Prevent the Cold and Flu

How to Prevent Getting Sick This Year

It’s that time of year… Cold and Flu season! Of all the seasons, this may be my least favorite. If I could avoid it I probably would. Would you? If you’d like to dodge a few of the viruses this year, check out these tips on how to PREVENT getting sick.

Getting sick is no fun

When you get sick, it’s tough. No matter what, you don’t feel comfortable. It’s either too hot or too cold. You’re hungry but worried if your stomach will revolt on you. Or, you’re not hungry but haven’t eaten in so long you’re worried if you’ll waste away. Your nose drips like a faucet, sometimes down the back of your throat, causing that annoying and persistent cough. It’s so hard to breathe your chest feels like an elephant sat on it. And, don’t get me started on the fatigue!

Tips to prevent getting sick, for FREE!

This is your gentle reminder to take care of yourself. We get caught up in all of our ToDos and we often forget the fundamentals of health. I’ll be honest, I’m guilty of this too. There’s usually a very long list of things I need to do followed by another list of things I want to do. I’ve worn out my body more than once, putting it out of balance, and resulting in various signs of a weakened immune system and an unhappy body. If this sounds familiar to you, please pay special attention to this section.

The number 1 way to prevent getting sick when you know other people are sick around you is to wash your hands and wash them often. Rub them together and scrub them well. Have you watched other people wash their hands? Did you notice how quickly they worked through the process? I do NOT encourage this. Take your time. As I was taught in elementary school, sing the “ABCs” or the “Happy Birthday” song while you wash your hands. This is about the amount of time you should be scrubbing for. And scrubbing is the part that truly gets those germs off of your hands. Antibacterial soap is not as effective as you think (a topic for another day).

Next best prevention: Eat, Sleep, and Snuggle.

EAT: Make sure to eat a variety of colors in vegetables and fruit. This will optimize your gut flora (always workin’ that microbiome!) and give you a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants needed by your immune system. Avoid the foods you know you shouldn’t be eating. This means those high carby meals as well as the sugar binges. They taste great, but carbs feed bacteria and can also cause inflammation. That’s a double whammy in terms of weakening your immune system. Also, try to eat warm foods. It’s a lot easier on your body to digest, which makes it easier to get those nutrients to the immune system!

I want to make a special point to avoid foods you have even the slightest reactivity to – emphasizing my point to avoid foods you shouldn’t be eating. This may mean dairy for a lot of folks out there. I’ve met so many people who say “I’m probably lactose intolerant, but it doesn’t bother me that much” and continue to consume dairy products. It’s your body, your choice, your consequences, BUT, when you’re sick, you don’t have the same tolerances. You don’t want your immune system to be wasted on small intolerances when it could be fighting those pesky viruses!

SLEEP: Are you getting optimal sleep? Chances are, 90% will answer “no”. Sleep is your time for rejuvenation and recovery. There’s no need to visit an expensive spa when your bed and a quiet calm environment can give you more health benefits! Don’t get me wrong, if you want to gift me with a spa treatment, I’ll take it! But, we could all save a lot of money if we just slept through the night and entered the deep phases of sleep. Sleep is a whole (giant) topic on its own.  But back to the immune system… Sleep is when your body recovers those tired immune cells and produce more to fight the virus that made you sick.

More on prevention

Avoid quick, unintentional changes in temperature. It can be quite the shock to the weakened immune system to quickly change temperatures in an uncontrolled environment, i.e. going from indoors to outdoors without a coat, hat or scarf on. Adjusting temperatures, either from cold to warm or warm to cold requires energy for your body to adapt and maintain the proper internal temperature of 98.6 deg F. If you are starting to come down with a cold or you already have, we want to reserve your energy stores for your immune system to use and for your daily metabolic activities!

Exception: Constitutional Hydrotherapy. Check out my mini-blog post on At-Home Constitutional Hydrotherapy!

Air ventilation – Avoid recirculated air. This includes primarily in cars and airplanes. If possible, run a high-quality air filter in your house. Recirculated air is just that, recirculated and reused. It’s important to have fresh air to prevent illness, especially if someone in your household is already sick. Germs and viruses stay in the air for quite some time and can centralized air circulation spreads those viruses throughout the house. Sharing is caring… except when it gives you the flu!

To really effectively avoid getting sick, jump into a sterile bubble and hide from all school-aged children and adults with children in school… This can be difficult and probably impossible, but true.

Invest in your health

The basics – A good multivitamin and multimineral complex can be very helpful when preventing seasonal colds and flus. An underrated mineral is zinc. Many people skip straight to the vitamins and forget zinc is a valuable currency in the immune system!

A little more serious – Vitamins A, C, D, and E are vital for the immune system to function. Supplementing with some extra ACDE during times of seasonal colds and flus is usually a good idea. Check with your doc about appropriate doses and safe administration. 😊

Cold and Flu Drops – We call this a miracle supplement at our house. This magic formula, when taken as directed and at the start of symptoms can fully prevent a cold. My favorite anecdote is a little story about a loved one. They were coming down (quickly!) with full on flu symptoms: foggy brain, depleted energy, a fever) and we had big plans for a trip to the coast. They were willing to try anything. The nifty Med School student that I was, I had a sample of this bad boy on my shelf. They tried it, taking it exactly how it says. And within a couple of hours, no more symptoms. They continued to take the formula through the weekend, just to be safe. They TOTALLY reversed and skipped over the flu symptoms. It didn’t return after our crazy busy weekend that would have worn out anyone! – Highly recommended.

The benefit of getting sick – Glass half full

So, you tried your best, but you just couldn’t avoid getting sick. Don’t be ashamed, it’s probably a good thing! Ideally, we would all get sick with the common cold or a mild virus annually. When our immune systems are not activated, they can become dormant, much like the perennial plants out in the cold. They’re still there, but waking them back up can take a little longer when they’ve been resting for a long time. Catching a cold or a mild flu every once in a while can wake up your immune system so it can be ready to fend off bigger infections and illnesses.

Instead of bumming hard that you got sick, take a moment to practice the prevention tips above. They work for supporting your immune system to prevent a cold but also while you’re sick!

Stay tuned for a post on what to do if you DO get sick!

 

Dr. Lexie Ching
Naturopathic Doctor Bend
(541) 797-0167
Follow me on Facebook

Resources
Can vitamin C prevent a cold? Harvard Health Publishing. Jan 2017.
Can supplements fight colds? Berkley Wellness.

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