Its that time of year again....
The cold and flu season is looming upon us, and has already started for some. But instead of feeling like a sitting duck – instead, why not go on the offensive with some natural ways to boost immunity. As the expression goes “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Here are some tips to help you stay a step ahead of colds & flu this year.
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8 NATURAL COLD & FLU PREVENTION TIPS:
1. GET YOUR SUNSHINE VITAMIN
Do you get several colds every year? That could be an indication that your vitamin D levels are too low. Perhaps one of the most important things we can do to prevent colds and flu – is to optimize our vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is not really a vitamin, but a pre-hormone produced in the skin after exposure to the sun’s UVB rays. So vitamin D levels typically drop in the Fall/Winter months when we get less sun exposure.
A study published in 2009 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found that 70% – 97% of Americans have insufficient blood levels of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is known for it’s role in building strong bones, but it also plays a significant role in our immunity – in fact, our immune system requires vitamin D in order to properly function.
Some research shows that vitamin D is more effective in preventing the flu than a flu shot. To get ready for cold and flu season – the Fall/Winter is a good time to supplement with vitamin D3. Low levels of vitamin D not only raise our risk of colds and flu, but also increases our risk for breast cancer, fractures, depression, heart disease, Alzheimers disease, and more.
Ideally, you should have your levels checked twice yearly to know if you are supplementing at the right dose. Optimal blood levels of vitamin D should be between 40 ng/dL – 60 ng/dL. Getting your vitamin D in the optimal range could literally save your life – as low vitamin D is associated with an increased risk of cancer and other diseases.
Vitamin D is critical for all aspects of our immune system - experts say that 70% of breast cancers could be prevented by optimal blood levels of vitamin D.
One additional thing to consider with vitamin D, magnesium is needed in order for it to be converted into the active hormone form. With an estimated 70% of the population deficient in magnesium, I always recommend taking vitamin D with magnesium – because it is needed for the conversion to the active form.
2. BOOST YOUR (GOOD) BACTERIA!
Our bodies are teeming with bacteria, in fact, according to scientists, we have 10 times more bacterial cells than human cells! And it is important for us to remember that some of those bacteria are the “good guys,” which are important not only for our digestion, but also for our immune system, and even our mental health.
Studies show that probiotics are a very powerful tool in the fight against infection. So if you want to boost your immune system, increase the good bacteria in your gut by eating probiotic rich foods, and/or taking a probiotic supplement.
According to this article, “a healthy lower intestine should contain at least 85% friendly bacteria to prevent the over-colonization of microorganisms like E. coli and salmonella." Replenishing the healthy bacteria in our gut is especially important after a course of antibiotics – critical really – because they wipe out ALL the bacteria – good and bad. So although antibiotics can help to get rid of an infection like strep throat, they can leave your immune system vulnerable to future infections.
3. WASH UP!
Whenever you put a bunch of kids together in a room, you increase the chances that viruses and bacteria can spread.
One of the best ways to prevent germs spreading around is to simply wash them off! One of the simplest things our kids can do to prevent getting