Surviving Cold and Flu Season: Nutritional and Lifestyle Strategies to Boost Immune System – from Dr. O
I want to write you about how to avoid getting sick this holiday season. The H1N1 flu is not the only thing that can make you ill so here is my advice to you on how to stay healthy during the holidays by following a few simple rules.
- Stress decreases your immune function! It is the number one reason for why people get sick. So I recommend you get going on the Holiday plans NOW. This way, you can actually enjoy the holidays with your family and friends.
- The biggest culprit in making you sick is the increased intake of sugar. Sugar suppresses immune function for several hours after eating it. The holiday seasons not only make people gain weight, but it is also weakens your immune system so much that you become ill.
- Insufficient sleep and exposure to light during night time will also weaken the immune system since melatonin is one of our body’s most important infection-fighting tools. The number one reason why people are not sleeping as much as they should is having a TV in their bedroom. To improve your sleep and your health, I recommend you remove it. This is the best way to make sure that you are getting more sleep and to decrease exposure to light at night time.
Since must of us are stressing, enjoying cookies and other holiday treats and often are low on sleep for the next few months, the question is what else can we do.
What you can do to reduce your chances of getting sick this winter:
- Moderate exercise, not heavy, improves your body’s ability to fight off both viral and bacterial infections. For us here in Phoenix, the weather is perfect for outdoor walking or hiking. So get out there and enjoy our fabulous climate. That way you get a little bit of vitamin D also.
- A recent article came out showing that every person that took at least 2000 IU of vitamin D a day avoided the typical flu and has so far avoided the H1N1 flu as well. There are multiple brands out there, but one of my favorites is Ultra D-Mulsion Forte. It is liquid and 1 drop gives you 2000 IU. Easy to take and works very well. Should you be around someone that has the flu, you can readily boost it up to 10,000 IU for 1 to 2 weeks to support the immune system.
- Vitamin C; these days vitamin C can be found very readily in just about any food store. I personally like the Emergen’C Lite packets. They contain very little sugar (fructose), they are mild tasting so you can put it in your water or tea (hot or cold), and they are easy to bring with you since they come in small travel packets. Not to mention quite affordable (30 packets for less than $10). One packet a day seems to be good for general immune support.
Make smarter food choices:
- You don’t have to eat all the sweets and holiday foods that are offered to you. If you eat the good food first (vegetables, fruits and lean proteins), then you’ll eat less of the bad stuff.
- Decrease intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates such as pasta, breads, potatoes, and alcohol. The added bonus for doing this is that you won’t gain as much weight. (You may not have as much fun, but then again how much fun is it to gain weight and get sick!)
- Reduce intake of caffeine. Caffeine will dehydrate you, increase stress in the body and lead to more blood sugar problems. Instead of doing caffeine to maintain energy, try B complex and/or adrenal support in form of herbs such as Rhodiola, Withania, or Panax ginseng.
Herbs that will support your immune system:
- Andrographis extract has been tested and showed to reduce symptoms of tiredness, sleeplessness, sore throat and nasal secretions as early as on Day 2 of taking this herb.
- My personal favorite is Kan Jang a product from Sweden that can be found online or through us that works wonders for colds and flu symptoms.
- Even better results have been seen when combined with Astragalus and Echinacea. Both of these can be bought in most health food stores.
- Research reviews showed that subjects taking Echinacea are 55% less likely to contract a cold after clinical inoculation, compared with placebo. Just remember that Echinacea is an acute remedy and shouldn’t be taken for more than 6 weeks at the time.
- Astragalus has exhibited anti-viral actions, especially on viruses involved in upper respiratory infections. Thus combining Andrographis, Echinacea and Astragalus is a great way to boost your immune system.
If you should get sick, call your doctor’s office right away. Hopefully they can provide you with acute care. In our office we treat our patients by giving them Nutritional and Ozone IV therapy, microcurrent treatments and homeopathy. So far, patients are responding very well to this.
I hope these suggestions will help you stay healthy through this winter season!