As August turns to September, every year, without fail, there is an increase in the number of colds and flus that people endure. With the kids going back to school there seems to be a fresh group for each virus to infect. Even if you do not have children, the people around you likely do and this, in turn, affects you.
There are things that you can do to decrease the likelihood that you will contract one of these viruses. Even if you do contract one, your body will more quickly and readily fight it off.
As summer turns to fall, we are less aware of the need to drink water. Just because you are no longer overheating doesn’t mean you don’t need to drink water. You still require one ounce of water for every two pounds of body weight. When you are well hydrated your body can produce ample mucus your primary barrier to incoming microbes like viruses. When your membranes dry out, not only are you less comfortable but you are poorly protected.
Watch your diet
Summertime provides us with many fresh fruits and vegetables. Continue focusing on eating these and other whole foods to provide you with the best spectrum of nutrients to ward off viruses. Some of the most important foods are:
- Garlic and onions: These related species have components that are both anti-viral and anti-bacterial.
- Mushrooms: most edible mushrooms, except the common white button mushrooms (sorry), contribute immune health by increasing white blood cell production and activity.
- Honey: Raw honey is both a food and a medicine. It contains small amounts of bee pollen which stimulates lymphocytes, the foot soldier of your immune system.
- Citrus fruits and dark leafy greens: these have high levels of vitamin C, which is a plus for immune function.
- Brazil Nuts, Oysters and Chia seeds: A strange combination of foods but these some of the best sources of selenium, a mineral that your immune system requires for optimal function
- Spinach, Pumpkin Seeds and Lamb: These foods are high in zinc, a mineral that supports immune health.
Supplement Your Vitamins
The most potent nutrients to protect against infection are:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin D
Get Daily Exercise
The amount of exercise that you get on a daily basis greatly affects your ability to fight off viruses. By exercising daily, you will improve your sleep, increase your metabolism and improve overall health. Even if you can’t exercise every day, try to get at least 150 minutes per week.
By drinking Echinacea tea, you are promoting immune health by warding off and fighting microbes that you become exposed to during the course of the day. You can take Echinacea throughout the winter months and in large doses (contradictory statements have been proven false). Some people with ragweed allergies should avoid this herb.
This Chinese herb can stimulate white blood cells to both prevent and fight infections. Astragalus works at protecting you over the long term; it takes 6-8 weeks before it reaches its full effect. It can easily be added to any soup or stew that is simmering over a long period of time.
Mostly people think of probiotics as supporting digestive health but it has a broader scope than the local gastrointestinal effect. Probiotics eliminate unhealthy bacteria and fungi from the digestive tract. This helps to alleviate the overall number of challenges that your immune system is managing at any given time. This, in turn, frees up a substantial amount of immune cells to protect you in other areas of the body.
Stress and Sleep
Quality sleep and reduced stress are two other very important factors for immune health. Insomnia increases internal stress and stress depletes the energy in your body. Reduced energy weakens immune function.
The biggest protection you can give yourself though is consistent hand-washing throughout your day. Anti-bacterial soap is more harmful than it is helpful; these products build resistance in bacteria and truly are unnecessary. It is best to thoroughly wash your hands for TWO minutes with a gentle soap.
There are always dangers in generalizing care, for an approach that is best suited to your needs, please contact my clinic and book an appointment.