On Wednesday the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District confirmed that a high school student has been diagnosed with the “Midwest virus,” EV-D68. We’ve been watching this “mystery virus” sweep across the nation for a little over a week, and now we’re having to face it head on. With the reports of many children having to be hospitalized as a result of contracting this virus, fear has struck the heart of parents all over. Health departments and schools are issuing Health Alerts aimed at informing parents of the possible signs and symptoms, what to watch for and what to do in the event their child gets EV-D68. This information is useful and helps us, as parents, to be aware of what could possible by going on, but I can’t help but notice two things: 1. We are hyper aware of EV-D68 and so we attribute every sniffle, cough, sneeze, and fever to this crazy virus (accurate or not), and 2. The overwhelming concensus is that there is nothing that can be done once a child contracts EV-D68. There is no vaccination for it and there is no cure. So, we’re left to our own devices, so to speak, and our bodies must deal with this virus on their own. Therefore, we are absolutely required to lean on and trust our immune system to do it’s job, and do it well.
We have an immune system for one purpose, and one purpose only – to keep us healthy, to allow our bodies to adapt to (or fight off) foreign invaders, and to recognize self from non-self. When our immune system is strong, we can encounter viruses and bacteria, deal with them appropriately, and move on. More often than not, we don’t even experience symptoms from the encounters. Our immune is so adept at doing it’s job, that it does it without us even knowing. If we do have symptoms in the form of fever, vomiting, coughing, mucus production, etc., they all serve a purpose (the externalization of the infection – get it OUT!) and are often short-lived.
However, when the immune system is weakened, often by lifestyle choices, we start to run into problems. Weakened immune systems are not able to fully and properly respond to disease. As a result, we see much more significant impact from a viral infection, such as what we’re seeing with EV-D68. All accounts that I’ve seen have reported that it’s the kids with asthma (auto-immune disease) that are being hit the hardest by the infection. So, what do we do?
The answer is simple, however it requires constant and consistent attention – build and strengthen your child’s immune system. This is not something that can be accomplished in one day. It is a task that requires that you do things everyday, from now and for the rest of their lives. We’re talking preventative measures, here, folks. Steps that need to be taken BEFORE your child starts to express the symptoms of an illness. Steps that, when taken consistently, will dramatically improve the health of your family.
- Make sure the nerve system is working. The brain is the master control-center of the body. It is constantly receiving information from the body about what is going on in our internal (inside the body – i.e. the presence of a virus) and external environment (outside the body). It then processes that information and decides if any changes need to be made. If the brain determines that the body needs to be doing something differently, it transfers that information down the spinal cord and out through the nerves to the appropriate body part (tissue, organ, or cell). The nerve system (brain, spinal cord and nerves) controls and coordinates EVERYTHING in your body, including your immune system. If there is a miscommunication between your brain and your body, your body can’t work properly. For many people, this means an incompetent immune system. A chiropractor is the ONLY person who is trained at finding and correcting miscommunication between the brain and body.
- Take probiotics daily. About 80% of your immune system resides in your gut and intestinal tract. The healthier you keep your digestive tract, the healthier you will be overall. We need various bacteria, called flora, in our intestinal tract to help us digest and assimilate food, synthesize vitamins, and maintain intestinal pH. We also need flora to help keep our immune system working properly. Things such as antibiotic use, poor nutrition, too much sugar, heavy metals (think mercury in your fillings), surgeries, and intestinal acid will destroy our flora, thereby weakening our immune system. Supplementing with a good, broad range probiotic is an excellent way of restoring your bodies natural flora and strengthening your immune system. Probiotics are appropriate for all people at all ages and can be found in capsule/tablet or powder form. You want to look for 10-30 billion CFUs.
- Get some Vitamin D. Vitamin D is crucial for bone growth, development and strength. It is also responsible for the regulation of over 20,000 genes and is highly acclaimed for its amazing cancer-fighting and immune abilities. The most natural way for us to obtain adequate amounts of Vitamin D is through exposure to direct sunlight. However, since we live so far from the equator and since most of us have jobs that keep us indoors during peak sun hours, it becomes essential that we supplement with Vitamin D. The best way to know how much Vitamin D you needs is to first determine what you current levels are. For optimal health, Vitamin D levels should be between 50-80 ng/mL for kids and adults. Unfortunately, most of us fall short. Children under the age of 1 should start with 1000 IU/day. Children over the age of 1 should take 1000 IU per 25 lb of body weight each day. Healthy adults will needs somewhere around 5000 IU/day, with pregnant and nursing women requiring 6000 IU/day.
- Fuel ’em up right. There’s a saying that goes “if you want to feel more alive than dead, eat foods that are more alive than dead.” While that’s true all the time, it is even more true when you’re trying to build and maintain a strong, healthy immune system. Focus on eating whole foods, lean meats, vegetables, healthy fats and limit sugar, dairy (a major mucus producer), and grains.
- Make rest a priority. It takes a lot of energy to run a healthy immune system. Replenishing that energy requires sleep. When we are sleep-deprived, our immune system suffers. Furthermore, when our body is fighting a viral or bacterial infection, and our immune system is working really hard, we can support it by making sure we’re getting lots of sleep.
- Make water your friend. There are an abundance of reasons why water is essential for life. However, I ‘m not going to get into all of them now. I will say, however, that a body is not healthy when it’s dehydrated.
- Limit sugar intake. We get absolutely nothing from sugar. In fact, sugar robs our body of essential nutrients. In addition, bacteria, in particular, absolutely LOVE and feed on sugar.
When you make a healthy immune system a priority for your family, you can stand strong and bold knowing that their bodies can handle whatever comes at them. When you have that level of confidence and certainty knowing that your family’s bodies are functioning optimally, you don’t have to fear “mystery viruses” or any other illness, really.
As always, Live Life and THRIVE!