We all live such fast paced lives these days that no one seems to want to slow down until there is a feeling of being physically sick. We have a sore throat, a runny nose, a cough. Sometimes we have fatigue or a fever. These are all signs of a viral infection. However, it is your body that actually causes they symptoms, not damage from the virus. Likely, the infection took place several days before you noticed anything was wrong.
How does this happen?
Viruses cannot live without us. Viruses are only able to replicate themselves by taking over the reproductive capacity of your cells and making them reproduce the virus’s genetic structure instead. A virus cannot function or reproduce outside a cell. It is totally dependent on a host cell in order to survive.
This is the number one reason why it is more crucial to keep your cells healthy than to “boost your immune system”. More on this later.
So the virus gets into your body (usually though the eyes or nose) and finds a weak cell to latch on to. It then sheds it’s protective outer coat and injects it’s RNA into the nucleus of the cell to start making more viruses. This stage is called infection, and you as a host probably feel a little tired, nothing more. That fatigue is the first clue you have that a war is starting inside your body. If you heed your body’s signals and start taking in copious amounts of water, resting and sleeping, and letting your digestive system take a rest, your body is sometimes able to fight off the viral infection before it becomes more serious.
The next stage is inflammation. This is the stage we all recognize, where we begin to experience uncomfortable symptoms. These symptoms are all part of your body mounting a defense against the invaders. A runny nose flushes viruses and dead white blood cells from your upper respiratory system, a cough keeps mucus and foreign matter from entering the lungs. A fever causes a body temperature that your own cells can withstand but viruses cannot. Sore throat is caused by your immune response to the virus, not by the virus itself. Sometimes the body can go into a hyper-immune state where it mistakenly attacks healthy cells in it’s frantic war against the virus.
In my own experience, rest, fluids and supporting the body in sustaining a healthy fever are the best defense against viral attacks. There are many ways to do this, and a great deal of information exists on how to support the body. A good rule to remember is that wet heat heals, dry heat kills.
In the recovery stage, the virus is dead but the body must recover and repair from the damage done. Yellow mucus streaming from the nose will eventually turn clear and then dry up. Coughing will lessen. The sore throat diminishes. Body aches and pains subside. Your body is sweeping out all the dead cells and matter after the battle, while ordering new cells to take their place. A lot is still going on internally, and rest and good nutrition go a long way towards building your body up again for the next attack.
Because you can be out engaging with the rest of the world before you ever feel symptoms and realize that you are sick (the virus can be replicating before you ever notice that you’ve caught it) it is so important to isolate yourself from vulnerable populations if you suspect you’ve been exposed to a virus.
Here are inexpensive ways to keep your own cells healthy and more able to withstand a viral attack. This is more effective than taking costly supplements daily to “boost your immune system”. You can’t live on a steady diet of processed french fries, take a dropper of echinacea every day and expect a well functioning system. Take care of yourself very simply, on a cellular level, to maintain a healthy immune response:
1.) Hydrate. Not sometimes…always. Your first line of defense against invaders is your mucus membranes. If they are slippery and wet, viruses have a hard time getting in. If they are dry and parched it’s party time for the bad guys. Drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water, daily.
2.) Avoid sugar. Sugar (in all forms) is known to hamper the immune system, cause inflammation in your cells and can complete with vitamin c in the body.
3.) Minimize exposure. Wash your hands and avoid touching your face in public situations, especially your eyes. Make it harder for foreign bodies to access your orifices.
4.) Rest. Get an adequate amount of quality sleep every night. This is so important because it is during the sleep cycle that the body does most of it’s inner cleaning, removing old weakened cells and replacing them with new, healthier cells. You can also take periodic rests from digestion, so that energy can be diverted to other body functions.
5.) Make sure that your diet is varied, with high quality protein, fiber from vegetables and fruit, healthy fat and complex carbohydrates. Avoid a mono-diet (where you always eat the same things over and over). A wide variety of foods causes diversity in the microbiome, where microbiota produce signals that support the development of immune cells.
Stay well take care of yourself so that you are better able to care for your loved ones around you. Take time to rest, nourish and hydrate. If you are curious about more information on any topic covered in this post, including when and how to take immune stimulants or how fever therapy works, I can be found at: http://www.cristyjenkinswellnesscoach.com