6 Healthy Habits to Prevent Cold and Flu

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Since the chilly weather took over, I constantly find myself wanting to run and hide from sneezing, coughing people (although I have nothing personal against these lovely people 🙂 But hey, such is life. There will always be someone who is ill that we cannot necessarily avoid. And that’s OK! In fact, we are constantly being bombarded by millions of harmful bacteria, but somehow our bodies are resilient enough not to let them destroy us. Yes, our body’s immune system are amazing. They have this incredible ability to deal with “foreign invaders” – harmful bacteria and viruses. But, not everybody’s body has an immune system strong enough to always do its job. Our immune system is often weakened after being bombarded by stress, processed foods, environmental allergens, and toxins.

So what can you do to ensure you keep your immune system strong?
Here are 6 things to start with!

1. PROBIOTICS

Probiotics are the friendly bacteria that lives in and is beneficial to all of our intestines. They have numerous benefits, but for the purpose of this newletter, studies have shown that taking probiotics can reduce incidence of cold and flu and reduce the length of sick days and severity of symptoms. And  (for the pregnant women) if you use probiotics in your last trimester, research has shown that it can increase your immunity and anti-inflammatory effect.Make sure the probiotics you buy is the refrigerated kind – you will find it in your store’s refrigerated section. You can also find probiotics in foods such as yogurt, kefir/buttermilk, pickles, Kombucha tea, and kimchi.

2. VITAMIN D

Vitamin D has been shown to improve the immune system as well. In one of the largest studies conducted, people with low vitamin D in their blood level reported having significantly more colds or cases of the flu.Newborns have higher respiratory infection rates when they are born with low vitamin D serum levels, which is usually due to their mother’s low levels of vitamin D.Vitamin D it is produced in our bodies when we are exposed to the sun, therefore it is especially vital during the sunless winter season.
When buying vitamin D, look for vitamin D3 in the ingredients.

3. OIL AND GARLIC EAR DROPS

If you believe in tried and true methods, here is an ancient Ayurvedic method for cold/flu prevention as prescribed by a renown Ayurvedic pactitioner, John Douillard. John says he does this with all his 6 children, and they rarely get a cold!
“Put 1 oz of sesame or olive oil in a pan. Chop a small garlic clove and put it in the pan. Heat the oil and garlic until the water in the garlic starts to pop or boil off. Press the garlic with a fork to release any extra water. When all the water in the garlic is boiled off, let the mixture cool, strain out garlic pieces and funnel into a clean glass dropper bottle.Before use, heat the garlic oil to just above body temperature by holding the full dropper under hot water for a few moments. Fill both ear canals and cover with cotton balls. Do this twice a day for three days. You can use ear oil preventatively once a week during the fall and winter*. It is also beneficial before being exposed to excessive cold, wind, dryness, dust or pollen*.”
You can buy this oil in natural health food stores, such as Whole Foods, but the home-made oil is more economical.
How does this method work? The oil tends to lubricate the sinuses which promotes less congestion and therefore, less mucus. And the garlic has antibacterial properties, therefore acts as an “antibiotic”.

4. OMEGA 3

Omega 3s increase the activity of cells that fight flu by eating up bacteria—according to a study by Britain’s Institute of Human Nutrition and School of Medicine. Other research shows that omega-3s increase airflow and protect lungs from colds and respiratory infections.Omega-3 is especially critical for pregnant women and baby’s brain development, not only for cold/flu prevention.Some of highly recommended ultra-refined omega 3 supplements are made by Carlson’s and Nordic Naturals (both sold online and in Whole Foods).For maintaining wellness, take 2.5gm of Omega-3 per day (combination of EPA and DHA)

5. EAT FOODS WITH PHYTOCHEMICALS

That means eat your veggies! To make sure you get enough of those phytochemicals, include a wide variety of colorful veggies in your diet – greens, yellows, oranges, purples, reds. You know I am talking about, right? – green leafy veggies, such as kale and swiss chard, yellow peppers, orange carrots, purple eggplants, and red beets – as shown in the photo above.

6. RELAX!

If you really want to boost your immune system, try stress fighting techniques to promote relaxation. A recent study suggests that relaxation, specifically meditation, worked as well as flu vaccine!Like with exercise, find your favorite way to relax – talk to those you trust, drink soothing tea, turn off news on TV, deep breathing, meditate, take a bath, or get out of town!
What’s your favorite?
To your best health this winter season!Please write to me if there is something else you would like to learn about. I would love to hear from you!

Svetlana Burak, LCPC
Health and Wellness Coach

Resources and References:

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