As we prepare to take steps away from dramatic distancing, I know that some people don't feel entirely ready yet. There's been such an underlying current of fear that it's unlikely for you to be completely confident, but I'd at least like to help you to feel more comfortable moving forward.
Humans have lived alongside microbes for thousands of years. More recent research into the value of the microbiome has begun to scratch the surface of the relationship that we have with bacteria, viruses, fungi and other things.
We've learned that a healthy gut bacteria helps our immune system, our moods, puts us on a path away from obesity, helps absorb vitamins and lower inflammation - just to name a few of the benefits. We know that babies born through the birth canal have stronger immune systems and fewer allergies, and that certain microbes actually protect us from toxins in the environment. Of course, these are symbiotic relationships; working together for the benefit of both parties. And yet, an imbalance of these microbes can create disease symptoms. So, if something that's normally present gets out of whack, we see issues crop up.
While so many bacteria are everywhere and kept in check with a healthy immune system, there are some that can create infections. Bacteria are single cell, microscopic organisms that you can find anywhere from the soil, to water, to in and on every animal (I know we don't like to think about this). We have a good sense of what a bacterial infection is, and how to treat it. So if you have Strep, Staph, H.Pylori, E. coli - we use antibiotics or antimicrobials (herbal or pharmacological) to manage the infection.
Viruses, are much smaller. They consist of a few bits of genetic material (DNA or RNA) surrounded by a protein shell. When a virus gets inside a cell, it either lies dormant (for example the HSV cold sore virus) or it hijacks its replication machinery and makes more virus which go on to infect other cells. While there's been controversy over whether or not viruses are alive, it's been shown that viruses have also been an integral part of shaping our genetics (1). Therefore, both viruses and bacteria have beneficial and opportunistic relationships with the human body and we can't think of it as "us versus them."
Our bodies are powerful and amazing. I believe now, more than ever, we are finally appreciating the importance of having a healthy baseline. We've heard that some people are more at risk of more serious outcomes from this illness. Here are some of the factors that have shown to be implicated:
- high blood pressure
- high blood sugar & diabetes
- low vitamin D status
- BMI above 30
- immune compromise
- low nutrient status (like vitamin C and zinc)
Be Active in Taking Care of Yourself
We will all come out of our shelter with different strategies that make us feel protected, and that's ok. Some will wear masks and some will not, for example, but it's important that we refrain from judging each other because we all have different coping strategies and reasoning behind our choices.Over the last several years I've mentioned to you various ways that you could support your immunity. (Check out previous posts.) The biggest theme is that our bodies know how to heal, when given the right tools. Before this came our way, we were using educated predictions based on knowledge of the human physiology and experience treating other viruses. Now, we have preliminary data from case reports from doctors worldwide that show benefits of:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- NAC or Glutathione
- Botanicals with antiviral or immune modulating effects
- Acupuncture, Homeopathy, TCM herbs
- fresh air
- hand washing
Logically, I'm also mindful of the fact that the extra use of antimicrobial agents in soap, hand sanitizer, and cleaning products are also shifting our healthy microbiome. These products don't discriminate between beneficial microbes and not, so it would be reasonable to consider adding probiotics and fermented foods (sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, kombucha) to your regime as well. Also, wash your hands instead of using hand sanitizer whenever possible.
As you can tell, I've been frustrated with the narrative that there's nothing that we can do to improve our health, when we know that's not the case at all. Our bodies are powerful. Our bodies are amazing. We are designed to heal. We wouldn't have made it this far if we weren't all of these things. So let's do the best we can to move forward with confidence, while protecting ourselves and those most vulnerable.
We've got this.
We're still open for virtual appointments and supplement refills so that you can stay on track with your treatments. We'll let you know as soon as anything changes. Please let me know if you'd like to work on building your own unique set of strategies for moving ahead.
See you soon,
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"Understand that you have the ability to get healthy and stay healthy."
~ Dr. Christiane Northrup