The first day of school in 2021 will be (or was) like no other. After what's felt like an eternity of virtual learning, students are headed back to school. Armed with a better appreciation of how important the full school experience is, parents everywhere are packing lunches and backpacks then shipping kids back to school. It is a huge relief to bring this aspect of "before times" back into our routines, but we're doing it this year with the knowledge that school isn't risk-free. Bugs (viruses and bacteria) are out there and, like it or not, schools are great incubators for spreading them.
Earlier this year, I spoke with Healthline about why the 2020 Flu Season never showed up (read the full article here). It turns out that the same behaviors that stop the spread of COVID are effective against other pathogens as well. One of those behaviors was closing schools. Studies show that closing schools early in outbreaks of common influenza will reduce the spread across a community. This stands to reason: children have less immunity to the flu since their immune systems haven’t been exposed to many pathogens and schools are high-contact environments. From there, kids are a large source for bringing the flu into households.
So what is a reasonable parent to do? Subjecting kids to permanent lockdown isn't good for them (or us, for that matter). But sending them to school comes with real risks in the form of exposure to countless pathogens. Fortunately, we don't have to choose! A supercharged immune system is the key to safely returning to school while protecting you and your child from whatever airborne issues float their way.
We think of immune support in three phases: prevention, exposure, and recovery.
The old idiom "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" may literally have started as a reference to our immune system. The best time to fight the bugs is before you catch them. Building and maintaining a proper immune system takes daily work. If you're curious about how strong yours is, testing can give you insight into any deficiencies.
At Case Integrative Health, we build our patient's immune systems in many ways:
1) Diet: You gotta eat, so why not focus on foods that will help prevent illness? Most of our immune system is based in the gut, so eating a diet that supports gut health will also boost your immune system. Small changes can lead to large results when the immune system is involved. Reducing sugar intake is the biggest single item, but reducing your weekly intake of gluten and dairy will also improve your gut and immune health. You don't need to be perfect here - any reduction is a step in the right direction! Think about changing out that daily soda habit for tea or sparkling water a few days a week to start. For some other ideas, our Director of Preventive Neurology, Dr Rana Mafee, recommends starting your day off with an immune boosting smoothie.
2) Supplements: If your daily diet isn't providing enough of the vitamins and nutrients (and let's be honest, almost no one's diet really is), then the next option is to supplement. We've put together a few Immune Support bundles to make it easy to get the best sources of supplements all in one place, but really the important thing is to start a daily habit.
Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Zinc are fundamental to immune health and nutrients that most Americans don’t get enough of, especially in the winter. (Available through our in-clinic apothecary or Fullscript.com at https://us.fullscript.com/protocols/caseintegrativehealth-daily-immune-fundamentals
Puts that tiny multivitamin to shame! It combines higher doses and higher-quality compounds of Vitamins A, B, C, D, with Zinc and Melatonin. Each supplement has been refined into the form most easily usable by your body, maximizing the “bioavailability”. Coupled with a strong night’s sleep, this pack makes sure what you put in goes to work repairing, reinforcing and regulating your immune system.
3) Nutritional IVs: For patients of ours who are short on time, or needing a really big boost, we provide these vitamins through an IV. This bypasses the digestive system altogether and allows us to deliver mega doses directly to the cells. (Vitamin C, for example, is cleared from your gut so efficiently that it's almost impossible to get a real dose from food. IV's allow us to deliver 50-100x the amount of Vit C).
Because your child comes home from school with the sniffles does not mean that you should be knocked down for the count. Believe it or not, it is possible for family members to avoid passing bugs around a household. I was reminded of this while on vacation this summer. A nasty little upper-respiratory infection that was, believe it or not, not covid (there are other bugs in the world still) passed around our family trip to Montana. My mother-in-law, father-in-law and 4-year-old daughter all caught it. My husband and I immediately began an aggressive course of immune-boosting supplements and avoided the infection altogether. After a week of sharing cars, meals, and rooms, we walked away completely fine.
The point is: pay attention! If you react quickly and strongly at the first sign of exposure, it is not too late to avoid the spread.
OlivDefense: 6 pills on Day 1, 4 pills on Day 2, then 2 pills / day until the pack is complete.
Viracid: 2 pills every 1-2 hours when awake. (Avoid if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant).
Vitamin D: 15,000 iu / day for 5-10 days
If you're looking for a little more firepower, we have a bundle for that as well:
Buffered C: 2 pills 2 times per day with food
Zinc Piccinolate 30: 1 pill 2 times per day with food
Vitamin K2 with D3: 1 pill 2 times per day
Vitamin A 25,000iu: 1 pill per day
Viracid: 1-2 Capsules every 1-2 hours for 1-2 days at symptom onset. Do not exceed 2 pills per hour. Then 2 pills per day until your symptoms are cleared.
Immuno-DMG: 1 pill 3x/day
Also available through Fullscript:
If you wake up one morning to find that you weren't able to avoid picking up whatever bug came home from school, don't worry! There's still lots you can do. The keyword there is lots, as in "now is not the time to be shy." Your immune system is doing a lot of heavy lifting to fight whatever pathogen has found its way in. Mounting an immune response takes a lot of vitamins and nutrients (at a time when eating a lot of food is typically a challenge).