Prov 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Friday, February 8, 2019

The Not-So-Common Cold

Hi, I’m Terrie. It’s been thirteen months since my last cold.

Yes, I still cough a lot and sleep a lot because of a lung condition. But I’m doing far better than others with the same malady and have taken fewer sick days than I used to. For the past seven years, I have averaged one cold per year or less, where I used to think three or four each year were normal. As I write this post, it’s been thirteen months since my last one. (Now just watch, as soon as I hit “publish,” I’ll be flattened by a nasty cold or flu to keep me humble. I’ll risk it.)

What made the change? I can think of a couple of things.

Seven years ago, I began seeing local naturopath, Dr. Lisa Graham. She taught me a lot of tricks for building one’s immune system. Although I have not frequented her clinic for a long time, a few of the lessons she taught me stuck. 

I learned to look at food differently. I began to realize every bite I take is either fighting disease or feeding it. Seriously. Every bite. Although I gave up the vegan diet for the sake of marital harmony, I do eat a lot more fruits, vegetables, nuts, and beans than I used to—and a lot less sugar, gluten, and dairy.

Now that Canada’s Food Guide is finally catching up to what naturopaths have been saying all along, the next generation of Canadians should see a turn-around in obesity, allergies, diabetes, and cancer. This sounds like bad news for beef ranchers and dairy farmers if people stick to more plant-based proteins. But our economy can only benefit if people stay healthy. Maybe now’s the time to diversify into legumes or lettuce. 

What I think has really boosted my immune system, however, is the last thirty seconds of my daily shower. I do enjoy a hot shower, but just before I’m done, I turn the water to straight cold. Brrr, right? Am I insane? I don’t think so. The Finnish are on to something with their hot saunas followed by a plunge into icy water. 

Here’s how Dr. Lisa explained it. Well, sort of.

Think of your immune system as your body’s military, your antibodies the tiny soldiers waiting to be called up for duty. The warmth of the shower lulls those little soldiers into complacency. It tells them, “All is well. Relax. Save your strength.” 

Make a habit of that and your entire army will be fast asleep when needed. Unless…

BAM! Whoa! What’s that? Alert, alert! Send help! 

A message is sent to your command center, the brain. Something big is happening in your body’s core, the part requiring the most protection because that’s where the enemy bugs grow. Of course, you know you’re not truly in trouble—it’s only cold water. But your tiny soldiers don’t know that, so they jump into action. They muster all the troops to fall in, strengthen themselves, and prepare for battle. The first threatening bug to come along gets it. POW! Next day you do it again. And again. Soon your army is so well-equipped it can tackle the toughest bugs.

That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it. Of course, none of that will work without the support of healthy food, adequate sleep, and exercise. But still. I’ve discovered that when I skip this thirty-second cold blast, I step out of the shower with all the vigor of a used tea bag. I miss it because it leaves me feeling awake, alert, and all a-tingle.  

I dare you to try it for a month. Then a year. Count your colds. Let me know what happens.

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