Viruses are part of the air soup that surround you, the community, the country, and the world, and has done for …. well, as long as humans could detect them. Natural immunity has maintained the species so far and is likely to play a significant role in the future. Whilst the threat of viruses is a constant through your lifespan there are some common-sense strategies that will enhance your resistance and aid your speedy recovery.
This article aims to help you use utilise natural elements of your immune system alongside other strategies you may choose for strong immunity against viral threats. In no way does it replace or represent medical advice you would otherwise receive from your medical doctor or health practitioner.
Your immune system operates through exposure. Once exposed to a virus your body will react to firstly reduce its effectiveness in reproducing itself, then detect and destroy it, and finally, maintain the memory of the virus to recognise it in the future therefore being better prepared to combat that virus and its mutated variants.
Weak or compromised immune systems are less effective through all three stages mentioned above and in very rare occurrences is unable to “win the battle” leading to systemic inflammation, organ shutdown, and death. Therefore, the question this article aims to briefly answer, “what do we do when we detect a viral threat?”.
Below is a four-phase approach for the time when your immune system will be exposed to higher concentration of community viruses. Again, please note, this is a guideline and does replace medical advice. If you are experiencing symptoms which are concerning to you, seek the advice of a health practitioner immediately.
The four phases are not equally distributed as described below. Here’s a summary before you get to the bones of it – boom boom.
Phase One – Living Well
This phase hopefully comprises 95% of your life or 49 weeks of the year. Living well involves implementation of your daily health habits – as listed below.
This phase gives you a strong robust immune system freedom from pain and fantastic energy to enjoy a full and vibrant life.
There are two components to Phase One. You Global Health Goals and Daily Health Habits. These two components live hand in hand and not separately.
Global Health Goals include things you need to have in your life, such things as:
- Exercise – move well and move often – “How you move is how you live”.
- Manage Stress – Breathe.
- Relaxation – sleep well, meditate, take time to smell the roses.
- Love, laugh, and express yourself – these are the treasures of life.
Daily Health Habits refers to your daily duties to maintain a high level of vibrant health. These habits serve to promote your Global Health Goals and includes:
- Moving well (e.g. walk with good posture) and moving often (e.g. walk daily).Hydrate – aim for two litres a day.
- Diet disciplines – avoid/limit sugar, wheat, dairy, alcohol, and processed foods.
- Sleep – develop good sleep hygiene habits (no devices in bed, develop consistent bed time and wake times, and have a cool, quiet, and dark environment/room).
- Socialise – humans are socially wired whether you like it or not.
Consider daily supplementation, specifically, vitamin C, D3, and Zinc.
Your goal here is to live 95% of your life with great vitality and strong immunity
Phase Two – Awareness
This phase may comprise of approximately 3% of your life where you detect a possible viral encounter and quickly protect yourself from further illness and/or progression to phase three. This phase is characterised by an increase in awareness of your immune system interacting against a viral invader. Influenza and SARS viruses interact with specific cells located in your nasal area and throat, hence early symptoms will be in these areas – E.G a scratchy throat or a raspy cough.
The goal from this early detection is to reduce the amount of viral activity in the affected cells. These cells are reproducing viral strands and affecting other cells in the nasal and throat areas. Hence, reduce viral load, keeping these areas healthy and clear. Done well, you will limit the size of the immune response by limiting the amount of attackers in the viral army, have less fever symptoms and quicker recovery.
As mentioned above, your immune system maintains its function and strength through exposure and due to lockdowns and other strategies you have not been exposed to viruses for many months. However, as we come out of these restrictions, viral concentrations are likely to increase in our communities and your immune system may find the viral invader to be novel and hence may produce a strong immune response. Hence, I recommend you are very diligent in practicing good health strategies to help reduce the intensity of your immune response.
Reduce viral load by doing the following:
- Keep airways clear – walk or sit outside and breath through your nose.
- Avoid mucus forming foods – this often includes sugar, diary, and breads.
- Increase Zinc, Vitamin C and D supplementation.
- Hydrate often – sip water often (and don’t share your drink bottle).
- Eat gut stimulating foods – spices (curry), ginger, garlic, and probiotics (e.g. sauerkraut, miso, kombucha).
- Use nasal spray and Propolis and Manuka lozenges to keep airways healthy.
Your goal here is to reduce the size of the battle ahead by limiting the viral load
Phase Three – Battle the Infection – days 0-5
This phase is characterised by the full symptoms of a battle against a viral invader and is likely to include; fever, loss of appetite, poor sleep, and lethargy. This phase should last for less than five days.
During this phase you should:
- Stay at home and reduce the spread to others – including family members wash hands regularly to reduce spread around house.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate with warm lemon drinks often.
- Avoid sugar, alcohol, coffee, dairy, and bread (and possibly meats, depending on your dietary signature) – snack on fruit.
- Eat foods with anti-inflammatory properties – Tumeric, Garlic, Ginger, Broccoli, Sprouts, and Omega oils
- Sit outside in sunshine – don’t exercise (walk 10mins max), conserve energy for your immune system.
- Increase supplementation – Zinc, Vitimin C & D, introduce NAC (600mg x 3/day)
- Rest, rest, rest, rest, rest, ……
Day 5-6 is a vital time in your recovery. If you are not showing significant signs of recovery/improvement – i.e. you no longer have a fever – you must seek medical help immediately to ascertain your immune response
Phase Four – Recovery – days 6 plus
This phase is characterised by the absence of a fever and improvements in sleep, appetite, and energy. This phase should take a further five days (less than 1% of the year) and is vital to ensure a full recovery. Returning to sports, work, or physical activity too soon brings risk of delayed recovery or relapse into phase three.
These three signs indicate you are entering phase four:
- You are sleeping well.
- You are hungry.
- You want to get outside and move.
To help complete a full recovery, you should:
- Slowly reintroduce exercise – start with a walk on flat ground for 20 minutes only.
- You can start to reintroduce meats and other normal good dietary habits.
- Set a return to work day, socialise, return to normal behaviours – after two days without fever.
Start with a good healthy life habits. This will reward you in many ways including a strong robust immune system to ward of nasty viruses (which constantly surround us). If you become aware of symptoms in the nasal and throat areas, suspect there may be some interaction with a virus and reduce viral load.
Tighten up on your health habits and give the body some rest to build immune strength for what may or may not occur. If the body has to battle the virus then boost it’s ability to do so by taking it easy, eat stimulating foods, avoid sugary treats, and consider supplementation with vitamins and zinc, but most importantly rest.
One fantastic lesson we have learnt over the last 20 months is that you can limit the spread of the virus to others by being responsible. Don’t go to work, isolate from family for a few days, wash hands often, and be mindful of coughing and sneezing.
Finally, recover fully. Take an extra couple of days and give yourself a chance to be stronger – stay at home for two days without fever before returning to work, school, exercise, and socialising.
Advice given in this article does not replace other strategies for recovery against viruses, rather these strategies may enhance other strategies for your beneficial recovery.
Dr Matt Short – Chiropractor