Winter is here! We do indeed have four seasons here in Indy. With this cold weather comes cold and flu season too, unfortunately. The drier air in the colder months allow viruses and bacteria to cling to our nasal passages easier, whereby making us more susceptible to illness. The change in weather pressure and activities can dampen our immune system too. So here are a few easy tips and considerations to help keep you healthy during the winter season:
- Sleep. Yes, sleep is absolutely necessary for health. And good sleep is even better! Sleeping is the time when your body repairs and heals itself. Make sure you are devoting enough time for a full rest. Do this regularly. Most adults need anywhere between 7-8 hours nightly. Kids need between 8-10 hours each night. The highest levels of HGH (Human Growth Hormone) are produced at night. This vital hormone replenishes growth for most all cells in our body. It can also help regulate blood sugar, reduce body fat, increase energy, build muscle, and strengthen the immune system.
- Gut Health. The immune system starts in the gut. In fact, 70% of our immune system lies in our gut. In this case, we are talking about the intestinal tract. Are you digesting food? And if so, is it being properly absorbed? How do we know? Reflux or heartburn are signs of improper digestion and therefore improper absorption. Try a digestive enzyme to ensure digestion can occur. Have constipation or diarrhea? Absorption of food is an issue with these concerns. A probiotic may help. Try one with many strains listed for more diversity and a better outcome.
- Vitamin D. We talked about this in our previous blog (HERE). It influences virtually every cell in the body. It can act like a switch to turn on the immune system and can increase its function by a factor of 3 to 5! Vitamin D turns on peptides within your immune system which have a strong antimicrobial response to fight off any invaders.
But what if I’m already sick or feel like I’m going to get sick?
Try some of these supplements to help boost your immunity:
- Elderberry. This is a great tasting syrup! They also could be in a gummy form if you so desire. You can buy or make your own syrup too! You can even find it in teas. It is remarkable for Upper Respiratory Infections (URI’s) in both kids and adults alike. It is rich in antioxidants, fiber, and Vitamin C.
- Vitamin C. This potent vitamin is needed by the immune system to function quickly. Tablets, gummies, or capsules are easy to take. Drinking OJ does NOT count as a more concentrated format of Vitamin C is needed to make an impact! Vitamin C encourages the production of white blood cells, which are the soldiers of our immune system.
- Echinacea. This immune system stimulator can help cut days off a cold. Taking it preventatively has been shown to work as well. This herb helps to manage and control inflammation within the body whereby offering relief to chronic pain.
- Astragalus Root. This herb has been used in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) for years to help not only boost the immune system, but to fight off invaders. This root increases white blood cell production which help prevent illness and infection. It has also been shown to help with allergies.
Where can I buy good quality supplements?
What a tricky question! Most big box stores (ie. Walmart, Target, Meijer, etc) have value brands that seemingly offer the suggestions above. Take caution as not all supplements are made equally! A mid or higher-quality brand is going to be easier to digest and be utilized easier by the body. So, you won’t have to take 3 pills each day to get what one quality pill can offer. Dr. Vicki or Dr. Emileah would be happy to discuss what brands are of better quality. We carry many of the suggested supplements in the office. Just ask at your next visit!