Article written by Dr. Siobhan Hanlon. Scared of catching a cold? Here are a few things you can do to keep yourself healthy this winter.
Supplement with vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to decreased immune function and increased risk of upper respiratory infections. Taken daily with a meal, vitamin D will keep you healthy and can prevent those winter blues.
Boost your immune system with healthy bugs. Probiotics are the healthy bacteria that live in our gut and help to keep the immune system balanced, fight infection and decrease the time needed to recover from a cold. Probiotics work in several ways to protect us. They help us to digest food, produce substances to protect our gut lining from invading bacteria, and help to outnumber the bad bacteria so they cannot proliferate and make us sick. Taking a probiotic supplement and eating fermented foods ensures that we get many different kinds of beneficial bacteria.
Avoid foods that deplete the immune system like sugar, alcohol and processed foods. These foods have been shown to increase inflammation in the body. As inflammation increases immune function decreases. Certain spices like turmeric, rosemary, garlic, oregano, ginger, among others have been shown to decrease inflammation and increase immune function. Adding these spices to our everyday cooking can give our immune system a little extra help. Mushrooms have medicinal properties that have been shown to increase the body’s natural immune system. Adding mushrooms like, shiitake or maitake, to soups and stews is an easy way to boost immunity. Increasing colorful veggies and fruit provides nutrients the body needs to fight off colds.
Taking a multivitamin daily will make sure your body is getting the essential nutrients it needs to function properly.
For your body to run efficiently you must stay hydrated. Dehydration leads to dry and cracked mucus membranes, which are our first line of defense against bacteria entering our body. Be sure to drink half your body weight in ounces of water daily. Adding fresh squeezed lemon, cucumber or some crushed berries will make this task easier to accomplish. Bone broths are packed with nutrients, taste great and also help to keep us hydrated. Herbal teas are another tasty, nutritious way to add to hydration status.
Always wash your hands. This is pretty much common sense and I’m sure you’ve heard it before but it can really help decrease your risk of catching a cold. When we touch surfaces that other people have touched we can pick up their germs. These germs can enter our body through our mucus membranes. Simply using soap and water before touching your face and especially before eating can help to prevent the spread of germs.
Other helpful tips include exercising regularly, going to bed before midnight and decreasing stress.
To learn more about Dr. Hanlon please call 631-421-1848 to schedule a free 10 minute consult.