While the talk of the town (indeed the globe) revolves around the rise of the new coronavirus, in this article we take a look at the simple steps we can take to ensure we stay one step ahead of the game.
"Many people recover within a few days. However, some people - especially the very young, elderly, or people who have a weakened immune system - may develop a more serious infection, such as bronchitis or pneumonia."
- Harvard Health Publishing, Jan 2020, "The new coronavirus: What we do - and don't - know"
While there is still a lot to learn about the new coronavirus, newly named 'Covid-19', we do know that it tends to have a worse effect on those with a weakened immune system.
So, what steps can we take to boost our immune systems?
1. Get more sleep
We're all quite familiar with the importance of a good night's sleep for our general health.
Recent studies also suggest that sleep brings additional benefits for the immune system and its ability to function effectively. Researchers from the University of Tübingen in Germany found that sleep affects how well immune-related cells called 'T cells' function in their role in the defence against infection.
So, push sleep up your list of priorities and your immune system will thank you kindly.
2. Adjust your nutritional intake
One of the quickest ways to give your immune system a kick is to hit the supermarket and stock up on the things likely to provide for your nutritional needs.
For example, Healthline.com suggests you add any of the following to your shopping list:
Fruit, Nuts and Veg - almonds, broccoli, citrus fruits (e.g. clementines, lemons, limes, oranges, tangerines), garlic, ginger, kiwi, papaya, red bell peppers, spinach, sunflower seeds, turmeric
Poultry - chicken, turkey
Shellfish - Crab, clams, lobster, mussels
Yogurt - ideally, with 'live and active cultures' (e.g. Greek yogurt) or fortified with vitamin D
3. Get active
While in the midst of a health scare, it can be easy to forget the exercise routines that keep us fit and healthy from day to day. However, regular physical activity can help strengthen the immune system and assist your body in fighting off infections and viruses.
Working from home? Check out these 8 cardio workouts from Meritage that you can do while you're stuck indoors:
2. Jump rope
3. Jumping Jacks
4. Squat jumps
7. Running the stairs
8. Jogging in place
4. Visit your chiropractor
Well, we would say that, wouldn't we?
But, actually, there is a growing body of evidence highlighting the similarities between the immune system and the central nervous system, as well as the impact of one on the other.
"Strong evidence is emerging that the nervous and immune systems share mechanisms of gene regulation, singling, cell communication, and supra cellular organization."
- D. Kioussis, V. Pachnis | Immunity, Vol 31, Issue 5 | Nov 2009 | "Immune and Nervous Systems: More Than Just a Superficial Similarity?"
Let's take a look at each system in turn.
The immune system (IS)
The IS a network of cells and proteins that protects the body against foreign cells and tissues, ultimately defending against infection
The central nervous system (CNS)
Consisting of the brain and the spinal cord, the CNS is responsible for collecting sensory input from the body and the external environment, interpreting this input in the brain, and responding accordingly.
So, the IS protects the body, while the CNS links sensory input with the brain. However, it's the way the two systems communicate with each other that is really interesting.
Communication between the immune system and the central nervous system
Following an infection, cytokines produced by cells of the IS actually stimulate the CNS into bringing about the sickness feelings we're so familiar with - fever, loss of appetite, dips in mood and social withdrawal. Meanwhile, the CNS generates hormones and proteins to modulate immunity to particular disease. Studies suggest any disruption of the communication between the two systems can lead to greater susceptibility to and severity of various diseases.*
"Communication between the CNS and the immune system impacts physiologic processes at multiple levels (local, regional, sys- temic), and interruptions at any point in this dialogue could disrupt homeostasis and lead to disease.
- C.L. Butts, E. M. Sternberg | Dubois' Lupus Erythematosus and Related Syndromes (Eighth Edition) | 2013 | Pg. 141
Spinal adjustments help the central nervous system
At the heart of chiropractic treatment lies the spinal adjustment - a high speed, low amplitude thrust applied to specific joints along the spine. Adjustments like these can correct spinal misalignments that cause neural dysfunction, while releasing any impinged nerves and relieving pain from affected areas.
And as we've seen, a healthy central nervous system supports a healthy immune system.
Whether you're out and about or working from home this Spring, try incorporating some of these tips into your routine to keep infection at bay.