It’s that time of year again. And no, I don’t mean Christmas. I mean that dreaded cold and flu season that is sure to strike someone in your household (if not every single one of you).
At the very first hint of a cold or flu onset, I recommend the following supplements:
- Zinc! This is a great ally against colds and flus because of its powerful antibacterial and immune supportive properties. It has been shown to shorten the duration of seasonal ailments because of its ability to actively inhibit virus development and reduce the duration of cold symptoms. Studies have shown that zinc can cut down the length of time you have a cold by approximately 24 hours when taken within one day of the first symptoms. That’s an entire day not wasted feeling miserable! At the onset of symptoms, I would recommend taking 50mg of zinc daily. This is only for the duration of the symptoms and no longer as too much zinc can lead to a copper imbalance. Please be aware that I do not recommend zinc for anyone with a chronic illness.
- Vitamin D! There is an abundance of research that indicates that the higher your vitamin D levels, the lower your chances of catching the common cold or flu. Sufficient vitamin D enhances your immunity against microbial infections as well as respiratory tract infections. The average North American gets about two colds each winter and those with very deficient vitamin D levels get about three each winter. Keep in mind that the average North American is also usually deficient in vitamin D in the first place (especially during the winter) and I believe that the number of colds could be reduced by just maintaining optimal vitamin D levels. You ideally want to get about 35 IU of vitamin D per pound of body weight so the typical adult requires around 5,000 IU per day. It is always important to get tested for your vitamin D levels to see if you are deficient and in that case, you would require more to get to an optimal level.
- Vitamin C! This is a powerful antioxidant and can help boost your immune system. The fact that infection fighting white blood cells require vitamin C to thrive goes to show the importance of this vitamin to our immune system. There is also evidence to suggest that taking vitamin C can help people get over the flu or cold sooner than those who do not take it. I would recommend taking the Ester-C® form of vitamin C. It contains mainly calcium ascorbate but also contains small amounts of the vitamin C metabolites dehydroascorbic acid (oxidized ascorbic acid), calcium threonate, and trace levels of xylonate and lyxonate. These metabolites are known to increase the bio-availability of the vitamin C and therefore, its absorption.
Now that I’ve listed the supplements you should take, I feel that some simple changes in your daily life can also help ward off any bugs. Some lifestyle basics that could help you decrease the chances of getting a cold or flu this season are:
- Limit Sugar/Grains Intake! Most people fail to realize that about 80% of our body’s immune system actually lies in the gastrointestinal tract! Sugar basically acts like a fertilizer for pathogenic yeast, bacteria, and fungi so limiting its intake is vital for maintaining a strong, healthy immune system.
- Get Adequate Sleep! Ever notice that you tend to usually get sick when you’re at your busiest and can least afford it? There’s a reason for that! Your immune system is most effective and you have a stronger immune response to viruses when you are well-rested and getting good, quality sleep. It gets drastically weaker as you grow more tired so remember to get enough shut-eye!
- Perform Regular Exercise! Regular exercise most likely reduces your chance of getting a cold or flu because it helps trigger an increase in immune system cells that can attack any invaders including viruses. Basically, each time you exercise you increase your benefit from this boost to your immune system. Research shows that people who regularily exercise are less likely to suffer from a cold/flu and when they do, their symptoms are drastically less severe than those who don’t exercise.
So there you have it, my list of DO’s to help you ward of any unwanted bugs this winter. Hope this helps!