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Boosting Immunity in the Time of COVID-19

These are interesting times indeed. Things that we used to take for granted, like going to a movie, restaurant, bar, or even meeting with friends and family, have now been completely altered by a global pandemic. In the midst of this uncertainty there is fear and anxiety and that, I think, stems in part from either a lack of information or a lack of consensus on the information that exists. These circumstances create an environment in which it is tempting to latch onto some “magic bullet” solution to the problem. We are being told, and many believe, that a vaccine will be such a panacea. While it may be true that a COVID vaccine will change the landscape, I think it a bit unlikely that it will either eradicate the novel coronavirus or that COVID-19 will cease to be a factor in our daily lives. As an illustration, we do have a vaccine for influenza, yet every winter we are still afflicted with influenza. Why? Because the virus mutates (changes in response to environmental circumstances to survive better) and therefore the vaccine does not perfectly match the particular strain of influenza that breaks out every winter.

If there is no magic bullet, then what hope is there for us? The answer is that we must all do everything that we can to boost our immunity and decrease our susceptibility, not only to Covid-19, but also to chronic degenerative disease. It is well-established that persons with underlying health conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. are far more susceptible to severe forms of the disease. Communities and populations with generally lower health indices and a higher incidence of underlying health conditions, such as those described above, have a much higher probability of developing complications from the disease.

The long-term solution is to do everything that we can to boost our health, in the most general sense possible, and to reduce stress on the body. The term “stress” refers to any stimulus which the body/mind perceives as a threat to survival. Stress can be physical, chemical, or mental. In actual fact, most people are being hit by all 3 categories at once. When you perceive something as a stressor the body responds in a stereotypical fashion; it initiates a fight/flight response. Another term for this is the “stress response”. This response is healthy and promotes survival on a short-term basis. The problem with our modern lives is that we are activating the stress response mechanism, not only on a daily basis, but rather continuously. One of the results of such activation is a decrease in your immune competency. The implication, then, is that to keep your immune system healthy, alert and potent one must do everything to reduce chronic stress response activation.

On the physical side, it is essential to engage in daily exercise including cardiovascular, strength building and flexibility. Exercise alone goes a long way toward reducing the stress response. Avoid prolonged sitting, especially with poor posture is incredibly important, especially now that many of us are working from home and are ergonomics may not be as good. Chiropractic care reduces misalignments in the spine and other joints which are a source of negative body messaging into the brain which causes continuous activation of the stress response. Seeing a chiropractor and correcting such misalignments will go a long way toward reducing stress.

On the mental side, anything that you do that makes you laugh, gives you joy and allows you to step outside of the stressful events of life will be tremendously beneficial. Take a walk and put your attention in the environment. Talk to friends who make you feel good and who validate your goals and aspirations. Spend less time with people who do not support and value you. Make decisions about how you can move your life forward each and every day.

The chemical side of the triangle requires that you eat the kind of diet which is most compatible with your genetics. Fortunately, this is not all that complicated. Eat enough good quality food to support a life of vigorous exercise, and no more. Eat plenty of vegetables, some fruit, lean (preferably organic) meats and fish, nuts and seeds. Avoid or limit consumption of refined sugar, processed grains and chemical- laden processed foods. Identify and eliminate foods to which you are sensitive. Gluten-containing grains like wheat, rye and oats, and dairy products are the most common offenders. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day (e.g. if you weigh 160 pounds, drink 80 ounces of water per day). Take nutritional supplements like a good quality multiple vitamin, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and fish oils.

If you do these things, you will be less susceptible to infection of all sorts and less likely to be stricken by the more severe forms of COVID-19. In addition, if you do these things you will also be healthier, happier, and more energetic, not only today, but into the future. All you need to do is move well, eat well and think well. Your body will do the rest. Enjoy the ride.

About the Author

Edina Chiropractor Dr. Tim Fargo is the Clinic Director at Chiropractic Health and Wellness in Edina, Minnesota. He has been a practicing chiropractor for 38 years. He is also the director of The Wellness Resource Group, an organization devoted to providing health and wellness education to the community. He is a skilled and persuasive public speaker and has spent decades bringing wellness education and resources to chiropractic students, doctors and the community at large. Dr. Fargo spent 15 years as the chiropractor for the Minnesota Vikings and, as such, cared for over 100 of the players. More recently, he has developed a specialty in correcting postural and structural spinal problems, including scoliosis. He is the only doctor with Advanced Certification in Chiropractic Biophysics in the state of Minnesota. His whole family works with him in practice including his wife, Nancy, who is the office manager, his daughter, Kailey, who is also a chiropractor, and his son, Ryan, who is the director of public relations and marketing for the clinic.

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