Resisting Colds and Flu Part Two: 5 Things That Put You At Risk and How to Fix Them

In Resisting Colds and Flu Part One, we learned about the immune system and how seeing a Practitioner can help you strengthen it in time for illness. In order to prevent illness, your immune cells are constantly on the lookout for infectious bacteria and viruses, ready to mount defensive attacks against them.

However, to help your army of immune cells protect you from infection, you need to create the right conditions for them to effectively defend you. In other words, just as unfavourable conditions (e.g. harsh weather) affect a soldier’s efforts in battle, the following conditions make it more difficult for your immune soldiers to defend your body:

  • Poor gut health;
  • Low nutrient levels;
  • Poor sleep quality;
  • Chronic stress; and
  • Not enough exercise.

Read on to learn more about how these five areas can make or break your ability to triumph over illness this winter.

 

  1. Engage your Gut Bacteria

It might surprise you to learn that the gut is the key to your immune health. Within your gut, your resident bacteria (and other microscopic organisms), known as your microbiome, directly interact with your immune army, (a large proportion of which is housed in the gut). This affects your overall immune response against infection.

Put simply, a healthy microbiome full of beneficial bacteria helps to build immune function, whilst a compromised microbiome can hinder your immune army’s response against infection.

Unfortunately, many things can reduce your levels of good bacteria. A common example is antibiotics, which is often what you are prescribed when infection keeps getting the better of you. Repeat courses of antibiotics may cause a loss of beneficial bacteria every time you get sick, making you more susceptible to future infections.

Put simply, a healthy microbiome full of beneficial bacteria helps to build immune function, whilst a compromised microbiome can hinder your immune army’s response against infection.

If this pattern sounds familiar to you, consider seeking out the care of a natural healthcare Practitioner who can assess and address the health of your gut bacteria. Your Practitioner can also prescribe specific probiotic strains (types) that have been shown to boost immunity and reduce the risk of catching a cold, such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus (LGG®), Lactobacillus plantarum (HEAL 9), Lactobacillus paracasei (8700:2). To learn more about the benefits of specific probiotic strains, and why it’s important to choose the right strain for your particular needs, book in to speak with one of our naturopaths.

 

  1. Stock up on Nutritional Ammunition

Your immune system’s ability to protect you also depends upon on your nutritional health. Several nutrients, including zinc and vitamin C, are involved in keeping your immune cells in good shape, as they help your body to create them on a daily basis. As such, without enough of these nutrients to create your immune army, your chance of getting sick is higher.1

If you’re usually on the losing end of colds and flu, and haven’t considered topping up your nutritional stores, there’s a fair chance that supplementing zinc and vitamin C can increase your resistance to infection and support faster recovery, buying back your time and health over winter.

To discover which specific nutrients you may be lacking, and what supplements you need to help boost your levels, speak to your Naturopath or health Practitioner.

If you’re usually on the losing end of colds and flu and haven’t considered topping up your nutritional stores, there’s a fair chance that supplementing zinc and vitamin C can increase your resistance to infection and support faster recovery, buying back your time and health over winter.

  1. Maximise Your Sleep Quality

You’ve probably experienced the difference between a restful and sleepless night, and you know which you would prefer, right? Your immune system feels the same, especially when it’s faced with the threat of illness. Put simply, sleep is the body’s time to rest and regenerate itself, so it can create enough immune cells to defend you from illness. To learn more about the benefits of sleep, and for more advice and guidance around sleep-promoting natural remedies, speak with a natural healthcare Practitioner.

4. Keep an Eye on Your Stress

High and prolonged levels of stress take a toll on the immune system, weakening your defences and making you more susceptible to sickness. Managing stress helps more than just immune function; it also improves the overall health of your body. This is why having a few stress-busting strategies built into your daily routine can fortify your health and keep infection from taking hold.

 

  1. Stay Fighting Fit with Exercise

Exercise helps you to build strong muscles and allows you to extend the limits of what you’re physically capable of. Similarly, exercise also strengthens your immune system, making it more powerful and effective in its response to nasty infections. Even just 30 minutes of walking has been shown to boost the quantity of immune cells in the body2, which is why regular exercise is a key weapon in beating back illness.

 

Winter is Coming

To prepare your immune army for cold and flu season, see one of our health practitioners to equip yourself with the best strategy to shut down infection before it becomes a battle. By taking professional advice on board and focusing on these five areas (for at least four weeks before winter hits), you will be setting yourself up to triumph against illness, so you can spend more time appreciating the magic of winter.

Written by Naturopath Ruth Kirk-Garcia

Courtesy of Metagenics Australia


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