‘Tis the season for colds and flu prevention

Tis the season for the sniffles, but amid calls for flu shots and more hand sanitizer, what else can we do to keep colds and influenza away?

To help prevent and treat colds and the flu, here are five main areas of action:


1. Hygiene: “Remember  the basics,”  One of the best ways to prevent getting sick is by washing your hands frequently and disinfecting surfaces,  because that’s where the viruses which cause the common cold and flu linger. Those germs can make it onto our hands, and from there, into our eyes, noses and mouths and then infect our bodies.  Instead of common hand sanitizers consider hand washes with natural anti-microbial essential oils, such as doTerra Onguard hand wash.

Even the World Health Organization has reported that hand-washing can make you 24 per cent less likely to contract a respiratory infection,  so lather up.

Remember if you sneeze or cough, do it into your elbow rather than your hand to lessen spreading germs to others.


2. Sleep: These days, it’s rare to get a full seven or eight hours of sleep,  but our bodies need sleep to repair themselves.

In fact, chronic sleep deprivation is a risk factor in immune system impairment,  so it’s important to practice good “sleep hygiene” – sleep in a dark room, free of televisions, computers, phones and bright alarm clock screens which can disrupt the body’s sleep-wake cycle. Keeping the bedroom a little on the cooler side also helps improve our sleep.


3. Exercise: Regular, moderate-intensity exercise, like going on a brisk walk, can work wonders for your immune system. Exercise helps our immune system cells circulate and improve their function. Plus, moderate exercise has a positive effect on our mood.

Aim for 40 to 60 minutes every one or two days, whether it’s walking, swimming or some moderate cardio at the gym. Too much exercise can actually suppress the immune system, so there’s no need to overdo it.

If possible, exercise outdoors in fresh air and sunshine for added benefit.


4. Food: “There’s so much you can do with food,” and winter foods like tea and soup are great tools to help prevent and treat colds and flus while also keeping us warm.  Therapeutic teas like Echinacea or Elderberry really help.  Root vegetables and squashes are good winter vegetables, rich in carotenoids which boost immunity.

Don’t skimp on fruits and focus more on vegetables, whose vitamins and nutrients fuel our immune systems.

For example, garlic is a natural antibiotic. When eaten raw – say, in a salad dressing – it can help ward off colds and flu.  Or sauté and add to soups, stews or stir fry.  But if eating raw garlic irritates your digestive system, consider taking a garlic supplement. (It also cuts down on the smelly factor if you’re afraid raw garlic will make you stinky.) The Greenman Health Shoppe has professional, exceptional quality garlic capsules.

Herbal teas are also a great option. Sage or ginger root teas have anti-microbial properties,  while a simple tea made from the juice of half a lemon and teaspoon of honey (try manuka honey, which is known for its healing properties) can soothe a sore throat.  HerbPharm’s Propolis-Echincea spray at the Shoppe is excellent, or doTerra Onguard drops.


5. Supplements: Taking vitamins and supplements is no excuse to skimp on your fruits and vegetables,  but certain vitamin and botanical supplements may be added cold- and flu-fighting benefits.

A basic multivitamin supports overall immunity and can fill in any nutrient gaps, while vitamins B and C support the body’s stress glands.

“If you’re stressed that can weaken your defenses and make you more susceptible to cold or flu,”

You may want to consider some extra vitamin D in the winter months, paying careful attention to packaging and directions to ensure safe dosages.  Vitamin D is commonly deficient for people in northern latitudes in winter, and its essential for healthy immunity against viral and bacterial infections.  If you do one thing only, take Vitamin D, 2000-5000 IU daily for most people.

If you are looking for an extra plant-based boost, there are dozens of natural root and plant extracts whose uses date back hundreds of years and that, when taken properly, are very safe in both adults and children, she said.

For prevention, Echinacea is the best-known supplement, and it works best if you take it as soon as you start to feel run down. In fact, Echinacea can even complement your flu shot’s effectiveness because it can help your immune system fight off other viruses.

Look for a formula that uses the root extract, since that’s where the immune-supporting polysaccharides are.

For an active infection, especially bacterial, you may use oil of oregano or golden seal. These should be taken only for a short duration.

It’s important to consult with your naturopathic physician and/or family doctor about supplements, and keep them in the loop about what you’re taking to boost your wintertime immune system.

Be aware of your allergies before choosing a supplement,  and those using steroids or immune suppressing drugs should consult with their doctors about taking a botanical formula that could interfere with the medication’s intended purpose.

Greenman wisdom reminds us to restore our health naturally.  Be well and enjoy life.

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