Cold and flu season is upon us; during this time of year, we are exposed to more germs as we huddle indoors to escape the cold. The immune system is also challenged by lower temperatures, lack of sunlight, and stress following the holidays.
Here are my top recommendations to support your immune system:
Ensure your Vitamin D levels are adequate
Have the Vitamin D levels in your blood tested by your family physician or naturopathic doctor. From here, it can be determined how much supplementation is required during the winter months. Generally speaking, 1000IUs per day for adults is the bare minimum to maintain levels until spring.
Avoid sugar and processed foods
It is shown that for two hours after consuming processed sugar, immune function declines. This makes the system more susceptible to infection. Although natural sugars from whole fruits are acceptable, all other sugar should be avoided.
Exercise regularly to promote general health and circulation. Do be cautious - if you are feeling the beginnings of cold or are sick, rest. Exercise, although beneficial, temporarily lowers immune function and must be balanced with adequate recovery.
Immune health is closely linked to gut health. A high-quality multi-strain probiotic is a great way to promote a balanced digestive tract and, by extension, strong immune function.
Hit the steam room
Steam and heat promote circulation and warm the system. Spend 10 - 15 minutes, in a steam room a few times per week to keep the immune system strong. Use 1 - 2 drops of eucalyptus essential oil in the palms of your hands, cup them around your mouth and nose, and take deep breaths to further cleanse and strengthen the respiratory tract.
If you feel the beginnings of a cold or flu, it is important to seek the guidance of your naturopathic doctor. Individualized recommendations can be made to stimulate immune function in order to shorten the duration and reduce the severity of symptoms. When treated naturally, the body's ability to fight infection will be improved, and illness will be prevented in the future.
Dr. Melissa Cugliari, Naturopathic Doctor, Sport Medicine Clinic