Optimizing the terrain for your best health
It’s April 2020 and we are constantly getting bombarded with new information daily – whether it be a new symptom of coronavirus or a new death amongst a ‘healthy young person.’ It is good to stay up to date, but the incoming information can be stressful and anxiety-inducing. I would like to take this moment to discuss some facts that may shed light on the situation.
In any case, when a diagnosis is unclear or when we are dealing with a difficult disorder, one thing we can always do is improve the persons health status by “optimizing the terrain.” For example, if a flower is suffering, we do not immediately resort to giving it medicine or cutting it down. We will first provide it with adequate water, sunshine, nutrients, and love. Once nourished, this flower is much more likely to flourish.
Why do some people get seriously ill and others do not?”
There have been several diagnosed cases of coronavirus where the person gets fatally ill and other cases where the individual is not affected at all. We know that those who are elderly, immunocompromised or have cardiovascular disease are more likely to get ill(1).
What about the ones who did not have any of the previously mentioned risk factors but also got severely ill? Perhaps we are missing something. When was the last time this individual visited a doctor and had a screening exam? Were they eating well? Did they engage in substance abuse? Were they stressed? Many of these things will also complicate someone’s health status, even if there is no direct diagnosis.
Did you know that many cardiovascular conditions are silent?
Its, true – some do not present with symptoms.Without a yearly screening physical, you may not know you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol or inflammation. High blood pressure does not often come with symptom and as a result, a healthy young person may have high blood pressure unknowingly. Regular check-ups with your physician can help detect any issues early.
Yes, stress CAN have a major impact on your wellness.
Stress is so common now a days that we believe it is normal. However, stress can cause direct physical changes to the body. A study looked at the change in white blood cells responsible for attacking foreign invaders during exam stress in students. When examined, the students had high cortisol (stress hormone) and with that altered white blood cell count(2), showing the correlation between high stress and impaired immune function.
Are you missing critical nutrients in your diet?
Our immune system also requires various nutrients to work optimally. It has long been known now that Vitamin D is essential for the immune system. Research from the University of Copenhagen determined that T cells (a type of white blood cell) would remain dormant to the possibility of threat if Vitamin D were lacking in the blood(3). In other words, the immune system will not attack bacteria and virus appropriately if we are low in Vitamin D.
In addition to Vitamin D, we also require Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Folic acid, Iron, Selenium and Zinc for a proper working immune system(4). Most of these nutrients can be adequately obtained from a healthy whole foods diet and sunshine. Unfortunately, many Americans do not achieve this in their day-to-day diet. According to a study by Northwestern Medicine, 71% of store-bought foods in the United States are ultra-processed and contain limited nutrients(5). Could this be contributing to the high pandemic numbers in the United States?
Chronic inflammation can cause destruction and disease.
Inflammation is another common factor that may contribute to disease process. Acutely, inflammation is beneficial as it brings immune cells to the area of injury or infection to heal the tissues. If this process continues and becomes chronic inflammation, it can cause destruction and disease. This may present as arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, allergies, autoimmune disease, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (6). Risk factors associated with chronic inflammation are obesity, age, diet, smoking, hormones, stress, and sleep disorders (6). There are lab markers that can directly determine levels of inflammation in the body. We can address these levels with lifestyle factors and herbs.
Symptoms are a sign from your body. Listen to it!
It is important to keep in mind the value of symptoms and what their purpose is. Symptoms are often a signal of the body that something needs to be addressed and corrected. In chronic situations as mentioned above, the body is overburdened and no longer responds appropriately.
In acute situations, symptoms have a purpose and should be supported rather than suppressed. For example, a fever is our body trying to make an inhospitable environment for bacteria and virus to help us eliminate these pathogens. In this case it would be harmful to suppress the fever and risk allowing the virus to continue replication. This also goes for the symptom of cough. Our body is coughing to eliminate mucous and junk. Rather than giving a cough suppressant and further pushing down the mucous, it would benefit us to support the cough and thin the mucous to better expel the junk.
Overall, our goal is to support the body systems and strengthen them to function at their optimal capacity. Remember to listen to your body and take care of yourself to help “optimize the terrain” during this challenging time.
Get your health on track with Naturopathic Medicine, Chiropractic care and Acupuncture. We ARE HERE for you and we CARE about your health!