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Staying Healthy, Surviving the Virus

Dr David, Editor / Publisher

They started calling me Dr David back when I was 27 years old, when I began practicing as a licensed Naturopathic physician. For decades my profession often involved caring for people who were highly infectious... at close range. Sometimes it still does. How do I stay well?

The real question is not, Why do we get sick? but, Why don't we stay well? Put another way, Why do some people not get ill, or not get as ill or get well more quickly, while others suffer more?

Broadly speaking we may say that some people have stronger immune systems than others. In our own lives we know this to be true. We say, I got run down and caught a cold.

The paramount importance of a healthy immune system was acknowledged by Louis Pasteur, the father of the germ theory, on his death-bed, when he declared, "The microbe is nothing; all is the terrain." The terrain being the host's resistance, our immune system.

There are a lot of specific supplements (nutritional, herbal...) and procedures (oxygen therapy...) that you can use to boost your immune system. Here I will outline a more basic, lifestyle approach to immune enhancement. Taking those specific supplements without attending to these lifestyle measures is like trying to fill a bucket that has a hole in it.

Nothing strengthens your immune system like sleep... nothing! Take a nap. Go to bed early. Sleep in. Doctor's orders.

Rest is a close second to sleep. Slow down. Take it easy. Take a load off. If you're not feeling well and you rest today, then you'll make up for the down time tomorrow or the next day when you're more efficient.

Eat Smart
Eat like you're sick. Avoid rich, heavy, sweet foods. Let your body use its strength to maintain your immune system, to deal with the disease, rather than reacting to your indulgent food choices. Generally, decreasing the toxic load on your system frees up a lot of energy for healing.

Avoid Excessive Sweets
A little dessert is fine, but a large dose of sweets decreases the efficiency of your immune system for hours. If you are having a large dose of sweets every few hours, you are particularly at risk. Have a cookie, but don't eat three or four. Have a few tablespoons of ice cream, but stop there.

Enjoy Yourself
Conscious enjoyment of your food improves your immune system. After the third tablespoon of ice cream, you start swallowing it in gobs, without slowly letting it play across your tongue. That's a recipe for disaster.

Exercise, including yoga, stimulates your immune system, increasing blood flow, massaging glands, etc. While it is hard to exercise when you're down with the flu, exercise is a great long-term strategy for immune enhancement.

Water is tremendously therapeutic. Ending your shower with a cold rinse boosts your immunity. Drinking enough water hydrates your body, improves bowel health, reduces your system's toxic load...

Bowel Health
Keeping your intestines moving properly reduces your body's toxicity and stimulates immunity. I will write a separate article about this soon. The most basic approach is to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Deep breathing oxygenates the body. Oxygen is known to fight many microorganisms and to promote the immune system. Decreased oxygenation of tissues is behind many diseases. There are many types of yogic breathing which can be used for this purpose. The simplest is a long, deep breath in through the nose and a somewhat shorter breath out through the nose or mouth. Gradually deepen and lengthen the inspiration. Controlled breathing is also great for establishing peace of mind. You notice the opposite; when you are upset your breath is disturbed.

Immersion in Nature
Immersion in nature reestablishes your own natural balance and boosts your immune system. (Google "Forest Bathing")

Meditation, Visualization and Prayer
Scientific studies have shown, time and again, that meditation, visualization and prayer are great aids to wellness. Visualize yourself (particularly the sites of illness) bathed in a golden, healing light.

Peace of Mind
Peace of mind is essential to healing and well-being. Find something to do with/for the parts of you that are not at peace. Creatively engage your negativity. Rather than opposing the illness, try to understand it. Have compassion on it. What does it want from you? Where did it, or you, "go wrong"? For more see my Poetry of Disease

Health = Constitutional Vitality - Stress

A quick note on specific supplements
When I was felt like I was getting sick I would go to my herb cabinet and pour off an ounce of Echinaccea and down the whole shot of it. The studies showing immune enhancement with herbs were done with large doses. Eight to twelve drops every other hour will not have the same effect.

The same is true of Vitamin C. For best effect, take it until your bowels get loose. (Then decrease the dosage a little.) Down here I would recommend orange juice, or grapefruit/orange juice, because it is not as sweet. (See Avoid Excessive Sweets above.) Consume ripe fruit, lots of it, a little at a time over the course of the day.

Proper levels of Vitamin D are essential to immune health. Deficiencies are common. The mineral zinc helps white blood cells perform their job of immune defense ten times faster.

Certain mushrooms are prominent immune-enhancers. You can buy these at Mercado Sano. Rather than buy and use small quantities of immune enhancing substances in capsules, consume larger quantities of immune enhancing foods. That you can take hundreds or thousands of times more of them (per dollar) makes them a better value.

If you have questions or want advice, email me at the email address below.


Dr David is looking for authors to contribute to San Miguel Sunday. He is also looking for people who want to add more meaning to their lives. See his new website below.

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events @ sanmiguelevents.com

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