By Kim Corrigan-Oliver, certified holistic nutritionist
Yes, cold and flu season is coming, but with a little bit of thought and care you can strengthen your body and its defences so you can defend yourself against whatever comes calling this winter.
Bugs and germs are often “blamed” for causing the cold and flu, but is the germ or bug really responsible? Or is it our terrain, our immune system and our body that could not handle the germ or bug? Our bodies require a ton of resources to mount and sustain an immune response when a pathogen enters our body. If it has not had enough good nutrition, sleep, love and other important substances the immune response will be weak and the body will not be able to defend itself. Without a proper defence, we get sick.
During the preconception period and while pregnant, getting sick is something which falls to the bottom of the challenges we want to deal with. The body has enough to worry about without having to do battle against the cold or flu.
So what can you do to support your immune system, here are a few old tricks:
Sleep – rest is important for immune health, the body needs the time to repair, restore and rejuvenate. If you are feeling particularly tired or stressed this becomes even more important. Ensure you and your family get adequate rest and if you feel yourself or see someone in your family starting to get run down, take time now to rest, if not the body will force you to rest (unfortunately with a cold or the flu).
Drink – plenty of liquids: water, herbal teas (ginger, peppermint, nettle, alfalfa, horsetail, lemon balm, etc) and fresh juices. Keep in mind caffeine and alcohol dehydrate your body and weaken your immune system – limit or avoid if possible.
Eat real food – eat a diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, food with few ingredients, food in its natural state, food that is not packaged and processed. The body needs quality nutrition from real food to support health and well being.
Avoid sugar – sugar suppresses the immune system for up to six hours after ingestion making the body more vulnerable to pathogens. Sugar requires nutrients for its digestion, the same nutrients that were stripped away during processing, and will steal these from the body – leaving the body depleted and vulnerable. Sugar also actively competes with vitamin C for entry into your cells. Your cells need vitamin C, if there is too much sugar in the body competing for entry into the cells, less vitamin C will be allowed into the cell. When you eat sugar you are slowing the immune system down to a crawl.
Include garlic –it has anti bacterial, anti viral, anti parasitic and anti fungal properties; eat it raw for best results, and include it as much as you can when cooking. To take it raw, finely chop one clove of garlic, let it sit for a minute or two, then swallow with a mouthful of water. The key to no garlic breath is not to let it touch your teeth. Breastfeeding moms if you take raw garlic your baby will get the immune benefits via your breast milk.
Be positive – your thoughts play a role in your health and well being; be positive, think positive, know that your body has the amazing potential to support and defend itself against the many pathogens you come in contact with on a daily basis. And don’t forget to laugh every day for an easy and fun way to boost immunity J
Be hygienic – the only portals of entry for pathogens – the flu virus or cold germ, are the mucous membranes – mainly nostrils and mouth/throat. It’s almost impossible to avoid coming into contact with a pathogen in spite of all precautions. Contact with pathogens is not really the problem; proliferation is. To prevent proliferation, aggravation of symptoms and development of secondary infections, there are some very simple steps you can practice:
- Frequent hand-washing
- Hands-off-the-face approach. Resist all temptations to touch any part of face.
- Gargle twice a day with warm salt water. Pathogens can take 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat/nasal cavity to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents proliferation. Don’t underestimate this simple, inexpensive, age-old yet powerful preventative method.
- Similar to above, clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water, try a nasal irrigation device, found at most drug stores or try blowing your nose hard once a day and swabbing both nostrils with Q-Tips dipped in warm salt water, this is very effective in bringing down viral population.
- Drink warm or hot liquids. Drinking warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse direction. They wash off proliferating viruses from the throat into the stomach where they cannot survive, proliferate or do any harm.
You can’t avoid cold and flu season it is here, but you can support the immune system to do what it naturally wants to do – defend itself against foreign invaders.
In my next post I will discuss natural health products which can help to support and strengthen the immune system, along with the recommendations above.
What are you doing to ensure you and your family stay healthy this season?
Kim Corrigan-Oliver is a first time mom and published author. She is a certified holistic nutritionist specializing in nutrition for mom, baby and toddler. She loves good food and to cook. And, she loves to share her passion for all of the above with those interested in learning more about feeding their babies and raising healthy happy children. For more information please check out her website at Your Green Baby.
Other posts by Kim Corrigan-Oliver