Tis the season… the season of colds and flu that is. It all starts with kids going back to what I refer to as the “Germ Factory.” In other words: school. Kids, stay indoors more, get less exercise and pass around germs. They’re stressed out about school and peer pressure; many have poor diets and bad sleeping habits and all of this leads to increased stress levels which is a disaster to the immune system. In turn, kids bring these illnesses home to their families who bring the germs to work infecting and round and round it goes…
Now that you understand the cycle is it any wonder that cold and flu season happens at the same time every year? The second biggest hit comes at Halloween because of all the sugar we’re hopped up on. Sugar suppresses the immune system by paralyzing white blood cells. And don’t forget about Thanksgiving feast and Christmas celebrations that follow.
So, what can we do to survive this onslaught? Build your immune system! It’s really not as hard as you think.
One of the things I’ve been reading a lot about lately is probiotics. Probiotics, meaning “for life,” are the good bugs that keep our gut healthy. 80 per cent of our immune system is found in our bodies’ digestive tract which means that if your gut is imbalanced, so is your immune system. Think of probiotics as your own personal army standing guard for you. The average human body has about 10 trillion cells; it has ten times that amount of microorganisms in the intestinal tract… that’s 100 trillion bacteria! So wouldn’t it stand to reason that you would want most of those bacteria to be “good guys?”
What Probiotics Do For Us
- Support immunity
- Maintain intestinal barrier function (lets good things in and keeps bad things out)
- Reduce inflammation
- Support nutrient digestion
- Manufacture vitamins
- Protect against pathogens
- Enhance detoxification
Three Levels of Immunity
Level One: While the virus is still in your intestinal tract, good bacteria surround and neutralize the virus.
Level Two: The good bacteria form a barrier along your intestinal lining to prevent the virus from passing though the intestinal lining and into the bloodstream.
Level 3: If the virus gets past levels one and two, the friendly bacteria actually communicate with your body to produce substances that neutralize the virus before it causes damage.
Supplementing with probiotics is the easiest way to build up your good bacteria and keep your immune system strong. Look for a multi strain formula to help support the bacteria in both the small and large intestine. Lactobacillus live primarily in the small intestine and bifidobacterium live primarily in the large intestine. In addition, you also want to look for a probiotic supplement with some sort of delivery system. Enteric coating will protect probiotics through the harsh stomach acid in your stomach.
Other Ways to Support Immunity
- Wash your hands regularly
- Get plenty of sleep
- Drink lots of water
- Eat a healthy diet of whole foods like fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, seeds and lean meats. (A diet based on whole foods delivers the vitamins, minerals and fiber your body needs)
- Avoid processed foods and sugar (as mentioned, sugar in any form quickly suppresses the immune system by paralyzing white blood cells)
- Supplement with a good multivitamin
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Stop smoking
- Reduce and manage stress
Keeping healthy is all about being proactive and hopefully these tips will help you stay on track as you survive another cold and flu season.