Natural Preparation for Cold and Flu Season
The season of cozy sweaters, crisp air and fuzzy blankets has arrived. The quintessential joys of fall like pumpkin spice everything, vibrant landscapes and rainy Sundays in bed are unparalleled. But, with the busyness of summer drifting away like the leaves on a tree, we find ourselves in the midst of cold and flu season. Taking actionable steps to nourish the immune system, sets the body up for success throughout the duration of cold and flu season- allowing you to fully embrace the joys of fall and winter.
Why do we get sick in the winter?
When the weather gets cooler, there’s an abrupt rise in viral infections. Although viruses are around all year, the drop in temperature provides an ideal breeding ground for them. Pathogens not only proliferate at a faster rate in colder conditions, but they are able to survive on surfaces outside of the body for longer periods of time. This along with more time spent indoors allows for the easy spread of colds and flus in the colder months.
While we can’t necessarily control the outer environment- there are many ways to prime the immune system to reduce the risk of contracting a cold or the flu. There are hundreds of viruses that can cause the common cold and influenzas. What determines your risk for a cold or flu is not what pathogenic bugs you come into contact with – but the state of your internal environment. Nourishing the immune system makes the body stronger and more resistant to infections. Sleep, diet and supplemental therapies can provide the body with the foundation it needs to be resilient towards pathogenic invaders.
Quality sleep is an essential component of a healthy immune system. A disrupted sleep cycle- either acutely or chronically can leave the body more susceptible to infections. This is because the immune system is highly active during rest and in order for it to function optimally, 7-9 hours of sleep per night is needed.
During sleep, the body both produces and releases cytokines. Cytokines are a class of proteins that mediate immune function. When their production is decreased- through a lack of good quality sleep, you’re more likely to get sick after coming into contact with bacteria or viruses.
In addition to cytokines, researchers have discovered another mechanism through which sleep enhances immune function. Sleep contributes to healthy and efficacious t-cells. T-cells are a vital component of the immune system that attack viruses. In order for the t-cells to eradicate viruses they need to be in direct contact with them. They do this by activating proteins called integrins that essentially allow them to stick to the infected cell and cause cell death. A recent study showed that the t-cells in individuals who had adequate sleep were better able to produce integrins than those who lacked sleep and therefore showed higher antiviral capabilities.
The Gut-Immune Connection
The gut is made up of trillions of bacteria that serve many functions in the body- including balancing the immune system. In fact, 80% of the immune system resides in the gut, and therefore a healthy gut is the first step to a healthy immune system. A healthy gut means that there’s more beneficial bacteria than there are harmful bacteria.
There are many factors that influence the make-up of the gut microbiome- the most important being diet. By interacting with the gut flora, nutrition can directly affect your susceptibility or resistance to infections.
Sugar feeds the bad bacteria and allows them to reproduce- crowding out and killing off the good bacteria. When preparing the body for cold and season cutting back on sugar can have positive consequences. Alongside a reduction of sugar, it is recommended to increase fiber content as fiber acts as a food source for the beneficial bacteria, providing an optimal balance and the foundation for a healthy immune system!
Vitamin C has a longstanding reputation in the realm of immunity. It works on the immune system through many pathways.
Vitamin C promotes b-cell and t-cell production. On top of upregulating the synthesis of these critical immune cells, vitamin C helps to keep them alive and healthy. Research also states that vitamin C enhances the action of phagocytes which reduces risk for bacterial infection.
Vitamin C is used for many functions throughout the body- ensure you’re getting enough by taking a liposomal supplement daily! Lypo-Spheric® Vitamin C is able to stay intact until it arrives in the small intestine where it gets readily absorbed into the bloodstream.
Prepping your immune system for cold and flu season goes far beyond avoiding a case of the winter sniffles. It hopefully sets up habits that help you stay healthy throughout life. Liposomal vitamins have a superior absorbency compared to capsules or powders. Adding them into your daily routine along with dietary and lifestyle modifications can go a long way in mitigating the effects of cold and flu season!