If you haven’t already had your first cold of the year, there’s a good chance you are headed that way! Colds and flu season kicked off over a month ago. The majority of adults are hit by the common cold once or twice a year. Health Canada estimates that between 10% and 25% of Canadians get the flu each year.
At this time of year, I keep my personal health pharmacy stocked and my immune system strong. I attack winter bugs from all angles by turning to echinacea and vitamin D for support, as well as vitamin C, B vitamins, probiotics, and zinc lozenges. I tell my patients to take a two-pronged approach — reduce exposure to viruses and boost your immune system.
5 Low-Tech Tips to Fight Viruses
Germs spread easily through the air and invade our bodies by way of the mucous membranes in our eyes, nose and mouth. Here’s how you can stay healthy:
- Frequently wash your hands with soap and water to avoid germs.
- Clean surfaces with a natural disinfectant to avoid cross-contamination.
- Flush germs from your nasal passage with a commercial saline spray or with warm salt water in a neti pot.
- At the first sign of a scratchy throat, gargle with warm, salt water several times a day.
- If you start to feel run-down, listen to your body and get some much-needed rest.
5 Simple Ways to Stay Strong
1. Your diet is one of the best sources of natural medicine to keep you healthy throughout the winter season. Don’t skimp on your diet at this time of year. More than ever, your body needs nutrient-rich foods to help combat seasonal stress. Be sure to eat lots of colourful fruits and vegetables to increase energy and strengthen your defences against illness.
2. Drink eight glasses of water a day to hydrate your respiratory track and cleanse toxins from your system.
3. Consume liquids with bug-fighting power! Savour homemade soups made with garlic and onions, which have natural antibiotic properties. Drink ginger, peppermint and sage herbal teas to soothe your respiratory tract and help ward off viruses.
4. Practice moderate physical activity and deep-breathing exercises to manage stress.
5. Whenever you can, get to bed early and enjoy a good night’s sleep. The body heals and rejuvenates itself while you sleep.
During cold and flu season, echinacea can help halt viruses in their tracks. Used for hundreds of years to prevent and treat infections throughout the body, this medicinal wildflower is best known for boosting the body’s immune system.
Echinacea is most effective when taken as soon as cold and flu symptoms start, to avoid a full-blown infection. As well, this plant extract can be consumed before the onset of symptoms, during times that you feel run-down, or are surrounded by people suffering from a cold or flu. Jamieson’s FluShield, which is backed by 15 years of laboratory science, contains a superior form of echinacea, which has been proven to help your body fight off seasonal viruses and shorten the duration of an existing infection.
Many colds and flu-fighting formulas are made from the leaves and stems of common echinacea varieties. FluShield, however, exclusively contains the triple standardized extract from the roots of Echinacea angustifolia, a well-studied plant species. It has been proven to activate T-cells that shield the body from viral and bacterial infections. Recent research also suggests that FluShield’s active ingredient can increase the body’s immune response when used in conjunction with the flu vaccine (Altern Med Rev., 2012)
Sunshine All Year Long
Through the prevention of osteoporosis, cancer, autoimmune disorders, and heart disease, vitamin D has become associated with a long, healthy life. The “sunshine vitamin” is also important for activating immune cells in the presence of a viral or bacterial invader, and it can reduce inflammation caused by an overactive immune system. Some studies have shown that people with higher levels of vitamin D report fewer upper respiratory tract infections (Virol. J, 2008).
During the dark winter months, I highly recommend that you take at least 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 each day.
To stay strong and healthy over the coming months, I urge you to approach your personal wellness program from all angles. But before starting any supplement regime, always consult your health care practitioner.
Warmth and wellness,