Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Strategies to Stay Healthy This Winter

Why is it that science is still no closer to a cure for colds and flu? It’s because we’re dealing with smart viruses. Any one of a hundred viruses could launch a cold or flu attack, and chances are that this year’s flu virus won’t be the same as last year’s, which makes the vast majority of us susceptible. But there's still much you can do to stay strong and healthy all winter.
Our Best Prevention Strategies
Take Care of the Basics: As always, the best place to start to maintain a healthy immune system is with the basics. Regular physical activity can help manage stress, which can adversely affect overall health. Aim for 7 ½ to 8 hours of sleep and reduce (or eliminate) fried and high-fat foods, which can wreak havoc with your immune balance.
Wash Your Hands: Washing hands remains the most effective way to protect yourself and your family from colds and flu. Lather, rinse, repeat throughout the day—especially if you have sick people around you. Try to avoid touching your face after potentially coming into contact with germs—it’s a direct inoculation.


Boost the Beneficial Bacteria: 80 percent of your immune system is in your digestive tract. Research validates the connection between healthy gut flora and overall immunity.

Add Foods that Support Immune Health: There are many foods with medicinal properties; make sure you include as many as possible. Think about combining a lot of the ingredients below in chicken soup:



  • Oranges, strawberries, bell peppers, potatoes and other fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C and E are all good for your immune system.
  • Shiitake, Maitake, and other mushrooms have been used, especially in Traditional Chinese Medicine, for boosting the immune system.2
  • Garlic and Onions not only taste great but have also been researched for their ability to modulate immune function.3
  • Add These Helpful Herbs: Research supports the immune-modulating activity of turmeric4, oregano, ginger5, echinacea6, larch7, and elderberry8. Some of these also make a great tea.
    Make Sure You Are Getting the Right Nutrients: Your immune system needs to be well nourished to function at its best. Stock up on the following nutrients:
    • Macro-Nutrients: The macro-nutrients are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Focus on lean protein; it is essential for a healthy immune system.9 Supplement with EPA and DHA, or eat fish twice a week for those healthy omega-3 fats.10
    • Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamins such as vitamin A, B6, B12, E C, folate, and the minerals zinc, copper and iron all support an effective immune response.11
    • Vitamin D: Vitamin D, in particular, has been the focus of research on optimal immune system functioning. Vitamin D plays a role in improving mucus membrane barrier functioning, the production of antimicrobial peptides (small proteins), and overall immune support.12
    Protect your immune system by starting early, taking good care of yourself, and feeding your body the nutrients it needs to stay strong.
    1Purchiaroni F, Tortora A, Gabrielli M, et al. The role of intestinal microbiota and the immune system. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2013 Feb;17(3):323-33. PMID: 23426535.
    2Vannucci L, Krizan J, Sima P, et al. Immunostimulatory properties and antitumor activities of glucans (Review). Int J Oncol. 2013 Aug;43(2):357-64. PMID: 2373980.
    3Ali M, Thomson M, Afzal M. Garlic and onions: their effect on eicosanoid metabolism and its clinical relevance. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2000 Feb;62(2):55-73. PMID: 10780871.
    4Gautam SC, Gao X, Dulchavsky S. Immunomodulation by curcumin. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:321-41.PMID: 17569218.
    5Butt MS, Sultan MT. Ginger and its health claims: molecular aspects. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2011 May;51(5):383 93. PMID: 21491265.
    6Hudson JB. Applications of the phytomedicine Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) in infectious diseases. J Biomed Biotechnol. 2012;2012:769896. PMID: 22131823.
    7Kelly GS. Larch arabinogalactan: clinical relevance of a novel immune-enhancing polysaccharide. Altern Med Rev. 1999 Apr;4(2):96-103. PMID: 10231609.
    8Roxas M, Jurenka J. Colds and influenza: a review of diagnosis and conventional, botanical, and nutritional considerations. Altern Med Rev. 2007 Mar;12(1):25-48. PMID: 17397266.
    9Li P, Yin YL, Li D, Kim SW, Wu G. Amino acids and immune function. Br J Nutr. 2007 Aug;98(2):237-52. Epub 2007 Apr 3. PMID: 17403271.
    10Das UN. Essential fatty acids in health and disease. J Assoc Physicians India.1999 Sep;47(9):906-11. PMID: 10778663.
    11Wintergerst ES, Maggini S, Hornig DH. Contribution of selected vitamins and trace elements to immune function. Ann Nutr Metab. 2007;51(4):301-23. Epub 2007Aug 28. PMID: 17726308.
    12Schwalfenberg GK. A review of the critical role of vitamin D in the functioning of the immune system and the clinical implications of vitamin D deficiency. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2011 Jan;55(1):96-108. PMID: 20824663.
    Image and Article Credit: Shaklee Corporation
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