How To Stay Healthy During Cold And Flu Season
Well, it’s that time of year again – the weather’s changing, summer vacations are long gone, your year-end deadlines are fast approaching, the stress of the impending holiday season is getting us down, and everyone seems to be getting sick.
To make things worse, the government is pushing the flu shot, and even if you haven’t had an adverse reaction in the past, you may be looking for alternative ways to stay healthy this season.
Interventions to Stay Healthy this Season
Here are some proven interventions to help keep you healthy, or minimize your down time:
- Decrease mucous-forming foods (dairy, eggs, red-meat, gluten, sugar): all of these foods tend to be binders, so naturally will make secretions thicker – a happy environment for the growth of bacteria. Sugar also is food for bacteria, so limiting it will help stave them off.
- Increase fluids: soups, water and juices are easier to digest and absorb and help thin out our secretions – beware the sugars in juices (see above), so select ones high in Vitamin C with no sugar added.
- Don’t be afraid of too much garlic: it’s a powerful antimicrobial, so you have to decide between bad breath and being sick.
- Reduce stress: when the body is in a constant state of fight or flight, the required energy needed for the immune system becomes drastically depleted.
- Exercise helps to keep the immune system primed to fight infection, but don’t over do it as that can have the opposite effect
- Get plenty of sleep: when we sleep, our bodies recharge and repair – too little sleep can increase the stress your body experiences
- Proper hygiene: remember to wash your hands often, and cover your mouth with the crook of your elbow when you cough or sneeze to avoid transmitting the infection
- Echinacea: immune system stimulant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory – safe for everybody – dosage depends on the form consumed
- Grape seed extract: a potent antioxidant with strong antimicrobial properties
- Goldenseal: the “king of mucous membranes”, anti-catarrhal (reduces secretions), and is a strong antimicrobial – is a strong herb and should be used under professional advisement
- Vitamin C: a powerful antioxidant that is also used in collagen and carnitine formation – you can take 1g/day to help keep infections away, and up to 6g/day during acute infection (divided dose, take less if GI discomfort is experienced)
- Vitamin A: maintains epithelial and mucous secreting cells (skin, cells that line the respiratory tract, etc.) – you can take up to 25,000 IU’s while sick
- Vitamin E: another potent antioxidant that also has anti-inflammatory effects and enhances the immune system – up to 50 IU’s/day
- Vitamin D: along with helping the absorption of Calcium and Phosphorus, D can modulate the immune system and prevent infection – up to 5,000 IU’s/day
- Zinc: as an enzymatic cofactor, Zinc is essential for the immune system, but also acts as an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory and anti-viral effects as well– up to 90mg of elemental Zn per day acutely, and 10-20mg for maintenance
*If taking Zn long term, the supplement must contain a small amount of copper
**Zinc lozenges are a good form to take, they also help soothe a sore throat
- Selenium: a cofactor for glutathione peroxidase (glutathione is the body’s strongest anti-oxidant) – 100-200 ug/day (micrograms)
- NAC (N-acetyl cysteine): an amino acid that is a precursor to glutathione – up to 1500mg/d
- Alium cepa: useful for when there is profuse discharge from the nose and eyes, but the eye discharge is bland, while the nose discharge can burn
- Euphrasia: the opposite of Alium cepa – burning discharge from the eyes, but bland from the nose
- Eup-per: useful when your bones ache and feel sore all over
- Pulsatilla: symptoms change, discharges are greenish-yellow, worse at night, better outside, and you feel weepy and want to be held
- Arsenicum album: a lot of fears while sick, chilly, weak, and burning in the GI tract and want to drink cold beverages
- Steam inhalation: put boiling water in a large bowl, place your face above the water and put a towel over the back of your head and covering the bowl. Breathe deeply through your nose.
*Do not burn yourself: wait for the water to cool slightly, or take breaks as necessary
**For added antimicrobial effect, try adding a few drops of thyme oil or eucalyptus oil
- Warming socks: when you go to bed, put a damp pair of cotton socks on followed by a pair of wool socks – relieves congestion and headaches
- Sauna/steam bath: increases metabolism and elimination of toxins
If you have any questions about the above therapies, or want to learn more about other therapies, please contact Doctor Tim directly.
If you are taking any medications, have been sick for longer than 7 days without improvement, are pregnant or breast-feeding, or a child under 12, please consult with Doctor Tim immediately.