Cold and Flu season is now upon us and that means it is time to think about preventative measures to avoid long illnesses. Dr. Doni, an award-winning naturopathic doctor and nutritionist, is offering her tried and tested methods for staying healthy and resilient during the winter months. With a natural approach to wellness, all of Dr. Doni’s remedies are easy to understand and incorporate into a daily routine.
Let's start with prevention:
TIP 1: Avoid Sugar & Alcohol
Two top enemies to an invincible immune system are sugar and alcohol. Dr. Doni recommends avoiding or minimizing sugar and alcohol consumption, as they both lower your ability to fight off viruses. Even just 8 tablespoons of sugar (as in two cans of soda), or fructose (such as in honey or 1/2 cup of orange juice) can lower your immune function for five hours after you consume it. That is because sugar inhibits the white blood cells that fight off bacteria, leaving you vulnerable to infections. A similar thing happens with alcohol. When you drink three or more alcoholic drinks (wine, beer or liquor), your white blood cells are weaker and have a harder time fending off viruses and bacteria. So instead of reaching for orange juice when you are feeling under the weather, it is better to reach for water or tea and to take immune boosting herbs and nutrients.
Tip 2: Take Immune Boosting Supplements
Vitamin C is safe to take daily, 500 mg at a time, even three times per day, to support your immune system. Zinc is a mineral that is also known to support immune function at 10 to 15 mg per day. Echinacea, Hydrastis, and garlic are all herbs that boost your ability to fight off viruses and bacteria. Even better is when you can find a product that has all of these ingredients all in one, such as a product that Dr. Doni recommends called EHB.
To help boost your body’s disease fighting capabilities, Dr. Doni also suggests taking Triple Flu Defense, a homeopathic remedy known to prepare your immune system for fighting off viruses, weekly.
Another supplement that strengthens your disease fighting power in the winter is vitamin D, especially if your levels are low. During the winter it is known that vitamin D levels tend to be depleted due to less exposure to sunlight. Take 1,000 to 5,000 iu daily. When vitamin D is low, you become more susceptible to both infections and to other health issues such as bone loss and mood changes.
TIP 3: “Sleep is Medicine”
Next, be sure to incorporate a healthy sleep routine during cold and flu season. Dr. Doni recommends getting 7.5–9 hours of sleep every night. This is a critical time for your body to rest and recover, and for you immune system to replenish. Research indicates that when you sleep less, that you become more susceptible to infections, as well as other health issues.
Now for how to boost your resiliency:
Stress is known to lower immune function, so when you are under stress, it is important to give your body extra support for fending off infections. This is also true when you are exposed to others who may be sick, such as when traveling and during the holidays.
Tip 4: Support Healthy Bacteria
When your immune system requires a bit of extra support, Dr. Doni first thinks to recommend taking arabinogalactans daily - such as in a product called ARA – because it supports healthy bacteria in the digestive tract and immune function throughout your body. Another option, in addition to those mentioned above, is to take Astragalus and/or Andrographis, such as in a product called Genoma Security.
Tip 5: Avoid Foods That Trigger an Immune Response
You can also strengthen resiliency by avoiding IgG/A food allergens (different than IgE food allergens). It may be hard to believe, but if you are eating foods that trigger an immune response in your body, then you are actually decreasing your ability to prevent infections. That is because it increases inflammation in your body, leaving you susceptible. By avoiding them and the resultant inflammation, you will boost immune function. If you haven’t had a test to determine your IgG and IgA food allergens, ask your naturopathic doctor, or contact Dr. Doni’s office.
Tip 6: Consider Taking Probiotics Daily
You should also consider taking a probiotics daily. Research shows that probiotics improve immune function and decrease susceptibility to infections. Be sure to choose a high quality product, such as those with 25 to 50 billion per capsule and kept refrigerated.
Tip 7: When a Cold Starts, Act Fast with Vitamins & Nutrients
Finally, if you think that you are coming down with a cold, then remember to start taking the vitamins and nutrients that will help boost your immune system and ability to kill the virus quickly, especially vitamin A, vitamin C, and zinc (all of which are in EHB). So have them handy in your home and as soon as you notice symptoms of a cold, take one or two capsules every four hours. (Be sure to check with your practitioner before taking vitamin A in high doses—while it is a very effective anti-viral, it is important not to use it long term or if there is a chance that you might be pregnant.)
It is also quite effective to gargle salt water or to drink herbal tea to soothe a sore throat. And Dr. Doni always recommends to her patients who call in with a cold to take a hot bath or shower and go to bed early. It is amazing how often you’ll wake up feeling better just from these simple steps.
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