What you can do to boost your immunity…

Whether you have children at home or are taking care of someone elderly, you might be interested in boosting your immunity or that of those you love.

Every year, we hear about friends or family who are suffering from a cold. We all come down with illness from time to time, but it’s usually not convenient. We miss school, work, family events or event holidays.

A few years ago, I came down with an illness on Christmas Eve.  There’s no question that these bugs are not fun and virtually never come at great times.

So, what can we do to avoid them? Let’s start with foods…

One interesting study from the European Journal of Nutrition showed that brewer’s yeast increased the body’s potential to defend against invading pathogens.[1] We personally love a little nutritional yeast, which is quite like brewer’s yeast on our meals.

Another potentially beneficial food is golden kiwi fruit. There have been several studies on Kiwi fruit as it is thought to protect against oxidative stress. One trial looked at pre-school children (2-5 years) resulted in an overall reduction in the incidence of cold and influenza-like illnesses as well as a reduction in their symptoms.[2] You might not be able to find gold kiwi fruit, but why not try the green ones?

What about vitamins and supplements? One of the things I reach for first, when I feel that tickle coming on in my throat is Zinc lozenges. The Cochrane database didn’t a systematic review of “Zinc for the common cold” in 2013. The study looked at 5 different trials using Zinc.[3] They concluded that it may not be able to prevent it, but it does significantly shorten the duration of the cold itself when taken at 75 mg/day or more. 3 There was another study that showed that vitamin C likely prevents the common cold.[4]

What about stress? It always seems like people are getting sick when they are stressed out. I often hear people say I got sick because of something stressful. One prospective study in London showed that out of 1241 workers, male workers experiencing work stress in job demand, job control and social support reported an increased occurrence the common cold at follow-up.[5] Perhaps the women did better with perceived stress or stress resilience?

Sleep habits matter too. An article from the Archives of Internal Medicine demonstrates that “poorer sleep efficiency and shorter sleep duration in the weeks preceding exposure to a rhinovirus were associated with lower resistance to illness.”[6] Less than 7 hours of sleep seemed to be the magic number of hours needed to maintain good immunity.[6]

[1] Eur J Nutr. 2013 Dec;52(8):1913-8. doi: 10.1007/s00394-013-0492-z. Epub 2013 Jan 23. Yeast (1,3)-(1,6)-beta-glucan helps to maintain the body’s defence against pathogens: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, multicentric study in healthy subjects.

[2] Skinner, Margot. (2012). Wellness foods based on the health benefits of fruit: Gold kiwifruit for immune support and reducing symptoms of colds and influenza. Journal of Food and Drug Analysis. 20. 261-264.

[3] “Zinc for the Common Cold.” Singh, et al. Cochrane Database Systematic Review. June 18th, 2013. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD001364.pub4.

[4] “Complementary and alternative medicine for prevention and treatment of the common cold.” Nahas, et al. Can Fam Physician. 2011 Jan; 57 (1): 31-6.

[5] “A Prospective Study of Work Stressors and the Common Cold.” Park, et al. Occupational Medicine London. 2011. Jan; 61(1):53-6. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqq141. Epub 2010 Sep 10.

[6] “Sleep Habits and Susceptibility to the Common Cold.” Cohen, et al. Archives of Internal Medicine. Jan 12, 2009; 169 (1):62-7. doi: 10.1001/archinternmed.2008.505.


Kiwi. Unsplash. Obtained June 14th at 224pm. Photo by Sharon Pittaway on Unsplash

Sick with Tissues. Unsplash. Obtained June 14th at 229 pm. Photo by Sharon Pittaway on Unsplash

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