by Prenatal & Family Chiropractor, Dr. Jessica L. Caruso
Every fall many of my patients ask me if they should get the flu shot. As their family chiropractor I feel it is my duty to give them the resources they need to make an informed decision that best resonates with their family. Flu vaccines are manufactured by combining preservatives with three strains of ‘dead” inactivated flu viruses. Most people are aware that the question regarding safety of the preservatives used in vaccinations has stirred much controversy over the years with regard to autism spectrum disorders. In some cases, the preservatives used are not considered safe. Vaccines using the preservative Thimerosol, which is a derivative of Mercury, is a known neurotoxin, and it is still in some vaccines. So at the very least, if you plan to still vaccinate, choose Thimerosol-free vaccinations. Another risk to consider is, Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS). GBS is a neurological condition that can develop after having a bacterial or viral infection. It occurs when something goes awry in the immune system and your myelin sheaths ( your nerves’ protective covering) get attacked. My maternal grandmother fell victim to GBS following a flu shot in the early 1970’s. For this reason my mother chose to never vaccination me or my brothers with the flu shot. Finally, there is the risk of serious allergic reaction and/or getting flu-like symptoms after receiving the flu shot such as fever, muscle pain, and feelings of discomfort or weakness.
There are more natural ways to strengthen your immune system.
Several vitamins and minerals are known to boost the immune system, like Vitamin C, Vitamin A ( please check with your PCP if you are pregnant or nursing regarding Vitamin A) and Zinc to name just a few . It’s best to get most of your vitamins and minerals from whole food sources and supplement as needed.
Some Food Sources
For Vitamin C:
Some Food Sources
For Vitamin A:
Some Food Sources
The following dietary guidelines will move you in the proper direction toward protecting and boosting your immune system:
- Decrease or eliminate red meat from your diet and add more fish, such as salmon to increase omega-3 fatty acids and decrease systemic inflammation.
- To avoid the unfavorable effects on the immune system from certain fats; use healthy mono-saturated fats such as olive oil to cook and dress salads with, and avoid margarine.
- Add several servings a week of fruits and vegetables and do not overcook them to provide your body antioxidants; which minimize the disease causing effects of free radicals in the body.
- Add more fiber such as whole grains to your diet to improve colon health and increase immunity.
- And finally, DRINK WATER! Drinking eight glasses of water daily can decrease the risk of colon cancer by 45%, bladder cancer by 50% and it can potentially even reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Exercise has the ability to protect and strengthen the immune system. Studies have shown that a regular exercise program of simply walking briskly for 20-30 minutes, 5 days a week can enhance the immune system’s antibody and natural T -cell responses.
Modern life is full of time pressures and frustrations, like racing against deadlines, sitting in traffic and arguing with your spouse or kids. All of these common stressors cause your body to react as if you are facing a physical threat. This reaction gave our early ancestors the energy to fight aggressors or run from predators. It helped our species survive. In other words – fight or flight. The fight or flight response is regulated by your sympathetic nervous system and is intended to protect you by releasing the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline in response to stress. If your stress response is constantly activated it can lead to life-threatening health conditions and leave you more susceptible to colds and flu due to the continuous release of stress hormones.
Stress management requires continuous practice as you go through life and deal with change. Your body’s fight or flight reaction has strong biological roots -it’s there for self-preservation.
Finding a healthy way to manage your stress is essential to the health and vitality of your immune system.
Chiropractic adjustments release stress from your body and improve your nervous system by regulating the sympathetic nervous system and its counterpart, the parasympathetic nervous systems; improving your sleep and boosting your immune system by 200%.
Deep breathing exercises may put you in a relaxed state. Meditation, yoga and tai chi are designed to focus your mind, calm your anxieties and release physical tension.
Finally, shifting your outlook and simply choosing to look at situations in a more positive way can reduce the amount of stress in your life. Psychologists and licensed clinical social workers are trained to help you break free from bad patterns and teach you how to cope with your stress better.
In conclusion, I recommend:
regular chiropractic care with a chiropractor who is well versed in nutrition and wellness care;
begin to meditate, take a yoga or tai chi class;
don’t be afraid to seek help with a mental health therapist;
and just breathe
Your immune system will thank you with a life of health and wellness.
References: www.eatwellmovewellthinkwell.com http://stress.about.com/od/stresshealth/a/coldsandflu.htm http://www.freedrinkingwater.com/water-education/water-health.htm http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/chronic_fatigue_syndrome/hic_diet_exercise_stress_and_the_immune_system.aspx (http://www.totalhealthbreakthroughs.com/2008/11/do-flu-shots-really-work/) http://health.howstuffworks.com/diseases-conditions/pain/back/how-to-prevent-back-pain10.htm Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Balch & Balch, 2000