Buff Up Your Immune System

Here are a few random thoughts from the experts with ways to maintain your health during cold and flu season.Image

From a YouDocs November column: “A new study reveals that taking probiotics twice a day for six months helps kids chase away cold symptoms.” Fewer children became ill, and if they did, “recovery time was cut by a third.” Along with probiotics, the docs suggest taking multivitamins, vitamin D-3 and DHA omega-3 plus eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. They also recommend we “drink plenty of fluids, avoiding those with added sugars.”

Dr. Joseph Mercola writes: “Studies have clearly shown that regular exercise will help prevent catching colds in the first place.” Also, “according to the research, exercising with a cold may be well advised. At the end of one 10-day trial, those who exercised 40 minutes every-other day, at 70 percent of their maximum heart rate, felt better than those who remained sedentary—even though the clinical severity and duration of their symptoms were virtually identical.”

Dr. Louis Ignarro and Dr. Andrew Myers of HealthIsWealth.net say we should “focus on getting adequate sleep. During sleep, our body releases chemicals that help support and improve our immune function.” They also recommend drinking green tea because “it is rich in antioxidant nutrients that support immune cell activity in defense against bacteria and viruses.”

More from Dr. Mercola: “Evidence is mounting in support of vitamin D as a potent cold and flu prevention strategy. Optimizing your vitamin D levels through regular sun exposure is preferred, as it imparts health benefits beyond what you can get from oral vitamin D supplements.”

Along with vitamin D, I use the Chinese herb astragalus to enhance immunity. When I feel a scratchy throat or have other suspicious symptoms, I add echinacea, another herb that stimulates the immune system. I’ve found that daily multi-vitamins and minerals are essential for my own good health as well as extra vitamin C and vitamin E.

If you do succumb to one of those nasty bugs making the rounds this winter, Drs. James Balch and Mark Stengler, authors of Prescription for Natural Cures, have a couple suggestions. First of all, “Eat lightly. Steamed vegetables, soups and broths and herbal tea will let your body focus on healing, instead of on digestion.”

The writers also recommend we stay hydrated and increase our consumption of ginger, onions and garlic.  The traditional hot water with lemon, honey and cinnamon cold remedy is mentioned; plus, the authors say to avoid sugar, milk and other dairy products. “Sugar decreases the number of white blood cells that your body produces and depresses your immune system” and dairy products “encourage the production of mucus.”

One more note from the book: “Caffeine depletes the body’s stores of zinc, a mineral necessary for healing. Avoid coffee, black teas, and chocolate until the flu passes.” No chocolate!? I can hear the groans. But this too shall pass.

Have a Happy, Healthy 2014! Becky



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