Despite the relatively mild October we've had, I've started to hear the sneezes and coughs coming out of the woodworks. Cold and Flu season is upon us, so instead of reaching for the medicine cabinet, here are some tips to keep your immune system strong and keep those bugs away!
Wash Your Hands!
This is the easiest, most effective way to keep you healthy. Simple hygiene for you and your family (especially the young ones) helps stop the spread of germs. Wash your hands regularly with warm soapy water, for 20-30 seconds. My niece likes to sing the "Happy Birthday" song to make sure she scrubs the bugs away.
Not only is it an amazing in cooking, but garlic has strong anti-microbial properties. The key to this important immune herb is crushing the clove, and leaving it for 10-15 minutes. Doing this activates Allicin, the key ingredient which helps combat illness. Mince up a clove or two, let it sit, mix it with a little bit of water, and throw in down the hatch! Your breath may not be the best after consuming garlic, but your body will be grateful
- Stress Management
Stress. We all experience it, some more than others. But the difference is how it is managed. Cortisol, the stress hormone, can downregulate the immune system, and impede the ability to fight infections when your body is in a chronic high stress state. Contstantly being in this "fight or flight" mode can also cause issues with sleep, energy, and weight management. So what can you do? Deep breathing, regular exercise, and yoga are great ways to help relieve some of that tension. There are multiple herbs such as rhodiola, licorice root, and ashwaghanda (just to name a few) and vitamins that can help balance cortisol levels. Before you head to your local health food store, check with a knowledgable professional, such as a Naturopathic Doctor, to make sure these are a good fit for you.
- Get A Good Night's Sleep!
One of the most important things you can do for your immune system is give it time to rest and recuperate. Adequate and good quality sleep is not only beneficial for your immune system, but will have a positive impact in your energy, concentration, mood, and help with stress reduction. I could write a whole other post on this topic, but some easy tips to help get you a great night's sleep include having a regular bedtime routine, ensuring your room is pitch black, and turning off the TV/iPhone/iPad/Laptop/anything else electronic with a screen at least an hour before sleeping. If you are having difficulty falling or staying asleep, talk to your ND about potential solutions, such as acupuncture, or herbal medicine.
- Vitamin C
Most people know how effective Vitamin C is for protecting our immune system and keeping us healthy. It provides nutrients to our immune-fighting cells, along with other nutrients such as Zinc. For general maintenance, some great (and less obvious) dietary sources of Vitamin C include red bell peppers, dark leafy greens (such as kale, spinach, and swiss chard), and cruciferous veggies like broccoli. When we are sick, dietary consumption may not be adeqaute, and supplementation may be necessary. Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin, which means your body will use what it needs, and eliminates the rest. With oral supplementation, be cautious about how much you take, as high doses can cause digestive upset. To avoid this, Intravenous (IV) Therapy is a great alternative to deliver higher doses of Vitamin C and other immune-enhancing vitamins and minerals directly into your bloodstream, without the gastrointestinal side effects.
For more information on these tips, or if you have any questions, feel free to contact Dr. Kassam here.