How Not to Get Sick
We asked Dr. Rachel Corradetti-Sargeant, ND a board-licensed naturopathic doctor for her top tips on keeping your family healthy this cold and flu season and she definitely delivered.
How Not to Get Sick
Winter is coming. And with that lovely season comes the onslaught of colds and flus. We love our kids, but they are little petrie dishes. Never fear: there are ways to assist your immune system this coming cold and flu season. So let’s talk about the best ways NOT to get sick.
We all know we have to wash our hands, but we may not know about some of the other more interesting techniques out there. As a board-licensed naturopathic doctor, I employ a number of research-proven techniques in my household and encourage the same in my patients. Here are a few options to consider:
Humidifier: Keeping your home’s humidity levels between 30%-50% can keep illness at bay. Many furnaces these days come equipped with a humidifier, but if yours doesn’t, you can look into cool-mist humidifiers especially for each bedroom. Just be sure to keep them clean as they can harbour mold and bacteria.
Probiotics & Zinc: We all know about vitamin C, but in recent studies probiotics and zinc had better efficacy in preventing and recovering from illness. There are many different probiotic and zinc options out there so it’s best to speak with your naturopathic doctor to determine the best forms, strains, dose and duration for you and your family members.
Echinacea: You may have heard about this botanical, but most of us aren’t using it correctly. Firstly, it is best used preventively with daily use as opposed to acutely. Secondly, it is very important to ensure the product you use has both Echinacea augustifolia and Echinacea purpurea root to ensure ultimate alkyl amide levels. The clinical evidence for Echinacea is strong, and I use it in many of my patients from fall until spring to avoid illness. Again, there are many different options out there so it’s best to speak with your naturopathic doctor to determine the one for you.
Reduce Processed Food Intake: Dietary change can have great outcomes on avoiding illness. A study done years ago suggested that a serving of sugar can reduce your immune system’s functionality for the subsequent 3 hours after consumption, however, this research was more closely related to bacterial infections. In the case of viral infections (which is the most common pathogen causing colds and flus), you’re best to maintain a robust and varied diet in order to support a healthy immune system. If your body is deprived of nutrients your immune system will not function as well as possible. Processed foods are devoid of nutrients for the most part. Replace these with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean meats to fortify your body with the nutrients (zinc, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin D, and protein) it needs to stay well.
Reduce Stress: This is so much easier said than done, especially with little children. However, the impact of stress on immune function is strong enough that we need to address it in our daily lives — especially during cold and flu season. Schedules are packed, work demands are high. Perhaps this might be the year to try out schedule family meditation time using an app like Calm or Sesame Street’s Breath, Think, Do. Mediation is research-proven to reduce stress, and that means good things for your immune system.
Ultimately, there are a lot of options for reducing the frequency of colds and flus in your family members this season. Many of these options will also help with overall health long term. Try them out this year to keep well.