It’s estimated in the U.S. alone, there are 50 million cases of flu and 1 billion colds a year! Let’s make sure you don’t fall prey to it!
So first of all, and as with most infectious diseases, one of the best ways to stay well is to build your defenses naturally by eating a healthful diet … fruits, vegetables, little or no sugar, healthy protein and fat, and so on. You’ll want to keep that stress under wraps, too, and make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep. But let’s assume you’re already doing this…What else can help you the most?
Zinc has been shown to reduce the length and severity of the common cold, but you have to take it within 24 hours of your first symptoms. Low doses of zinc taken for five months have also been shown to help reduce the number of colds in children.
Taking vitamin C may help to modestly reduce the length and severity of cold symptoms- although it does not seem to help if you just start taking it once a cold hits. The idea is to regularly take the vitamin, more so to prevent getting a cold or the flu.
Echinacea, and specifically Echinacea purpurea, may help to shorten the duration of the common cold and lessen the severity of symptoms in adults, although there is some conflicting research on this.
Beneficial bacteria known as probiotics have been found to help prevent upper respiratory tract infections, including the common cold, as well as possibly reduce the prescription of antibiotics.
Garlic naturally improves the production of white blood cells and optimizes the efficiency of your antibodies, possibly due to the sulfur-based compounds like allicin, allium and N-acetylcysteine. Garlic has both antibacterial and antiviral properties, and research has shown that those who took garlic every day for three months had fewer colds than those taking a placebo.
People who exercise regularly get up to 20% fewer colds than those who do not. And in certain groups, such as postmenopausal women, regular moderate-intensity exercise has been found to reduce the incidence of colds even more; by up to 50 percent.
Vitamin D plays a role in your body’s innate immunity, including the prevention of respiratory tract infections like colds and flu, but many are deficient. Research shows that people with higher vitamin D levels are less likely to have recently had a cold or the flu.
At least one study also suggests that supplementing with vitamin D3 during the colder weather months (when sunlight, your body’s natural source of vitamin D is more likely to be scarce) may reduce the incidence of the flu, especially in younger children.
Elderberry (Sambucus) has traditionally been used for treating both colds and the flu, and research suggests it has “relatively strong defense” against influenza A virus by “stimulating immune response and preventing viral infection.” Elderberry extract has also been shown to shorten the duration of flu symptoms by more than 50 percent.
Did you know that cold and flu symptoms are a result of your body’s inflammatory response to the virus, rather than the result of the virus itself? Proteolytic enzymes not only have very potent anti-inflammatory properties, they also fight viruses and support your immune system.
Proteolytic enzymes are produced naturally by your pancreas and are used by your body to “eat up” scar tissue, cleanse toxins from your blood, fight viruses and improve your immune system, so you’re likely to get sick less often.
Unfortunately, your body stops producing optimal amounts of proteolytic enzymes sometime in your late 20s, which is why taking a proteolytic enzyme supplement is an extremely smart move, especially if you’re in your 40s and beyond…
Katie Politano, owner The Gym on Pearl in Burlington, ON is passionate about helping others achieve their fitness and wellness goals. What she loves about this downtown Burlington location is that it’s in the heart of a city filled with health-conscious individuals looking for diversity in their fitness routine. The Gym on Pearl offers this with its unique Boutique-style facility.