Tis the season…unfortunately for many of us,that means it’s also the season to catch all sorts of bacteria and viruses that lead to colds, flus, congestion, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, missed work/school and mandatory time in bed.
Good news is that there are a lot of things you can do to support your immune system and lessen the chance that you get a cold or the flu.
Here they are:
- Get enough sleep! Sleep deprivation suppresses immune function; most studies show that adults need 7-9 hours/night and children need 9-11+ hours of sleep EVERY NIGHT to optimize immune function.
- Avoid sugar. 100 grams of sugar (glucose, fructose, sucrose, honey or orange juice) can significantly decrease your immune function for at least 5 hours after consumption. Eat sugar regularly and you are pretty much guaranteed to get sick.
- Eat anti-microbial & immune boosting foods. These includes daily consumption of garlic, onion and ginger as well as deep colored vegetables and fruits.
- Get daily exercise. Research shows time and time again that 20-30 minutes of moderate daily activity (enough to get your heart rate up and work up a good sweat) can provide the immune system a significant boost as well as improve sleep.
- Wash your hands frequently. You hear this a lot, but many of the little nasties that make us sick find their way into our bodies via our hands, so wash your hands often and use a little almond oil on them afterwards to ward off dryness.
Basic supplementation can also help, including:
- Vitamin C – 500-3000 mg/day. Vitamin C has been shown to help improve immune function, decrease the severity of colds/flus and recovery should you get sick.
- Zinc – 15-30 mg/day. Even a mild zinc deficiency can adversely affect immune function. Zinc helps support the production of your immune cells, provides antioxidant protection and supports the integrity of your respiratory lining (meaning that you will be less likely to get sick). It has also been shown to reduce the severity and duration of upper respiratory tract infections. We use a product called ImmuCore that combines vitamin C, zinc along with select mushroom extracts for comprehensive immune support.
- Probiotics – 70% of your immune system is in your gut, so it only stands to reason that anything we can do to keep your gut healthy will keep you healthy. Taking probiotics (beneficial gut bacteria) help prevent bad bacteria and viruses from getting a foothold in your body where they can make you sick. Studies have shown that using a multi-strain probiotic (like Ortho Biotic) for 6 months is a safe and effective way to:
- Reduce fever, runny nose, cough incidence and duration and the need for antibiotics
- Reduce the number of missed work/school days due to illness
- Vitamin D – 1000-10000 IU/day (based on testing). Vitamin D is good for nearly everything; most people are deficient, so get your levels checked and supplement accordingly. Children typically need 1000-2000 IU/day; adults often need 4000-10000 IU/day to optimize vitamin D levels.
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