As we continue to transition into the cooler weather of fall, we also have shorter days and the colours of the leaves are changing to the beautiful, vibrant reds, oranges and yellows. In Chinese medicine, autumn is associated with the lungs. For me, it is a time to support our immune systems so that when we get exposed to viruses and bacteria, we recover quickly, rather than letting it settle into our lungs. When you take deep breaths, walk outside, or when exercising, it fills our lungs and supports circulation to minimize exposure to the microbes.
Of utmost importance during this time is to support our immune systems so that we are as healthy as possible to fight those little buggers when they come into our worlds. In order to be as healthy as possible, it is crucial to eat right - including lots of fruits and veggies, drink lots of water, get adequate amounts of sleep, minimize stress and be active.
Whenever I feel a little under the weather, I nip it in the bud before it keeps me away from work and my responsibilities with rest and a few supplements. Here are my favourites:
1. Vitamin C- Many cells in our immune systems need vitamin C to perform properly. Although eating a healthy diet will prevent a deficiency, our needs are greater when we are fighting a bug. Vitamin C concentrations in blood rapidly declines during infections and stress. Supplementation of vitamin C improves components of the human immune system1.
2. Vitamin D- Did you know that Vitamin D has been used (unknowingly) to treat infections such as tuberculosis before antibiotics? Treatment included exposure to sunlight which was thought to directly kill the tuberculosis. Cod liver oil, a rich source of vitamin D has also been employed as a treatment for general increased protection from infections2.
3. Probiotics- A review from the Cochrane Database found that probiotics were better than placebo in reducing the number of participants experiencing episodes of acute upper respiratory infection (URTI), the length of an episode of acute URTI, antibiotic use and cold- related school absence to when they took a placebo3.
4. Oregano oil- It’s only meant for short term use and avoid it’s use in infants, small children, and pregnant or nursing women.
Just remember, it’s a good thing to challenge your immune system every once in a while. It makes your immune system stronger.
1. Wintergerst ES, Maggini S, Hornig DH. Immune-enhancing role of vitamin C and zinc and effect on clinical conditions. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism. 2006;50(2):85-94.
2. Williams C. On the use and administration of cod-liver oil in pulmonary consumption. London Journal of Medicine. 1849; 1:1–18.
3. Hao Q, Dong BR, Wu T. Probiotics for preventing acute upper respiratory tract infections. Cochrane Database Systematic Review. 2015 Feb 3;(2).