Winter Is Coming
Prepare for Cold and Flu Season
As surely as there will be Season Premiers in the fall viewing lineup, and anticipation of what returning shows will bring, it is a stark reality that “Winter is coming and we know what is coming with it”... seasonal outbreaks of cold and influenza (flu). You don’t have to sit idly by and wait for colds and influenza to strike you and your family. Fortify your defenses and prepare for the season to reduce your risk of becoming a statistic.
While it’s possible to get colds and flu year-round, the fall and winter months are when the vast majority of infections (and outbreaks) occur. This magnification is due mainly to staying indoors - making it easier to pass illnesses on to family and coworkers. With the right plan, you can mitigate the risk of infection and be prepared if it does hit your home or workplace.
Live Healthy: Your best defense against infection is your health. A healthy immune system is the wall wherein you can fight off pathogens, denying them the ability to get a foothold in you. The old tried-and-true work. Eat healthy proteins and plenty of brightly colored fruits and vegetables, get plenty of rest (and sleep), exercise regularly and keep stress under control. Keep your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol in check. Listen to your body – especially when you feel rundown! Do all of these and you’ll be better able to fight off illness.
Supplies, Supplies, Supplies: There are certain items we use time and again each winter. Make sure you have them and they are functioning properly. Thermometers, heaters, thermal blankets, humidifiers, tissues and hand soap. For those times when you can’t find a sink, have sanitizer at the ready.
Clean the cabinet: Take a little time to have a good deep look at your medicine/supplement cabinet(s) and the supplement section of your fridge. Remove and replace products that are expired. Make sure you are well stocked with winter staples such as probiotics, oil of oregano products, chaga mushroom, zinc, vitamin C, echinacea, decongestants, pain relievers, Himalayan salt (for nasal sprays), cough drops and lozenges. Be sure to chat with your health professional to see what they recommend.
Comfort food: We all have them! Foods that we will eat - even when we feel like crud because they make us feel “better” or at least not as bad. For some it’s as simple as macaroni and cheese or a peanut butter and jam sandwich. For others it may be more in depth. No matter what they may be, stock your larder so you have supplies available when you just don't feel up to venturing into the cold.
Hydrate and hydrate some more: When we are sick, often we lose our appetite and desire to drink. Drinking is vital! Your body uses the fluid you take in to help flush toxins, including pathogenic bacteria, out of your system. Fluid is required for adequate sweating, urinating and bowel movements.
If you don’t take enough liquid in, your body is further stressed by dehydration, weakening your defenses. To avoid this, ensure you have a supply of beverages you will drink even when not feeling well. In my case, it’s apple juice. The only time I drink low sugar apple juice is when I feel like crud (it’s a tell-tale sign in my house; see me drinking apple juice….. stay away). I go through 2-4 litres each day. Stock up, making sure you have enough for two rounds… better safe than sorry. Excellent options include herbal teas, soups, and stews.
Proper hygiene: “Now winter is truly coming. In the winter, we must protect ourselves. Look after one another.” Proper hygiene is the key to not spreading infections. With proper hygiene, one person gets sick and that’s it. The sick person gets better and everyone else stays well. Frequently remind everyone to wash their hands properly and often, especially after the restroom and before eating. Be vigilant to always try to keep your hands away from your face; sneeze into a tissue (if possible) or the inside of your elbow (if no tissue available); and always wash hands well after sneezing.
Clean: Pathogens can also live on surfaces. Every time someone sick sneezes or coughs, minute liquid particles are dispersed that can be literally teaming with pathogens. This undead army patiently waits on surfaces looking for an opportunity to launch a new assault on an unsuspecting person they come in contact with. Don’t be a victim! In times of war, setting your priorities is very important. Clean surfaces regularly through the season, and clean even more if someone is sick or “coming down” with something. No need for fancy soap, “antibacterial” soap or cleaners - quality soap when applied correctly will do the job quite well. Multiple applications are a must to ensure you eliminate the pathogens.
Winter is coming, and every member of the family has to be prepared no matter what their age is. With your defenses fortified, this cold and flu season can be a breeze. You won’t fear it, you’ll embrace it. Enjoy all that the Canadian season has to offer, the beauty of changing leaves, fresh snow, winter sports, and the fall viewing line-up.
Joel Thuna, MH, is a master herbalist with over 30 years of experience. Dr. Claude Gallant holds a PhD in Microbiology.