Weather changes, sharing classrooms and offices, swapping straws or sweet kisses: these are all ways to get sick. COVID has made us all forget that a small case of the sniffles still exists. I don’t know about you, but the moment I see a runny nose or hear a cough or sneeze, out comes my COVID kit and my kid (or husband) is poked up the nasal cavity so quickly they don’t even know what’s happened. As we are finally learning to live with COVID (and hoping to live without it) have we forgotten that the common cold still exists?
We were excited about my daughter’s dance recital and had spent four hours at the studio for a very disorganized dress rehearsal just to prove it. The moment we got home, Madeleine struck a fever. I had sensed something was up when she was low energy throughout the day, but when she shoved her untouched ice cream into my hands (yet another dang ice cream truck party), I really knew something was awry.
After the initial decision (post-negative COVID test) that the “show must go on,” we came to our senses and bowed out of the performance. Our fellow troupe parents breathed a sign of relief that the show would not go on … for us anyhow, and we progressed to Sunday where her continued fever prompted us to forego another dance shindig.
We thought we were out of the woods when my young son, who always wants to emulate his sister, caught it and then my husband (the worst patient of all) started sniffling. What is it about immunity? Why is everyone’s immunity different and almost a roadmap for our health and well-being?
Next week, we will meet Dr. Emeran Mayer who has written two books, titled “The Mind-Gut Connection,” and subsequently, “The Gut-Immune Connection.” He discusses just how important our gut microbiome is in all things health and he likens it to the blueprint that establishes the health we experience for the rest of our lives (no pressure, new moms).
In an emergencyIt’s great to increase our vitamin C intake, as long as we limit added sugars. This makes sense, right? Sugar isn’t good for us and taxes our own nutrients stores, so it would make sense that we shouldn’t have it if we’re focusing on immunity. Yet, many vitamin C products out there are laced with sugar. My husband was grumpy all week when he caught his case of the sniffles. He sniffed and sneezed, snorted and coughed, but when he finally took his vitamin C drink, the wind puffed in his sail and he was a new man!
Placebo is a really, real thing. I’m not saying this vitamin C drink was purely a placebo, but we often feel better when we think we will. As we know better now than ever, colds and viruses are a real thing. They’re transmitted far more easily that we knew, but what really works when it comes to boosting immunity?
Get enough sleep. Matthew Walker, author of “Why We Sleep,” says he offers himself an eight-hour sleep opportunity each night. I love that he doesn’t vilify night owls as lazy, but simply says we should sleep eight hours before we begin to perform our next day’s tasks. Imperative for everything, it is essential for good health and immunity.
Gut healthyThe microbiome is aided by the antioxidants in colorful fruits and veggies. What aids the gut aids our immunity. They also work by decreasing our inflammation, which allows our body to perform at its best. Inflammation is a factor in nearly every disease. Healthy fats also decrease inflammation, which increases immunity. Focus on healthy fats from our favorites like salmon, avocados, olive oil and various nuts and seeds.
If you picture our guts burbling over like a (good) witch’s cauldron, it might make sense to add fermented foods. Fermented foods are known to enhance good gut flora and hence contribute to good gut health. What contributes to good gut health contributes to good brain health and, you guessed it, good brain health is good for everyone involved.
Vitamin C and Echinacea are synonymous with cold blasting, but do they actually work? A review of over 11,000 people who took 1,000-2,000 mg of vitamin C each day reported that while it did not prevent symptoms altogether, the duration of the cold decreased by eight percent in grown-ups and 24 percent in kids.
Echinacea was also seen to slightly reduce the duration of cold symptoms, but the difference was not significant enough to make claims as such.
Garlic is one thing that has been shown to keep vampires and colds at bay. One 12-week study showed a 30 percent reduction in the common cold.
We hear so much about vitamin D deficiencies, especially living in the northeast where sometimes, the sun just don’t shine. Being deficient in this vitamin can lower our immunity overall, making us more vulnerable to colds and other health issues. Work with your doctor on these levels, as more vitamin D on top of already adequate levels has not shown to be beneficial. Getting a healthy amount of sun in a healthy way is certainly recommended for immunity and overall health.
Zinc had tons of publicity when COVID came around. Lozenges, supplements, zinc-rich foods: you name it, it was flying off the shelves. Zinc was shown to reduce a cold’s duration by up to a third, so pass the zinc, please.
These foods will boost your immunity: citrus fruits, red pepper, broccoli, garlic, ginger spinach, yogurt, almonds, sunflower seeds, turmeric, green tea, papaya, poultry, kiwi and shellfish.
Now, off to blow my nose ...
Smoothie Blend Immunity Boost
(Makes about four servings)
½ cup frozen blueberries
½ bulb ginger, grated
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ orange, squeezed
1 handful of spinach
1 cup kefir
Blend ingredients together, adding more water if you need it.
Garnish with orange slice. Enjoy!
(Also great for freezing!)