During the holidays we spend more time indoors enclosed with people who are sneezing/coughing with re-circulated air. Adding travel, stress, late nights and holiday temptations to make poor food and drink choices can be a recipe for getting a cold or flu.
Here are 4 tips to improve your immune health in this cold and flu season.
1. Wash your hands
Wash your hands frequently with regular soap (triclosan in antibacterial soaps not only breeds antibiotic resistance but in animal studies disrupts hormones) and warm water for as long as it takes for you to sing happy birthday two times, approximately 20 seconds.
2. Get your Vitamin D levels checked
We want levels not to prevent rickets but for optimal health so aim for levels 100 to 160 nmol/L. In Canada where we don’t get enough sunlight to produce sufficient vitamin D especially in the winter, most people require 2000-5000 IU VitD3 for optimal levels.
3. Limit refined sugar
Sugar can decrease the immune system up to 40% for up to 5 hours afterwards. Avoid artificial sweeteners.
4. Get your gut healthy
Up to 80% of our immune system is in our digestive tract. The gut lining has the surface area of a tennis court (200m2) and there are 10x the number of bacterial cells in our gut than all our human cells so it’s important to make sure the flora is balanced. If you have excessive gas, bloating, cramping, allergies, low immune or autoimmune disorders it maybe a sign you may have increased intestinal permeability or “leaky gut”. Probiotics and fermented foods can help restore the health of the gut in conjunction with eliminating foods, parasites, toxins and medications that can cause inflammation of the gut lining.