It’s getting to be that time of year again when people are more prone to colds and flus. Of course, that’s exacerbated by the lack of light and tendency towards a more sedentary lifestyle. For most people, energy and moods drop because it’s darker outside, and in turn we tend to reach for sugar more. It is combination of these reasons that people are more susceptible to getting sick this time of year.
There are several things that you can do to actively prevent colds or flus from taking hold. In this article, we’ll explore a few ways that you can stay healthy during cold and flu season.
#1: Get your daily Vitamin D.
One of the approaches that can also prevent getting the cold and flu is taking vitamin D. There was a study done in 2010 that showed that vitamin D is an effective way to avoid the flu or influenza. In this study that was done on kids, there was a test group and a placebo group. The test group was given 1200 IUs (international units) a day of vitamin D3. When they tested all the kids to see whether or not they got the flu, they found that the flu was reduced by 42% in kids who took vitamin D. This was very telling, because that’s not even a very high dose of vitamin D. Vitamin D has been studied a lot in the last decade, and we now know that taking a dose that maintains adequate serum levels is more important than taking a standard dose for your age group. For instance, it’s not as though a kid should take a certain number of IUs and an adult should take another amount. That’s why people test vitamin D levels. So whatever level is required to maintain a good level of vitamin D is what should be taken. For adults, the amount can typically be up to 4,000-8,000 international units a day.
#2: Eliminate sugar.
You can think of sugar as a kind of fertilizer for pathogenic viruses, fungi and bacteria. The immune system takes a hard hit when we overindulge in sugar. It’s highly addictive as well and that first reach for sugar can start a vicious cycle.
#3 Take a probiotic.
We now know that 70% of our immune system is in the microbiome. We have more gut bugs than cells in our bodies, so taking professional-grade probiotics is key. More and more studies are coming out showing the importance of a healthy microbiome. In addition to taking a probiotic, eating a variety of foods also improves the microbiome.
#4: Eat your vegetables.
Simply eating lots of vegetables is very important for preventing the cold and flu. The fiber in the vegetables actually supports the good bacteria, and that helps the good bacteria proliferate. It’s sort of like a prebiotic, which are food for probiotics, that will influence the gut flora and then in turn enhance the immune system. Try to eat the rainbow in vegetables. Every color vegetable has a different type of flavenoid with an affinity to a corresponding organ.
#5: Get enough sleep.
Most people need at least seven to eight hours of sleep. Also, when people work the night shift, it is really hard on their immune system – it’s like an assault on the immune system! It really confuses the circadian rhythms that your body’s trying to have to maintain optimal health. Turn screens off by 8 and have a nightly practice of prayer, meditation or journaling to end the day on a positive note. Darken the room as much as possible while sleeping.
#6: Move your body.
Exercise is another great lifestyle factor for preventing cold and flu. One of the things about exercise is that it increases the internal body temperature. This is similar to a fever because your body is creating an environment that is inhospitable to bacteria and viruses. Just raising your body temperature a little bit three to five times a week when you’re exercising helps prevent the cold and flu.
#7: Manage your stress levels.
For some this might be keeping a gratitude journal or reading a favorite novel. For others it can be hanging out with their friends and having a good laugh, listening to good music or just taking some time for a few deep breaths. Practice activities that offset stress!
#8: Supplement with Colostrum.
A study that came out of Italy showed the efficacy of Colostrum in preventing the flu in both healthy subjects and high-risk cardiovascular patients. Not only does Colostrum do the job, it is also rather inexpensive and has a yummy, creamy taste and consistency when stirred in foods. It also comes in capsules though!
If all else fails and you get sick, here are some favorite natural treatments to expedite healing:
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a great antioxidant. You should take that at the first sign of a cold. Take 1 gram every 2 hours until stools become loose and then cut back on the dose a bit and continue with that dose daily.
- EHB: a very potent antimicrobial herbal combination of Echinacea, Hydrastis and Berberine by Integrative Therapeutics. This is one of the best herbal antibiotics that I have found.
- Yin qiao san: For summer colds that present with sore throats and swollen glands around the neck, this tried and true, Classical Chinese formula nips these colds in the bud quickly.
- Zinc: Viruses cannot exist on their own. They have to enter our cells to replicate. Zinc stops viral replication in cells. Don’t forget to take it with food!
- Olive leaf extract: another great antimicrobial. This one is antifungal and antiviral and a great option for sinus infections.
- Quercetin: An important zinc ionophore, which means that it transports zinc into cells so that it can stop the replication of viruses.
Most of Dr. Tighe’s favorite immune and cold/flu recommendations can be found here at a 10% discount. Stay well!