Getting sick?

It seems that there are a lot of bugs going around now. Everywhere I go, someone is saying they’ve been sick or their family is sick. A common misconception is that people are getting sick due to it being colder. Well that may be partially true, but the main contributing factor is now thought to be attributed to the winter humidity. When the air is very humid, the particles in the air attach themselves to the moisture in the air and due to their new added weight and gravity, they fall. In winter, without this moisture, many of the particles simply float or linger for a longer time.

So if picking up a bug has more to do with being exposed to the bug, than simply making poor decisions with staying warm, there must be a reason some get sick while others do not. This has to do with the efficiency of the body in fighting off the bugs. The more efficient the body is functioning, the better chance you have of fighting off a bug which you will inevitably be exposed to. Several simple things that can help with functioning well.

Get a good amount of sleep.
Getting 6 to 8 hours of sleep a night is essential for most of us to properly function. The body needs time to repair itself after a day of usage. Additionally, during sleep is when the spinal discs decompress. After a day on your feet or in a seated position, the discs naturally get compressed. When you lay on your back, the discs have a chance to expand and decompress again. This is also why most people are 3/4 of an inch taller in the morning. Proper rest contributes to a properly functioning immune system, which will be the most effective tool in battling viruses.

Drink plenty of fluids.
Most people drink when they feel thirsty. The mechanism for thirst is based on survival, but not necessarily optimal health. Your thirst mechanism will keep you alive if you heed its warning, but in order to function efficiently, you’ll need to be a little more intentional. If you’re not used to drinking much water, just start small. Several juice glasses full of water a day… then move to a juice glass an hour. I see many patients with active symptoms which will significantly decrease after they hydrate themselves well. Additionally, think of a stagnant pond vs a flowing stream. Which water is safer to drink from? The flowing water. The human body is composed mainly of water. A constant flow of clean water helps to keep the fluid cycle fresh. This also simply keeps our cells hydrated and healthy.

Take a Vitamin D supplement.
Most people don’t get much sunlight when it’s cold outside. Sunshine is our natural method of acquiring Vitamin D. “Vitamin D boosts immunity by stimulating production of cathelicidin, an antimicrobial protein that serves as a “natural antibiotic” in the body,” said Michael Zasloff (a professor of surgery and pediatrics at Georgetown University Medical Center). I take 5000 IUs daily. This is much more than the recommended amount. I’d rather have too much than not enought though. As long as I’ve been faithful with this, I’ve never gotten sick. That’s not to say Vitamin D is the cure when you are sick. It’s the prevention that keeps you from getting sick.

Get some exercise.
This one is very simple. A 30-40 minute session of cardiovascular exercise will increase cardiac output, heart-rate, and blood flow. When you exercise, your body increases white blood cell numbers and circulates them more quickly through your body. Increasing the cell numbers and circulation helps the white blood cells to be victorious when they come across a nasty foreign invader.

These are all relatively well-known methods of staying well, but sometimes a reminder helps. Happy New Year to everyone. Stay healthy!

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