Dr. Russell Greenfield: Hi! I'm Dr. Russell Greenfield. Today, I'm going to discuss how to help prevent colds and the flu. What would you give for a winter free of colds and the flu? Wouldn't it be nice to slide through the year without meeting any sick-time at all? I've have got a few tips for helping to keep you well, and your immune defenses operating a top form through the cold and flu season.
First, wash your hands lots; touching your unwashed hands to your nose, mouth or eyes, maybe the number one way that the viruses that cause colds and flew enter your body. Try to keep your hands away from your face and scrub them with soaps several times a day and always before eating. In a pinch, use waterless glycerol or alcohol based hand cleansers. Get at list seven hours a sleep in night. The immune system of people short on sleep, do not function at full capacity. If you regularly get the mid-afternoon slump, you're likely not getting enough sleep during the week, eat healthfully, your immune system can't do its job on the diet of nachos and cheese with diet soda. It needs the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains to protect you optimally, so do your best to hold through a healthy diet.
Supplement with Vitamin D. Now this one is a little controversial and there is a debate about how much Vitamin D is actually necessary, but recent data strongly suggest, the Vitamin D plays a vital in immune system function. So much so, that the common winter time deficiency in this nutrient, maybe one explanation for the rapid seasonal spread of colds, and the flu. A typical recommendation is to take up to a thousand international units of Vitamin D3, also called Cholecalciferol each day. But I recommend a little higher dose of 2000 international units a day for adults. Now my recommendations on Vitamin D are not definitive. So you should check with you doctors first before following them.
Take a walk, ride your bike, go to an exercise class, just get moving, light to moderate exercise increases your body's production of important immune cells. Research suggests that thirty minutes of physical activity a day can reduce both the frequency and duration of colds.
Drink plenty of water, maybe some healthy low sugar fruit juices or tea to maintain adequate hydration. The mucous membrane that lie in your body's respiratory tract, needs to be moist to protect you. Stress and other negative emotional states, lower your resistance to infection and slow healing. Make a comment to learn ways to shrug off minor irritations, and take a more positive attitude towards life.
Plan some relaxing activities with friends or start that Yoga or Meditation class you've been considering; laughter, exercise, massages, even hugs reduce level of stress hormones too, and talk to you doctor about getting that annual flu shot and about Vitamin D.
These simple steps may very well help keep you cold and flu-free this season.