I just wanted to say hello and write a brief blog that is important this time of year – staying healthy as “flu season” kicks in. I’ll keep this brief and to the point and provide as much useful content as I can to help give you tools and strategies to get really healthy and STAY really healthy through the fall and winter. Below are some of my Top 10 Suggestions for a healthy winter.
First, understand that, in truth, there is no such thing as “flu season”. We are always exposed to many different viruses and pathogens all the time. There are some important factors this time of year which can alter our ABILITY and CAPACITY to deal with immune challenges. The issue, generally speaking, is never about the pathogens themselves (flu viruses, etc) but, rather, the most important is our capacity to deal with them. In other words, focus on your INTERNAL capacity to be strong, healthy, and radiant. NOURISH your internal immune system, SUPERCHARGE immunity within by transforming how you deal with stress, and OPTIMIZE mood and vitality through improving brain and nerve system function. When we can do this effectively, we can deal with most everything that comes our way.
A quick note on the “flu shot”. I am deeply opposed to the flu shot in most cases unless one is deeply infirm or runs the risk of life threatening health crises if they get sick. This is a remarkably low percentage of the population. Work on yourself and “immunize” yourself with great living, healthy eating, exercise, stress reduction, proper sleep, and taking herbal and homeopathic supplements. In my position as a health care provider, chiropractor, and acupuncturist I have met with families and individuals who have been injured by unnecessary flu shots. Its not just a magic shot that deems you “immune”. In fact, there is no guarantee that you won’t get sick. On top of that risk you are getting loaded with a number of toxic chemicals which can actually suppress immune function AND negatively impact neural function. You, of course, should do your own research and make your own informed decision on this. Our family will never get flu shots. There are tough situations where your job requires it and that can be a complex ethical question. In general, build within first. If you MUST get a flu shot work with a professionally trained, licensed, and credentialed health care provider (MD, DC, DO, ND, L.AC) to detox your system, reset your nervous system, and mitigate the negative effects of the vaccine. I just witnessed a heartbreaking scenario of a young healthy girl getting the flu shot. She promptly got the flu, then began to have seizures she had never had before, and passed away a few days later. Do your due diligence and have a trusted and credentialed health care team to support your highest interests. Don’t let a pharmaceutical company or pharmacy tech teach you about your immune system!
Lets now look at some powerful and positive ways to supercharge this time of year:
- Honor the cycles of rest and slowing down. Less sun and shorter days are an invitation to SLOW down and rest more. Where can you slow down? Where do you say “yes” when you mean “no”? How can you simplify your schedule just a little bit to create ‘space’ and ‘margin’ in your life. When we do this we are honoring the natural rhythms around us and this, in turn, supports our body physiology. It means less stress which means a stronger immune system. Generally, making space in our life creates more joy, more peace, and more flow.
- EXERCISE. You know this one and yet it bears repeating. 30-60 minutes of movement 5-6 days per week is pretty much a miracle drug for everything – mind, mood, immune function, cardiovascular health, pain relief, brain health. That daily movement and sweat moves blood, lymph, breath, and energy. It releases tension and builds resilience. It builds healthy confidence and self-esteem. All of these improve your immune system.
- Get outside more. As the days shorten, we get less exposure to sun which means less vitamin D and other pro-immune chemicals in our body. It also means we are cooped up inside where more “germs” congregate and we are more likely to get exposed. So get outside, get moving, get breathing and enjoy this beautiful world.
- EAT TO LIVE, DON’T LIVE TO EAT: Simple: eat in a way that make you feel vital and vibrant. Eat less. Eat local. Eat living foods that have color and nutrients. That is not Bojangles, that is not processed foods. Common sense always wins out here: did it grow on a tree, come from the ground, or graze on living grass in a humane way, has this been chemically altered or processed in any way? If you can’t answer those questions its likely going to DECREASE immune function. Health living foods INCREASE immune function. As Jordan Rubin says: “pay the farmer now or pay the doctor later.” People will not balk at spending $6 on an acidic caffeine rich latte loaded with sugar and yet will freak at the concept of paying more to support healthy organic options that give life. Eat to live. If you are stuck, work with a well-trained nutritionist or credentialed doctor (MD, DC, DO, ND) to get the help you need. There are GREAT options here in Charlotte.
- Meditate, Don’t Medicate: I cannot stress enough the power of meditation to change your life, your body, your mood, your brain, and your immune system. There are great systems out there to help you. The improvement of immune function through meditation is very well-established. The systems I have personally been trained in and can vouch for are: 1) Transcendental Meditation; 2) Insight or “Mindfulness” meditation; 3) Loving Kindness meditation. These are all powerful tools with great teachers here in Charlotte. Learn from a teacher that has a real lineage training, has deep embodiment in their tradition, and I recommend in the beginning learning from a teacher. It helps the learning curve and helps you navigate through pitfalls and challenges that naturally arise.
- Regular Chiropractic Care: The relationship between chiropractic care and immune function is also well established. Chiropractic has a great and positive impact on immune function. It stimulates the immune system to work more efficiently and powerfully. I am biased towards gentle, low-force techniques like Network Chiropractic (which I am trained in), however not everyone has access to that and its is not everyone’s preference. The key is not really technique, its all about connecting with a well-trained doctor who is loving, kind, supportive, ethical, honest, and lives the wellness lifestyle. You’ll know when you meet them if they resonate with you. Trust your gut AND give yourself the gift of chiropractic wellness care. There are varieties for every preference.
- Top 10 Natural Medicine Goodies: 1) I love to use Echinacea and Astragalus as herbal preventatives; 2) I also love homeopathic medicine to detoxify the body, build immune function, and naturally help if one does get sick. In addition, depending on the person, we recommend the following supplements to bolster overall immune function: 3) Probiotics to enhance digestive function and immunity; 4) Vitamin D; 5) Adrenal support such as Ashwaganda; 6) Cod Liver Oil; 7) a raw food based protein supplement; 8) Colloidal Silver; 9) Vitamin C; 10) Digestive and immune enhancing enzymes. When in doubt work with a well-trained, credentialed and licensed health care provider. Generally speaking, most chiropractors, naturopaths (from an accredited naturopathic university such as Bastyr or Southwestern), acupuncturists, and Medical Doctors with additional training in nutrition are great supporters in all of this.
- Essential Oils + EPSOM SALTS: Use immune blend essential oils to naturally sanitize the air and improve immune function. Epsom salt baths with lavender oil a few nights a week relaxes the body, detoxifies the body, and helps clear your “energy field” from the effects of stress.
- STAY AWAY FROM SUGAR. Sugar destroys the immune system. Its no coincidence that flu season often starts around Halloween and goes through the Holidays. In both cases there is huge cultural pressure to ingest way too much sugar. It can be hard to say no for fear of disappointing others, but just ask yourselves, “Do I want a quick hit of something sweet, or do I want to feel great this fall and winter?” Sugar negatively impacts EVERY system in your body. Choose wisely and be kind to your body.
- Stay Connected to Your Spirituality + Deal with Emotional Stress: Whatever that means for you, stay connected to practices and ways that help you keep perspective and craft a positive and empowering meaning about your life. Prayer, meditation, support groups, temples, chapels, churches – whatever fills your spirit to transform pain into life and helps you stay focused on giving, loving, forgiving, and serving and POWERFUL tools to enhance your health physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. On the emotional end of things, there is no substitute to working with a great licensed, accredited and well-trained therapist to help deal with, heal, and reframe painful emotions and old traumas.
Wishing you lots of love and radiant well-being.
Dr. Matt Lyon