So, in many places here in the U.S., including where I reside here in Northeastern Ohio, it’s the dead of winter, and that means more than just blustery cold days, snow and ice. It means the cold and flu season is upon us, full boar, and it’s up to us and our immune systems to keep the nasty bugs at bay.
In an interesting discovery recently reported in the news, it was uncovered that the reason for the cold winter months being the worst time for colds and flu viruses to spread is that these respiratory and stomach/digestive viruses actually have a protective coating on them that works best in the cold.
This protective coating that stays intact in the cold, and sort of “melts away” in the heat may explain why viruses are better able to stay intact and infect more people during colder months, and when people tend to stay indoors and spread germs more readily.
A partial explanation may also be the sun’s heat and radiation have a destructive effect on this coating, and therefore may destroy them before they can enter bodies and infect the respiratory and digestive tracts of humans.
But can we really increase our odds of NOT getting colds and flu during the season when these germs are most likely to come in contact with us? Well, yes, there are plenty of ways for us to increase our immunity and bone up our defenses against their infiltration.
One surefire way to increase immunity is to be sure you are eating properly. Eating a diet high in fat and sugar can actually help to facilitate the weakening of the immune system by promoting inflammation of cells and making it easier for viruses to disrupt our normal flow of activity within the body.
On of my favorite ways to stay healthy is by increasing my antioxidant intake, by eating more fruits like blueberries, raspberries, and a berry called acai, which is just now being touted as a miracle fruit both for it’s high antioxidant count as well as it’s natural source of omega 3 fatty acids.
Drinking juices that are derived from citrus fruits like oranges and lemons is also a good way to help boost the immune system. You can also perhaps choose to include an immune boosting supplement such as Echinacea, which many believe enhances the body’s natural capabilities in fighting off germs and viruses such as the cold and flu that so often have the opportunity to infect us in the winter.
Many people, including myself, swear by vitamin C as an excellent immune system booster, and consider a part of their daily diet. Guess what, if you believe that anything works, chances are it does, regardless of it’s chemical interaction in the body, because the mind is a very powerful thing when it wants to be, and has a huge connection to our actual physical health.
Some also swear by ACV, or Apple Cider Vinegar, in it’s pure form, because of something that is found in the organic version of the product called “the mother” which is a substance found in ACV that may have multiple benefits to human health, including immune system enhancement, weight loss, and many other health uses. I once heard someone say that they take a couple teaspoons of organic ACV every day and they never get sick. It’s something to think about!
Exercise, believe it or not, is a huge immune system booster, and it has been scientifically proven that active people get sick much less when compared with sedentary people. This is starting to sound like a weight loss article now, but there is a huge connection between exercise and wellness, not just exercise and staying in a size 6 pair of jeans, and for the guys, battling bulging bellies.
It may be in part because exercise increases the amount of feel good chemicals in the brain, called endorphins, and since our bodies are very in tune with how our minds are doing, and depression is linked with actual physical illness many times, this explains why exercise not only fends off depression, but also fends off illness.
A common sense approach to avoiding catching these viruses in the first place is to make sure you minimize your contact with things that many other hands have touched, such as banisters on stairs in public places, door knobs in public places, and especially if you’re in a place where there have been a lot of children, be careful what you touch.
Also, be sure to wash your hands fairly often, and if you’d like you can even keep a bottle of hand sanitizer close by in case you can’t wash your hands after touching some common area in a public place.
Just taking a few extra precautions in the winter months that are called “cold and flu season”, can help ensure that you are both minimally exposed and adequately prepared to handle any “foreign invasions” to your immune system.