DR. WENDY CUNNINGHAM: 9 tips to protect your family during cold and flu season

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There are several commonsense measures to boost your immune system and help prevent the cold and flu in your family. Hopefully, you are already doing many of these. If not, now is the perfect time to start.

1. Eat a large variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. They are full of antioxidants which will destroy the free radicals that weaken our immune system and are responsible for making us feel sick when we catch a virus. Each color provides different antioxidant, so make it a goal to eat a rainbow of colors every day.

2. Wash hands frequently, especially before eating or touching your face. Plain soap and water will do the trick.

3. Stay well-hydrated. Stick to water, coconut water, herbal teas, and bone broth. Stay away from sugary drinks and soda. How much water is enough? A good estimate is to take your body weight divided in half and drink that number in ounces.

4. Drink your bone broth. Bone broth has amazing immune-supporting properties. Not only is it delicious, it’s amazingly nutritious. Instead of throwing bones away, save them and get simmering!

5. Eat fermented foods. The probiotics contained in fermented foods have tremendous immune boosting powers. In fact, kimchi, the fermented Korean cabbage, was found to have significant effects in preventing and fighting the H1N1 influenza virus. Other examples of fermented foods to try are sauerkraut, pickles (“real” pickles are found in the refrigerated section and don’t have added vinegar, like Bubbies), miso (miso soup with homemade bone broth will really benefit the immune system), kefir (if you are dairy-intolerant, try it made with coconut instead of milk), and kombucha (a tangy fermented tea — my personal favorite is GT’s Gingerberry).

6. Avoid simple sugars and processed/junk food. Evidence shows that within 30 minutes of eating sugar, there is a 50 percent reduction in your white blood cells’ abilities to kill germs. This depression of the immune system is most noticeable 2 hours after ingestion, but lasts more than five hours. Keeping blood sugar levels healthy has been shown to improve immune system activity.

7. Get fresh air and moderate daily exercise. Moderate exercise can boost the production of macrophages, the kind of white blood cells that protect us from bacteria and viruses.

8. Get adequate sleep. Adequate sleep actually increases the number of your white blood cells. On the other hand, loss of sleep even for a few hours at night, increases inflammation in our body which makes us more susceptible to catching the flu and having more severe symptoms.

9. Minimize stress. Emotional stress creates physiological stress in our bodies that lowers our immune defenses and makes us more vulnerable to illness. Stress has been shown to lower our white blood cells’ abilities to kill germs, and actually creates more inflammation that may make us feel even worse.

For more information, contact Dr. Wendy at info@haydenhealth.com. For specific supplement recommendations for cold and flu season, as well as other health tips, sign up for our Newsletter at HaydenHealth.com.

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