10 Tips for Cold and Flu Season

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Winter is around the corner and cold and flu season is in high gear. And who wants to be sick during the holidays? Not me! So here are some tips to help you keep the bugs away and stay healthy this season.

1. Vitamin D: Immune support is just one of the many benefits of vitamin D. Research has shown that if your vitamin D levels are low, your immune system suffers. Start with 1000mg per day and talk to your health care practitioner about getting your levels tested. You may need to take a lot more.

2. Sleep: Sleep may be the best treatment and prevention for cold and flu. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation suppresses the immune system – leading us to have a less than optimal fever response (fever is actually the body’s way of fighting infection), and less antibodies produced on exposure to these viruses. The result? Stronger symptoms and a longer duration of symptoms, compared to individuals who are getting adequate sleep.

3. Immune Support: Taking a formula that combines immune supportive nutrients, along with nutrients to support adrenal health and fight stress should be a no-brainer. Pathway Immune Support does all of this.

4. Nasal Cleanse: The nose is one of the first ways that we are exposed to a virus. We literally breathe it in. That being said, regular nasal washing or neti pot use can go a long way in preventing bacteria and viruses from adhering to the nasal mucosa and eventually moving into the body.

5. Reduce Your Exposure: This can be as simple as washing your hands, but don’t forget to limit exposure to those who are infected, too. If you have the cold or flu, it is important to stay home – if not for your own rest and recuperation, then for the health and safety of others. Cold and flu viruses are spread by skin-to-skin contact, air particles, or direct contact with particles, like someone sneezing on you. In the case of cold, individuals are generally contagious the first 2-3 days, while flu sufferers are contagious for about a week.

6. Elderberry: This is one of my favorites! Rich in a specific type of flavanoid, called anthocyanins, studies have shown that elderberry may reduce the severity and duration of cold and flu symptoms, such as cough, congestion and body aches.

7. Eat Well: And by “well,” I mean eat a wide range of different colored fruits and vegetables. Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant, shown to help enhance cell-mediated immune response. It is found in green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach, as well brightly colored veggies like carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and peppers. Remember that we are aiming to eat 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, so throw them in wherever you can – smoothies, salads, fresh juices, alone with hummus, on salads, or lightly steamed with quinoa or brown rice. It does a body good!

8. Oil of Oregano: I especially recommend oil of oregano at the first signs of a sore throat, or for individuals who often develop throat infections as a complication of cold. Oil of oregano contains the active ingredient carvacrol – responsible for its anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties.

9. Support Your Lymphatic System: This is a tip that I got from my naturopath. The lymph system is like the garbage men of the body – and it’s time to take out the trash! Dry skin brushing supports detoxification, helping move immune cells and waste material in the lymphatics and helping deliver nutrients and oxygen throughout the body. Try it daily before showering. End your shower with one minute of water that is as hot as you can handle followed by 30 seconds of water as cold as you can handle. It is the difference in temperature that has the therapeutic benefit of increasing lymphatic circulation and encouraging your immune system to attend to invading viruses and bacteria.

10. Vitamin C: High doses of vitamin C, taken at the onset of cold or flu symptoms, has been used to reduce severity and eliminate some of the more common symptoms of cold and flu infections. I recommend starting at 1000mg per day as a preventative, but if you are coming down with something, increase the dosage 1000mg every couple of hours for a day or two.

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November 2012
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