Preparing for Cold & Flu Season with Integrative Medicine
By now, most of us are amatuer immune superheroes. We’ve been preparing all year for the worst, learning about the best ways to disinfect surfaces, optimizing our hand-washing, and training our less disciplined counterparts to be diligent germ-fighters.
But there’s one thing looming that we deal with every year, and that’s cold and flu season. Our seasonal nemesis who rears its ugly head as the weather gets colder has once again returned. So while you’ve been honing your immune system support skills, here are a few things you might’ve overlooked, and how you can round out your cold and flu season prep.
(If you or a family member fall sick with a cold or the flu–save this link for easy access to the CentreSpringMD Virtual Visit portal!)
Stopping a Cold Before It Starts
The common cold (including chest and head colds), and the flu are caused by viruses. This means you can treat symptoms with over-the-counter remedies, but usually it’s necessary to let the virus run its course, and allow your immune system to properly defend and resolve the illness.
However, there are several things you can do to support a robust immune response, making it more likely you’ll have a more comfortable experience.
You’ll want to support the cells and antibodies that make up the immune system, as well as the systems that complement immune function, such as micronutrients, sleep, detoxification, and stress.
Stock up on immune remedies and preventatives.
The best way to prevent the viruses that cause colds and flu is to avoid exposure altogether, but since that’s not always possible, your next best option is making sure you’re leveraging the right immune support supplements to help your immune system best do its job.
- Zinc is crucial for the normal development and function of immune cells and macrophages (1).
- Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant required for both innate and adaptive immunity, and metabolic demand for vitamin C increases when you’re sick (2).
- Elderberry has been shown to be beneficial for immune activation (3).
- The Defender contains zinc citrate, antioxidant vitamin C, and Ayurvedic botanicals which support each arm of immune function for comprehensive immune health.
Optimize immune nutrients with functional medicine.
Those who have compromised immune systems are often completely unaware that their body isn’t receiving the nutrients it needs to properly function. There are a few reasons for this. First, modern diets lack many micronutrients necessary for immune function. And second, food today is lower in nutrient value. For example, you’d have to eat twice the amount of broccoli to get the same nutrients as just a generation ago (4).
Many people struggle with nutrient absorption due to poor gut health, or chronic health issues like IBS. When this is the case, absorption in the gut is compromised, and your immune system isn’t able to get the fuel it needs.
IV Drip Therapy is a simple, yet incredibly effective breakthrough for circumventing poor absorption in the gut, and ensuring a much higher absorption and concentration than what can be achieved with oral supplementation. Generally, patients experience benefits with IV therapy such as:
- Increased energy
- Reduced stress
- Better mental clarity
- Improved skin quality
- Sleep quality
- Fewer headaches
- Increased hydration
- Muscle recovery
A Myers’ cocktail, for example, delivers specific immune supportive nutrients while bypassing inefficient digestive processes.
CentreSpringMD also offers glutathione, a boost of your body’s most potent internal antioxidant.
This flu preventative isn’t the most cutting edge or exciting, but it’s objectively one of the best things you can do for better immune health.
Unfortunately, the demands of busy modern life frequently clash with the ability to make quality sleep a priority. As a result, your health pays the price. Poor sleep increases systemic inflammation and creates more susceptibility to illness and infection.
Bolster your nighttime routine by dedicating time to wind down at the end of the day. How you use this time is up to you, but here are a few suggestions to calm the nervous system and promote rest:
- Take a sleep supplement about 90 minutes before bed.
- Add lavender or rosemary essential oils to a diffuser.
- Play soothing music and journal for 5-10 minutes.
- Perform relaxing stretches in bed.
- Drink chamomile rooibos tea (naturally caffeine free)
Sip bone broth.
Staying properly hydrated is the body’s primary detox mechanism, and how you’ll support the removal of toxins and pathogens that can otherwise contribute to poor health and inflammation in the body.
Our immune system is highly dependent on the delivery of nutrients via the bloodstream. And if we lack proper hydration, we can’t properly transport nutrients to cells and tissues (5).
But staying well hydrated isn’t just about drinking enough water (although that’s a significant part of it). When you drink water, add supportive minerals like electrolytes to support a healthy immune response. Magnesium, potassium, sodium, chloride, and iodine are just a few of the trace minerals your immune system needs. You can find a significant amount of trace minerals and electrolytes in bone broth
At minimum, aim to drink half your bodyweight in ounces of water per day. If you’re very active, you’ll likely need more. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, try to drive 80 ounces of water each day.
If You’re Sick with a Cold or Flu…
If you do get sick, all is not lost, and there are still things you can do to support a speedy recovery and a more comfortable experience.
Create a game plan if you or your kids get sick.
No one likes to plan for the eventuality of a bug spreading through the family, but an ounce of preparedness will go a long way, and if you do get sick, you’ll thank yourself for resolving some of the stress in advance.
- You may need time off to take care of little ones who are under the weather–check with your workplace about sick days or personal time.
- Set up a virtual visit with CentreSpringMD. Meeting with an integrative doctor will give you peace of mind and allow us to be proactive in case anything looks serious.
- Prepare 2-3 freezer meals in advance if you don’t want to rely on takeout if you’re laid up in bed. Keep the pantry stocked with quick and simple snacks and lunches so you can rest and recover without cooking.
Fuel recovery with:
- Vitamin C – Found in innate and adaptive immune cells.
- Vitamin D – Regulates immune function, and supports a healthy recovery.
- Zinc – Crucial for production and growth of macrophages
- Electrolytes – Support hydration and recovery, reduce muscle fatigue.
Integrative Medicine Cold and Flu Defense
Flu season is typically considered December through February, though the flu itself circulates year-round. One of the biggest hurdles with the flu, or any cold virus, is the rate at which it spreads from person to person, making it quite contagious and difficult to get a handle on without proactive effort.
If you or one of your family members get sick with a cold or flu–bookmark the following link to set up a virtual visit with CentreSpringMD–you’ll be glad you did!
It’s helpful to have a household cold and flu defense plan, and develop both a preventative routine, as well as have a plan in place to support a comfortable and safe recovery if you or one of your kids become sick.