During the holiday season and beyond it seems our homes are filled with friends and family all coming together to celebrate the cold winter months. But one guest that shows up uninvited and wears out its welcome is the common cold and flu. While there isn’t a cure for the common cold and flu, Dr. John Young offers some tips to help maintain a strong, healthy body that helps to combat the effects of illness.
Get your vitamin D
Vitamin D is actually a hormone, not a vitamin, and one of our best sources for it is sunshine. Unfortunately, many people work indoors all day, so they get little sun exposure. When they do go outside, they wear long sleeves and sunblock to protect against skin cancer. And, of course, in the wintertime, people in cold climes tend to stay inside. As a result, many of us are vitamin D deficient, and should be taking supplements.
“Vitamin D is crucial to many physiological systems, including our immune defenses,” Dr. Young says. “It helps fight bacterial and viral infections, including the flu. It supports our cardiovascular system; optimal vitamin D levels can reduce hypertension, heart attacks and stroke.
“If I feel I’m coming down with a cold, I’ll take 40,000 units of vitamin D at bedtime,” he says. “The next morning, I usually feel like a new person.”
Eat your protein -- 1 gram for every 2.2 pounds of body weight daily.
In this country, we think a healthy diet means eating a lot of fruits and vegetables. We’ve forgotten protein, Dr. Young says.
“Our immune system is made up of proteins – our bones are 40 percent protein,” he says. “We need protein.”
When calculating your protein intake, consider: an egg has about 8 grams, and 8 ounces of fish, chicken, beef or pork have about 30 grams.
Dr. Young does not give any of his patients more than 100 grams of protein a day.
Get a good night’s sleep, exercise, and manage your stress.
Yup, some doctors’ orders never change. Rest, exercise and finding effective, healthy ways to cope with stress are simple ways to pamper your cells.
“One of the many cellular benefits of exercise is that it increases the oxygen in our bloodstream. Every cell in our body requires oxygen, so consider exercise another means of feeding your cells.”
It’s also important to manage stress during the holidays. With unchecked stress, our body releases large amounts of cortisol which, among other things, suppresses the immune system.
“Take time out to meditate, listen to music, or take a walk in the woods,” Dr. Young says. “It feels good -- and it’s good for you!”
While there is no magic potion to eliminate the risk of illness this winter season, incorporating some of these tips may help increase your ability to ward off the negative effects of being sick.
(Dr. John Young, (www.YoungHealth.com), is a medical doctor with more than 15 years’ experience working in emergency rooms and pediatric burn units. He’s the medical director of Young Foundational Health Center, specializing in treating patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes by addressing the physiological issues and not just the symptoms.)