It’s that time of year again! The crunch of leaves under your feet, the brisk Autumn air on your face, and of course, the fevers, chills, congestion, and body aches that come with another potentially record breaking cold and flu season. If this year is anything like last year, it is in our best interest to know all the ways that we can protect ourselves. Follow these three easy steps for a healthy and happy season.
Implement Basic Supplementation
Perhaps you’ve heard how beneficial Vitamin C is at preventing infections. This heavy hitter cannot be underestimated especially for those prone to asthma and respiratory conditions. Aim to get small frequent doses throughout the day rather than one large dose at a time. And be sure to purchase the kind that is ‘buffered’ and complexed with citrus flavonoids (i.e. calcium ascorbate or magnesium ascorbate) as it is easier on the stomach if you’re taking large doses. In addition, Zinc should be taken within the first 24 hours that cold/flu symptoms present to halt viral replication. Vitamin D, in those that are deficient, has been shown to be helpful to prevent acute respiratory infections. Ask you doctor to check your levels especially in the Winter time. And finally, probiotics can help modulate and adapt immunity to prevent development of infection, but they are also shown to decrease illness by up to 2 days. And if you choose to get the flu vaccine this year, taking probiotics before and after the shot can actually make it more effective.
Utilize Plant Allies
Plants and herbs are one of my favorite tools to use with clients in general, but they can be extremely helpful when it comes to preventing or fighting an infection. Most people think of herbs such as rosemary, thyme, or basil, but there are so many more that can be utilized to stimulate healing other than these common cooking ingredients. Heavy hitters such as echinacea to boost the immune system or elderberry to fight the virus directly, can be very powerful as preventative tools as well as useful during an active infection. Other great ingredients to add to your repertoire are mushrooms. These potent immune boosting fungi are more than just delicious, they pack a powerful punch to the flu virus. Check out my Elderberry syrup recipe (kids love it!) and a powerful immune boosting mushroom soup recipe here. This soup utilizes several other flu fighting ingredients including onions, garlic, turmeric and ginger. Cook with these plant friends as much as you can throughout the season.
Prevention is the Best Medicine
Conventionally, we are told to get yearly flu vaccines, wash our hands regularly, and steer clear of those with a known infection. But is that all we can do? From a Naturopathic and holistic standpoint, it is important to start with the basics of prevention: nutritious food, clean water, decreasing stress and plenty of sleep. These things keep us running smoothly and are nourishing for a healthy immune system. Never underestimate the foundations of health.