Healthwise: Battle cold and flu naturally this season

December 23, 2012 4:55 pm
“Dr. Penny Kendall Reed has been practising naturopathic medicine since 1997.”

Healthwise: Battle cold and flu naturally this season

Jennifer Chauhan

Ottawa is covered with snow, residents are busy preparing for the winter holidays and anticipating meals shared with friends and family. As wondrous as this season is, it is also prime time for colds and overtaxed immune systems.

It seems that we are being hit particularly hard in Ottawa this year with those affected being run down for weeks at a time, completely exhausted and unable to maintain their normal busy pace. The best way to survive cold and flu season is by building up a strong immune system and taking action to protect yourself against illness.

I had the chance to sit down with Dr. Penny Kendall-Reed, a doctor of naturopathic medicine, who shared natural solutions for these two strategies.

Strategy 1: Build a strong immune system

Building your immune system naturally is not as difficult as it seems when using a combination of supplements and healthy lifestyle choices.

Jamieson’s FluShield™: An echinacea-based product unlike any other brand, FluShield™ helps to boost the immune system and protect against the onset of cold and flu symptoms. Kendall-Reed, who is not a representative of the company, explains that Jamieson has isolated the t-cell part of echinacea, which boost the immune system, unlike other echinacea products that also consist of isobutylamide, which can depress the immune system.

Probiotics: According to Hippocrates, “all diseases begin in the gut.” The truth of this statement has been proven more so over recent years and Dr. Penny Kendall-Reed agrees that the health of your gut and your immune system go hand-in-hand and therefore recommends a probiotic for adults and children alike.

Sleep: A full eight hours of sleep is best. But if you cannot quite manage the full eight hours over the holidays, Penny recommends a melatonin supplement that will encourage your body to achieve a healing and more restorative stage of sleep. Contrary to popular misconception, melatonin supplements are not sedatives and are non-addictive, but instead increase the body’s ability to combat disease.

Strategy 2: Protect yourself against illness

Zinc lozenges: An easy way to fight infection this season is by sucking on zinc lozenges. Our mucus membrane is the first line of defense when we are exposed to a virus, for example when someone coughs on us. Zinc lozenges help lubricate the mucus membrane and act as an anti-viral and therefore better protect us from those who are infected.

Oil of oregano: Oil of oregano is a natural anti-bacterial and just a few drops can ward off illness. However, be sure to mix the drops with juice to avoid a burning sensation in the throat.

Ginger & Garlic: Garlic is an antimicrobial and ginger is an anti-inflammatory as well as an anti-viral – so cook with it as much as you can, or take as supplements to keep your body in fighting form.

Hand-washing: Be diligent when it comes to hand-washing, especially when working on computers or using public transport. It is the simplest way to avoid getting sick.

Exercise: Exercise is a great way to prevent illness because it boosts white blood cell count, and helps to remove toxins and inflammatory markers from the body.  It also helps to oxygenate all tissues. However, if you are sick, avoid strenuous exercise as it raises blood pressure, which can actually increase replication of a virus.

Healthwise: The Power of Positive Thinking

December 14, 2012 10:58 am
Make the choice to be happy

It’s perfectly normal to feel down and out sometimes, especially during these long and dark winter days. But when your negative thoughts and attitude begin to hinder your productivity, personal relationships and overall happiness, it is time to kick positive thinking into high gear.

Fake it until you make it

If you simply do not feel happy, then fake it. It is possible to rewire your thought processes and render optimism your default mindset. Recent research has shown that “focused, repetitive mental activity can affect changes in your brain’s structure, wiring, and capabilities.”1 And why wouldn’t you want to be an optimist? Thinking positively promotes serotonin production in the brain and creates a sense of well-being.

Keep a gratitude journal

In order to focus your mind on the positives, set out to identify three to five things for which you are grateful every single day. Be specific and identify particular events from the day rather than focus on more general facts (e.g., I am grateful for my family). This way, you will look for the good within each day instead of getting stuck on the bad.

Reduce stress

If stress is causing your sour mood, attack the problem head-on. Identify the source of your burden and eliminate it. If you cannot completely eliminate it, find a way to manage it. Take up yoga, go for a walk, get to bed early, or make time with friends. Do whatever you need to do to put yourself first and prioritize your wellness.

Laugh more often

The simplest stress-buster is laughter. The great thing about laughter is that there is no right way to do it, as long as you are doing it. William Fry, a psychiatrist whose career spanned more than 50 years, found that “laughter increases circulation, stimulates the immune system, exercises the muscles, and even invigorates the brain.” 2

So make the choice to be happy. It is not as hard as it looks.

Learn to laugh and let go

Healthwise: Small Changes, Big Results

December 13, 2012 7:23 am
Reduce stress and improve your sense of happiness.

As we inch towards the end of the year and prepare for a clean slate in 2013, it is important to prioritize our individual wellness. By “wellness” I mean mental and physical health, life satisfaction and a sense of overall wellbeing.  It is easy to get caught up in the daily grind of studying, working, raising kids and the whole gamut of responsibilities that come along with adulthood. Despite these responsibilities, and more specifically becauseof them, we owe it to ourselves to prioritize our wellness and invest the time to ensure physical and emotional balance.

It is known that constant high levels of stress can be detrimental to your health and can shorten your life expectancy. That is why it is so important to develop effective stress management techniques. Ask yourself, what one small change could you incorporate into your routine to better your wellbeing? It is important to first identify the change that you are yearning for, then find a way to mend the gap. How can you get out of your rut?

Here are some suggestions of easy ways to improve your health:

  • Head outdoors for a walk on your lunch break
  • Eat one more piece of fruit per day
  • Drink more water
  • Cut back on one cup of coffee
  • Meditate for five minutes before bed
  • Join a book club
  • Have lunch with a friend instead of eating at your desk
  • Have dinner as a family

No matter your definition of wellness, the key is to make one small change that you can consistently maintain. If you set unrealistic goals, you risk being discouraged and abandoning your new habit.  It may surprise you how making some time for yourself can help reduce generalized stress and improve your sense of happiness. Go on, try it!

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