By Dr. Haley Lance
Flu season is now upon us. From mid-October through early spring, people typically suffer with runny noses, sore throats, fevers, aches and chills, resulting in missed days from school or work. There are many theories as to why doctors begin to see an uptick in patient numbers this time of year. One thought is that the body’s response to the fall temperature change plays a role in the increased illness.
Another theory, however, has to do with our diets this time of year. Beginning just before Halloween, through Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Super Bowl parties, Valentine’s Day, and Easter, there is a rapid increase in candy and sugar consumption in most American households. Sugar has been shown to lower the body’s ability to fight infections. A normal, average healthy white blood cell can destroy an average of 13 germs. If you eat a piece of pie (approximately 6 teaspoons of sugar), the white blood cell can only destroy 10 germs. If you have pie with ice cream (approximately 12.5 teaspoons of sugar) your average white blood cell can only destroy 5.5 germs. This is a great example of how germs, bacteria, viruses can easily overwhelm our bodies during this stretch sugary months. Extended periods of high blood sugar lower the fighting capabilities of our white blood cells, which is why diabetics have a harder time fighting infections. Sugar doesn’t do the body good!
So what can you do to specifically boost your immunity this time of year?Here are five simple actions you can take today:
(1) Avoid sweets and processed foods. Focus on eating real food – food packed with vitamins and minerals, which help to boost your immune system.
(2) Go for colorful, antioxidant rich foods. Dark leafy greens are packed with nutrition. Combine that with Vitamin C in citrus fruits and the beta-carotene found in fall squashes and tubers, and you’ve just boosted immunity! Try green smoothies as a way to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet.
(3) Limit dairy consumption. Dairy creates mucous. Excess mucous production compromises the body’s ability to fight off airborne bacteria and viruses, while also providing an ideal environment for bacteria to grow. Skip the dairy and opt for waterrich fruits and vegetables instead.
(4) Increase Vitamin D intake. The body makes Vitamin D from sunlight exposure, which is limited during the winter months, making us more susceptible to infection. Supplementing Vitamin D3 from September through April can help boost immunity. (You should consult your doctor for dosage guidelines, as Vitamin D dosage is based on weight and it is possible to take too much.)
(5) Reach for natural supplements. There are several natural supplements available that can boost the body’s initial response when signs of a sickness first appear, including Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, Calcium, and varieties of homeopathic sprays and supplements meant to boost immune system response. Have these on hand and use them at the first signs of sickness. Increasing your dosage of these beneficial vitamins during this time of the year will aid in prevention of sickness. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
It’s no coincidence we struggle with illness this time of year. Don’t wait until you are sick to worry about prevention. By making small dietary and lifestyle changes now, you can help ensure continued health through this flu season and beyond. If you need help with sugar control or have questions, please feel free to contact Dr. Haley at 706-557-0211.
Now at Rutledge’s Back to Wellness, Dr. Haley Lance holds an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences from Auburn University and received her Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life University in Marietta. Dr. Lance takes an integrative approach to with patients, drawing on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology and nutrition to help bring the body back into balance. A mother herself, Dr. Lance has a special interest in pediatric care, as well as the pre- and post-natal care of women. Back to Wellness is located at 113 Fairplay Street Rutledge, GA 30663 and can be reached at 706-557-0211.