You have no doubt noticed that the “Natural Medicine” e-mails lately have exploded with articles about how to deal with the cold and flu. That makes sense, but reading these articles leaves me confused, so I would think that many of you out there who don’t provide health care for a living are really confused! So, let me give you some guidance that may help you and your loved ones in this season. Keep in mind that every suggestion I make below is backed up by good research!
First of all, let’s talk about prevention. It is extremely important to get enough rest and decrease stress in our lives. Did you know that sugar suppresses your immune system for up to 7 hours after having just one teaspoon of sugar? So, cutting sugar out of your diet is one of the most important lifestyle changes you can incorporate into your life. Eat plenty of vegetables, sprouts, nuts and seeds and some fruit instead. ( A “Carb Type” metabolism can handle more fruit than a “Protein Type.” If you don’t know your own Metabolic Type, I can help.) Get your body in good condition and optimal health and keep it there! Eat a healthy, nutritious diet and take supplements as recommended by your Nutritionist. In my opinion, everyone should be taking Vitamin C, Vitamin D, a “fish oil” (Omega 3 fatty acids, also found in Flax Oil and Krill Oil), and a high quality Probiotic every single day. (80% of your immune system is in your gut! An article in the journal Pediatrics shows that a daily supplementation of probiotics may reduce the incidence of cold and flu-like symptoms in children by 50%!) I take these for prevention year round, and I at least double the dosage of all of them if I begin to get sick.
Let me touch on Vitamin D in a little extra special way. Especially in the winter, you cannot possibly get enough Vitamin D for your body, your immune system, and your brain (meaning your moods and depression or lack thereof) from the sun and foods. You really have to supplement! One fact that has not been widely publicized is that what is called “Seasonal Affective Disorder” is in reality a lack, not of light, but a lack of Vitamin D! Have your doctor order a Vitamin D test before winter starts, and supplement to what the test shows. You should be between 50 and 70 ng./ml to be healthy.
You should also have a program of exercise in your life. I still believe the best is walking 10,000 steps per day and some light weights or calisthenics. Decrease this if you get sick, but get back to moving as quickly as possible after the illness starts to recede.
Wash your hands frequently at all times. This is not only for prevention of colds and flu, but also when you or anyone around you is sick.
When you do get sick, and you might at some time no matter what you do, what do you do then?
As I said, whatever dose of Vitamins D and C, probiotics, and omega 3 fatty acids you normally take—double them! And add supplements as noted below:
Have some Elderberry Extract available (brand name Sambucol) and start taking it at the first sign of illness. Take Zinc in the form of supplements or lozenges. Allicillin (Garlic Extract) is anti-bacterial, anti-viral and supportive of your immune system. Drink a lot of fluids, like warm teas, warm apple cider with a stick of cinnamon, and fresh, pure water. Add the juice of a lemon or a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (my personal choice) to the water a couple of times a day and at bedtime. This alkalizes your body and pathogenic bacteria and viruses cannot live in an alkaline environment. The whole body works better when you are alkaline!
If you are hacking with a bad cough, try a teaspoon of local honey before bed and during the day. This works wonders! Eat chicken soup, especially homemade if you can get it.