It is winter again and the time when people seem to get sick. But why is this – is it really from being out in the freezing wind and rain, getting wet and cold?
Experts say that even though you are more likely to get sick during the winter months, it may not actually be because of getting cold and wet...
What causes us to 'catch a cold' in winter?
Experts say the viruses that cause colds and flus tend to flourish in colder temperatures – they live longer and transmit faster and more easily in a cold and less humid environment.
In conjunction with this the cold weather more often forces people to stay inside, and being in these enclosed spaces for longer can increases the risk of infection.
Less exposure to sunlight can also be a factor, as we get less natural vitamin D during the shorter days and longer nights of winter. Vitamin D is a powerful booster for the immune system, and so without it, and a resulting decline in immune health, we may be more vulnerable to virus infection.
So, while the weather is not directly responsible for making people sick, the viruses are stronger at this time of the year and our immune systems are often weakened, creating the perfect conditions for illness.
Can probiotics help for a cold or flu?
There have been many studies over the last few decades which have found that probiotics do appear to assist the body’s immune response to ills and chills.
Further findings support the fact that the best probiotic strains for cold & flu symptom are Bifidobacterium bifidum which can protect the body against viruses and the common cold by helping to prepare the body to fight off these infections.
The Microbiome that populates the gut are important for maintaining immunity as 80% of the immune system is in the gut. That’s why taking the best probiotics for a cold or flu regularly may not only reduce your chances of getting a cold, but if you do succumb, they may assist to reduce the severity of the symptoms and shorten the time you are down with a cold.
8 tips for staying well this winter
1. Boost your Immune System. 80% of your immune system is in your gut so it is important to look after it by including plenty of nutrients, probiotics and prebiotics to your diet. This may include foods high in fibre (like oats, quinoa, chia seeds, millet, wholegrains), fermented foods such as sauerkraut or kimchi, plenty of fruit & vegies, and a nutrient rich live probiotic supplement such as Immunity Fuel. Immunity Fuel Original and Gluten Free both contains a nutrient rich combination of fermented super foods with live probiotics for colds & flus including Bifidobacterium bifidum and Lactobacillus strains.
2. Eat plenty of green, leafy vegetables and other in-season fruits & vegetables. Fruit and vegetables that are in season are the most nutrient dense and cost effective.
3. Keep up the fluids – drink plenty of water as well as herbal tea and soups during winter. One recent study found that staying hydrated may boost a particular immune response to enable your body to better fight viruses.
4. Get adequate vitamin D from plenty of exposure to sunlight, foods such as eggs, mushrooms, oily fish e.g. salmon, or taking a Vitamin D supplement.
5. Get plenty of exercise – maintain a level of fitness through regular exercise such as walking at least 3 times a week to reduce inflammation and increase circulation.
6. Get enough sleep - Your body goes into full cell repair when you are asleep so if you are not getting enough or good quality sleep then your immune system may be affected, lowering resistance to infection.
7. Reduce Stress – practice relaxation techniques, yoga, or meditation, or just stop and read a book. Slow down and take time out for yourself. Mental distress is strongly linked with physical illness.
8. Try some antiviral herbs such as elderberry, echinacea, calendula, garlic, astragalus root, ginger, liquorice root, oregano and olive leaf. Herbs have been used as natural remedies since ancient times and may have powerful antiviral effects against numerous viruses that cause infections in humans.
Look after yourself this winter and be kind to your body. Try Australia's best certified organic probiotic superfood for colds and flus, Immunity Fuel, which may assist your immune system to stay strong and your body heal during recovery.