Winter is officially here, which means cold and flu season is upon us. While there is a flu vaccine, which may or may not be all that effective, there isn’t much you can do about the common cold, except keep your immune system n ice and strong.
What Increases Your Risk of Catching the Cold or Flu?
Do you know why fall and winter are considered cold and flu season? To start, colder temps keep people inside… in a sense trapped with no fresh air and sneezing and coughing all around them. On top of this, our immune systems become sluggish when the ambient air is colder than our body temperature. But the rhinovirus thrives on colder temps, so it is becoming stronger just as our immune system is becoming weaker.
Beyond colder temperatures, there are some other risk factors for catching the common cold or flu:
Ever wonder why it seems like kids are a magnet for colds? It’s because children younger than 6 are still developing their immune system. Plus, they are forced to be around other kids all day long, so the chance of catching a virus is much higher.
Poor Lifestyle Choices
Our immune systems often take a beating based on how we live day-to-day. Poor diet, lack of sleep, stress, over-training, and food allergies (which you can’t really help) are big culprits in weakening our immune systems.
But perhaps the biggest and worst lifestyle choice is smoking. Smokers are not only more prone to getting sick, they are also at greater risk for developing subsequent infections.
Being in close proximity to others will always up your chances of catching a cold or flu. The person who works in a busy office or school is far more likely to get sick than the person who works from home. If you work around a lot of other people, it’s important to wash hands often and wipe down common objects like phones, doorknobs and handrails.
Super Nutrients to the Rescue
Now let’s look at the nutrients that will keep your immune system working optimally so you can decrease your family’s chances of becoming sick this season.
We’ll start with the most obvious nutrient to boost the immune system – vitamin C. Your dog and cat may be able to make their own vitamin C, but humans can’t – we need to get it from outside sources such as fruits and veggies.
A vitamin C deficiency has been shown to negatively impact our immune system. While most of us get enough daily vitamin C to keep scurvy away, not all of us get enough to optimize our immune system.
That’s why it’s important to eat foods rich in vitamin C. Now, before you load your shopping cart up with oranges, you should know there are even better sources of vitamin C. Kiwi fruits are loaded with vitamin C, as are bell peppers, papaya and sweet potatoes. Yes, absolutely get your citrus fruits in there, but also recognize the plant world offers a lot of other options for obtaining vitamin C.
We think of vitamin D as something we need for strong and healthy bones, but we neglect to think of its impact on our immune system. But vitamin D, which is actually a steroid hormone produced in our skin in response to sun exposure, is powerful enough to kill microbes such as fungi, bacteria and viruses.
Now the tricky thing is that many people who live in colder climates don’t get enough sun exposer during the cold and flu season. Your best bet during this season is to eat more fatty fish, eggs, cheese and beef liver.
You’ve probably heard of zinc lozenges or zinc nasal spray that contains for when you get that first sign you may be getting sick.
Zinc increases the production of white blood cells in your body and helps you fight infection. It also helps your immune system release more antibodies. But your body has no way of storing zinc, you’ve got to get enough in you each day.
Meat and shellfish are excellent sources of zinc, as are eggs, dairy and nuts.
It is well known that omega-3 fatty acids are effective at fighting inflammation in the body. But what is not as well known is how omega-3s can optimize your immune system. Your immune system is made up of a complex network of lymph nodes and cells called lymphocytes (AKA T-cells and B cells), and these lymphocytes seek and destroy invaders such as bacteria and viruses.
Omega-3 fatty acids enhance the immune system by increasing the actions of the T-cells and B cells.
Excellent sources of omega-3s are cold water fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, herring and mackerel. If you don’t like the taste of fish, you may take an omega-3 supplement with the understanding that not all are created equal. Many supplements are not very potent, so you are forced to take four to six large capsules each day to get enough DHA and EPA. Others aren’t very pure in quality, so you are left with those dreaded fishy burps.
We are incredibly pleased to be able to solve these problems for our clients. DuOmega 3&7 is pure, potent, and will not cause fish burps. Along with Omega-3 we also add omega-7, which is critical for heart health.
If you want to stay healthy this winter, pick up some DuOmega 3&7 today.