Post on: February 4, 2020.

Posted in: Read.

You can stop a virus from making you sick.

Are you tired? Been eating out, or feeling stressed? If so, you need to boost your immune system, or it might not be able to offer you the virus prevention you need. Everyday you’re interacting with viruses, such as the common cold, influenza and more. Sometimes they cause you to have a sore throat, runny nose or cough. Other times, you barely notice that you’ve came in contact with a virus, because your immune system fought off the virus effectively. Yet, many people worry about viral prevention, particularly when new viruses get a lot of media attention, like SARs, MERs or the Coronavirus. Here’s what you need to know about how to boost your immune system, and virus prevention.

4 Ways to Boost Your Immune System

  1. Get more sleep: sleep deprivation lowers viral prevention
  2. Eat plants: nutrients in whole foods are essential to the body.
  3. Smile: positive mental health can boost immune factors.
  4. Improve your microbiome: gut flora benefits immune function.

Winter Cold Boost Immunity
In winter months, upper respiratory tract infections are more common. They are the most common reason for visits to a primary care physician.

How to Boost Your Immune System: Viral Prevention

It is possible to boost your immune system. This can help the immune system do a better job of preventing virus infections. Boost your immune system with these 4 easy healthy lifestyle tips:

1. Get more sleep: sleep deprivation lowers viral prevention

Sleep deprivation is an epidemic in today’s 24 hour society. That’s concerning as sleep is vital to the integrity of the immune system. When you get enough sleep it boosts your immune system’s ability to defend against viruses. In a sleep study gave a group of tired American adults a viral challenge, the researchers found they were more susceptible to upper respiratory tract infections (e.g. the common cold, influenza). Researchers have found that not getting enough sleep increases your risk of infection, and also makes your infection outcome worse. In other words, you may get more sick if you fail to get the recommended 7 hours of sleep per night by the Center for Disease Control. Do you get enough sleep? Insufficient sleep is a widespread and prominent problem in the modern 24-hour lifestyle. 

The best way to get more sleep is go to bed earlier. Netflix will still be there tomorrow, get to bed! Insufficient sleep weakens the immune system. A significant amount of evidence shows being tired can derail almost all the body’s systems. In fact, insufficient sleep is linked to 7 of the 15 leading causes of death in United States, including heart disease, diabetes, depression, cancer and obesity. Bedtime sure looks like it should be a bigger priority in our lives.

Ways to Fall Asleep Naturally, Backed by Science

Do you have trouble sleeping? Try adjusting some lifestyle factors that may be a problem: reduce caffeine, earlier bedtime, and limit light in the evening. Reducing stress and increasing daily physical exercise can improve your ability to sleep. There are some natural medicines that help with sleepy time troubles. Research shows magnesium, melatonin help reduce the time needed to fall asleep. Well, all that’s left to say is, “Night-night!”.

2. Eat plants: nutrients in whole foods are essential to the body.

Plants are rich in essential vitamins and minerals that boost your immune system. Your immune system needs the essential nutrients to orchestrate the highly complicated and finely coordinated assault it launches against a virus. You probably already know that onions, citrus, and berries help boost your immune system.

Medical experts suggest it’s also worth learning about other nutrients, such as vitamin B-6 (chickpeas, green vegetables, cold water fish) and vitamin E (nuts, seeds, spinach) as all essential nutrients are needed by the body for it to be at its best. Conveniently, eating a wide variety of plants, in their whole food form, is an excellent source of essential nutrients. Reach for vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains and beans often.

In particular, some natural foods get top marks for their immune boosting ability, including turmeric, garlic, ginger and echinacea. Vitamin C, D, echinacea zinc have significant research showing they support the three main parts of the immune system (physical barriers, innate and adaptive). Seek out plants and nutrients that help you and your kids naturally boost your immune systems, and stay healthy!

3. Smile: positive mental health can boost immune factors.

It’s no joke! Smiling boosts your immune system. Mental health affects how well your immune system works. Happiness is more than a feeling. Positive mental health causes a cascade of biological responses in the body that includes cortisol, a hormone that beneficially effects the immune system.

Research has found positive mental wellbeing the effects the body’s resilience to infection. Here’s what science has found.

3 Ways Positive Thinking May Boost Your Immune System:

4. Nourish Your Probiotics: gut flora benefits immune function.

Does microbes sound gross? This might change your mind. Clinical trials have shown positive effects of probiotics (good microbes) on commonly occurring respiratory tract infections, such as the flu and the common cold. Experts are even reporting the consumption of good microbes, could significantly reduce pressure on the health care system and boost the economy. The science is still new, but probiotics are a natural product that may help ward off the flu and common cold.

Kids commonly have runny noses. In a review of 23 clinical trials which involved over 6000 children, supplementation with beneficial gut microbes, called probiotics, were effective in the prevention and treatment of respiratory tract infections. Compared to kids who didn’t supplement with probiotics, the kids who did missed fewer days of school and spent less time sick with respiratory tract infections. 

How do probiotics help fight the common cold?

Since the largest part of the immune system is situated near the gut lining, microbes in the gut can have intimate interactions with it. A large number of studies have concluded that the beneficial microbes in the gut have a positive effect on the strength of one’s immune system, and can even influence the type of response the immune system has to a pathogen. Perhaps that helps you want to put microbes on your menu. Looking for probiotics? You might want to try the Canadian-based and B-Corp certified online wellness shop Vitarock, pre-screens every product ensuring they safety and quality standards.

Virus prevention: coronavirus
Coronavirus: Emerged in 2019, this virus infects the upper respiratory tract, and can cause a fever and cough. Estimates suggest the coronavirus has a mortality rate of about 2-3%, with those at most risk being people with pre-existing health issues. In comparison, the influenza virus, what North American’s call ‘the flu’, has a mortality rate of 10%. There are no known cures, pharmaceutical treatments, or natural medicines for the coronavirus (at date of publication).

Preventing a Viral Infection: How does the immune system work?

There are three parts to the immune system:

  1. Physical Barrier: Mucosal and skin cells act as a physical barrier between you and the outside world. It’s your first line of defense. If a virus, or another pathogen, manages to invade these defenses the body’s the innate immune system kicks in.
  2. Innate Immunity: This second layer of defence involves macrophages, a type of white blood cells, in the mucosal and skin. When a macrophage recognize proteins on a virus or pathogen, it activates a domino-like set of signals that spread word to various parts of the immune system to launch an inflammation-based attack.
  3. Adaptive Immunity: If the virus or pathogen evades this second line of defense, the adaptive immune system is ready. This third line of defense can provide a tailored response to rid the body of an invading virus or pathogen. The adaptive immune system uses special immune cells, called T and B cells, which use antigens (markers on foreign invaders) to launch a targeted attack. A whole army of defensive specialists are recruited, including helper-T cells and macrophages, which destroy and eliminate an invading virus.

Why do you get a fever when you have a virus? 

When the body becomes infected with a virus, the central nervous system responds by increasing body temperature, a symptom we call a fever. This adaptive change, along with fatigue and sleepiness, aid in recovery from infection. 

Why do you get a cough, or runny nose, with a virus?

Pass the tissues! The throat and upper respiratory tract are lined with a mucosal layer. Its function is similar to that of sticky fly tape – it traps pathogens. Sometimes it is effective. Some viruses, such as influenza, can evade this defense. Influenza has the ability to break down parts of the mucosal layer so it doesn’t become trapped. If a virus reaches the epithelium (body cells that lie beneath the mucosal layer) it can invade a cell, using it like a manufacturing plant to create more copies of the virus. Oh, no! Achoo! And, with that sneeze, the virus gets the chance to transmit to another person and the process starts all over again.

What To Do When You Get Sick

Grandma was right that when you start to feel sick be sure to get some rest and drink lots of healthy fluids. If you become sick, it’s always wise to seek advice of a qualified health professional. If you catch the common cold, or another upper respiratory track infection, you may feel more comfortable if you use a humidifier to add moisture into your dry bedroom (particularly in winter months).

Can Natural Medicines Help Boost Your Immune System?

There are a few natural medicines that have been clinically studied for their effectiveness in boosting your immune system against upper respiratory tract infections.

  1. Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) was found to reduce symptoms of cold and flu symptoms in over 180 participants in clinical trials.
  2. Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) has traditionally used in Herbal Medicine to help relieve cold symptoms.
  3. Mushrooms, in particular the oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus), contain beta-glucans which are one of the most studied immunomodulators. Studies have shown beta-glucans boost the immune system and enhance its ability to ward off infections of the upper respiratory track. 
  4. Over 25 clinical studies have looked at Pelargonium sidoides in adults and children with upper respiratory tract infections (bronchitis, sinusitis, pharyngitis and laryngitis) with beneficial results. In fact, a meta-analysis of 8 studies found it shortens the duration and severity of upper respiratory tract infections in children. Pelargonium sidoides is this extract from a geranium plant that grows in South Africa .

NOTE: It is important to note that no natural medicine has been clinically proven to prevent or treat an upper respiratory tract infection. If you are unwell, particularly if you are having trouble breathing, it is vital that you seek immediate professional medical attention.