Cold and Flu Season Health Tips By: Dr. Sean Miller, D.C.
Cold and Flu season is on the horizon and you are probably noticing a barrage of remedies, drugs, and shots claiming to be “the” solution. Before you start getting shots and taking Nyquil, lets breakdown a few simple reasons why there may be more cold and flu incidence in the fall and winter and provide some simple solutions.
Three things that I believe to be major culprits of cold and flu in the fall/winter is decreased sun exposure and therefore vitamin D levels, decreased exercise/activity levels, and poor seasonal eating habits.
*Before reading further: Healthy immune function requires healthy structural, chemical, and emotional health . Our goal is to help you restore and maintain the balance of this triad of health. Just as you do maintenance on your car to prevent breakdowns, make sure your are receiving maintenance so you do not breakdown.
Although we get an average of 300 days of sun per year in Colorado, as the temperature drops we tend to stay inside more often and when we are outside our skin is covered up. We require sun to produce vitamin D, which is essential for proper immune system function. Try dosing with at least 10,000 IU of vitamin D, per day through the fall/winter. I recommend Vitamin D Emulsion-Forte from Biotics Research. One bottle will provide a whole family plenty of Vitamin D for the whole cold/flu season.
Exercise has been shown to improve immune function, so make sure you maintain your exercise levels through the fall/winter. Remember though, exercise can work against you if you are not doing it properly and giving your body what it need to recover. If you need guidance with a healthy exercise program we can help consult you on a simple plan and/or refer you to a good personal trainer.
The holiday season skyrockets most peoples carbohydrate intake. This increases stress on the digestive system and causes spikes in blood sugar. The digestive system comprises about 70% of our immune system. Carbohydrates and other poor eating habits decrease the level of good bacteria in our gut cells, which keep foreign bacteria from taking over. Carbohydrates also cause a breakdown of the cells lining our small and large intestine, which allow for more foreign substances (like viruses) to enter the blood stream putting higher burden on the immune system. Blood sugar spikes directly decrease immune activity (see my blog post “76 Ways Sugar Can Ruin Your Life”).
Also people tend to eat more nuts during the fall/winter. Nuts contain arginine an amino acid that tends to promote growth of viral infections. So although nuts are good for you, try to eat no more than usual. If you can’t resist those delicious temptations over the holidays there are supplements that like digestive enzymes that we offer which may counteract some of the negative effects.
To recap, along with wellness care, take high quality vitamin D, maintain healthy exercise levels, avoid carbohydrates, and moderate nut intake. Also note, if you are getting sick more than once or twice a year with cold and flu there is a very good chance your immune system is insufficient. We may be able to help you determine the cause and appropriate action steps to restore healthy immune function.