It’s that time of year again when we see an increase in cold and influenza infections. Interestingly, some winters seem to be worse than others, and from what I have seen this last couple of months in the clinic, this year seems a particularly nasty one.
So, what can you do about it?…
Fortunately there is much that can be done, firstly to avoid infections totally, and secondly, if you do fall ill, to shorten the duration and severity. As with many health concerns however, the unpredictable nature of life does influence our susceptibility.
Tips for avoiding infections this winter
Improve Gut Health.
70% of our immune system is located in our gut, so it makes sense to support digestion. Probiotics and a diet low in sugar and refined carbohydrates are important factors in optimizing our immune system. Staying away from sugary comfort foods during winter can be difficult, however important during this time.
It’s no co-incidence that as our exposure to the sun diminishes during winter, our susceptibility to infections increases. Much research has shown how important Vitamin D is for immune health. Optimizing your vitamin D levels with greater than a 1000iu per day is essential.
Raw or aged garlic extracts have a wonderful traditional use in preventing infections. Over the last decade, many studies have confirmed its immune potentiating activity. Add it to your food or try the aged Kyolic garlic extract
Zinc and Vit C
There are a range of nutrients that have a positive impact on the immune system, none more important than Vitamin C and Zinc. If your Vitamin C and Zinc are low, the immune cells become sluggish and don’t activate efficiently leaving your very susceptible to an infection.
While we know how important nutrition is in the prevention of infections, all this good work counts for zero if your lifestyle doesn’t support good health. Quality sleep, regular activity, good stress management and a clean low sugar diet are critical for optimal immune function. By not paying attention to these elements will ultimately result in sub-optimal health and poor immune function.
Tips for fighting an infection this winter
If, for whatever reason, your immune surveillance is low this winter and a virus passes your immune defenses, time is of the essence as a quick and targeted nutritional response can shorten the duration and severity of the infection.
Olive Leaf Extract
A large bottle of olive leaf extract has lived at my home since I have had children. I have found this product fantastic at supporting the immune system of my children and family. Especially good at shortening the duration of infections.
Again, excellent herbs at stimulating immune activity, however the key here is they both work best taken early in the infective stage and I have found them less effective if the infection has taken over.
Mushrooms have been used medicinally for thousands of years. Of these, the types of mushrooms most commonly studied include, Cordyceps, maitake, reishi and shiitake. While they can work quickly, I find medicinal mushrooms best for chronic infections where someone has been unwell for several days or weeks. Mushrooms have a wonderful capacity to restore and strengthen the immune system during times of low immune activity.
As mentioned previously, the immune system requires a range of nutrients to work optimally, none more important than Vitamin C and Zinc. Low levels of these nutrients will result in poor immune response and slow immune recovery. Supplementation is important in chronic infections.