Serenity Aberdour, ND
Once again, cold and flu season is upon us
Once again, cold and flu season is upon us. Help to make this year’s season a little easier with simple diet and lifestyle habits along with support from some natural immune boosting products. Here are some helpful tips:
Prevention everyday: There is no need to wait until you get sick; the best intervention is prevention!
Start by eating a diet rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and low in processed foods and sugars. Plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables will help to provide your body with immune supporting vitamin C. Nuts, seeds, whole grains and lean proteins provide other important nutrients like magnesium, B vitamins and zinc that your body needs to stay strong and resistant to illness.
Of course, some days our nutrition may not be all it should be, and/or the demands of stress, prescription medications or other factors can increase our nutrient demands beyond what we are obtaining from our diets. In these cases, consider adding a multivitamin to your daily routine to help ensure you are keeping up with nutritional demands of everyday life.
In the darker days of fall and winter (as well as for those who spend most of their days inside year round) 1000 IU of vitamin D per day is also worth adding to your daily routine. Vitamin D helps to regulate our immune system response and keep the immune system healthy. Along with good nutrition, good sleep habits are also crucial for immune health. Those who sleep less than 7 hours a night, and/or sleep poorly can be up to 5 times more likely to catch a cold then those who sleep well and for about 8 hours a night.
Prevention during times of increased risk: are the kids bringing home sneezes and sniffles? Coworkers coughing over the coffee maker at the office? Does everyone around you seem to be catching a bug of some kind? It’s time to ramp up your immune support strategy! Follow the same good sleep and nutrition habits as you would in everyday prevention and add these tips:
Wash your hands often: You may not have seen it, but that coughing coworker has had her hands all over the door handles, photocopier, and other areas of the office.
Be careful about sharing: pens, cutlery, coffee cups – viruses can live on these for hours and let’s face it, nobody washes pens, and office cutlery and cups don’t always get the thorough cleaning they need.
Vitamin C: especially for those under stress, vitamin C in doses of about 1000 mg a day can help to reduce the risk of cold and flu.
Probiotics: long known to be important for intestinal health, these friendly bacteria have also been found support overall immune function. In both children and adults, regular use of probiotics may help to reduce the risk of common intestinal and respiratory tract infections.
Immune supporting polysaccharides: derived from certain yeasts or fungi, these special carbohydrates help to keep the immune system on alert, allowing you to react more quickly and efficiently to viruses. One well-studied polysaccharide, marketed under the brand name “Wellmune®” has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of the common cold when used preventatively during the cold and flu season.
If you do get sick: Despite your best attempts to avoid it, sometimes you are still going to catch something. When this happens, it’s time to switch the focus to reducing the duration and severity of symptoms. Luckily, there are some natural products that you can take to help speed things along:
Crank up the C: many people find that increasing their dose of vitamin C to 2000 mg or more per day, in divided doses, can help keep symptoms from worsening.
Try NAC: n-acetylcysteine (NAC) is an amino acid derivative that acts to both slow down viruses and break up mucus, 2 good actions to have on your side when you are sick. I generally recommend about 1200mg of NAC and have found it helps to get people back on their feet a little faster and is especially useful for those who have a history of bronchitis or chest congestion when they get sick.
Andrographis: less well known than some other immune supporting herbs, this Ayurvedic herb has a well documented ability to reduce a variety of cold and flu symptoms. Taken within the first 72 hours of symptom onset, andrographis can help with everything from muscle pain and sinus congestion to sore throats and coughs caused by cold and flu viruses.
The cold and flu season can be a real challenge but with a good diet, proper sleep and a little extra nutrient and herbal support this year’s cold and flu season could be a happier and healthier one.