Are You Playing Offense or Defense?
Anyone who knows me knows that sports are, for the most part, not really one of my interests. Anytime that I get together with some friends (or I guess “used” to get together with some friends) and sports were on, I was always the guy asking in the Derek Zoolander voice “who’s winning the match”? I wrestled in high school and that just didn’t translate well to following sports as I got older. There aren’t any pick-up wrestling matches in local parks on the weekend, and if there are, I’m not really sure I want to be a part of them.
However limited my sports knowledge is though, I do understand that to win any game, you need to be playing both offense and defense. How are we fighting against COVID-19 though?
All of the advice that we get from the news and online focuses on how to avoid getting infected. Wear gloves, isolate yourself, wear a mask, don’t go out unless you absolutely have to, wash your hands often, etc. While I don’t doubt the efficacy of some of these tactics, if you ever want to win a fight you can’t just curl up in a ball on the ground and remain motionless.
So how do we take the offensive against this virus? We can’t necessarily track it down and beat it into submission, so instead we need to focus on making ourselves stronger and more resistant to it. We know that when a small percentage of us, usually people over 65 with pre-existing conditions, get this illness it can be devastating, but for the vast majority of us the symptoms present as mild to moderate in nature, or potentially not at all. So what separates these two groups of individuals? The answer is the function of their immune system. The better our immune system functions, the better we fight off the coronavirus. So to play offense against this thing, we need to strengthen our immune system’s function.
What I’ve done is compile a list of a few, easily executable, action steps that you can literally do tomorrow to improve your health and strengthen your immune system. And now before you go running off to BuzzFeed News and tell them your chiropractor is telling you how to cure COVID-19, rest assured that this is not a cure, only a better sword. And everything I’m going to tell you comes straight from the medical community and peer-reviewed research.
- Step 1: Increase your Vitamin D intake.
- A recent article in the journal Nutrients entitled Evidence that Vitamin D Supplementation Could Reduce Risk of Influenza and COVID-19 Infections and Deaths reported that “Vitamin D deficiency has been found to contribute to acute respiratory distress syndrome; and that case-fatality rates increase with age and with chronic disease comorbidity, both of which are associated with lower 25(OH)D concentration. To reduce the risk of infection, it is recommended that people at risk of influenza and/or COVID-19 consider taking 10,000 IU/d of vitamin D3 for a few weeks to rapidly raise 25(OH)D concentrations, followed by 5000 IU/d. The goal should be to raise 25(OH)D concentrations above 40-60 ng/mL (100-150 nmol/L).” So if your Vitamin D levels are low and you are not taking a D3 supplement, get on that! It is an extremely easy and relatively inexpensive way to boost your immune function.
- Step 2: Increase your Vitamin C intake.
- An article from 1999 in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics entitled The Effectiveness of Vitamin C in Preventing and Relieving the Symptoms of Virus-Induced Respiratory Infections is particularly timely despite coming out 20 years ago. In the journal article, the researchers compared Vitamin C treatment to pain relievers and decongestants for viral respiratory infections. They gave subjects with symptoms hourly doses of 1000 mg of Vitamin C for the first 6 hours and then 3 times daily thereafter. Those not reporting symptoms in the test group were also administered 1000-mg Vitamin C doses 3 times daily. The results are insane. The Vitamin C group reported an 85% decrease in cold and flu symptoms compared to group that took OTC medications. 85%!! So get some Vitamin C already!
- Step 3: Increase your zinc intake.
- James Robb, a noted pathologist who’s work has been published in the journal Virology, has been studying coronavirus infections since the 1970’s. Recently, an email he sent to family and friends leaked online where it quickly went viral. The standard stuff was in there about washing hands, not shaking hands, etc. But Robb also included a lengthy paragraph discussing the benefits of Zinc lozenges as an antiviral tool. Zinc has long been associated with faster resolution of symptoms related to colds, nasal congestion and sore throat. In fact children and the elderly with zinc deficiencies have been shown to be more vulnerable to pneumonia and other viral infections. So get some zinc! But keep it under 150 mg/day at max! More could lead to toxicity.
- Step 4: Reduce any chronic pain.
- We’ve always compartmentalized pain. If my low back hurts, then it’s only my low back that’s affected right? Barring any discussion of nerve compression, consistent pain has a very serious detrimental effect on your body from a systemic level. For example, researchers at Northwestern University found that chronic low back pain can actually cause the gray matter in your brain to shrink by 11%!! We all knew “shrinkage” was a problem but not many of us knew that our brains could be affected. While that’s troublesome enough, when it comes to your immune system, chronic pain can have a similarly negative effect. Scientists at McGill Universtiy found that chronic pain can actually ‘reprogram’ the function of genes within the immune system and can have a devastating impact on immune function as a result. So if you are hurting, get in for an adjustment! We are taking precautions to keep you and ourselves safe, and reducing your pain could improve your immune function and keep you healthier! It’s a win-win!
Hopefully these help or at least point you in the right direction. There is a ton of information flying at us all day, every day now and most of it is bad. But I want you to ask yourself how you are dealing with this crisis. Are you simply reacting to the news as it comes, or are you being proactive in your approach to protecting yourself and strengthening your body? Are you playing any offense? Or just defense?
Remember that we are here to help in whatever way we can. Please call us at 302-368-1300 if there’s anything we can do.
Dr. Travis McKay