Dr. Morgan Winton, ND
Cold & Flu Season
Cold & flu season is upon us! I think after many of us have been so isolated & masked up and not catching much over the last 2.5 years, we've forgotten what it's like to have a good old fashioned common cold! Let me remind you, it's not fun :)
The winter I turned 40 (I'm sure it was coincidence), I had so many colds & sinus infections - it was epic in a bad way! Ever since then, I've become pro-active over the winter months in trying to avoid or at least lessen the intensity of whatever bugs are going around. As a Naturopathic Doctor, I always take a multi-faceted approach for my winter immune health.
Sleep quality is supposed to be a good predictor of immunity and therefore susceptibility to colds & flus. There was an interesting study that showed those who slept less than 7 hours/night vs more than 8 hours for the 14 days before being exposed to a virus were almost 3x more likely to get sick! Also, those who had more interrupted sleep for the 14 days before being exposed were also more likely to develop cold symptoms. If you're not sleeping like a baby, let's work on it!
Stress - Research started in 1991 on the effects of stress on the resistance to the common cold. Over and over, studies show that in kids and adults stress makes you more vulnerable to colds & flus. How many people remember being sick over the holidays after going through exam time in school? I think that we're all stressed in different ways these days, and so many people are still trying to build back some resilience after living through 2.5 years of a pandemic. As I've mentioned before, meditation and moderate exercise are key in my life to managing stress. If you're feeling like you need help or want to improve your stress response or resilience - please reach out! Acupuncture & herbs can be amazing if meditation and exercise aren't enough.
Here's my Pilates class the other day - can you guess which one I am?
Diet - Balanced eating is important for more than just the immune system. There was a study that I came across that correlated more colds/flus with the consumption of more fast food. The same study also showed that if you eat more fruit (within reason of course!), the recovery time from an upper respiratory illness was faster. Fruits & vegetables contain so many nutrients that have been studied individually to positively effect the immune system. Furthermore, a diet rich in fruits & vegetables can also help your gut bacteria (microbiome) - which is another important component of the immune system.
Herbs/Vitamins/Supplements - there are so many options, too many to discuss! When I'm thinking supplementation for immune function, I have a very individualized approach. Do you also have sleep issues? Do you also have gut issues? Are you stressed out? Let's kill two birds with one stone and try to get some change in more than area with one supplement. That being said, living in Toronto I think that Vitamin D3 supplementation is important for most people in the winter months for immune function, etc.
If you'd like to chat about a personalized approach to staying as healthy as possible this winter, please reach out!