Respiratory Health - Ready for Winter
The most common ailments during winter are upper respiratory infections. The clinical experience shows that there are a number of conditions that will pre-dispose you to catching a cold.
Fatigue is one of the most important factors that will make you more likely to "catch a cold". The body is very sensitive to energy use and mounting a successful immune response takes a huge amount of energy. If you are tired then you just don't have the energy reserve to fight off the invading bug, whether it's a bacteria or a virus. Both require a significant amount of energy.
Getting cold or "a chill" can also leave you with a runny nose and cough. You will die quicker from being cold than an infection. The body is so logical. The body will allocate resources to the most important survival responses so if you are cold, especially outdoors in wind, then staying warm is the priority. Calling in sick the next day is very likely.
If we stay in the energy allocation theme, what do you think the outcome could be if you have an all-out workout that leaves you so tired you can't take your clothes off? (don't worry, I've done it in my youth!) If you come in contact with a bug, then the likelihood of succumbing to the infection is much greater. A 40% effort workout can be of benefit, but pushing yourself will likely make things worse.
Pushing yourself to keep going is another time that you might end up in bed being tended by others. The adrenaline that you will fire up to keep going will surely suppress your immune system.
Now you are sick, it is vital that you rest to give your body the energy to do its job of fighting the infection and shortening the sick period. The "soldier on" tactic is one of the more harmful things that we have all done at times - your limited energy is now diverted away from getting better to the "just keeping going". The infection will now spread through your body and affect more systems. The sore throat and stuffy nose is now a persistent cough.
So if an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, what can you do to set your body up to stay healthy?
3 Phases of an Infection
I attended a webinar 2 weeks ago that discussed how to protect and prepare the body for the usual cold weather bout of lung and respiratory infections.
The presenters ranged from Medical Doctors who lecture, to practicing herbalists.
The advise has 3 different phases:
1. The first is a preventative or pre-infection action plan. A process to enhance the health of the body and its ability to resist infection;
2. The second phase was focused on the early stages of an infection; and
3. The 3rd was what to do when the infection has taken hold.
Phase 1: Prevention
Preventative is all about being rested, taking exercise and eating well within your ideal pantry. The food should be as fresh as practical. There is a role for adding supplements as our food chain is not always as fresh as would be ideal. This is more important at the moment as logistics are a little strained currently.
Pick one day a week to take an immune stimulator which might be Echinacea. Other supplements that modulate immunity can be used 2 to 4 days a week. They would be Elderberry, Withania and Pelagonium.
In addition, Vitamin C, D and Zinc all support immunity by various means.
Prevention by Keeping the Bugs OUT
Rather than fight an infection it is better to keep the bugs 🦠 out with an effective barrier.
The mucosa is the lining of the nose, sinus and the gut. It is the interface between the outside and the inside, the layer that the air we breathe and foods eat/drink contact before it gets inside our cells. The health and integrity of this layer is critical to our health.
In the gut, is where the immune system is most active. It makes sense that the skin layer that will be in contact with the outside world will house the defence system. The bugs or microbiome in our gut also preserve the quality of the intestinal tissue.
Any weakness or break in this layer will have a negative effect on our health.
Other Barriers - You'll be surprised!
The Frontline Innate immune defence force:
- TEARS - lysozyme - kill pathogens
- SKIN - Sweat; Oils; Fatty Acids
- SALIVA - protects the mucus membrane
- STOMACH - Acidity to kill bugs
- LG INTESTINE - Microbiotia and secretary IgA
- RESPIRATORY TRACT: Epithelium layer as a mechanical barrier - cilia
- The cilia are the tiny hairs that sweep foreign objects out of the wind pipe. They are part of the cough reaction.
Foods and Supplements with Nutrients for Mucosa Health
Foods and supplements that will support good mucosa health are fats, oils and gut bug support. Vitamins E and A are both regarded as important for maintaining the fatty cell walls. If the cell walls are healthy then they do not leak - a leak in the cell walls will cause the cells to focus on survival and protection and the inflammatory response will provide an environment that will give opportunistic bugs a point of access to the body.
A good highly diverse (15 strains or more) probiotic will help to re-seed your gut with healthy bacteria. We know that the virus count in our bodies are many times more than bacteria. A healthy balance in the numbers and variety of bacteria is needed to keep the virus population in check which will in turn assist the body in creating a healthy dynamic response to invasions by bugs.
Think of a garden. The ground cover will keep the weeds in check. If you clear the soil completely, there is nothing to give the weeds and grasses any competition. Soon enough you have a problem on your hands.
This is a powerful reason for a well balanced diet of as wide as possible range of foods to keep the microbiome diverse. The gut bacteria diversity is a direct relationship between the varied of whole foods you eat.
Phase 2: Bad Luck, You Caught a Cold - Now What?
The first 12 hours are your critical window to act. When you contact any infection, both the bug and your immune system are in a race to get the upper hand. If your immune system is in any way hampered, you are tired or stressed, the invading bug has a window of opportunity when it can multiply faster than your body can prepare the immune system response.
Previous contact with this particular germ will leave you with some specific anti-bodies that will go straight to work killing the invader. You will likely be completely unaware that your body is going its good work. This is the role of natural or synthetic immune preparing. Coming in contact with a sick person ( natural or wild immunity ) or a vaccination. Both are immunisation.
You are coming down, you can feel the tickle in your throat, you are sneezing... What to do?
Give Your Body some Help!
Foods to consume
- Foods rich in Quercetin - Onions and Apples
- Rich in Anthocyanins - Berries; Red onions; Red grapes; Purple carrots
- Rich in Vit C - Leavy green veges; capsicums; broccoli; Oranges; Kiwifruit; Brussel sprouts; Cantaloupe; Papaya; Strawberries;
- Rich in Zinc - Legumes; Seeds, Nuts, Meat and diary
- Rich in Vit E - food sources include Vegetable oils, Wheat germ and sunflower seeds.
- Rich in Vit A - A food source is Beta-Carotene, the precursor to Vit A. Red and Yellow veggies contain beta-carotene. A great source is baked sweet potato. Carrot, pumpkin,
- Carotenoids are a cousin to Beta-carotene and have similar properties. You will find Carotenoids in spinach, dark green leafy veggies, and deep orange foods.
- Aromatics - Garlic, Ginger, Turmeric
- Fruit and Veggies
- Low alcohol
Get Some Sleep
Sleep and Immunity
Circadian rhythms play a role in mediating both Innate and adaptive immune responses. You can read more about circadian rhythms in the previous blog about Schumann waves and electromagnetic fields.
When the circadian rhythm is disrupted by an infection it shifts the body to a pro inflammatory state that is protective.
3 studies found that habitual sleep of less than 6 hours lead to a higher susceptibility to infection and reduced antibody response. This was measured after vaccination.
Similarily sleep deprivation resulted in an increase in pro-inflammatory cytokines and a disruption of natural killer cells. If you're tired, you are more likely to get sick.
Phase 3: Have a Fighting Regime!
There was a recommendation to use an immune stimulator 1 day a week. There is a concern that to stimulate the immune system daily will lead to down regulation. What this means is that to take echinacea every day would lead to the immune system being turned off and therefore not primed ready for an infection.
An immune modulator would however, have a different effect. Plants such as elderberry would be suitable as it is an immune modulator.
Another aspect of timing was what to do when a cold or flu is contracted. It was thought that to supplement therapeutically in the first few days is indicated but then to reduce supplementation and let the body do the rest of the work.
My Regime - I hit it hard for 24 hours!
I have a personal regime that I have used twice in the last 4 years that has turned a flu into a 12 hour event:
- I go to bed and don’t get up except for bathroom and a few specific supplements that I take every few hours, or when ever I wake up.
- I will have a clove of fresh garlic crushed and mixed with avocado.
- I take 60 ml of Redox supplement.
- If there is soup I drink that.
- If no-one has been good enough to drop some off I will have a soup of something like miso paste.
Just doing that over 12-18 hours combined with lots of sleep seems to ensure that I wake up after about 12 hours and the fever has broken and I know that I am on the other side of the infection.
Sleep is the most powerful component of this regime.
The useful information that I want to share with you can be summed up here:
- Get sufficient rest
- Eat fresh foods - lots of bright colours
- Have a schedule for supplements
- Immune boosters should be used only 1 day a week to prime the body and get it response ready
- If you get sick, use the first 24 hours to step up your supplement regime
- Then back off and let the body heal itself with plenty of rest
- Consult your Dr if you believe that you should be tested or require a medical opinion about your health.