The common cold is a viral infection that is highly contagious.
That is precisely why it can seems like everyone is sick at the same time.
A combination of factors can increase the chance of getting sick: lack of sleep, exposure to other people who are sick, poor diet, stress, and nutritional deficiencies.
Being a naturoapthic doctor in Toronto, I see my share of patients with colds throughout the winter months.
Helping them take better control of their health is part of what I do.
Preventing colds in the first place is a great start for keeping yourself and those around you at your healthiest.
Here are 5 tips I share with my patients that should help prevent you from catching that cold that’s going around this season:
Hopefully I can shed some new light (or perhaps darkness) on the subject.
Restful sleep is essential for optimizing our immune response.
Aspects of our modern lifestyle can drastically disrupt our sleep.
Do you lie in bed scrolling through Instagram and Facebook?
Maybe Netflix is streaming?
The light from our devices and the electromagnetic fields they emit (not to mention the cognitive stimulus) can adversely affect our bodies and sleep patterns.
Implementing a “no phones or laptops in the bedroom rule” will improve your sleep quality.
You may be thinking- “I can’t do that, my phone is my alarm clock, so it has to stay in my bedroom”.
No problem- set it to airplane mode and wifi off.
Your alarm will sound, but your phone won’t be lighting up, vibrating, buzzing or searching for wifi or network signals beside your head all night.
2. Vitamin C, and other Supplements and Herbs.
The options can see overwhelming , and the average person may not know which vitamins and herbs to take, in which form or how much.
Not to mention, all supplements aren’t created equally.
Seeing a naturopathic doctor for a safe and effective protocol is advisable.
However, Vitamin C is a great start- you can safely supplement with about 2000 mg daily (be sure to take it in divided doses as it can cause diarrhea if taken all at once).
You may be wondering if drinking orange juice would be a good idea when you have a cold.
Unfortunately it’s not going to help, as the juice is high in sugar content and it would take 25 oranges to obtain 2000 mg of vitamin C.
Vitamin D also plays an important role in immune function.
Canadian guidelines recommend that we supplement with 1000 IU daily year round- however, many people are deficient and their MD/ND may recommend a much higher daily dosage.
I often order a vitamin D blood test when there is concern of deficiency and then dose appropriately for my patients to achieve optimal serum levels.
Zinc is another vitamin that supports our immune system- dosages will vary per individual, and also note that taking zinc supplements on an empty stomach may cause nausea.
Further supplementation and the inclusion of herbal protocols is best done under the supervision of an ND.
Avoid eating excess sugar and refined carbohydrates.
Sugar suppresses the immune system.
A study showed that healthy volunteers who ingested 100 g of sugar (equivalent to about 2 cans of Coca Cola) caused a significant decrease in the capacity of immune cells to engulf bacteria.
Good old fashioned chicken soup.
Broths keeps us warm and hydrated.
Chicken soup has been shown to have in-vitro anti-inflammatory effects aiding with the thinning of chest congestion, mucous and improving coughs.
Here is link to the study if you’d like to read more.
I recommend making your own broth from scratch, and then increasing its immune boosting properties with a tried and true combination of Chinese herbs to brew up a Change of Season Soup.
5. Reduce your exposure to germs.
Wash your hands, and wash them often.
Give sick people their space- be supportive of the utilization of sick days and working from home.
If you do get sick, reduce exposing your sickness to others- especially those who may not be able to mount adequate immune responses (the elderly, individuals with chronic illness, infants).
If you feel like you are chronically getting sick and it takes you a long time to get better, it may be a good idea to have a thorough assessment done with a naturopathic doctor.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D