Health Buzz: Staying well in 2023
By Dr. Kaley Burns EBS COLUMNIST
Are you working harder to stay well? Catching bugs more often? Feeling less energetic?
Post-viral conditions can include a wide range of ongoing health problems. These conditions can last weeks, months, or even years. One systematic review estimated that 80% of patients developed one or more long-term symptoms following the recent viral pandemic.1 The five most common residual symptoms following a viral infection are fatigue (58%), headache (44%), attention/concentration disorder (27%), hair loss (25%), and dyspnea/shortness of breath (24%).1 According to another survey, thousands of Americans have sought medical care for post-viral health concerns.2
These symptoms can be difficult to explain and manage. Clinical evaluations and results of routine blood tests, chest x-rays, and electrocardiograms may often be normal. When symptoms arise that are not explained by tests or scans, it can become difficult for patients to find support and care options with conventional care.
The main concern for individuals is unrelenting fatigue. Many patients experience symptoms and sensations that resemble, in part, a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). This includes the presence of severe fatigue, neurocognitive struggles, compromised sleep, and symptoms suggestive of autonomic nervous system dysfunction.
Holistic care provides options
While there are medical conditions that mimic CFS that should be ruled out, there is evidence that the immune system, oxidative stress, and microbiome/digestive health all play a role in the syndrome. Although each patient’s treatment plan will be different, there are some common approaches that should be considered.
The types of food we eat and the challenges to maintain a healthy diet have changed significantly over the past few decades. In particular, we now know that added sugar is much more harmful to our health than previously thought. It’s little surprise many of the unhealthier products make it into our homes when you consider that there are more than 30 types of added sugar and there are no restrictions around the amount of sugar or salt that can be added to foods.
The good news is that implementing consistent lifestyle habits can go a long way in supporting optimal health and wellness. Health is a daily practice!
Make your plate anti-inflammatory
Evidence shows that adopting an anti-inflammatory diet shows promise in treating chronic fatigue conditions. This means a mostly plant-based dietary pattern focusing on fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and whole grains. Food is fuel for a functioning immune system and a healthy body. Here are a few tips for boosting the value of what you consume:
- Try new veggies: red vegetables are full of phytonutrients that act as antioxidants and help reduce inflammation. Yellow vegetables contain essential minerals and vitamins A, C, and B6. Green veggies are rich in vitamins A, C, E, and K and many of the B vitamins. These vegetables also contain an abundance of antioxidants.
- Enjoy some omega-3s: salmon, walnuts and chia seeds have omega-3 fatty acids which help to reduce inflammation.
- Limit processed foods. Processed foods limit your body’s ability to fight diseases effectively. No need to over-restrict but try scaling back a little. For example, replace chips with carrots and hummus for a crunchy snack.
Stress makes an impact
We live in an era of increasing stress levels, which is a huge contributor to today’s level of immunity.
Take a moment to check in with your mental health. What is contributing to your stress?
Signs that your stress is high:
- Gastrointestinal symptoms
- Stomach problems
- Headaches and migraines
- Trouble sleeping
Putting time in your schedule for yourself is key to lowering stress levels. Taking a bath, cooking a meal, or walks around the neighborhood are good ways to spend time taking care of yourself.
An active lifestyle can boost your metabolism and immunity! Ease yourself into a more active schedule by adding 10 minutes of stretching when you wake and before bed. Body weight exercises are powerful resistance exercises; try doing a few rounds of squats, planks, or push-ups daily.
Satisfy your sleep requirements
If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, is light from your phone to blame? Browsing social media or watching TV right before bed can affect your sleep schedule by interfering with melatonin production. Try putting the phone on silent or turn it off an hour before you intend to go to sleep.
Seek support when needed
If you’ve struggled to make progress on your own, recruit your team! A team of holistic practitioners allows you to utilize a variety of treatments that work together to heal the body as a whole. At BSNH patients can utilize therapies such as Intravenous nutrients, acupuncture, holistic lifestyle counseling, reiki and more, with one collective team. We also work with your other practitioners to ensure balanced care. You can improve your own health when you practice a daily holistic way of life and work with your team on your wellness team.
Dr. Kaley Burns is the founder, owner and naturopathic doctor at Big Sky Natural Health. She embraces a natural approach to health and aims to similarly inspire and guide others on their health journey. Dr. Burns has advanced training application of regenerative and intravenous injection therapy. She also serves as the vice president and CE liaison of the Montana Association of Naturopathic Physicians.
- Lopez-Leon, S., Wegman-Ostrosky, T., Perelman, C. et al. More than 50 long-term effects of COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sci Rep 11, 16144 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-95565-8
- Belluck, Pam. “Many Post-Covid Patients Are Experiencing New Medical Problems, Study Finds.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 15 June 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/15/health/covid-19-patients.html.