Eating poorly can make you ill, and eating poorly while ill can drag an illness into extra days or longer. Read on for more about coronavirus and chiropractic care, and eating right to strengthen immunity.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is rapidly spreading across the U.S. and the world, and Americans are being advised by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to remain vigilant and take precautions such as regular hand washing and hand sanitizing, avoiding unnecessary contact and gatherings, and for personal protection, maintaining a healthy diet and strong immune system.
Chiropractic care focuses on the central nervous system that regulates virtually every bodily function, including the immune system. The nervous system must communicate with the rest of the body, which is where coronavirus and chiropractic care cross paths as chiropractic comes in to remove nerve blockages via spinal misalignment.
Coronavirus and chiropractic
Many chiropractors also specialize in nutrition, and while you may not be able to avoid contracting the coronavirus, the flu or a cold, you can control your own immune system and strengthening it against illness.
“Sounds like the perfect opportunity to have a heart-to-heart with patients about their immune and nervous systems,” says Bill Esteb, DC. “Remember, if germs automatically caused disease, the human race wouldn’t be around to debate the issue. Many forget that Louis Pasteur, the father of the germ theory, recanted his belief. On his deathbed he observed, ‘It’s the soil, not the seed.’ In other words, without the right environment, germs can do little harm.”
Eating for immunity
Ryan Andrews, RD and principal nutritionist for Precision Nutrition, offers advice for what to eat to maximize your immune system, and what to eat and nutritional supplements if you contract the coronavirus or a flu.
Eating poorly can make you ill, and eating poorly while ill can extend your illness.
“If your diet is lousy, you’ll get sick more often than someone who eats a healthier diet,” Andrews says. “Viruses and bacterial infections will hit you harder and keep you out for longer. Meanwhile, eating poorly while you are sick will only make you sicker. Good nutrition allows our bodies to respond to germy invaders quickly and efficiently, and in order to function well, the cells of our immune system need plenty of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential fatty acids.”
A healthy gut is essential to immunity, and prebiotics and probiotics in food and supplements help prevent illness.
“The best whole food sources of prebiotics are vegetables like asparagus, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, and onions,” Andrews says. “Carbs like barley, beans, oats, quinoa, rye, wheat, potatoes, and yams; fruit such as apples, bananas, berries, citrus, kiwi; and fats such as flax seeds and chia seeds.
“Probiotics — the bacteria themselves — have been shown to help us recover faster, once we get sick. The best whole-food sources of probiotics are dairy such as yogurt, cheese, and kefir with live and active cultures; fermented vegetables like pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi; fermented soy such as miso and tempeh, and soy sauce and wine.”
For supplementation of prebiotics, Andrews recommends 2-4 grams of prebiotics per day to help feed healthy gut bacteria and keep things balanced. You may actually feel worse before you feel better, he says, since bacteria release toxins.
Things to do to avoid getting sick according to Andrews include avoiding over- or under-exercising, avoiding over- or under-eating, maintaining a healthy body weight, washing your hands, getting enough sleep consistently, managing stress, eating plenty of nutrient-dense foods, and feeding your healthy bacteria.
What to eat when ill
Foods that can hasten recovery when you have a virus or infections are:
Garlic — Acts as an antibiotic and lessens the severity of colds and other infections.
Chicken soup — Commonly touted as a food for colds, chicken soup (made from scratch, not a can) provides fluids and electrolytes, is warm and soothing, and may also contain anti-inflammatory properties that decrease cold symptoms.
Green tea — Boosts the production of B cell antibodies, helping us rid ourselves of invading pathogens.
Honey — Has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties and is an effective cough suppressant. In one study it was as effective as a cough-suppressing drug. A few teaspoons in a cup of green tea is all you need.
Elderberries — These have antiviral properties and are loaded with phytonutrients. A few small studies have found the elderberry extract reduces the duration of colds and other upper respiratory tract infections.
If you’re already sick, says Andrews, drink lots of fluids (especially water and green tea), rest as much as possible to recover, focus on immune-boosting foods, supplement with pre- and probiotics, and use immune-boosting supplements.
Coronavirus and chiropractic are a pairing that remain vital, says Esteb, to maintain health and not handicap your immune system. Don’t wait until you become ill, he says, as maintenance health care is key.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus COVID-19, and the CDC recommends the basics such as avoiding close contact with people who are sick; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; staying home when you are sick; covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in the trash; and cleaning and disinfecting frequently-touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
For more recommendations or updates from the CDC go to cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov.