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Colds, Flus And The Immune System

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By: Dr. Stephen O’Neil

Sniffles and sneezes, coughing and moaning are unfortunately the sounds of the upcoming season. Why is it that some people seem to get every cold or flu that comes along and others remain healthy with no ill effects year to year? Why are some people sick through the whole season and others are able to fight off infection in only a few short days? The answer is that some people have immune systems that function more efficiently than others.

Colds and flus are both the result of contagious viruses that enter the human body through the mucous membranes of the nose, mouth and eyes. The result is sore throats, respiratory congestion, headaches, watery eyes and body pains. Colds begin gradually and are generally preceded b a few days of sore throat and an out of sorts feeling. Influenza attacks quickly and the infected person often feels fine one moment and terrible the next. Both of these conditions should ideally come and go within seven days time. It is however not uncommon for people to contract a virus and before they are able to fully recover, they contract another virus or some bacterial infection in the already susceptible tissues of the sinuses or respiratory tract.

There are many ways to minimize your chances of contracting a cold or flu. One way to become virus free this winter is to develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle. This includes eating a healthy balanced diet. Some foods can decrease immune system effectiveness. These included refined sugars and sweets, sweeteners, preservatives and alcohol. Anything that places a high demand on the digestive system such as fried foods or heavy proteins can also hinder immune response.

There is a plethora of studies that show the immune system response is greatly increased through exercise. Exercising on a regular basis promotes better circulation and reduces stress. Stress has a direct correlation to illness because it causes the adrenal glands to release hormones into the body. These cause the thymus gland to shrink reducing normal immune activity.

Studies have also shown that chiropractic care can help strengthen your immune system. Ronald Pero Ph. D., chief of cancer prevention research at New York's Preventative Medicine Institute, discovered that patients under the care of a chiropractor had an immune competence 200 per cent greater than those who were not. A similar study indicated that spinal difficulties could contribute to ear infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, colds and flu. These results aren't surprising since proper function of every system in the body relies on proper communication from the brain to the rest of the body. The super highway for conducting these messages is the nervous system. Spinal misalignments and irritation are like detours and traffic going along the way. Chiropractic adjustments clear the way for more efficient communication, which allows fro a quicker, stronger immune response.

Many other very simple changes in habit can help you avoid colds or flus. Wash your hands regularly and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Chicken soup, vitamin C, zinc, garlic and echinacea have all been found to help stop a cold from progressing. Making these changes a permanent part of your everyday life will promote health through the flu season as well as throughout the rest of the year.