The best protection you can have to avoid getting a cold or flu is an immune system that is working at its best. This means getting adequate quality sleep, eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and maintaining good hygiene. In addition, adding foods or supplements with omega-3 fatty acids can help protect lungs from infections and support immune function by stimulating phagocytes which are immune system cells that fight off those invaders that bring illness. Vitamin D has also been shown in studies to give the immune system a boost and ward off colds. A study at Harvard reported participants with low vitamin D levels were 36% more at risk for getting an upper respiratory infection. This could be due to vitamin D being instrumental in the production of cathelicidin which is a protein that is able to kill viruses.
Here are a few other tips to help you get through the cold and flu season with a minimum of distress.
WASH YOUR HANDS: One of the best things you can do to keep from getting sick in the first place is to wash your hands frequently, especially during cold or flu season. Use warm water and soap and wash for at least 20 seconds. This will help you wash away viruses or bacteria that you may pick up on your hands and then enter the body by you touching your mouth or eyes. Did you know it is estimated that most adults touch their own face 15 times an hour? That's a lot of opportunity to ingest those germs that you pick up on your hands. Since germs are able to actually stay on wet skin even easier than dry skin, be sure to also dry your hands thoroughly and keep dry towels available. You might also want to consider using paper towels for drying rather than cloth to avoid spreading germs especially if you share a bathroom with someone who is sick.
PROBIOTICS: Probiotics, especially acidophilus, produces substances which are antiviral and antifungal. Probiotics also support the immune system by supporting the function of the digestive system. The Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport reported athletes taking probiotics every day had 40% less colds and an analysis done in 2011 of 10 different studies concluded that 42% of those taking probiotics were less at risk for getting a cold. Mike Gleeson, PhD, professor of exercise biochemistry at Loughborough University in England especially recommends taking Lactobacillus which can reduce the likelihood of getting respiratory and gastrointestinal infections
HERBS: Demulcent and expectorant herbs like marshmallow, slippery elm, comfrey, mullein, and fenugreek help thin and clear out mucous. You can find most of these herbs in tincture form at a health food store near you or online.
IMMUNE SUPPORT ALGAE SUPPLEMENT: Beta glucan helps with inflammation by mobilizing white blood cells to areas of injury or inflammation. These white blood cells (macrophages) remove damaged tissue quickly before it has time to trigger more inflammation. Astragalus and zinc are also known to boost immune system function as are many medicinal mushrooms. A study in 2013 showed an increase in the production of immune cells in participants that ate shiitake mushrooms. Reishi, cordyceps, maitake, Turkey Tail, and Agaricus blazei are other mushrooms that have been shown to have anti-viral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties and support the immune system. You'll find all these mushrooms plus astragalus, beta glucan and organic wild bluegreen algae in this immune system support supplement.
VITAMIN C and BIOFLAVANOIDS: These two supplements provide potent antioxidant benefits and support healing of the lung tissue.
H20: Water, water, water. It's the most important ingredient for healing since you need it to flush the colds and flus out of your system!
Feel better yet? If not, you will soon once you get some of these natural healers into your system. The best thing about these herbs and supplements is that they support your immune system rather than suppressing it (the way antibiotics do). As a result, you'll emerge from your cold or flu with a stronger immune system than ever!
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