Boosting Your Immune System During COVID-19

We all find ourselves in difficult times during the COVID-19 crisis. Although it might feel like many things are out of your control, your health is one aspect of your life that can benefit by paying a little extra attention to it. Experts believe that a weakened immune system and increased inflammation could allow a virus to have lasting damage to the heart, brain and other organs.

Boosting your immunity with healthy food

Studies have shown that eating certain foods and avoiding others can improve your health and strengthen your body’s ability to fight off invasive viruses. Here are some tips to help boost your immune function:

  • Focus on foods with flavonoids, which have been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory, antithrombogenic, antidiabetic, anticancer, and neuroprotective activities. These foods include leafy greens, ginger, garlic, apples, citrus fruits, onions, spinach, cabbage, oregano, chili pepper, rosemary, turmeric and green tea.
  • Avoid eating processed foods.
  • Eliminate or reduce sugar and starch form your diet.
  • Choose plant-based, whole foods.
  • Eat the daily recommended amount of protein.
  • Ensure your microbiome is healthy by eating prebiotic and probiotic foods, which can help boost your immunity, such as bananas, yogurt, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso and pickles.

A few lifestyle recommendations:

  • Regular, moderate exercise such as walking, jogging, swimming and bicycling may reduce inflammation and help your immune cells regenerate regularly.
  • Reduce stress, which interferes with the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens.
  • Get plenty of sleep. During sleep, your immune system releases cytokines, which are needed to fight an infection or inflammation. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines.
  • Practice social distancing, but stay connected with loved ones via technology.

What do you do to help boost your immune system during COVID-19? Let us know in the comments below.

Getting ready for college life

It is already mid-August and many families with a college student are about to start on a new adventure. Whether the young adult is going to a commuter school and living at home or attending an away college and living in a dorm, there are many changes about to hit family dynamics and the college students lives. Long discussions should now begin about forming healthy habits that will be important for now, and more importantly, for the future. I always advise living the way your grandmother taught you. Here are some of Grandma MaryAnn’s suggestions.

Grandma MaryAnn says you must:

  • Get your sleep – It is important to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night. During sleep your body may be resting, but your brain is busy processing all the information it was exposed to during the day. Sleep helps your immune system to stay strong and prevent colds and other infections you are constantly exposed to. If possible, shut off all your electronic devices 30 to 40 minutes before going to sleep; the light from the screens can affect chemicals in your brain that enhance getting to sleep.
  • Eat well – Food is your body’s fuel. In order to work hard and think clearly, you need to eat the fruits, nuts and vegetables that we all know are the right stuff. Starting with a healthy breakfast will get the brain ready for the day. Healthy snacks are a must. The crash after the candy bar will be tough to handle.
  • Exercise – Exercise needs to be a part of your regular schedule because it decreases stress, keeps your mind sharp, and is fun. You should think of it as an investment in yourself.

I wish all the students a great year, and remember to call your Mom and Grandma as often as you can because with loving words from your biggest supporters, there is nothing you can’t handle.

Should Pregnant Women Get the Flu Shot?

.Syringe….It is time to bring up the flu vaccine again!  October is the start of the flu season, and it can run all the way into the spring.  The flu vaccines are available now, and remember, it takes about two weeks to produce the protective antibodies after receiving the vaccine.

…..Pregnant women who get the flu have an increased risk to develop serious complications from the infection, resulting in hospitalizations.  Also, with the new moms’ vaccinations, protection is also increased for their infants who are susceptible to influenza-related respiratory illnesses.  Let us review a couple of points:

  • In the past there was concern about trace amounts of a preservative called thimerosal, which was in some flu vaccines.  There are thimerosal-free vaccines now, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have concluded that the thimerosal used in the vaccine is safe.
  • Patients with egg allergies need to discuss this with their medical practitioner before receiving the vaccine.

…..Over the past few years, more pregnant women have received the flu vaccine, with the percentage reaching about 50%.  Let us try to raise that number this year and get better protection all around!

…..For more information, view two of my other posts about the flu: Why Should You Get a Flu Shot Each Year? and The Concern of Getting the Flu Shot During Pregnancy – FAQs Answered

-Dr. P

The Concern of Getting the Flu Shot During Pregnancy – FAQs Answered

…..Let me give you some information to cover some of the questions that patients frequently ask.  This information is from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the American Medical Association, and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine. It is from the form given to obstetricians to give to thSyringe for Flu Concern Patch Blog Post Paint3eir patients.

…..If you get vaccinated during your pregnancy, your unborn starts to get some protection during this period. This also gives the newborn a degree of protection in the first few months of life when their vaccinations have not been begun.

…..Safety, of course, is the main concern of all mothers. Flu vaccines have been given safely to millions of pregnant women for more than 50 years and are endorsed by the above medical societies.

…..The question of mercury in some of the vaccines is always a concern. Thimerosal, a type of mercury, is a type of preservative used in trace amounts in some vaccines and has not been shown to be harmful to a pregnant woman or her unborn child.  Also, it does not cause autism. Again, this is from the above mentioned medical societies. Remember, if you are still concerned about being given preservatives during your pregnancy, there are single-dose flu vaccines that are mercury-free, so speak to your medical professional.

…..Lastly, you must begin the discussion about the flu vaccine with your caregiver now. Ask all your questions, become informed, and let us all be protected… and you cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine!

-Dr. P

Why Should You Get a Flu Shot Each Year?

…..The influenza vaccine comes in two types:

  • Inactivated, or killed vaccine, which is given by injection with a needle
  • Live, or attenuated (weakened) vaccine, which is sprayed into the nostril

…..The influenza viruses are always changing, and so each year scientists try to determine which viruses are going to cause the flu that year. In other words, a new vaccine is put together each year to prevent the flu for that season. It is for this reason that an annual vaccination is recommended.  After a person receives the vaccine injection, it takes about two weeks for the protection to develop, and the protection lasts for about a year.

Why Should You Get a Flu Shot Each Year

…..Some inactivated influenza vaccines contain a preservative called thimerosal while some vaccines are thimerosal-free. This has been a concern for many, but it has been shown not to be harmful to a pregnant woman or her baby, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

…..The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that all people 6 months of age and older should get the flu vaccine. Vaccination is especially important for people at a higher risk of severe influenza, including their close contacts.  Some of these close contacts can be healthcare workers and children younger than 6 months.

…..You should get the vaccine as soon as it is available for the new season. Even though most influenza occurs from October through May, the flu season can occasionally come earlier, so get the protection as early as possible.

-Dr. P

All Pregnant Women Should Be Immunized for the Flu

…..A few days ago, the influenza vaccine for the 2012-2013 flu season arrived in myAll Pregnant Women Should Be Immunized for the Flu office.  In the United States, this season is considered to be October through May.  We have already begun to arrange the vaccination for all of our pregnant patients.  As a result, it seems to be the appropriate time to have our review of influenza immunization during pregnancy.

…..The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that every pregnant and non-pregnant woman receive an inactivated influenza vaccine.  It appears that the most effective way to increase the influenza immunization rates among pregnant women is for the physicians to directly recommend the flu shot to patients.  The live, attenuated influenza vaccine is contraindicated for pregnant women, but the inadvertent vaccination of a pregnant woman with the live vaccine has not been shown to be harmful.  Therefore it is not an indication for pregnancy termination.

…..Why should we get vaccinated? Influenza, the flu, is a contagious disease caused by the influenza virus, which can be spread by coughing, sneezing, or with nasal secretions.  Anyone can get the flu, but the rates of infection are highest among children.

…..The symptoms usually last only a few days and include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, runny nose, and fatigue.  Young children, older people, pregnant women, and people with medical conditions that have them in a weakened state can become much sicker and need to be hospitalized.  So by taking the flu shot you can protect yourself and those around you.

-Dr. P