being produced, ideally outside)
- Sleep at least 7-8 hours per night (in bed before 11 PM gives best REM cycle through the night).
- Drink at least half body weight in ounces of water per day.
- Limited intake of sugar, dairy and gluten (all make your digestive and immune system work hard to process them and distract it from fighting other things invading your body).
Dr. Alex’s Top 6 Things to Deal With The Crud When You’ve Got it
- Get adjusted, even when you’re feeling crummy! Research has shown that a cervical (neck) adjustment actually stimulates the production of T Cells in your body, which are the precursors to WBC (white blood cells), aka the cells that fight the bad guys in your body. Making sure your nervous and immune systems are firing on all cylinders means your body will be functioning at it’s optimal level to deal with the crud. Adjustments have also been shown countless times to help break, or at least reduce, fevers (but remember there’s a reason you have one, it’s one of the bodies defense mechanisms against unwanted bacteria and viruses. You heal faster by letting it do it’s work, even if you feel crummy in the process).
- Rest: this is probably the one I struggle with the most, especially chasing a toddler around. However, when you are sick what your body needs the most is rest. Do whatever you have to to stay home, sleep, drink lots of fluids, eat if you really want to, and sleep some more.
- Essential Oils: while there are several oils I use on a daily basis for overall general health and well being, when dealing with fighting a bug my go-to oils are Doterra’s On Guard protective blend, Oregano, and Melaleuca (tea tree oil). Each oil has properties that attack both bacteria and viruses. If you’re not sure what you’ve got, use all three! Peppermint is also my favorite for soothing an upset tummy. Rub them on your feet, neck, head, chest, diffuse them, gargle with On Guard, put them in your bath (no more than three-five drops, they are all capable of burning your skin). For colds and snotty noses doterra’s breathe stick, respiratory cough drops, and the breathe oil blend itself are also on my list of things in my “medicine cabinet.”
- Supplements: load up on vitamin D3 (15,000-20,000 IU’s per day/ 2,000-4,000 IU’s per day for kiddos over 2) while you’re feeling crummy, no longer than 5-7 days), vitamin C (women up to 4,000 mg per day, men up to 6,000 mg per day, kiddos up to 1,000 mg per day).
- No dairy or sugar (especially if dealing with a cold). Both of these “foods” increase mucus production and will make the cold last longer. They will also make your immune system less effective.
- Water, water, water and more water. When sick, you want to avoid sugary drinks or anything with additives. Your body needs to be able to digest what you give it without having to work extra hard. If your diet is high in processed foods, soda and other sugary drinks, it does have to work hard to digest it and it detracts from the attention it needs to give whatever you’re fighting. So stick to water. If you need electrolytes or hate the taste of water, try adding some lemon juice or oil, grapefruit oil, and a little bit of stevia. Water will help flush out the toxins and get you on your way to feeling better.
So there you have the list of things I know to do (and usually choose to do) to stay healthy, aka keep my body functioning at it’s optimum level. This list does not mean I never get sick (let’s get real I live with a three year old, we still get sick!), however when I do my symptoms are generally not as severe and I recover much more quickly than those around me who haven’t been taking care of themselves. You may notice none of my lists include taking any kind of medication, and the reason is I haven’t, in years. The one thing I use if things aren’t improving quickly is organic Elderberry syrup. This is a personal choice based on several things, the big one being I know my body has the ability to heal itself given the opportunity and ideal internal and external environments. If you’re someone who’s first instinct is to reach for the sudafed or Dayquil at the first sign of feeling crummy, I invite you to try some of the things I list above first. There is also the factor of whether you are able to provide your body the ideal internal and external environments it needs to get and stay well. Regardless, following some or all of the “natural” options above will still help you stay healthy (aka functioning optimally) and not get knocked off your feet for weeks or months this winter by a cold or flu!
Always here for you,