It’s officially cold and flu season again… and there are many microscopic flu-like potential invaders just lying around, waiting to find a suitable host (such as yourself) in which to release their chaos but, The Center of Balance Clinic and Dr. Lauren Pihlgren have good news for you!!!
YOU have the ability to protect yourself against illness.
We all know the basics...
They have been drilled into us over the last two years...
wash your hands
use vaccines as appropriate
We can also incorporate measures that support and heighten our immune system. Attention to our diet and good nutritional supplementation is one of the best ways to support your body and immune system. While it is necessary to obtain good quality vitamins from a reputable source, it is still relatively inexpensive to help protect yourself against diseases and stress, especially considering the rising cost of illness.
In today’s discussion, we will first dive into common viruses that cause flu-like symptoms then we will talk about a handful of individual vitamins and minerals useful in preventing the invasion of these trouble-makers or help to reduce the symptoms once they have taken up residence inside you. Afterward, we will compare and contrast the benefits of taking individual vitamin supplements versus taking a multi-vitamin.
Today, we are going to briefly discuss five viruses commonly infecting people that present like the flu.
4. respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
1) If you think you have the stomach flu or a stomach bug, it is probably a norovirus infection, a common virus that is not related to the flu. Norovirus is the most common cause of vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms usually develop 12 to 48 hours after being exposed. People with norovirus experience headaches, body aches, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, stomach cramping and fever. Most people with norovirus virus get better within 1 to 3 days.
2) Adenoviruses cause a wide range of illnesses. They can cause cold or flu-like symptoms fever, sore throat, acute bronchitis (inflammation of the airways of the lungs, sometimes called a “chest cold”), pneumonia or even pink eye.
3) Rhinovirus is the culprit behind the common cold. Flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses but they are caused by different viruses. Because these two types of illnesses have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. In general, flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are more intense. Colds are usually milder than flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations. Flu, on the other hand, has the potential for very serious outcomes.
4) Respiratory syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) virus, or RSV, is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults. RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) and pneumonia (infection of the lungs) in children younger than 1 year of age in the United States.
5) Regarding the newest coronavirus, the top thing you need to know about any virus is that new variants of the virus are expected to occur. The Delta variant causes more infections and spreads faster than the original SARS-CoV-2 strain of the virus that causes COVID-19. The Omicron variant has multiple new surface spikes designed to help the virus integrate with the human host cells more efficiently. Omicron may be much more easily transmissible but the symptoms it causes seem to be more mild and mimic the same symptoms as the common cold.
So, now that you are aware of just some of the many different microscopic invading forces that are able to make their way inside the human body and cause trouble…. Let’s talk more about ways to prevent or lessen the severity of the illnesses caused by these pesky little invaders.
Vitamins D, A and C
also minerals: zinc & selenium
Individually, these are the immune system powerhouse superstars! Alone, or working in concert, these are the secret weapons utilized to keep a person fit and healthy or to get a person back to feeling better more quickly.
Vitamin C is well researched and is known for enhancing the immune system. In addition, studies have shown that vitamin C decreases inflammation. It is so good at attacking invaders that it has actually become considered an anti-viral agent in its own right.
Vitamin A supports the eyes, respiratory lining, GI mucosal barrier and urinary epithelial tissue. Vitamin A enhances antibody production and is fundamental in maintaining the integrity of the skin and mucous membranes, such as the lining of the inside of the mouth.
Vitamin D may be a little surprising for many people. Vitamin D is typically known to work in conjunction with calcium and is generally thought about with bone density. All of which, is true; but vitamin D supplementation has also been associated with increased immune function. In fact, vitamin D receptors (VDR) have been discovered on cells in both the innate and the adaptive immune system branches; including: macrophages, dendrites, B cells and T cells. The long and the short of it is that vitamin D improves the physical barriers against viruses and stimulates production of anti-microbial peptides, which, in turn, decreases production of inflammatory cytokines. In other words, vitamin D stimulates the natural response of the immune system and helps it learn and adapt to new situations and invaders.
Selenium plays a crucial role in regulating oxygen and free-radical status in nearly all tissues, so, it is not surprising that selenium strongly influences inflammation and immune responses. The notion that selenium “boosts” the immune system has been supported by studies involving aging immunity and protection against certain pathogens (aka invaders)!
Zinc keeps the immune system strong, helps heal wounds and supports normal growth. Zinc is well recognized as an essential trace element, influencing growth and effecting the development as well as the integrity of the immune system. After the discovery of zinc deficiency in the 1960s, it soon became clear that zinc is essential for the function of the immune system. Zinc ions are involved in regulating intracellular signaling pathways in innate and adaptive immune cells.
So... If you are a regular person, trying to go about your business of grocery shopping, filling your tank with gas and other daily routine activities then a general multivitamin and mineral combination such as those suggested in this discussion should be a good protection along with washing your hands often and not touching your face.
If, however, you are in a situation where you are in contact with people who may or may not be carrying stowaways looking to make you their next apartment, then you might want a multivitamin and all of these individual supplements in addition to give you the most protection possible. For those of us who most likely land somewhere in between, I suggest starting with a month of the 5 individual powerhouse superstars to prime the system and follow that up with one of the multivitamin options.
All nutrient supplements are easily attainable through Dr. Pihlgren’s online store which can be accessed here:
Thank you and may health be with you!