The holiday season is a great time to relax and spend time with loved ones and family members. Unfortunately, it’s also the time when we often come down with the cold or flu. Despite our best intentions we usually end up staying up late, are under extra stress and over eat foods that are high in sugar; plus the weather is cold and wet so the stage is set for you to get that “bug that is going around”.
Let me highlight some easy, natural and effective strategies you can employ to protect yourself and your family from getting that nasty cold or flu. Put the points into practice and you will decrease your chances of infection, improve your immunity and enjoy your holidays symptom free!
Limit The Sugar
It’s not reasonable to say don’t eat any sugar during the holidays but try to limit it. A diet that is high in refined sugar suppresses the immune system. Studies have shown that a large serving of sugar (i.e. candy, cake, cookies etc.) can suppress the immune system for a number of hours after eating them, which opens the door for you to succumb to that virus you picked up. Look for options to that are lower in sugar such as fruit jello, rice pudding and apple crisp.
Get Your ZZZ’s
Getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night optimizes the function of your immune cells. People that don’t sleep enough have an increased chance to become infected. It’s very easy to lose track of time and stay up late during the holidays so make sure you are getting enough. The added benefit is that getting enough sleep will help you maintain a healthy weight since sleep helps your body keep you balance your hormones and maintain a healthy metabolism.
Move Your Lymph
Our immune cells travel around our bodies in a substance called lymph fluid. Unlike blood, lymph is not “pumped” throughout the body by vessels. Rather it is moved passively when we contract our muscles. Its is very important that we stay active (running, yoga, weight training, sports etc.) to make sure that lymph fluid flows freely throughout your body and delivers immune cells to the places they are needed. When we come down with a cold or flu we often experience swollen lymph nodes in our neck area. This is normal since a large number of cells collect near the area of infection. A simple technique to move the lymph fluid from the neck area is to gently massage the sides of your neck downwards towards your chest. This can disperse the build up of immune cells, relieved congestion in the throat and stimulate the movement of new lymph fluid.
Boost Your Good Bugs
It’s a little counter intuitive but the bacteria (probiotics) that you have in your gut are essential to a healthy immune system. Most of our immune cells are actually stored around our intestines. Good probiotics in our intestines turn on the cells that produce and activate our immune cells. They also prevent harmful bacteria from taking over and causing an infection. This is why there is such as close connection between the health of your gut and the rest of your body. Natural sources of probiotic are fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt and kimchi. To the get the optimal amounts to stimulate the immune system a probiotic supplement would be most effective. Look for one that has multiple types (species) for maximal benefit and protection.
Mind Your D’s And C’s
Vitamin D and C are immunity superstars. They both can be used to prevent and reduce the duration of the cold and flu. Vitamin D is a key factor in turning on the immune system so it is ready to fight invaders. This is especially important in the winter months when we have limited exposure to natural sunlight. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can stimulate the immune system, offset the effects of diet high in sugar and promote viral and bacterial destruction. The optimal doses vary depending on the person and their needs but the most recent studies indicate 2000-4000IU of vitamin D and 2-4g of vitamin C per day are the best to maintain optimal immune function. For the most potent immune support, Vitamin C when given intravenously is one of the most powerful therapies to beat an infection. Anti-microbial action and delivery into your body is maximized through this safe and cutting edge treatment.
Herbs have been used for many years as powerful and safe tools for the prevention and treatment of colds and flu. We may not realize it but the herbal tea we have been drinking for years can be used to boost our immune system. For example, ginseng and green tea have immune stimulating and anti-viral effects (respectively). Teas are great as a gentle, preventative approach but for the best therapeutic effect, herbal supplements such as Echinacea and Andrographis offer excellent action against bacterial and viral infections. One of my personal favorites is the herb called Andrographis paniculata. It has been used in Ayurvedic (east Indian) traditional medicine for hundreds of years with excellent results for reducing sinusitis, colds and flus. Recent studies are now showing that using the herb for just 3 days reduced the symptoms and duration colds and the flus.
Get The Natural Cold And Flu Shot
We are all familiar with getting the flu vaccine in the fall but many people are now starting to wonder about its safety and effectiveness. A natural alternative works differently but with the same goal to prevent both colds and the flu. Licensed Naturopathic doctors can inject a botanical and mineral remedy directly into your muscle to stimulate your immune system to fight off any infection. This direct and potent approach has been used for many years by Germany physician’s to boost the immune system without any of the potential side effects associated with the conventional flu vaccine. It also offer much more broad spectrum protection against any virus or bacterial rather than only a few strains of the influenza virus.
The holidays are a wonderful time of year but don’t let a cold or flu spoil them. Remember an “ounce of prevention is a pound of cure” so apply some of the above strategies to protect yourself and keep your immune system in top form. Staying healthy and “cold –free” does not have to be difficult or expensive. Start with simple steps such as limiting your sugar intake and getting enough sleep. Then apply some natural and effective herbs and vitamins to really kick your immune system into high gear. If you have any questions about what strategy is best for you contact pureBalance Wellness Centre.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays,