Lifestyle Medicine & Wellness Blog

Protect Yourself From the Cold and Flu Naturally!

Functional Medicine for Cold & Flu Symptoms

Like most of us, you try to avoid catching the “bug” every cold and flu season. Somehow, you end up with the couch, headache, and runny nose anyway. Bummer.

Instead of running to the pharmacy, loading up on antihistamines, and hoping for the best, turn to Functional Medicine for remedies that make sense. (And help you to avoid the illness altogether next time.)

Beta - Glucan

Short and sweet, Beta - Glucans help to support and strengthen the immune system. Due to overstimulation, many people have weakened immune systems and an inability to effectively fight disease and infection. Through a process called immunomodulating, the immune system is supported through a series of biological co-factors, nutrients, and herbs.  Mushrooms are a strong immuno-protective food and contain high amounts of beta-glucans. Along with increasing protective immune particles, beta-glucans are shown to decrease a powerfully inflammatory particle called NFKbeta, lowering inflammation while at the same time enhancing immune protection.

NAC-- N-Acetylcysteine

NAC is a powerful antioxidant which helps the body to get rid of free radicals and toxins in the body. During cold and flu season, NAC is best used to thin mucus and clear sinus passages. NAC is the precursor to glutathione, one of our master antioxidants and will help strengthen your immune system as well.

Vitamin D

If you’ve already caught the “bug,” Vitamin D may be your new best friend. A high-quality liquid form of Vitamin D, taken in generous doses, helps to kickstart your immune response and get rid of the infection more quickly.  It has been estimated that about 80% of the population, particularly in the winter months in the northern hemisphere are Vitamin D deficient.  Since we can produce Vitamin D (which is really a hormone and not a vitamin) from daily sun exposure, and we don’t get much sun exposure in the winter, supplementing with Vitamin D3 (along with Vitamin K2) is highly recommended.  Besides immune health, Vitamin D affects inflammation and mood.

Vitamin C

The orange juice trick has some truth after all! Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, helps to fight off the common cold. Rather than reach for a sugar-filled store-bought source of the vitamin, opt for a high quality supplement or fruit instead.  We like the liposomal Vitamin C as it is absorbed well.  Research has shown that within a short time after consuming Vitamin C, the immune system increases its “killer” cells to fight off the bad bugs!

Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry syrup has been getting a lot of attention these days, and it is well-deserved! This cold and flu cure-all helps to boost the immune system, treat upper respiratory infections by decreasing mucus secretions, and fights swelling of the respiratory passages. It is great to use with your kids as well.

Honey-Ginger Tea

Honey and ginger both have great healing properties, especially for cold and flu symptoms. Combined, they are an excellent expectorant, providing relief to those with respiratory or nasal congestion. Honey is known for its soothing qualities, which is especially helpful for a sore throat or dry cough.  We love the Manuka honey from New Zealand for its extra boost of healing properties, and keep crystallized ginger chews on hand for when a cold or flu starts to come on.  Ginger is an amazing nausea remedy as well!

All that being said, drink lots of water and don’t forget the organic homemade chicken soup!  Grandma was right about the healing properties of that as well!  Here’s an easy gluten free recipe for homemade organic chicken noodle soup!  

The Gut Microbiome and Health

The Human Microbiome Project has shown that the intestinal microbiome has communication networks with other organ systems including the gut-brain, gut-liver, gut-adipose axes, and it plays a critical role in our health, brain function, body weight and fat maintenance. Nature, 2012.

Breast Milk, “Good Bacteria” and Immune Health

Why is mother's milk so healthy for the baby? Not only does the composition of the milk change from week to week to best suit the needs of the baby, we have known that breastfed babies have better immune function and protection in later life than bottle fed babies.

Looking to Get Healthy? Focus on the Gut!

New Years Resolutions nearly always include a goal of weight loss. And this year will be no different in that sense. What is different in the last few years is that we now know that weight loss is not just calories in = calories out anymore!