Managing Inflammation | Boosting Immunity | Healing Naturally
There is such a surge in cold and flu-like symptoms with the onset of winter that it has become a season unto its own – the cold and flu season. Why do we presumably get sick more often in the colder months?
Are there really more germs in colder weather? Logically, it seems that the opposite might be true. The time of year has relatively little to do with the total number of “bugs” floating around. What we do in response to cold and dry weather, as well as the impact it has on our mucosal balance, is at the heart of the cold and flu season.
The winter months generally send us indoors for most of the day. By definition, that equates to more time in artificially recirculated air that is dry and possibly contaminated with dust and other irritants. The body responds to this dry air with increased mucus production creating an inviting breeding ground for pathogens. Maintaining an appropriate level of mucus is essential for good health. The health of the immune system, as well as many lifestyle factors, influence the delicate balance in the mucosal lining of various systems, especially the respiratory system. Supporting this balance is a key strategy to staying well. After comparing 30 years’ worth of climate records with health records, Jeffrey Shaman at Columbia University and his colleagues revealed that “flu epidemics almost always followed a drop in air humidity” with an overlap so close the two sets of data could practically lay on top of each other. Similar findings have been replicated many times including analyses of the 2009 Swine flu pandemic.
When levels of mucus are too high and persist for too long, a breeding ground for germs is created. Spending more time indoors decreases our exposure to sunshine which may lead to lowered vitamin D production. If our immune system is already comprised in some way, a virus that would normally lay dormant and ineffective may take hold and proliferate.
Managing mucus production and supporting a healthy immune system are critical to combating cold and flu symptoms. Equally important is supplementing with high-quality systemic enzymes that not only regulate inflammatory response throughout the body but neutralize viruses by destroying their protein-rich protective shield thereby disrupting their ability to attach to healthy tissue and replicate. * This is a key function of proteolytic enzymes naturally produced by the body and found in raw foods.
Tips for Surviving Cold and Flu Season
Regulating Mucosal Linings
- Hydrate – Warm water with fresh lemon and/or ginger slices hydrate while providing anti-inflammatory properties; filtered water can be infused with fruit slices to encourage drinking more; clear vegetable broths are especially soothing; avoid dehydrating fluids that contain caffeine and/or sugar.
- Humidify the air – Using a humidifier, especially while you sleep, returns moisture to the air and helps restore balance to the respiratory system; use preventatively throughout the colder months.
- Anti-inflammatory foods vs. pro-inflammatory foods – Anti-inflammatory foods naturally help regulate mucosal linings; inflammatory foods such as dairy, wheat-based products, and processed foods exacerbate respiratory illness by promoting excess mucus and inflammation.
- Remove allergens and irritants – Environmental allergens and irritants may be contributing to chronic respiratory issues; dust, mold, allergenic bedding, and pets may be playing a role.
- Systemic Enzyme Therapy – Enzymes produced in the body provide natural protection against viruses while regulating inflammation; as we age our production of enzymes slows; supplementing with pure and potent systemic enzymes is especially beneficial during the cold and flu season.
Boosting Immune Function
The same natural techniques for regulating mucosal lining also boost the immune system. In addition to the tips on the left, the following also support immune function which provides protection from viruses and other pathogens:
- Support a healthy GI tract and intestinal flora with proper diet and supplements. *
- Avoid smoking, excessive alcohol, and medications wherever possible.
- Remove wheat, dairy, sugar, and processed foods as they are mucus-forming and damaging to the gut (where immunity is either heightened or diminished).
- Increase foods that reduce mucus such as fresh fruit and raw vegetables.
- Incorporate a detox protocol, especially if symptoms are chronic; cleansing the body of toxic buildup may help restore function by down-regulating an overactive immune response. *
- Remove as many chemicals and allergens as possible from food choices and environment; choose organic and non-GMO whole fresh foods over anything prepared or packaged; filter water and air; choose natural health, beauty, and cleaning products; replace air fresheners with essential oils.
- Get some sunshine and fresh air; sun exposure is critical to and should be our primary means of vitamin D production; connecting to nature is vital to good health in numerous ways.
In addition to a healthy diet and using a humidifier, here are my personal tricks of the trade that I use to stay healthy all year, but especially in the cold, dry months of winter – even in the desert.
- Begin each day with 32 oz. of warm water with the juice of one lemon.
- Place a premium on adequate and restful sleep.
- Juice – I juice celery, lemon, ginger, and pineapple if anyone in my family complains of a sniffle.
- Brew a tea with fresh ginger and/or turmeric slices (even garlic if you can tolerate it) to ward off any respiratory symptoms.
- Prepare a simple soup of vegetable broth, onion, garlic, ginger, celery, carrots, and herbs of your choice.
- Use essential oils to freshen the air and combat allergies.
World Nutrition products embody the philosophy that, in order to experience true health, we must focus our efforts on restoring function and balance rather than on treating symptomology. Managing inflammation and supporting the immune system are hallmarks of preventative medicine and a healthy lifestyle.
To learn more about supporting your patients and your practice through systemic enzyme supplements, please call 800.548.2710 to speak to a dedicated account manager or fill out the contact form. Qualified healthcare practitioners are eligible for a free sample of Vitälzӯm™ Xe.