Written By Chiropractic Health and Wellness on November 16, 2009

To read media accounts relating to H1N1 and seasonal flu one would certainly come to the conclusion that we are under microbial attack.  It is implied in these accounts that if you are prudent you may somehow avoid exposure to the bulk of these disease-causing germs.  The truth is that germs are everywhere, and I mean everywhere. Not only are they everywhere, but they are present in such large concentrations that to think that you can avoid them is about as foolish as thinking that if you run fast you can avoid being hit by rain drops in a torrential downpour- it is simply not possible. 

The good news is that germs are nothing new to us- they were some of the earliest inhabitants of earth and we grew up with them, in an evolutionary sense. They live on our skin and in our digestive tract.  It is estimated that in your gut alone there are over 100 trillion organisms. We are literally swimming in a sea of bacteria, fungi, and single-celled organisms, and yet we usually manage to get along with each other just fine, and even have a mutually beneficial relationship most of the time.  As with all ecosystems, our relationship with germs is a delicate balancing act- sometimes conditions favor certain of them and sometimes it favors us, the host.  What is important to understand is that we are part of the same ecosystem and depend on each other.  To think that we can eradicate them is utter folly, and is not in our long-term best interests anyway.

There are times when they get the upper hand and it is wonderful that we have such things as antibiotics to keep them from killing us outright.  However, to broaden this emergency measure and think that the solution to germs is to kill them all off, simply will not work.  Our feeble attempts to tilt the balance in our favor by wide-spread and excessive antibiotic and antiseptic use has mostly served to accelerate the evolution of these organisms and has made them much more powerful foes.  What we have to do is accept that we are linked through our evolutionary history and accept that, like living with your in-laws, sometimes you just have to make the best of it.  Your real job, especially during this time of year, is to make sure that your body is strong and balanced and thus a  poor breeding-ground for germs.

Here are some things that you can do during cold and flu season to keep your immune system strong:
1. Avoid sugar and processed foods-these things weaken your immune system.
2. Get plenty of rest.  A well-rested body is a strong body.
3. Find ways to reduce stress.  Chronic stress weakens cellular immunity.
4. Eat a balanced diet.  This is one of your most powerful weapons against disease and infection.
5. Exercise regularly.  Vigorous exercise has been shown to have a stimulating effect on the immune system.
6. Take vitamin D-3, especially if you are not getting any sun exposure during the winter.  D-3 has a very potent impact on immune function. Talk to your doctor on dosage.
7. Take probiotic supplements.  80% of your immune system surrounds your gut and caring for your gut ecology will help you fight disease-causing microbes.
8. Get adjusted regularly- chiropractic adjustments reduce stress and stimulate immune function.
9. Wash your hands, but use good, old-fashioned soap and warm water. It can't hurt to limit exposure because maybe you aren't perfect at all of the other measures above.

It is, of course, a tragedy when anyone succumbs to the flu or other infectious disease, but I think all of us should remain calm and simply do what we can to fortify ourselves from the inside.  That strategy has always been, and still is, our best assurance of staying healthy.  I am confident that when the dust settles on the H1N1 issue we will look back and find that it was scarcely more severe or virulent than the regular, seasonal flu.  Not that either flu strain should be taken lightly, but it is important to keep things in perspective, especially when the media is in the middle of a feeding frenzy and the pharmaceutical companies stand to make billions- something to ponder.

Be Healthy,

Tim Fargo D.C.