December through March…These Winter months boast the highest rates for the flu.
The reality is simple. In the winter, we have to consider several factors that contribute to a weakened immune system. When they are all at play simultaneously, the cascade can lead to colds, flues, and sinus infections…
- Lack of Sunshine – There is less sunshine to make natural vitamin D. Vitamin D is one of the master regulators of immune function.
- Stress – The holiday season is stressful for many. Between the shopping, travel, and visiting with relatives we may not always get along with, the stress component of the season is definitely a factor for our immune function. Remember that stress depletes vitamins and minerals – especially zinc, B vitamins, and vitamin C.
- Sharing of Germs – November through January is unique in that it is the time of year when families get together in large groups, confined in smaller spaces. This combination can tax the immune system’s resources and put us at risk for infection
- Plane Travel – many people travel via plane during the holidays. This is another scenario where large masses of people are placed in small confined spaces sharing the same “tube air” and germs. These same people then visit your house.
- Food – Holiday eating is full of the ingredients that tax immune function. The most common ingredient? Sugar. Add this to the processed additives, and other chemicals commonly found in seasonal treats, and you have a recipe for immune suppression.
- Alcohol – consumption of wine, schnapps, “spiked” eggnog, etc. Alcohol use goes up during the Christmas season. Unfortunately, too much alcohol taxes immune function, depletes B vitamins and minerals like magnesium and zinc, and interferes with adrenal function.
Here is the Proven Arsenal of Natural Supplements I Use to Help My Patients Keep Their Immune Systems Strong During Cold and Flu Season…
Stocking your pantry with these amazing immune supporters will help keep you out of the doctor’s office during the Winter months.
Now aside from supplementation, you can also take some preventative measures to keep yourself healthier during the Winter.
- Use a sunlamp to help with vitamin D production, and get outside as much as you can (weather permitting).
- Keep your hands clean and off of your face – especially when company visits for the Holidays.
- Make sure you get adequate sleep and manage your calendar as much as possible to reduce social stress.
- Maintain your exercise regimen. A lot of people fall off of their exercise programs (especially in December). Remember that exercise and movement pump your lymphatic system and keep your immune system strong.
- Stay hydrated – the colder air can contribute to dehydration leaving an opening in your immune defenses.
- Consider “Snow Birding” – if you can manage, head south to a sunny destination for a week or two.
- Cook with garlic and mushrooms. Both foods have natural anti bacterial and anti viral compounds that can keep your immune system on guard.
- Limit your alcohol and sugar intake. Holiday parties offer limitless opportunities to indulge. Choose wisely.
Do you have immune tips? Don’t be shy and share them below…
Always looking out for you,
Dr. Osborne – The Gluten Free Warrior