Welcome to the cold and flu season. There are many reasons so many of us tend to get sick this time of the year but good news is that there's also some easy things you can do to keep your body strong this winter season.
The most important thing to remember that colds and even the flu don't just happen. You don't get sick because of bad luck or you simply happen to come into contact with germs. The truth is that germs are all around us, from every doorknob you touch to even your computer desk. No reason to worry though, there's something working twenty four hours a day, seven days a week to keep you healthy. It's your immune system and the key to not getting a cold, is keeping it strong. A healthy immune system is designed to fight colds and infection, so they don't take root in your body. When patients tell me they are sick or have a cold, I always ask the same question, "How did you let yourself get run down?" It's a body that is run down and therefore susceptible to a cold, that is the real problem. In our fast paced society it's hard to keep our body and immune system strong, but good news is that there are some simple ways to help you not only get over a cold quicker but actually prevent it in the first place.
The first thing I recommend is rest. It sounds so simple, but too many of us are chronically sleep deprived. Sleeping in during the weekends is also not a good way to "make it up", since it disrupts your normal sleep cycle. Lack of sleep even for just a night has been linked from everything to weight gain, decreased mental performance and decreased immune function so if your body tells you that you are tired, instead of reaching for that third cup of coffee, how about just getting to bed earlier. Most of us need at least 7-8 hours of restful sleep and when we are fighting a cold or infection, even more. Don't forget that temperature also plays a role in restful sleep and most studies agree that a temperature between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal for sleeping, while above 75 degrees has actually been shown to be disruptive to sleep.
The second thing I recommend is to be very careful with what you eat, specifically refined sugar. Studies have shown that eating or drinking too much sugar curbs immune system cells that attack bacteria. This effect lasts for at least two hours after consuming refined sugars. I'm not saying you have to give up the cookies and cake forever, but if you are fighting a cold, definitely skip em. Increase fruits and especially fresh green leafy vegetables, which are rich in vitamins and nutrients. Typically raw is best followed by lightly steamed or sautéed. The more vegetables are cooked, the less nutritive value they possess. Fresh garlic is also particularly good for your immune system as it helps fight viruses and bacteria.
Exercise is another major factor in keeping your body and mind strong. Exercise has the effect of a jump start on your immune system and can help keep you from getting colds and the flu. In one study reported in the American Journal of Medicine, women who walked for a half-hour every day for one year had half the number of colds as women who did not exercise. I understand no one wants to go outside for a walk when it's cold, but fresh air is better for you and sun exposure boosts your Vitamin D production which has been shown to also help fight colds.
Another way to boost your immune system you might not think of is Chiropractic care. Chiropractic care has been shown to boost your immune system as well as help your nervous system regulate stress. The chief of cancer prevention at New York’s Preventative Medicine Institute found that people who received regular chiropractic care over a five-year period had a 200% greater immune competence than those who had not received chiropractic care.
Don't forget the common sense approaches as well, such as regularly washing your hands with soap and water. Antibacterial gels are convenient but not nearly as effective and may lead to antibiotic resistant bacteria. There are so many simple ways to boost your immune system and come out of the cold and flu season on top.