What can you do to help prevent illness during a pandemic?
The power of the human body to heal itself is truly amazing. In this time of ‘social distancing’ brought on by the COVID-19, each of us has an opportunity to transition away from the refined sugars that suppress our immune systems and instead provide our bodies the nutrients needed to ramp up our well-being. Fortunately, the Well World app makes it easy to eat healthfully—complete with daily meal plans and even weekly shopping lists—in order to help each of us stay vital and strong.
As the world grapples with the spread of COVID-19, quick response and proactive measures can significantly reduce the severity and duration of infection, as well as diminish the risk of transmission. A variety of herbs, botanicals, and nutrients possess robust antiviral properties and can improve immune function in the presence of a viral challenge. In combination with basic preventive measures, the application of targeted nutritional compounds provides us with much needed defensive resources that support immune health and help ward off acute infection.
Exercise plays a central role in optimizing immune health. Yet, now that many of us are working from home and unable to easily venture off to the gym, a more concerted effort is required to stay active. Exercise supports immune health in numerous ways such as balancing elevated cortisol levels which, left unchecked, can suppress immune function. Physical activity—especially outside due to the added benefits of sun exposure—can elevate nitric oxide levels and improve immune health. Though beware of overtraining right now. If you feel exhausted and fatigued after working out, then slow down a bit and transition to low-impact activities such as walking.
Amidst the physical and economic uncertainty disrupting our daily routines, stress reduction techniques are critical. Some of our favorite stress reduction techniques include humming or singing in a cold shower to start the day; this stimulates the vagus nerve and gets us out of our ‘fight or flight’ mode. Slow, rhythmic breathing from your diaphragm, or belly breathing, can also provide an immediate reduction of stress. And don’t forget the importance of daily gratitude, prayer, or refocusing practice to help stimulate our ‘rest and digest’ mode.
Good sleep hygiene habits can make a big difference with immune health. The immune system actually recharges itself during deep sleep. Therefore, a complete immune health strategy requires that we take steps to optimize the benefits of this renewal. One helpful tip is to try and maintain a normal sleep schedule even if your work and social life have changed dramatically due to the pandemic. Make a point to turn off all screens at least an hour before bed. The blue light emitted by screens actually suppresses the natural production of melatonin which enables us to fall asleep. This screen-free hour before bed is a great time for reflective and meditative practices.
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Dr. Terry Harmon B.S., D.C.
Dr. Terry Harmon B.S., D.C is a 1997 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, IA. Dr. Harmon established ChiRho Chiropractic in Morganfield, KY in 2003 with a mission of helping as many people as possible function at their highest level of health and life – especially children!
Dr. Harmon has advanced training and certifications in nutrition, detoxification, strength training, spinal correction, and pediatrics. He was blessed to serve as a member of the United States Wellness Advisory Council and Peak Performance team for USA wrestling, judo, weightlifting and martial arts from 2008 until 2012.
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