Shift in Health: Life After COVID
By Wendy M. Henrichs
Board Certified Chiropractic Pediatrician, Nutrition Counselor
In March 2020, our lives changed dramatically as we entered the era of COVID-19. In addition to the shutdowns and some of the other inconveniences associated with this new era, many of you have had or know someone who has had COVID-19.
Although countless lives have been lost, thankfully most have recovered. Still there are others who suffer from post COVID conditions and symptoms. These are returning or ongoing health problems that you experience four or more weeks after being infected with the SARS CoV2 virus.
The symptoms and conditions are collectively known as Post COVID Syndrome or Long-Haul Syndrome. Also, you can suffer from Post COVID Syndrome whether you had a mild case of COVID, a severe case or somewhere in between.
The CDC updated their data on Sept. 16, 2021, listing these as Post COVID-19 conditions:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Symptoms that get worse after physical or mental activities (also known as post-exertional malaise)
- Difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”)
- Chest or stomach pain
- Fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations)
- Joint or muscle pain
- Pins-and-needless feeling
- Sleep problems
- Dizziness on standing (lightheadedness)
- Mood changes
- Change in smell or taste
- Changes in menstrual period cycles
The CDC further stated, “Some people who had severe illness with COVID-19 experience multi-organ effects or autoimmune conditions over a longer time with symptoms lasting weeks or months after COVID-19 illness. Multi-organ effects can affect many, if not all, body systems, including heart, lung, kidney, skin and brain functions. Autoimmune conditions happen when your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake, causing inflammation (swelling) or tissue damage in the affected parts of the body.”
The symptoms that can be experienced are the result of inflammation (inflammatory cytokines) caused by the spike proteins and expressed in various parts of your body. The good news is that if you are experiencing any of these inflammatory symptoms, there is hope. Here are the best ways to stamp out the inflammation associated with Post COVID Syndrome.
Time restricted eating (TRE) and intermittent fasting (IF): Time restricted eating and intermittent fasting cause something called autophagy. Autophagy is a cellular cleanup process that rejuvenates your cells, reducing and eliminating the inflammatory cytokines and associated symptoms of Post COVID Syndrome. Time restricted eating involves fasting for 14-18 hours daily and eating your calories within a 6–10-hour window. It has been shown that the amount of cellular cleanup increases with an increase in fasting time. It has also been documented that women respond best to fasting between 14-16 hours. Intermittent fasting in comparison is fasting for 24-72 hours (about three days) once weekly. If you are new to time restricted eating, I recommend first picking the time when you normally eat your last meal of the day then add 12-14 hours to determine when your eating window should begin. Over a period of days or weeks you can increase your fasting time to 14-18 hours. If you have not done a fast before I recommend doing it on a weekend starting Friday night after your last meal and choose a 24–32-hour window for your fast where you consume only water and do only light exercise. You should always consult your doctor before fasting.
Removal of dietary inflammation stimulators: Removing or decreasing sugar intake, processed and fast foods, dairy products (especially non-organic and non-grass fed), gluten, alcohol, corn, soy, and any GMO foods from your diet will dramatically decrease inflammation. Replacing them with fruits and vegetables, preferably organic, which contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, polyphenols, and phytonutrients which all aid in the cellular cleanup or autophagy and reduction of Post COVID Syndrome inflammatory symptoms. Work towards 7-10 servings of vegetables and fruits daily including berries, broccoli, kale, and other green leafy vegetables. You can increase your polyphenols by drinking green tea. Adding fresh ginger and turmeric daily will aid in decreasing inflammation throughout your body. You can add this to your meals, steep it in hot water to drink as tea, or take it as a supplement. Enjoy 2 or more servings of vegetables with every meal and include a serving of fruit or veggies with every snack. Adding foods rich in omega 3 fats will also reduce inflammation in your tissues and at the cellular level. Omega 3 fats are found in walnuts, wild game, sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon, and herring. Other good fats are found in nuts, seeds, avocados, avocado oil, organic grass-fed butter, olive oil and coconut oil. Add 2-4 servings of good fats daily. You can also add a high-quality omega 3 supplement for an added benefit.
Cold laser therapy or LLLT: Cold laser therapy or low-level light therapy (LLLT) as it is also known is a highly effective treatment to reduce and eliminate Post Covid Syndrome inflammation. It works in the following ways.
- Cold laser therapy will stimulate your mitochondria to produce more energy thus accelerating the healing process.
- LLLT will increase blood flow. Poor blood flow will impair the healing of inflammation caused by the inflammatory cytokines. Oxygen which is carried by your blood plays a critical role in the formation of collagen, and the repair of the blood vessels affected by the SARS CoV2 virus. Cold laser therapy will also stimulate the formation of new capillaries aiding in the repair of tissues involved in Post Covid Syndrome.
- Cold laser therapy stimulates lymphatic drainage which will speed up the regeneration of tissues and cells.
- LLLT increases ATP synthesis (energy) which stimulates rapid tissue regeneration aiding in the healing of the areas affected by Post Covid Syndrome.
- Cold laser therapy stimulates the production of collagen formation substances to aid in the healing of inflammation in the tissues damaged by the spike proteins (inflammatory cytokines).
- LLLT increases the production of enzymes which catalyze chemical reactions involved in growth, blood coagulation, healing, diseases, breathing, digestion, reproduction, and many other biological activities. Increased enzyme activity aids in accelerating the healing of tissues and organs affected by Post Covid Syndrome.
Aerobic exercise: Aerobic exercise increases oxygen necessary for cellular healing. Regular aerobic exercise increases blood flow and the transport of nutrients to your cells and organs. It also helps to remove waste and cellular debris that leads to further inflammation when not removed. Thirty minutes or more a day of brisk walking or other aerobic exercise will aid in decreasing inflammation associated with Post Covid Syndrome.
If you are experiencing any of the Post COVID Syndrome symptoms, use these tools to rid your body of the inflammation for good helping you to return to feeling good again. Remember, it is never too late to make a shift in health.
Dr. Wendy Henrichs provides comprehensive chiropractic care among other services, including pregnancy, newborn and pediatric care, post-concussion and sports performance, FX 635 Laser, Zerona fat loss laser, nutrition counseling and wellness services at Timberland Chiropractic. Visit www.timberlandchiropractic.com, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn or call 715-362-4852.