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 and bacteria. They also weaken the immune system. When you binge on sugar and eat a lot of sweets, you’re helping the viruses and bacteria take the lead over your immune system. They’re feeding the bad bacteria and the viruses.
#3 Take a probiotic.
Taking a probiotic is really important also. Probiotics, on the other hand, are sort of like a fertilizer for the good bacteria. Sometimes people think of probiotics as being good for the digestive system, but they’re actually more important for the immune system. We know that probiotics enhance certain deficiencies in the immune system and increase the number of certain T cells.
#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.
#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.
#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. Be careful with exercise, because if you’re really under a lot of stress and you’re about to catch cold, then exercise can be a stress and one more factor that can lead to a cold. You have to make sure you’re exercising when you’re feeling really good and strong.
#7: Manage your stress levels.
For some this might mean prayer or meditation. 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!
If all else fails and you get sick, here’s what to do:
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a great antioxidant. You should take that at the first sign of a cold.
- Probiotics: Again, to increase the amount of good bacteria in your body.
- Oregano oil: a very potent antimicrobial herb.
- Zinc: Zinc is really important for increasing your body’s defenses.
- Olive leaf extract: another great antimicrobial. It’s antibacterial and antiviral.
- Mushrooms: Medicinal mushrooms. Those are immune modulators. They have a powerful impact on supporting the immune system in warding off colds and flus.