Thursday, January 19, 2017

Winter's "Vomiting" Bug

by Kimberley Ramberan, ND

This year's flu season has been a particular "doozy", running through households like wild fire.  We can owe the "stomach flu" or what they are calling the "winter vomiting bug" to a very contagious virus called the Norovirus.  This virus typically lasts 1-2 days and causes the typical digestive symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain along with weakness, fever and body aches.

These symptoms are due to an inflammatory process that is caused by the immune system in order to clear the virus from the body.  It is very important that the virus is completely cleared from the digestive system so that the inflammation can subside.  If the virus is not cleared and left to "hang around", the immune system will continue to mount a low level inflammatory response causing local damage in the gastro-intestinal tract and its gut flora.

Over 70% of the human immune system is found in the gastro-intestinal tract and its proper function is dependant on the health of our gut flora.  When the gut flora becomes disrupted by inflammation or wiped out with the use of antibiotics (often over prescribed at the first signs of being sick with a viral infection), there is a perfect environment for a cascade of catastrophic events such as intestinal hyper-permeability, systemic inflammation and insulin insensitivity.  These states in the body are at the root of some of the chronic autoimmune diseases we see today.

Here are 4 easy tips to implement to keep your immune system strong by strengthening your gastro-intestinal tract this flu season.

  1. Clean up your diet. You have to clean up your diet in order to strengthen your immune system.  Poor choices can disrupt the gut flora and cause inflammation in the gastro-intestinal tract.  Talk with your ND about food sensitivity testing and the right diet choices for you. Avoiding a diet high in refined sugars, chemicals, excessive alcohol and preservatives is usually a good start for everyone.  
  2. Get enough sleep.  Allow your body to shut down, reset and recharge.  Try going to bed before 12:00am and getting at least 6-8 hours of sleep per night with dark shades, no artificial lighting and no potential interruptions.
  3. Ask your naturopathic doctor about getting on the right probiotics for you.  Probiotics improve the host's intestinal microbial balance.  You don't have to take a probiotic every day of your life, but definitely take it during stressful times, after antibiotics or if you're feeling under the weather.  
  4. Heal the gut.  Whenever the digestive system is inflamed, it disrupts the mucous membranes of the gut.  Even though the digestive symptoms improve, the mucous membranes are often still inflamed to some degree. It is important to use an anti-imflammatory supplement along side  soothing healing herbs to restore proper function and to prevent digestive problems in the future.   

While prevention is important, supporting your body during and after the flu is just as, if not more, important especially if you already have a compromised immune system or gastro-intestinal condition.  If you notice yourself not feeling well since the flu, just not back to normal or if you realize that you have never been well since a flu or infection, it is an indication that you would benefit from supporting the healing of your digestive system.  Book an individualized treatment by a Naturopathic Doctor to get to the root of the issue and support the body's healing process.  Much like your computer doesn't run well with a virus, neither does your body.

Now let's de-bug your system;)!

To book an appointment with Dr. Ramberan to talk about your gut health, please contact Naturopathic Foundations Health Clinic at 905.940.2727