As another busy Winter season arrives, most of us dread catching the common cold or flu. If you’d like to avoid battling through a plethora of coughs and runny noses, read on.
The common cold and influenza are viral infections that affect the upper respiratory tract, including the nose, throat and mouth. In Hong Kong, the close proximities we live in place us at risk for being exposed to various strains of viruses transmitted through direct contact or via respiratory droplets. A simple cough or sneeze is how these viruses spread from one person to another.
Why are some of us more vulnerable than others?
Our immune system plays an important role in the susceptibility of getting sick and in the length of time our infections may last. Simple lifestyle factors we engage in contribute to building or suppressing our immune systems.
Not to worry, there are simple steps you can take to give your immune system a boost.
Strengthen Your Immunity
- Get Enough Shut-eye: How many hours of sleep should we be getting? The magic number appears to be 7. Studies have shown adults who sleep less than 7 hours per day are 3 times more likely to get sick. A good night's rest can help your body recharge and direct energy towards recuperation.
- Manage Stress: High levels of stress will elevate the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. When elevated, these hormones suppress immune function and lower the body’s resilience when fighting infection. It is important to address how we cope with stress by incorporating mindfulness in our daily schedules. Activities like meditation, journalling or yoga can help to decrease stress levels, regulate these stress hormones and keep you from being bed-ridden!
- Good Hygiene: Washing your hands can reduce transmission of infection – or use an alcohol wipe - after travelling in public spaces, busses or aircraft.
Prevention is key
Probiotics: Immune function starts in the gut. A healthy bacterial flora can reduce the risk of getting ill significantly. Research has shown that probiotics can reduce the number of upper respiratory tract infections by 47%! Cold and flu prevention is easy by replenishing gut flora with a high quality probiotic!1
A daily probiotic will replenish the good bacteria and is the best form of prevention for the entire family. IMI Dispensary carries a comprehensive range of high-grade probiotics for all ages and many of them are also available at our online dispensary:
Bioceuticals’ Ultrabiotic 45 contains 15 billion units of Lactobacillus rhamnosis, one of the strains to look for to regulate overall immune function. While the Bioceuticals brand is available exclusively in our dispensaries in Central and Discovery Bay, Ther-Biotic Complete Capsules by Klaire Labs is available online. It is a high potency blend of 12 strains of probiotics, carefully chosen to provide broad coverage to support a healthy balance of microflora across the whole gastrointestinal tract.
Bioceuticals’ Ultrabiotic Junior is ideal for children as it is a chewable and needs no refrigeration. We also recommend Medlab’s Biotic Jnr. for assisting younger children’s immunity. This formula adds immune support from lactoferrin and S. boulardi in addition to the lactobacillus and bifidobacteria strains. These species have demonstrated safety and efficacy to help maintain healthy digestive function, better growth rates, and immunity.
Essential Nutrients: Vegetables and fruits are major sources of vitamins and anti-oxidants. A good diet made up of fresh organic fruits and vegetables is ideal, but the modern day diet, high in processed foods, does not offer enough nutrients.
In Hong Kong, with many “fresh” fruits and vegetables shipped internationally foods have even less nutrients by the time they reach you. Taking a daily multivitamin supplement can rectify this problem and support the body’s immune function.
Essential vitamins such as A, B, C, E and minerals such as zinc and iron support an optimal immune system. We recommend Seeking Health’s Optimal Multivitamin Powder as a daily supplement. It provides potent, bioavailable nutrients in easy-to-absorb forms, including folate, B12 and other B vitamins. High levels of zinc, magnesium, calcium and iron are also included, all of which support a strong immune system, increase energy levels and provide antioxidant protection.
Vitamin C: When we are constantly on-the-go, or returning home after a long flight, stress can be high and we may find ourselves sleep deprived. Vitamin C works to support adrenal function, and is a sound go-to to avoid colds and flus when you are rundown.
Vitamin D: Also known as the “sunshine vitamin” our bodies make vitamin D through the exposure to sunlight. In the winter months, we need approximately 45 minutes of sunlight exposure to the arms, legs, face, and hands every other day in order for the body to produce adequate levels of vitamin D. Unfortunately, the majority of the Hong Kong population is Vitamin D deficient. Research shows over 60% of us are deficiency and working indoors, tinted windows, and avoidance of sunlight exposure are various reasons for this deficiency.
Want to lower your children's risk of respiratory infections? A study published in the journal Paediatrics in August 2012 showed that vitamin D supplementation in 250 schoolchildren in Mongolia with low blood levels of vitamin D, lowered their risk of respiratory infections.
Medlab’s NanoCelle D3 spray delivers vitamin D3 via the membrane lining in the mouth, thus bypassing the gastrointestinal tract and permits added absorption. Vitamin D supplements can also be administered in liquid form. Simply add the drop(s) into a glass of milk, an easy way for children to take. We carry well tolerated vanilla flavoured Vitamin D drops made in Australia.
Take good care of your mind and body to prepare and nourish your immune system. Say goodbye to work absences, missed social functions and interrupted holidays. A thorough supplementation regime will help to prevent any unwanted colds or flus over the winter months.
Have a better start to the new year, and stay well!
For more comprehensive and individually tailored advice it is best to have a consultation with a Naturopathic physician, who can determine if you have any deficiencies and any other aspects affecting your health status.
1. Hao Q, Dong B, Wu T. Probiotics for preventing acute upper respiratory tract infections. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD006895. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006895.pub3