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Q&A: Sleep and Your Immune System

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Q: How important is sleep to the immune system? I heard a Navajo medicine woman say that sleep was the key to a good immune system–more important even than nutrition. Is this true in your opinion?

A: The opinion of this Jewish medicine man is that it’s not an either/or situation: both sleep and nutrition are essential for a healthy immune system.

During sleep, your body restores itself. Every physiological function–breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and thousands of others–slows down. This much-needed rest period is necessary to maintain healthy function.

It’s no coincidence that when we’re ill we just want to pull the covers up over our heads. We heal during sleep. Without adequate sleep, your body is stressed, and under stress your immune system functions poorly and you’re susceptible to all the viruses and bacteria that cross your path.

Now let’s talk about nutrition. You need the vital components of nutrition–proteins, good fats, healthy carbs, vitamins, and minerals–for healthy growth and development of your various body parts. They are also needed for the billions of biochemical processes that keep you going, your incredibly complex immune system being one of these.

Do people who live on junk food get more infections, like colds and flu? You bet!

As poorly nourished people get older, chronic diseases crop up, and those with diabetes, clogged arteries, and inefficient livers become even more susceptible to infections. They often die of an infection and not their primary illness.

Sleep well, eat well…


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DIAGNOSE-IT-YOURSELF: COVID-19

Far and away, the commonest phone call/e mail I receive asks about COVID-19 diagnosis.
Just print this out, tape it on your refrigerator door, and stay calm.

ALLERGIES

• Runny nose
• Sneezing
• Red, swollen eyes
• Itchy eyes and nose
• Tickly throat
• No fever

COLD
• Runny nose
• Sneezing
• Sore throat
• Mild muscle aches
• Mild dry cough
• Rarely a low fever

STREP THROAT
• Painful sore throat
• Hurts to swallow
• Swollen glands in neck
• Fever

FLU (Standard seasonal flu)
• Fever
• Dry cough (no mucus)
• Sudden onset over few hours
• Headache
• Sore throat
• Fatigue, sometimes quite severe
• Muscle aches, sometimes quite severe
• Rarely, diarrhea

CORONAVIRUS-COVID 19
• Shortness of breath
• Fever (usually above 100 degrees)
• Dry cough (no mucus)
• Slow onset (2-14 days)
• Mild muscle aches
• Mild fatigue
• Mild sneezing

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