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Take These 12 Steps to Prevent Cold and Flu
The 12 Best Ways to Boost Your Immune System
As the weather gets wet and dreary, our gathering places become incubators for the spread of viruses, like colds and flus.
Is sickness inevitable in winter? Not necessarily, if you have a strong immune system, you can make it through the season, staying bright and robust in your good health. How?
- Get adequate sleep. Most people need 7-8 hours a night. Some need more. We do very poorly on less. Sleep gives the body the chance to repair itself and rejuvenate energy stores. During the winter, our bodies have historically needed more sleep in response to lowered temperatures and less light. Give your body the rest it needs.
- Drink plenty of water. When it’s cold and rainy, we often forget to hydrate. None-the-less, our body needs to be flushed of toxins, especially when we are exposed to sickness more often. Stay hydrated and stay healthy.
- Watch the sugar intake. During the winter, it’s tempting to reach for sugar to boost our energy. But refined sugars depress the immune system. Opt for fruit instead.
- Eat seasonal fruits and vegetables. Root vegetables and squashes are in season, and are naturally sweet complex carbohydrates. Dark leafy greens and frozen dark berries provide anti-oxidants, and freezing preserves most of their nutrition. They boost the immune system with vitamins, minerals, and bioflavonoids, which help improve white blood cell function and decrease reactions to allergens.
- Maintain basic hygiene. The physical action of washing your hands with water and soap helps to sanitize them, and does a better job than prepackaged hand sanitizers. Sanitizers promote more resistant bugs. Don’t use them unless you have no other option.
- Train yourself and others to sneeze/cough into the arm. We have been taught to cover our mouths when coughing or sneezing, the problem though, is that it’s into our hands. Then we touch other people, doorknobs, keyboards, etc. The solution is to re-train yourself, your kids and others to sneeze and cough into the crook of the elbow. Don’t pass the germs.
- Rinse your sinuses. If you don’t already use a neti-pot, or a squirt bulb to rinse your nasal passages and sinuses, put this practice into your routine. These tools remove germs and allergens, and should be used 1-2 times a week, especially if you fly. Rinse with a mild saline solution. You can find inexpensive, pre-measured saline packets and sinus rinse kits by Niell-Med at most drug stores over the counter.
- Load up on vitamin C. Drink Emergen-C, or take vitamin C capsules. Take 500-1000 milligrams a day. It will help boost your immune system and white blood cell count. You will know you are taking too much if you have loose bowels.
- Use a humidifier. Heating our homes dries out the air, and thus our mucus membranes, which are designed to catch germs and allergens. Put a small quantity of tea tree, eucalyptus, or thyme oil in the vaporizer, or in the depression that is on the top of most vaporizers. These herbs are anti-viral and anti-microbial.
- Have a good immune support product ready. As soon as you feel the slightest symptom of anything wrong, take your immune system booster. We tend to wait 2-3 days, thinking it will pass on its own. It never does. If you have a run down, achy feeling, a little headache and a little sniffle, don’t try to ride it out. If you take immediate action, you’ll end up with the minor version of the illness. Good immune system products include: Barlean's Olive Leaf Complex Peppermint Oil, BioGenesis’ Phyto Immune, IT’s Thymucin or Ayush’s Flucomune.
- Stay home. Take a day off work when you get those first symptoms. It’s your body telling you that you’re exhausted. You can miss one day in the early stage – or 4 days if you try to force yourself to go in. Nobody wants you to pass it on to your coworkers. Just stay home and take care of your body.
- Stay healthy. Ultimately, nothing cures the common cold, or virus. Prevention, as always, remains the best medicine.
About the Writer
As a naturopathic family practitioner, Dr. Monawar Fahoum's interests and specialties include homeopathy, diet and nutrition, botanical medicine and physical medicine (bodywork, adjustments, etc). She views healing as a dynamic process, unique to each person, with different treatments appropriate for different patients.
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