Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Overcoming the Cold & Flu Bugs

I have been noticing that we were not the only ones catching a bug this Christmas. I was so bummed when Blaise got sick, and then Philomena and I caught it once he was better. Two sick kids in a row are never fun, especially on Christmas. Even though we caught the bug, which we normally get many times during the cold/flu season, I noticed something much different this year - the severity of our colds have been very minor and did not last as long when compared to what they used to be.

The difference this year? Our diet and vitamins have made a huge difference in our overall health and ability to hold the bug back from overtaking our bodies completely. I wanted to share an article with you from Dr. Axe that shares 7 natural tips on overcoming the cold and flu bugs and how to boost your immune system during this bug season.

He hits all on the main points except a couple of others I wanted to add:
  • Eliminate gluten when you are dealing with chest congestion or any cold/flu because it causes inflammation in your gut which will decrease your immune system when you need it most.
  • Honey is great for sore throats and coughs. Here is a link for homemade cough drops. I added peppermint oil and ginger to mine for extra coating on the throat and healing: If the kids are up coughing, I give them a spoon of honey with a little peppermint oil, put on the humidifier and can usually make it through the night without having to sleep upright holding them on the couch.
  • Probiotics are extremely important for you and your kids to be on, especially if they are sick and have been put on an antibiotic. Antibiotics will not only kill all the bad bacteria in your body, but also the essential good bacteria that helps maintain your overall health, including your immune system. Here is a article on probiotics because not all of them are of equal strength, sources or potency:
  • Vitamin D is essential! I know he says this, but I wanted to stress it more - it's made a WORLD of differences in our health this time of year when the sunlight is limited. But not all Vitamin D is created equal either. You want to find Vitamin D3 because it comes from natural food sources, not D2 which comes from sediment. Milk is not a good source of Vitamin D. Here is an article explaining why and foods to eat that have Vitamin D in them:

7 Steps to Beat a Cold or Flu

Welcome to cold and flu season. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases each year people in the United States will get 1 billion colds. But feeling sick isn’t the only thing that happens. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 22 million school days will be lost each year due to colds. And as most parents know, when kids miss school, parents miss work.

Will you be one of the 1 billion colds? Will your children miss school this year too, forcing you to miss work?

If you follow these seven simple steps you can manage to beat a cold and flu all year long, year after year. You may even prevent chronic lifestyle diseases from taking hold too. 

Facts on Colds
It’s estimated that there are 200 viruses out there that can cause colds. And despite what many people think (and your grandma may have told you), there’s no evidence that cold weather, large tonsils or other such old wives tales can make you get a cold. Evidence does suggest that stress and having allergies can increase your chances of getting a cold.

Colds are caused by viruses such as the rhinovirus, the coronavirus, and more. These germs take up residence in the lining of the nose and grow, eventually attempting to infect the body. If your body is weak or unable to resist the germs you get sick. Colds generally last from about two days to two weeks. 

Cold Symptoms
We all know what a cold feels like; runny nose, stuffy head, low grade fever, sore throat, cough, headache. If you have these symptoms it’s most likely that you have a cold. Although treatment of colds is a topic of controversy, there are preventative steps you can take to not get a cold in the first place! 

7 Real Life Steps to Stay Cold & Flu Free All Year Long

Step 1: Eat Real Food

Now if you’ve been a regular reader on my site here you’ll know what I mean by ‘real’ food. But for those of you who don’t let me explain. Real food is the food that is most natural, found in nature with the least amount of processing involved before it reaches your table.

This is the food that is provided by Our Maker to keep us healthy and alive without debilitating diseases. Foods like apples, carrots, raw nuts, and seeds. Foods that haven’t been loaded with hormones, pesticides, and other unnatural chemicals. These are the foods you can grow (or raise) in your own backyard in an organic garden or by raising your own chickens for example.

The other foods that many Americans consume on a daily basis are what I like to call ‘fake’ foods. These are the foods you’ll find on shelf after shelf, aisle after aisle at the grocery store. Foods that have been highly processed, modified, and transformed from their original state that they hardly resemble the original food at all.

Think Doritos, soda, fruit snacks, microwave meals, etc.

Eating a variety of real foods provide your body with all the nutrients it needs to function and stay healthy. This should be your first food choice on a daily basis. Check out my Healing Foods Diet & the Real Food Diet Cookbook for guidance on eating real foods instead of fake foods. 

Step 2: Exercise
Although when you think of preventing a cold you don’t necessarily think ‘I’d better exercise if I don’t want to get sick,’ this is one of the best ways to improve your overall health and stay healthy during cold and flu season.

According to researcher Michael Flynn who studies the impact of exercise on the immune system at Purdue University, thirty minutes of exercise, three or four times a week, is the best way to boost your immune system. Any more will actually begin to have the reverse effect.

Flynn explained that one study found running ten miles a week boosted the immune system but up that to twenty miles a week and you increase the risk for infections.

This is why I recommend burst training as opposed to long distance cardiovascular exercise. 

Step 3: Get Plenty of Sleep
Now this old wives tale still holds true today. When you’re sick you need to get plenty of rest, but you can’t really ‘catch up’ on sleep or makeup for weeks or months of too little sleep.

Getting enough sleep on a regular basis is key to maintaining good health. Studies show that lack of sleep is associated with health problems and the inability to lose weight. According to the Harvard Women’s Health Watch one adverse effect of not getting enough sleep is a compromised immune system. 

Step 4: Enjoy Life!
There’s nothing like stress to bring on all sorts of physical ailments including colds and flu’s. According to Laurel Mellin, associate professor at the University of California in San Francisco, 80% of health problems are stress induced.

Mellin has developed a new approach for dealing with stress. It involves using the tools already in place in your brain to move through stress and quickly get to feeling peaceful and balanced.
One of the best ways to beat stress is to balance your life with fun. Remember the saying ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’? Well no play will make Jack a miserable and dull boy. Take time to enjoy life and build joy everyday. Whether it’s taking time to listen to your favorite music, or going to the movies or theater, or playing sports with your family or friends, it’s vital to include fun in your day – especially when it’s the last thing you feel like doing. 

Step 5: Get Plenty of Vitamin D
More and more is being revealed lately about the vast health benefits of vitamin D. Previously known to impact bone health, vitamin D deficiency is now implicated in many health issues.

According to long time vitamin D researcher, Dr. Michael Holick, vitamin D is best obtained through safe sun exposure. That’s right, he advises you to get sun – but safely. In his book entitled The Vitamin D Solution, Holick says that a lack of vitamin D (that many Westerners are unknowingly suffering from) can wreak havoc on the body, including the immune system.

To beat a cold or flu make sure you get plenty of safe sun exposure on a regular basis. If you live somewhere that only gets sun seasonally it’s a good idea to take a vitamin D supplement until your levels are adequate enough to take you through these sunless seasons. I recommend a high quality, raw food based supplement like Garden of Life’s RAW D3. 

Step 6: Take a Whole Food Multivitamin
Taking a multi-vitamin is a great step towards protecting your health. But not all multi-vitamins are good for you. It’s vital that you choose a whole food multi-vitamin not a synthetic one. Whole food multi-vitamins are as close to the real source of the vitamins and minerals that you can get. Your body will be better able to recognize it, digest it, and absorb the nutrients in it. Be sure the multi-vitamin you choose has the ISO certification on it. This ensures that you are getting a high-quality vitamin. I personally take the Vitamin Code Men’s Multivitamin from Garden of Life. 

Step 7: Avoid Sugar
Sugar is one of the worst things to consume, especially if you’re trying to stay healthy – and who isn’t? Sugars weaken the immune system and help bacteria to grow. Avoiding sugars is key to staying healthy, particularly when you’re under stress or in the middle of cold and flu season.

There are great, all natural sweeteners on the market so you don’t have to go without. Try stevia or raw honey in moderation. (And avoid artificial sweeteners–those are fake foods!) Be sure to check labels of the foods you’re eating and avoid sugars here too.

No one wants to come down with a cold or the flu anytime. When you take the above seven steps to stay healthy you’ll not only beat colds and flu’s, you’ll be protecting your body from other more serious chronic diseases that could really compromise your health down the road.