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The ABCs of Cold and Flu Season

August 27, 2013 5:16 pm
Published by: Dr. Ann Lovick

The kids are back in school and fall is just around the corner. That means that cold and flu season is not far behind. Here are some simple tips to keep your family healthy when everyone around you is getting sick.

Amino acid therapy.

The onset of a sinus infection typically starts with nasal congestion. That “stuffy head” feeling that forces you to breathe through your mouth can cause some pretty severe headaches. N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is an amino acid that helps thin out mucous. It is not sedating or addictive, like some over-the-counter medications, and it works great. I recommend my patients take 1000mg twice a day with LOTS of water. This is important because NAC is drying and can leave patients feeling dehydrated. Also, increased water intake helps thin out mucous and makes it easier for the body to process and get rid of it.

Ban all sugar and dairy from your diet.

All dairy products made from cow’s milk (yogurt, cheese, sour cream, ice cream and, yes, milk) should be taken out of your diet. The casein protein in dairy products made from cow’s milk stimulates the mucous membranes to produce more mucous. Even a tablespoon of cream in your coffee is too much for someone trying to fight off a cold or infection. And although yogurt does have probiotics, which are important for gut health, choose goat’s milk or coconut milk yogurt and get the benefits of probiotics without the drawbacks of casein.

Once that “stuffy head” feeling develops, there is a fabulous moist, warm, and swollen environment where viruses and bacteria love to grow. And their main fuel source is sugar. When patients continue to consume sugary food and drinks, they are basically working for the wrong team and they are more likely to develop a sinus infection.

Sugar season starts in October with Halloween and runs through Easter. All the really good sugar holidays fall in in this time period. It is no wonder that cold and flu season coincides with sugar season!

Vitamin C for immune support.

Vitamin C is a wonderful antioxidant! It is anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal. Look for a buffered vitamin C powder because it is easier for the body to digest and absorb. When I feel my throat getting a little scratchy or my nose a little congested, I will take up to 5 grams of buffered vitamin C daily. Just be aware that too much vitamin C can cause diarrhea. If that should happen, do not panic. It indicates you are taking more vitamin C than your body can absorb. Just ease back on your daily dose until the diarrhea stops.

Double up on daily dose of fish oil

Ok, I added a D, but I think it is one of the most important things I do to stay healthy during cold and flu season. When I have patients coming into my office, and sneezing and coughing in my face, it would be easy for me to get sick. But I double up on my daily dose of fish oil. This keeps the mucous membranes in my sinuses well hydrated. When they are well hydrated they do their job which is to protect me from all the germs in the air and to keep me from getting sick.

Surviving cold and flu season, without getting sick, should not be a challenge if you follow these simple tips.