Immune Boosting Tips for Cold and Flu season – by Dr. Jennifer Schmidt-White

During the winter season people experience frequent colds and flus. The most common preventative measure is the flu vaccine which is effective against three specific strains of viruses, but bolstering your immune system on a daily basis results in fewer and shorter colds and flus overall and improves defense against a variety of viruses and bacteria. A healthy immune system is the result of a healthy lifestyle that includes:

  • Regular exercise – 30 minutes a day of enjoyable activity supports toxin elimination and encourages lymphatic drainage
  • Whole foods diet –a variety of vegetables and fruits increase antioxidant and nutrient status as well as whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein sources
  • Plenty of fluids – one to two Litres daily for optimal hydration of cells and elimination of toxins
  • Low refined sugar intake – one teaspoon can suppress immune system function for up to five hours; keep consumption low
  • Stress management – positive coping methods (exercise, yoga, meditation, social activities) help decrease cortisol levels (cortisol is a stress hormone which impairs the immune system)
  • Sleep – good quality sleep allows repair and rejuvenation of body tissues

    If the symptoms of achiness, sore throat, stuffy nose, and general malaise have already begun, supporting and maximizing defense mechanisms will help to reduce the length and severity of the illness. Options to decrease the length of your cold or flu include:

  • Garlic has the widest spectrum antibiotic, antifungal, antiviral activity of all foods; consume it in its raw form to benefit from its active properties
  • Homemade organic chicken broth helps thin mucous
  • Sleep is the most important remedy for cold or flu illness as it allows for repair and optimal immune action
  • Drinking plenty of fluids during illness helps the body get rid of toxins and waste products; at least two Litres of water or herbal tea daily is recommended
  • Echinacea is beneficial; a good quality echinacea will leave a tingle on your tongue from the active components which help improve your white blood cell response to viruses or bacteria
  • Vitamins A, C, E, and D, zinc and selenium all decrease the life of a cold/flu virus, repair mucous membranes, support immune function and detoxification
  • Complex homeopathics are available at health food stores; taken every few hours, companies like Boiron and Heel offer proven remedies to increase white blood cell activity and decrease the life of the cold or flu

    Caring for your immune system is part of caring for your whole health and your environment. Following these basic lifestyle tips will keep you healthy and reduce the need for antibiotics and medications that can negatively impact your health.

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