Managing Cold & Flu Season, Naturally
There are many products on the market for cold and flu support and it can be difficult to choose what is safe and most effective.
Here are my top picks and tips to keep you and your family well this cold & flu season.
1. Probiotics (healthy good bacteria)
Probiotics are naturally occurring bacteria in the large and small intestines. Intestinal flora plays a significant role in our overall health and immunity. The makeup of our flora changes from infancy to toddlerhood to adulthood and we require different strains of flora from a supplement and our foods.
Probiotics re-establish friendly intestinal flora which is important for the absorption of B12 folic acid and iron. They also directly support the immune system.
Three to six pounds of YOUR adult body weight is bacteria in the intestines! Ideally speaking we want 95% of that bacteria to be “good” colonizing, keeping viruses and not-so-good bacteria at bay.
The very conservative journal Pediatrics published an article on how probiotics can reduce the duration and severity of upper respiratory tract infections in 3–5 year-olds. Some of the highlights include:
- 63% reduction of fever
- 54% reduction of a cough
- 44% reduction in a runny nose – also associated with ear infections
- 80% reduction in antibiotic use (Wow!)
- Sick days reduced from 6.5 to 3.4. That's a 3-day reduction!! What's a day off work worth?!
Recommended probiotics for adults:
- Genestra HMF Capsules by Genestra
- Genestra HMF Powder by Genestra
- Genestra HMF Forte by Genestra
- Anything by Metagenics
Recommended probiotics for infants:
- Metagenics Synergy powder by Metagenics
- BioGia (liquid) for infants
2. Vitamin D3
(by Tania Heinemann RHN, RNCP and Alisha Julien, Student Midwife)
We all know vitamin D is important. During 2011’s we had the chance to find out how important it is to the pregnant woman and lactating mother based on some exciting new research!
Vitamin D increases the flow of calcium into the bloodstream by promoting absorption of calcium from food in the intestines and the reabsorption of calcium from the kidneys. This allows for normal bone growth and remodelling.
Vitamin D deficiency can result in rickets (a painful disease that causes the bones and growth plates to soften). The Canadian Pediatric Society states that Vitamin D deficiency rickets has not been eradicated in Canada.
A large US study throughout 2004–2008 found that 81% of women were Vitamin D deficient. In a follow up to that study, women were enrolled and given Vitamin D in various amounts (up to 4000IU daily). The study concluded in July 2009 and is very promising. The results are still being analyzed and new guidelines will likely soon reflect the following:
- Women likely need at least 2,000 IU/day, and up to 4,ooo IU/day is safe
- There is great concern that vitamin D status plays role in:
- Preventing preterm labour/birth
- Preventing preeclampsia
- Fetal dentition
- Vitamin D status during pregnancy possibly plays a role in:
- Infant long-term immune health
- Autoimmune diseases
3. Homoeopathic remedies: Top three remedies from Material Medica
Aconite is helpful in the first stages of infection when symptoms appear with suddenness and intensity. Being chilled by a cold wind often causes the symptoms. Besides acute conditions like fevers and severe pain, Aconite is very useful for fears or panic attacks following a shock or fright.
Belladonna is useful for sudden, high fevers. People who are sensitive to light or feel very hot with flushed cheeks but cold hands and feet will be helped by Belladonna. Although the mouth is dry, there is usually no thirst. Belladonna is most useful in the beginning stages of the flu, earache, sunstroke, or any inflammation.
Pulsatilla is indicated for all kinds of infection, when the person’s disposition is mild, affectionate and craving sympathy. Children become clingy, teary and indecisive when ill. It is useful in the later stages of head colds with the development of yellow-green mucus or for coughs that are loose in the morning, but dry in the evening.
4. Restful Sleep: “sleep, be still”
Get yourself a warm mist vaporizer and add a few drops of eucalyptus oil (keep it somewhere safe). You can also rub oil of oregano and olive oil on the heels.
Wholefoods are foods that are unprocessed and unrefined or at least refined as little as possible before being consumed.
Bone broth is a wonderful support before and during cold and flu season. It can rehydrate and provide extensive nutrition for everyone in the family. Bone broth can easily be incorporated into your fall and winter cooking or used on the side in a teacup!
Here are a few ideas for wholefood / healthy snacks:
- Delicious and healing bone broth
- Raw nuts and seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, almond, cashew, pecan, walnut)
- Hummus and rice crackers
- Veggies and hummus
- Fresh fruit
- Smoothie (using coconut milk or almond milk or rice milk)
- Reduce dairy products, oranges and wheat products during the beginning of a virus or infection (muscousy and acidic).
6. Immune System TLC
More tips for a strong immune system:
- Sugar prevents the immune system from functioning optimally. Keep sugary foods as special treats – and away from illness – to optimize both developing and adult immune systems.
- Reduce acid and mucous-forming foods such as dairy products, wheat and even rice and chicken during illness. Choose lamb, fish, and almond or seed milks to help the immune system stay strong.
- Choose grains like millet and quinoa, which are low acid and very high in B-vitamins. These and brown rice, oats, barley, kamut, etc are considered whole grains.
- Hydration. Drinking at least half of your body weight (in pounds) in ounces of water daily is one of the simplest steps you can take to improve your overall vitality. (For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink at least 75 ounces of water per day.)
- Washing your hands with hot water and simple bar soap frequently throughout the day is another simple and powerful tool.
- Apple cider vinegar is an ancient remedy and can be used as a dietary supplement (1 oz, 1–3 times daily), and/or in a warm bath. Pour 1–3 cups of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar into the bath once water has been drawn. This remedy, used when sick, gently draws out toxicity from the body. Although there have been no formal studies on the use of apple cider vinegar in pregnancy, it is a very old remedy that has been used over many generations of women and children.
Stay tuned for an upcoming post on managing fevers naturally!