How can you protect yourself from catching colds and flus and stay healthy during the winter months? Learn ways to minimize exposure, strengthen your immune system, and what to do if you get sick.
By Drs. Kristina and Eric Lewis
During the winter months, many of us spend more time inside with the heat on. Indoor heating and low humidity create the perfect environment for cold and flu viruses to multiply. How can you protect yourself from catching those viruses and stay healthy during this time of year?
Holistic Medicine: Why We Must Exercise the Immune System
It may seem strange for a naturopathic doctor to say, but getting sick isn’t always a bad thing.
Our immune system benefits from the occasional cold or flu, as it challenges and reminds our white blood cells and other immune fighters to do their job. Think of a mild cold as a fire drill for your immune system, that way if a real fire comes along, the body is ready.
That being said, if you find you are susceptible to every little bug and are constantly sniffling and coughing through the winter months, a little prevention can go a long way.
Naturopathic Remedies to Avoid the Winter Blues!
One of the best ways to prevent getting a cold or flu isn’t a holistic therapy, just good, old fashioned hand washing. This doesn’t mean running your hands under water for a few seconds. Use warm water, plenty of soap, and really rub your hands together vigorously for up to a minute to eliminate most germs. Also, avoid touching your face throughout the day; viruses often enter our body through our eyes, nose, and mouth.
Strengthen your Immune System
If you feel like you’re coming down with something, there are steps you can take to minimize the duration and severity of the illness.
- Get enough sleep and minimize stress as much as possible. Your body cannot heal without adequate rest. Exercise, yoga, and meditation can all reduce the effects that stress has on the body.
- Eat a healthy diet, with plenty of vegetables, good fats, whole grains, and lean protein. Some special immune boosting foods include garlic, onions, and brightly colored vegetables. Other favorites are almonds, avocado, grapefruit, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, sweet potato, spinach, stocks/broths, and coconut oil. Green Tea can be a healthy addition, too!
- Stay away from processed, refined, and/or artificial SUGARS—one teaspoon of sugar has been shown to depress the immune system for up to four hours. So when you’re feeling run down, avoid as much processed sugar as you can—including sodas, white bread, refined pasta, and holiday treats and artificial junk (of course!).
Holistic Healing and the Power of Supplements
If, despite your best efforts, you still get sick more than ever, listen to your body. Rest, sleep, and take care of yourself. Take a sick day—for you and for the sake of your co-workers… and consider the best supplement support available.
The main supplements that can help include:
- The Lewis Family Digestive and Immune Support supplement is truly a unique product.
- This fantastic formula provides vital support for both digestive and immune systems in a convenient, tasty, and easy-to-mix powder.
Safe for children, but effective for adults.
- Contains strong immune proteins as well as the amino acid L-Glutamine to support digestion, immunity, while enhancing overall health.
- Taken with the Lewis Family Probiotic, it supports nutrient absorption and toxin removal, helping the body to rid itself of pathogenic microbes and keeping beneficial gut flora healthy.
- Adults take 1/2 to 1 scoop, 1-2 times daily. Children take 1/4 to 1/2 scoop. Mix with liquid and stir briskly. Can also be added to smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal, applesauce, etc.
- Quite simply, this is the best probiotic we have ever seen.
- The Lewis Family Probiotic contains 25 billion living organisms per capsule, with a wonderful diversity of the most important strains of beneficial probiotic organisms.
- Read the labels of other products: no other probiotic comes close in quantity and quality!
- Stable, sturdy capsule delivery system
- Outstanding effectiveness, quality, and value
- Third-party research verifies what’s on the label is what’s actually in the capsule.
- Vitamin D has well-known immune boosting properties, and has been directly associated with fighting influenza virus.
- During an active infection, your body uses extra Vitamin D, so making sure you have enough going into flu season and then taking extra if you do get sick are both important.
- It is generally recommended that up to 1200 IU a day of Vitamin D is safe for most people. If you are taking higher amounts it is suggested to have your blood levels monitored. Children generally can take 400-800 IU a day, depending on age.
Other good supplements include:
- Vitamin C: When your body is sick, you can often take more Vitamin C that you usually would. We do recommend you get Vitamin C from a supplement when you are sick instead of from overdosing on orange juice!
- Zinc: This mineral can help jump start the healing powers of your immune system.
- Herbal Medicine: Echinacea is the most famous, but there are many herbs that have anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. Elderberry, Garlic, Green Tea, and Mushrooms (Maitake, Shiitake, and Reishi) are some of our favorites.
- Homeopathy Remedies: A well-chosen homeopathic remedy is often the difference between suffering for weeks versus moving quickly through a cold.
Red Light Therapy for a Healthy Immune System
Last, but certainly not least, is a therapy we’ve gotten a tremendous amount of positive feedback on called Red Light Therapy (RLT). Infrared Light exposure is safe, easy, and most-of-all effective!
Red Light Therapy promotes relaxation and a sense of calm energy, all the while being great for sinus pain and pressure, nasal congestion, sore throats, ear aches, and coughing. RLT is warming and soothing and gives a nice little boost to our metabolism.
To learn more, click here to read more about wonderful Red Light Therapy.