Fending off the winter cold/flu
Bacteria and viruses – they’re literally everywhere and nothing is as boring and unproductive as being hit by them. Even though we have come a long way since these micro organisms were discovered we nonetheless still haven’t conquered the yearly flu let alone the common cold. Now that winter is upon us, at least for us living in the northern part of the earths’ hemisphere, it is about time to gear up with the right weapons. Following is a list of weapons that is well worth accumulating in order to stay healthy and productive this winter.
1. Healthy gut flora
More and more evidence is being gathered showing that having a healthy gut flora is key to good health. These small creatures that live in our gut can either be our friends or our enemies. It all seems to depend on what we eat and what we think. If we have a healthy unprocessed diet that includes some fermented food items and supplement with cultures during stressful times – and when we feel like we are coming down with a cold or a flu – we are in much better shape to fend off invading viruses and bacteria.
2. Cleanliness without going to extremes – stop touching your face!
We all know it but do we go by it? Hand washing is essential after touching areas that are touched by several people such as handlebars, doorknobs and towels. But you can’t go about all day long washing your hands again and again after touching every random object around. A lot of people don’t realise that the essential thing is to never touch your face unless your hands are clean. Never touch your eyes, your nose or any part of your face unless you have washed your hands. If you touch an item that a person that has a cold or is coming down with one has just touched and then rub your eye or your nose you are hand delivering the microbial viruses straight into your body. So wean yourself of rubbing your nose and your eyes right away – it is well worth it. Be careful to not go to the extremes either; there is no need to use an antibacterial soap it can actually weaken your system.
3. Make sure you’re getting enough of the following:
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D is not really a vitamin it is a hormone that controls the immune system. Studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency is very common all around the world both secondary to dietary changes as well as profound use of sunscreen. It is well worth to have your vitamin D levels checked with a simple blood test but keep in mind that “normal” levels vary a lot around the world. Dr. Michael Holick, one of the world’s best authorities on vitamin D suggests that we should have levels around 90-100 nanomoles per ml of blood. If you turn out to have low levels it is important to start with high doses temporarily to oomph the system – consult with your doctor or health care specialist.
Iron is another supplement that is important for a strong immune system so if you think you might be low in iron (most women of childbearing age are) you should have that checked.
- Vitamin C
If you are eating a healthy diet including lots of veggies and fruits you shouldn’t have to worry about not getting enough vitamin C. Taking a boost once in while might do you good though, especially if you feel like you are coming down with something.
Zink is well-known for boosting the immune system as well as improving the sex drive as an added benefit. Like any other substance it is best to get zink from your diet so eating e.g. pumpkin seeds on and off should keep your levels up.
Like vitamin D magnesium deficiency is common. One of the reason being that the soil today does not contain as many minerals as it used to. It is important to make sure you are getting enough magnesium in your diet as it can support a healthy immune system.
4. Make use of the placebo effect and avoid the nocebo effect
Most people are familiar with the placebo effect; if you believe something will help you it probably will to some extent at least. Actually the fact is that studies are showing that the placebo effect could be even stronger than we have thought This effect is so effective as a matter of fact that most of psychotic medicine do not seem to work much better than the placebo effect. You might on the other hand not have heard of the nocebo effect which basically is the opposite of the placebo one. So if you believe something will be harmful to you it most likely will. The power of our brain is being proven to be more powerful than we ever thought possible. So how can this help you fight off sickness? These effects can actually help you quite a bit; for instance if you believe something will help you in the fight against being sick it most likely will. On the other hand if you are convinced that you will fall sick you might have a better change of actually getting sick.
5.Getting a good nights sleep
Sleep is never over rated and studies that show the importance if getting a good nights sleep have been piling up. A new research overview published in the Annual Review of Psychology how sleep can affect immunity of the body. How much sleep we need seems to differ a bit between one person and the next but going to sleep at a similar time seems to matter.
6. Exercise – preferably outdoors
Wherever you look there is an article letting us know how important it is to exercise and avoid too much sitting. The body is made to be kept on the move and regular exercise is essential. If you can exercise outdoors it gives the immune system an extra boost – plenty of sunshine and oxygen. Now studies are also showing that it is not enough to exercise 2-3 times a week as it seems to be essential to move throughout each and every day and that the ace of sitting can be harmful. Get up and move!
7. Drink enough water
The body is 50-60% water and we need to replenish our stacks. Think of the mucous membranes that line the inner surface of the body as flowers that need watering; without water the flowers will wither away. Similarly will the mucous membranes dry up and lose their ability to fend of invading bacteria and viruses if they don’t get their regular water supply. Not drinking enough water can actually increase your changes of getting a cold or the flu.