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How to Boost your Immune System Function to Reduce your Risk of Infection

11 March 2020 No Comment

Everyone is talking about Coronavirus. Whether it’s the jokes about toilet paper, concerns over travel plans, or concerns about whether it will affect you or your loved ones, it’s the topic of the day. We wanted to talk you through some basic strategies you can employ to boost your immune function so that if it does get to you, its impact will be far less.

Immunity is strongly linked to the autonomic nervous system (stress response). When we are stressed and our sympathetic nervous system is in full swing (fight or flight mode), adrenaline and other stress hormones surge in our bodies and this can cause short term suppression of our immune system. 

This means our bodies are then less equipped to deal with opportunistic infections. It is also the reason long term stress is linked to chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. 

Osteopathic treatment can help reduce muscle tension and loosen myofascial tightness that can restrict the normal functioning of the lymphatic system (the system immune cells use to travel around the body and fight disease). Seeing an osteopath regularly can help your immune system function optimally all the time, so it is always ready to fight infection when required. 

We’ll break this down into the supplements you can take to boost your immune system, the habits you can employ to reduce your risk of infection, and the exercises you can do to have your body primed to stave off infection.

Supplements: Our neighbour and great friend Tania Flack sat down with us to discuss the best supplements for immune function:

Vitamin C – This 2017 study talks about which dose to use to get the best immune system boost https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170330115246.htm

Vitamin D – Here is a link to a 2019 study explaining its role in boosting immune function https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190417111440.htm)

Zinc – Here is a link to a study showing how it modulates infection https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130207131344.htm)

ArmaForce (my personal favourite)

Olive Leaf Extract – to reduce severity of symptoms. Here is a 2019 study showing its effectiveness https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6412187/)

Habits:

Wash your hands. Here is a video showing great technique https://edition.cnn.com/2020/02/28/health/how-to-wash-hands-coronavirus-trnd/index.html. And here is an article with song suggestions https://edition.cnn.com/2020/02/28/health/how-to-wash-hands-coronavirus-trnd/index.html as they say you should wash your hands for as long as it takes to sing Happy Birthday Twice!

Soap and water are better than hand santiser but definitely use hand sanitiser if that is all you have access to.

Try to reduce how often you touch your face. This is one of the best ways to reduce the spread of infection. I find it hard to never touch my face, but I can easily reduce how often I do it by 50%, and am aiming for more.

Exercises from an Osteopathic Approach:

I am going to talk about 2 articles which showed how Osteopathic treatment can help fight infections of this nature, and the lessons you can learn to prime your body to fight off infection.

The first study looked at how osteopaths do lymphatic drainage techniques to improve immune system function, specifically focusing on pneumonia https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3437985/.

The second looked at the mortality statistics during the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918-19 where an estimated 40 million people died. In the US Osteopaths work in hospitals and according to data of people treated by Osteos during that time the effectiveness of treatment was huge.

In people treated by an Osteopath, only 0.25% died.

In people not treated by an Osteopath, 5-6% died. That’s a 20-25 times higher death rate.

What does that mean for you? The treatment involved work on upper back, chest, ribs and neck to improve breathing, reduce pressure on lungs, improve blood flow in the area, and stimulate the immune system by improving lymphatic drainage.

  • So you should do some foam rolling to increase mobility in your upper back.
  • Stretch your chest and neck and shoulders. 
  • Get up from your desk and move more to improve your circulation. Ideally get out in the sunlight to get some natural Vitamin D.
  • Drink lots of water to keep your system well hydrated.
  • Get plenty of sleep, as sleep has been shown to affect immune function in a huge way. Going from 8 hours to 7 hours a night can increase your risk of catching a cold by 3 times. Going to 6 hours increases your risk SIXFOLD!

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