The Flu

As a medical professional, I am in frequent contact with people who are ill or contagious, but thankfully I rarely get sick.  The same can be said for many other people who work in close contact with others, such as doctors, teachers, and sales associates.  I find this very interesting because it indicates that exposure to viruses may not the sole reason for people becoming sick from them.

In temperate climates such as North America and Europe, the flu virus seems most active in autumn and winter.  The reason for this is unknown; some speculate that as children go back to school they get infected and bring it home, although that doesn’t explain where the children get it from in the first place and how it seems to occur simultaneously across entire continents.  Flu symptoms can vary from person to person but typically include the following: fever, muscle aches, chills and sweating, cough, fatigue, sore throat, and nasal congestion.

In the autumn in Canada, anytime you pass a pharmacy you’ll see the ‘get your flu shot’ signs.  Some people swear by it as a preventative measure, but others never get the vaccine and are in constant contact with the public, yet rarely fall ill.  How can that be?  Some people simply have a very effective immune system.  In my personal and professional experience, it seems that people typically get sick when they are run down or dealing with significant stress.  How can you keep your immune system strong more resistant to viruses such as the flu?


Prevention is far more effective than treatment because once the virus has a hold, recovery typically takes one to two weeks.  Your best defense against flu is a strong immune system.  Here are the top seven ways to achieve that:

  1. Get enough vitamin D throughout the year.  I recommend 4000IU daily, though sun exposure is arguably more effective.  The human body body produces 20,000IU of vitamin D from 20 minutes of sun exposure, provided a good deal of exposed, unprotected skin.  Lots of research has shown that vitamin D is a strong immune builder, (1,2,3,4) but be mindful to not get more than 15 minutes of exposure without adequate sunscreen.
  2. Get enough rest.  Many studies have linked immune weakening with sleep deprivation.  The recommended amount of sleep is eight hours per night.
  3. Get enough nutrients.  Eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and healthy protein and fats.  Limit excessive eating and processed sugar rich foods.
  4. Get adjusted regularly by your chiropractor.  A healthy spine equals a healthy nervous system and that’s essential for a properly functioning immunity.
  5. Take regular breaks from work or training.  Over working and/or training is again linked to immune suppression.
  6. Wash your hands frequently.  Remember to be aware of things in public places such as handles, water fountains, and railings.  Tip: After you’ve washed your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water, rinse well and use the used paper towel to open the bathroom door.
  7. Spend time with loved ones doing things you like and laugh regularly and you’ll enjoy a stronger defense against bugs.


If you have already fallen ill with flu, the best thing you can do now is support the healing process.  Here are a few ways to reduce the severity and length of the infection:

  • Stay hydrated.  Hydration loosens phlegm and helps flush toxins out.  Water is ideal for hydration, but in a weakened state, herbal teas and soups can provide additional nutrients and have a more soothing effect.  Avoid beverages such a milk, coffee, and pop.
  • Both vitamin D and good multi-strain vegan probiotics will also boost immune function.  Take both for stronger benefits.  Quality sources of oil of oregano and vitamin C can be effective as well.
  • Stay well-rested.  Rest is vital and it’s important to listen to the body when feeling fatigued.
  • Be thoughtful about what you eat.  Avoid foods high in protein as it takes lots of energy to break them down and that energy is better spent healing.  Carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, and grains like oatmeal are easy to break down and give the body energy.  Garlic also has powerful anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.

Wishing you have a healthy and happy autumn and winter!




  1. Heaney, R. Vitamin D in health and disease. Clin J Am Soc Neph. 2008. Vol 3(5):1535-1541.
  2. Cannell, J. et al. Epidemic influenza and vitamin D. Epidemiol Infect 2006, 134(6):1129-1140.
  3. Urashima, et al. Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza in schoolchildren. Am J Clin Nutr. May 2010. Vol 91(5):1255-60.
  4. Yamshchikov, A. et al. Vitamin D for treatment and prevention of infectious diseases: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Endocrine Practice. 2009. Vol 15(5):438-449.
Posted in Articles, Blog, Flu prevention, Immune Health, vitamin D Tagged with:

#006 – Energy for Life – Vicki Waters

Vicki teaching

Vicki Waters is a legend in Jazzercise. She’s been an instructor and owner in Victoria BC, for the last 30 years. She teaches some of the biggest and most positively charged classes on the planet. Some of her classes have up to 150 people, requiring the rental of high school gymnasiums to accommodate. Vicki has mentored and continues to mentor to many other Jazzercise instructors. There are more than 8,300 Jazzercise franchises in 32 countries world-wide, about 200 of them are here in Canada.

In addition to this, Vicki is a fundraising giant. She has raised a lot of $ over the years for several charitable organizations including the World Partnership Walk, the Heart & Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

Despite being over 60 years old, Vicki still teaches 5-10 classes a week and looks like she has the body of a fit 20year old, it’s amazing. Her three sons and family mean everything to her. All three of her sons have recently married with the youngest just this last summer. She has Three granddaughters and another grandchild due in the new year.

For more information about Vicki you can visit her Facebook page @vickiwatersjazzercise or email her at

What you’ll Get from this Episode:

  • Thriving with a packed schedule
  • How to stay on track with your goals
  • Find your source of unlimited energy
  • How other people can help us succeed
  • Why health is the secret to happiness
  • A boost of motivation and energy

I’ve been excited about interviewing Vicki for a while and it exceeded my expectations. Vicki has got that special something about her, and we’d all be better, and make this world better, by soaking up everything about her.

Wishing you outstanding health!



Victoria Family Chiropractic

3200 Shelbourne St #203 (250) 592-5553

Posted in Podcast Tagged with: , ,

Giving Thanks

I recall reading an article where Wayne Gretzky was asked what the most important attribute is for a professional hockey player.  His response wasn’t speed, strength, or agility, but attitude.  Attitude can have profound implications on health, quality of life, and the impact we make in this world.  It is the set of beliefs we hold to help us make sense of the world and give direction to our decisions.  This blog is about attitude and reflection because it is the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in Canada.

Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude and appreciation.  Historically farmers harvested crops at this time of year here and there was a wide variety of food available. Today, things have changed and many of us in industrialized countries have access to this incredible bounty of food and food choices virtually year-round.  But giving thanks and the spirit of Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be restricted to this weekend. Being grateful is really a way of being and a choice we can make any time.

One could argue that the choices we make, a by-product of our attitude, become our destiny and legacy.  I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Bruce Pinel, a mental performance consultant with an impressive resume of working with professional athletes, Olympians, and sports teams for my podcast.  The theme of the podcast was health and its by-products such as success and performance.  When I asked Dr. Pinel what one of the key tools or strategies he teaches to improve mental health and performance with his clients, his answer was perspective.

We always have control over the choices we make.  The perspective from which we view life or individual situations is a choice and it can have a massive effect on our health, happiness, and success.  A good litmus test is to ask the well-known question: is the glass half full or half empty?  The level of water in the glass has no meaning; it is all about how we choose to view it.  Life can be challenging.  We’ve all experienced moments of heartbreak, loss, failure, embarrassment, pain, fear, sadness, etc.  Often it is moments like those that end up defining who we are, what we stand for, and what becomes of our short time on earth.

There are endless things to fret or worry over and complain about.  For some reason, it seems that humans are hardwired to behave in that manner unless we make a conscious choice to hold a different perspective.  One of the most remarkable things about people is the incredible power perspective has.  It takes discipline and energy to view things in a positive light or to find a silver lining, but giving thanks during even the hard times and for all things seems to have magic to it.  The late Wayne Dyer put it eloquently when he said, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

I want to wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We have much to be grateful for but sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.  May we all dig a little deeper and find the good in everything on a regular basis – not just this weekend.

Posted in Articles, Blog, Mental Health Tagged with:

#005 – Mental Fitness – Dr. Bruce Pinel

Dr. Bruce Pinel

Dr. Bruce Pinel is a mental performance consultant in Victoria, BC.  Dr. Pinel provides mental skills training, support, and leadership through working collaboratively with athletes, coaches, and other sport science and health care practitioners.

In high performance sport, Dr. Pinel provides services tailored to meet individual and team needs at all levels, up to and including National Olympic & Paralympic teams/athletes, and professional teams/athletes.  Dr. Pinel has been a member of the Canadian Team at multiple international events (Olympics, Paralympics, Commonwealth Games, Pan American Games, World Championships, World Cups), and has supported over 450 athletes who have received medals at major international competitions.

In health care, Dr. Pinel has been providing group and individual consults in the area of injury rehabilitation and has been part of the successful injury rehabilitation of over 3000 clients from WorkSafe BC, ICBC, and third-party funders.  His work focuses on using mental performance concepts and strategies to assist clients in optimizing their health and wellness while striving to perform in work, hobbies, family, social environments, and in activities of daily living.

Bruce obtained his Ph.D. in sport psychology from the University of Otago in New Zealand, a M.A. in sport psychology from the University of Alberta, and a B.A. Honours in Kinesiology from the University of Victoria. He is a professional member of the Canadian Sport Psychology Association (CSPA), an NCCP Level 4/5 course conductor in the area of sport psychology / mental training with the National Coaching Institute (NCI) and is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Exercise Science, Health & Physical Education at the University of Victoria.

For more information about Dr. Bruce you can just Google him or check out his website at

What you’ll learn in this Episode:

  • How the mind impacts performance and health
  • Punishment vs encouragement
  • Things we can do to improve mental health
  • How the mind affects the body
  • Habits and tools to strengthen your mind
  • Resources for you to delve deeper into mental fitness

The topic of mental health and performance is fascinating and powerful and it was a treat and pleasure speaking with Dr. Bruce. If you apply even one of the concepts discussed I can guarantee you’ll improve your health and/or performance.

Wishing you outstanding health,


Victoria Family Chiropractic
3200 Shelbourne St #203 (250) 592-5553

Posted in Mental Health, Motivation, Podcast Tagged with: , ,

Registered Massage Therapist or Chiropractor?

Side Posture Chiro adjustment

When people are injured or in pain, they often ask whether they should see a chiropractor, a registered massage therapist (RMT), or both, and which one first.  The answer to this isn’t always straightforward because it depends on many factors such as the area(s) affected and comfort with the practitioners.

Who Should I Ask?

Any experienced practitioner will let you know if they can help and if not who you should see.  Local RMT and Hockey Canada team massage therapist Jamie Johnston says, “If by 5-6 treatments someone isn’t getting the results I think they should have I often consider referring to a chiro.”  I agree with what Jamie says and if someone isn’t better within that initial block of time I also consider the need for alternate therapy.  The key is to find someone you trust and to have open dialogue.  This allows for periodic check-ins to ensure progress is being made and whether continued care, another approach, or co-managing with another practitioner is best.  It will also foster trust, which has the additional benefit of deeper relaxation, something beneficial to almost all medical care.

What’s the Difference and Which Works Better?

Massage Therapy

To put it simply, massage deals with muscles and chiropractic deals with nerves via the bones of the spine.  Massage appointments are longer and generally more relaxing where chiropractic appointments tend to be quick and results can be almost immediate.  There are certainly times when either chiropractic or massage will be the ideal choice: for instance, when someone’s spine is misaligned or jammed and nerves are being affected, it’s likely they will get better results with chiropractic even though muscles may be in spasm.  However, if someone has overused or strained muscles, massage will likely provide greater relief even if spinal joints are misaligned.  In my experience, chiro and massage work well independently but often better in conjunction with one another.  Muscles and soft tissues which are not functioning properly can inhibit the body’s natural healing response just as much as ill affected nerves.  It is not uncommon for me to refer a patient to an RMT because I feel that muscles are negatively affecting spinal health; there are also times when, if a problem with the spine and nervous system are not addressed, no amount of massage will fix the problem.

Does Personal Preference Matter?

One healthcare discipline isn’t necessarily better than another and it often depends on what the patient prefers and the style of the practitioner.  I’ve seen many patients who have tried chiropractic before with little or no success, but for some reason we were able to get them better.  However, I’ve also had patients where we weren’t the right fit but another chiropractor with a different approach was able to help.

What Would Be Best?

Both chiropractic and massage are great for health and not just getting people more functional and/or out of pain.  Both are well-established professions with long and well documented track records of helping people heal.  A growing number of people are using massage and/or chiropractic care regularly to keep their health and life where they like to be.  I encourage you to try them both and if you come across a practitioner that doesn’t work for you, to keep looking until you find one who does.

I hope this helps clarify things for you!



Posted in Arthritis, Blog, Chiropractic, Health Optimization, Healthy Lifestyle, Injury Prevention, Joint pain, Low Back Pain, Massage Therapy, Muscle Spasm, Neck Pain, Nerve interference, Osteoarthritis, Preventative Care, Spinal Health, Sports Injuries Tagged with: , ,
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