6 Ways to naturally prevent colds and flu

By: Dr. Lesley D'Souza, ND, Oct 26, 2016
  Question
Dr. Lesley D'Souza, Oakville, Naturopathic Doctor

How can I avoid getting the flu this winter?

These tips will help strengthen your immune system and get you through the cold and flu season in one piece!

With the change in weather and beautiful fall colours comes a time that we have grown to dread, cold and flu season! Here are some tips to help support your immune system.

Improve Stress Levels:
Stress (of any kind) causes an elevation in cortisol levels. If exposure to cortisol is prolonged, there is an inhibition of our immune cells from eliminating pathogens. Stress reduction techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, meditation and even massage can be beneficial. Naturopathic doctors also have some great tools to help with stress relief including acupuncture, herbal medicine, counselling and nutritional supplements.

Wash your Hands!
Might sound basic but washing hands is the easiest way to prevent the spread of infection. Try to wash for at least 20 seconds, with warm water and soap, and make sure you don’t miss the areas between your fingers.

Minimize Refined Sugars:
Refined sugars decrease the ability of white blood cells to attack bacteria, and can also contribute to imbalances in the good and bad bacteria of the gut, leading to decreased immune function. Avoiding pop, baked goods, candy, and other foods and drinks high in refined sugars will help keep your immune system working strongly.

Sleep!
Life is busy and sometimes we cut down on sleep to provide some extra time to finish the things we need to do. Studies show that people who don't get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as the common cold. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.

Homeopathic Flu Prevention:
The flu prevention shot contains 2 homeopathic remedies derived from mineral and plant sources that activate the body’s immune defenses against viruses and bacteria. When used in combination, these homeopathic medications have been shown to increase the infection fighting capabilities of white blood cells by 41%. This flu prevention shot is safe and effective and can be administered if the patient is already ill. Also available in oral tablets.

Increase Consumption of Immune Boosting Foods:

  • Vitamin C: is a powerful antioxidant that protects against infection and enhances immunity. Vitamin C rich foods include citrus fruits, potatoes, bell peppers, strawberries, blueberries, kiwi and pineapple.
  • Vitamin E: enhances the production of B-cells, the immune cells that produce antibodies that destroy bacteria. Foods high in Vitamin E include seeds (sunflower, pumpkin), nuts, vegetable oils (sunflower, grapeseed etc) and grains.
  • Zinc: helps to prevent a weakened immune system. Zinc rich foods such as oysters, lean meats, chicken, other seafood, lentils, pumpkin and sesame seeds, garbanzo beans and yogurt.
  • Garlic: is known for its cold-fighting abilities. It increases the potency of two important cells of the immune system: T-lymphocytes and macrophages.
  • Omega-3 fats: essential immune boosters, as they work by increasing the activity of phagocytes, the white blood cells that eat up bacteria. Omega 3 fats can be found in foods such as fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna), flax oil and flaxseeds, omega-3 eggs, nuts and seeds.

These tips will help strengthen your immune system and get you through the cold and flu season in one piece!

Dr. Lesley D’Souza, ND began her studies at the University of Toronto, obtaining a Bachelors of Science in Human Biology with a minor in psychology. She then received her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine at The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto, Ontario which is an accredited four-year, intensive post-graduate naturopathic medical program. As part of her studies, Dr. Lesley completed a twelve-month internship at the Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic, the largest naturopathic clinic in North America. http://www.drlesleynd.com