Every year about this time we start to see the weather changing. In fact, here in Central Texas, we get to see what it feels like to be winter and spring on the same day. It’s not unusual to see changes in the temperature from the mid 40’s to the mid 80’s all in a matter of 12 hours. And, we like to do so repeatedly. Partially due to this change in the weather, people start getting more colds and the dreaded “flu season” sets in.
Contrary to popular belief, the flu virus and for that fact any cold viruses, etc. don’t wait for the weather to cool off before coming back around. Also, contrary to what most of us were told growing up, being out in the cold doesn’t make us get “pneumonia” either. Don’t misunderstand me, the weather does play a factor, but it’s not how most people think. It has more to do with the fact that when it gets cooler and the days get shorter, most of us tend to begin a hibernation process.
Think about it. When the cooler weather comes around, most people tend to stay indoors more of the time. That contributes to problems with our immune systems in at least 3 ways. First, we don’t move as much. We tend to sit a lot more. Second, we tend to eat a lot more “comfort” food. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for some winter goodies, but the truth is that many of the things we like to snack on are loaded with sugar, preservatives, etc. A third contributing factor is lack of exposure to sunlight. In the last decade, everyone has heard nothing but story after story about Vitamin D and all of it’s effects on the body, the immune system included. When we don’t get sunlight, we tend to become deficient in Vitamin D. This greatly decreases our body’s defense system against foreign invaders.
So, just keeping all of these things in mind, here are a few tips to help prevent you and your family getting hit with a bad cold and flu season:
Get Outside: Ok, if you are reading this in Central Texas that shouldn’t be an issue. Even our harsh 40 degree days never killed anybody. If you are in the Northeast part of the US, or even somewhere around the world reading this and you actually real cold weather, then just do the best you can with this tip. You don’t have to spend all day outside, but do get out and let some sunlight hit your skin. If it’s doable roll up you shirt sleeves. Let the sun hit your face some. This one thing can go a long way.
Get Active: As stated, it’s real easy to listen to that couch or chair calling your name. And, in today’s era of Netflix and Hulu, it’s easy to get lazy and binge watch tv for hours on end. Again, sometimes, that fine. But, on a regular basis it’s a good idea to get up and be active. Maybe work on some projects inside the house. Maybe spend more time wrestling around with the kids. Maybe just do a 30 minute workout of some sort. The point is, don’t just sit around. Get up and move.
Eat Better: Trust me, I get it. Ask any one of my family members and they will tell you that I can put away Chicken and Dumplings with the best of them. This time of years lends to all sorts of good home cooking that’s not always the healthiest to eat(and of course as the holidays come around this gets even worse). Again, I’m not saying don’t have some of these things. It’s never one meal or snack, or even a couple of them that gets you. It’s the cumulative effect over time that makes a difference. Try to make sure that you are still eating clean and healthy 80% of the time. Have some fun and try to find ways that you can match grandma’s recipes with maybe a little healthier spin. It’s absolutely doable.
Supplement: Along with eating healthy, as always, there are some supplements that will help you stay healthy as well. Remember, supplements are just that, supplements. They don’t replace healthy food. They work with it. Things you may want to consider for this time of year are of course your regular Multivitamin, Probiotics, Fish Oil. These are staples that I recommend year ‘round. But, more specific to this season could be Vitamin D, Vitamin A(not Beta-Carotene), and Zinc. While I’m not a fan of loading up on a single nutrient for any extended period of time(including Vitamin D), all of these play a big role in your immune system. Just a word of caution, you can get too much of any fat soluble vitamin(both D and A are fat soluble) and you also can overload on minerals too. I recommend taking a moderate dose for a few days then cycling off for a while then back on again, etc. Check with your Pharmacist to find out what might be a good dose for you or you can contact me at email@example.com directly so we could discuss your particular circumstances.
One last thing to throw in kind of as a bonus would be Elderberry Extract. There are a number of these on the market, but the one that I have always used and recommend is Sambucol. It does have sugar in in, but from what I understand elderberry is very bitter, so it’s there to offset it, and this stuff has worked wonders for me and my family over the years. Elderberry actually works by keeping the virus from being able to replicate, so your body has a chance to fight it off easier. It can be taken preventatively and/or if you are unlucky enough to get a cold or the flu, it will help get you better quicker in my experience.
Well, there you have it. A gameplan for the coming season. Enjoy it and stay healthy!