Willow: Cold and flu prevention

By Katherine Willow for West Carleton Online

What can we do to prevent being holed up with colds and flus this winter?  There’s no magic to it, but as for many important things, it’s easier said than done.

Sleep. We know it’s essential, but there are details about when and how we sleep that make a big difference to our ability to stay healthy.

One of them is to go to bed early and get up early as often as possible. From 9:30 to 10 p.m. is a good time to retire, aiming to sleep seven to nine hours, depending on our needs. Otherwise we miss the time of night when our bodies repair themselves and end up being run down, vulnerable to getting sick.

The other suggestion is to black out your bedroom. Any bits of light trigger shut down of melatonin, a hormone that controls our sleep cycle. Melatonin also helps prevent cancer, Alzheimer’s, insomnia and fatigue while keeping the mind sharp and inducing rest at night.

Eat well, specifically boosting veggies, adequate protein, healthy fats and lots of water between meals to flush out the body and brain. Avoiding excess wheat and dairy prevent accumulation of phlegm.

Move according to your body type, condition and energy level. You can check your Ayurvedic type online, but basically it will tell you that heavier people need to move more and light people should not move excessively. Unfortunately, each type will do exactly the opposite of what’s good for them until they are balanced. So heavier people tend to be couch potatoes and lighter people are the ones running the marathons.

Stress management. This is probably the most important issue in staying well. When we are relaxed and happy, we tend to be healthier. Good luck with that one…we’ll tackle it in a future column.

Supplements. Vitamin D is absolutely the most important supplement to take in the winter, followed by a good multi, fish oil and whatever you are low in. Talk to your health practitioner about what can support your weak areas.

And finally, wash your hands!

About the flu shot: there are many interesting studies that make this topic controversial and too long for this column. I would say to do your own research and then follow up with whatever makes most sense to you.

Katherine Willow practices naturopathic medicine at the Carp Ridge EcoWellness Centre, just north of the village of Carp.  She is a fourth-generation naturopathic doctor via her family in Germany and has been practicing for 35 years.  Her specialties are fatigue, allergies, children’s conditions, women’s health and cancer, although most conditions can benefit from naturopathic medicine. She will be writing a regular column on her experience, knowledge and education related to naturopathy.

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