HOW TO AVOID COLDS AND FLU?
STAY HEALTHY THIS WINTER
Happy New Year! I hope you had a good holiday and are staying warm and dry. This new year has brought some pretty cold temperature followed by rain. A few patients have been asking me about how to prevent flus and colds. Fortunately, this flu season doesn’t seem to be as bad as last year. I’ve yet to see a case of it and my good friend who is a resident at one of the local hospitals has told me that it’s mostly just bad colds coming in. That’s a relief after last year!
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR STAYING HEALTHY OVER THE WINTER
Remember the basics: hydrate, sleep, and eat a balanced diet. Keep the wind gates covered! What does that mean? The opening to the wind channels is at the base of the head. In Chinese medicine, it is believed that colds and flus are carried by the wind and enter the body at these wind gates. So, wear a hat and scarf on cold days.
NATURAL REMEDIES TO PREVENT COLDS AND FLUS
Vitamin D, vitamin D, and more vitamin D! Make sure your vitamin D levels are optimal. The optimal range is 35-80. If you are interested in knowing why such a wide range and other interesting things about vitamin D, refer to my “GEEK OUT over vitamin D” at the end.
I’m afraid to say this in fear of jinxing myself but vitamin D is my secret to staying cold and flu free! At your next visit, inquire about dosages. I wish I could share the protocol here but high doses of vitamin D can cause liver and kidney damage. Do not take high doses without a doctor overseeing.
Without first testing your vitamin D levels, I would suggest not to take over 2000 IU per of supplemental vitamin D per day.
Refer to the list at the end for best food sources for vitamin D.
WHAT TO TAKE IF YOU CATCH A COLD
Elderberry Syrup: 4 tbsp daily. This is a very safe remedy for children who can be given 2 tbsp per day.
Echinacea: 3 to 5 ml per day of liquid formulas or 300 mg of powdered root three times per day.
Zinc Lozenges: 15 mg every 2 hours. Caution: zinc can cause an upset stomach and cannot be taken at large doses for extended periods of time. Refer to your doctor and follow the bottle’s directions.
You might have noticed that vitamin C is not on my list. That’s because C is better at preventing a cold than treating. The same is true for probiotics. Also, I didn’t discuss treatments for the flu. That is because the flu is far more dangerous than a cold and medical attention is recommended depending on severity. Although many of us are able to successfully fight the flu, the flu can take even the strongest of us.
VITAMIN D GEEK OUT
Vitamin D is not my favorite vitamin and that is because it is not a vitamin! It’s actually more closely related to hormones and in biotechnical circles, it is referred to more appropriately as a “prohormone”. A prohormone is a substance that can convert to a hormone. This is important in calcium regulation which is regulated by the parathyroid hormone. For us non-PhD folks, we’ll continue calling it a vitamin.
OPTIMAL RANGES FOR VITAMIN D VARY
African Americans can maintain lower optimal levels of D than Caucasians. According to American Bone Health, African Americans target for serum D levels should be 20-30 ng/ml and Caucasians 40-60 ng/ml. Research indicates that people with fair skin should be in the higher range and darker complexions in the lower range. Why is this? Humans living in sunny climates absorb a lot of vitamin D. One reason for a high degree of skin pigmentation is to prevent too much vitamin D synthesis in the skin. In fact, a 2013 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that African Americans have less protein bound vitamin D (what is commonly tested for) to prevent vitamin D toxicity. As humans moved northward where there was less sun, their bodies needed to produce more binding protein in order to absorb what D was available from the sun or food sources.
FOOD SOURCES for VITAMIN D
Many foods are fortified with D but the best natural sources are fatty fish. Sockeye salmon is the highest at 600 IU for 3 ounces. Chinook salmon and Rainbow trout are also near 600 IU. Cod liver oil boasts 400 IU in every tablespoon. Not all fish are high in D. Tilapia for instance only contains 120 IU of D per 3 ounces.
Salmon, Trout, and Tilapia are some of the fish that tend to be lower in mercury. Source is important though. Pick wild caught from the NW Pacific or Alaska. The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s site has a seafood list which details the best sources. The NRDC has a nice pocket guide for download; https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/walletcard.pdf
You can see that Ahi tuna is not only high in mercury but also overfished. I advise to stay away from Ahi.
AND MORE…more research is needed but
Low vitamin D levels is linked to:
Colorectal Cancer and other cancers
SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and Depression
IBS (Irritable Bowel Disease)
Exasperation of Asthma symptoms
Increased risk for Osteoporosis and Fractures
Type 2 Diabetes
Multiple Sclerosis and other Autoimmune Diseases
Heart Disease and High Blood Pressure