Cold and flu season is upon us, but bacterial and viral threats are ever present. At a time when society is so very conscious about the spreading of infection and disease, it is a wonder why cold and flu season continues to wreak havoc in our communities to the degree that it does.
While the jury is still out as to the cause of this trend, I think the evidence will eventually show the reason to be tied to a functional decline of our individual immune systems.
The relationship between our gut & immune system
It is, now, commonly accepted that an estimated 70% of the immune system resides within our digestive track. Having a strong microbiome equates to cultivating the right balance of gut bacteria and protecting that balance, once achieved. You see, there is an estimated 100 times more bacterial DNA in our gut than human DNA. That makes for a lot of influence on our health, good or bad!
Gut bacteria play a complex role in the overall health of our bodies. They control immune and digestive function, are protective against infections and aid in the production of key vitamins and hormones. Achieving a happy balance means reduced inflammation and strong, healthy peripheral organs such as skin i.e no acne or eczema. Bear in mind, also, that bad bacteria produce toxic waste that can circulate throughout our bodies and often reach our brain!
There are several things your can do to create a healthy gut.
- Get some sun and supplement Vitamin D in cooler climates - Good bacteria need an environment rich in Vitamin D or they won’t stick around!
- Eat lots of fibrous vegetables - Give your good little guests something delicious to eat during their stay!
- Stay away from sugar/carb infested foods, including the processed variety - Glucose provides the energy source for the bad guests. Don’t give them a reason to stick around!
- Take probiotics frequently - These are like vitamins for our good bacteria!
- Limit the use of antibiotics and acid blockers - Antibiotics are needed from time to time, but even given in the most applicable situations, they wipe out everything! Take care to use them only when absolutely necessary and be sure to follow a treatment with an aggressive round of probiotics and Vitamin D supplementation. NEVER take antibiotics for a virus. They don’t work! As for acid blockers, just stay away from them. They are BAD! Try a natural remedy such an apple cider vinegar tonic.
Cold & Flu Remedies
3 Natural ways to strengthen your immune system
#1 - Vitamin D2
Vitamin D deficiency has been directly linked to immune dysfunction. Over the last several decades, we have taken care to protect our skin from the effects of UV rays, but to what end? We rarely go outside without sunglasses. How are our bodies to make Vitamin D without, frequent (but reasonable) exposure to the sun? The two options are 1) get some sun or 2) supplement with Vitamin D.
One important point of note when taking vitamin D supplements. Be sure to do so when consuming fat. Vitamin D is fat soluble meaning it requires the accompaniment of fat in order to be absorbed in your digestive system!
#2 - Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
Organic apple cider vinegar is an amazing household product. It has so many applications, from detoxing your body to conditioning your hair to fighting Candida (yeast) and so much more.
I don’t think that there is anything else that can compete with it!
ACV strengthens your immune system in the following ways.
- Boosts probiotics and fights Candida - ACV contains probiotics that feed good bacteria in your gut. These good bacteria kill off Candida yeast. This will also fight UTIs.
- Lowers the acidity in your body (yes, I know it’s an acid but has an alkaline effect, trust me!) - ACV creates an environment less conducive to allowing cancer growth because cancer likes a highly acidic home. Another net result of this is increased energy and who couldn’t use more of that?
- Lowers blood sugar - Lowering blood sugar and therefore the accompanying insulin response, reduces inflammation in the body which radically improves its overall health.
- Is an antimicrobial - ACV is great for treating colds and sore throats because of its probiotic properties and strong vitamin content. It can also be used to get rid of nail fungus!
Apple cider vinegar can be taken many ways. I like to shoot a teaspoon of it a couple times a day during cold and flu season but this is not something that I would recommend because of the strong burning sensation that follows.
You can make an ACV tea with lemon, honey and a little cinnamon that is very palatable and is my husband’s preference. We tried this just a few weeks back when he had viral sore throat. He did it for two days and his symptoms were gone! Find the recipe here.
Using a good organic, raw apple cider vinegar is very important because it still contains “the mother” which is the beneficial probiotic bacteria. My go-to brand is Braggs. You can find it in most chain grocery stores, these days.
AVC has so many more applications, I strongly encourage you to make it’s use part of your daily routine!
#3 - Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE)
Grapefruit see extract is a powerful antibacterial and antimicrobial that, while very effective, must be taken with caution. GSE contains polyphenols, which are the compounds thought to be the primary killing agents.
There is risk to long term use of GSE as it will also kill off the good bacteria in your gut, much like antibiotics will. While this makes it a great natural antibiotic, it too must be taken with a good probiotic if treatment extends beyond three consecutive days.
Because supplements are not regulated by the FDA, there is always the problem of poor quality products getting into the hands of consumers. Some of these products will use synthetic, chemical compounds in place of the polyphenols and in my experience chemicals are rarely good. For that reason, it’s a good idea to go with a trusted source.
GSE is also used to treat Candida and other digestive issues along with it’s common application as a preservative in natural personal care products.
Fighting common viruses
Monolaurin - An amazing treatment for cold and Flu
Monolaurin is a compound made from lauric acid, which is commonly found in coconuts (50%). There is a wide body of evidence, dating back to 1966, showing it’s efficacy in eradicating both bacteria and viruses in a laboratory environment. The findings show that even in cases of antibiotic resistant species, Monolaurin is an effective killing agent.
Most recently, studies targeting the effects of Monolaurin on common bacteria and virus attacks on the human body, have been completed. In the bacterial realm, Monolaurin is found to kill off various strains of staphylococcus and streptococcus as well as o S. aureus and Mycobacterium terrae. It has, however, not been found effective in eradicating t Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae.
Studies have, also, shown Monolaurin effective in treating various fungal infections such as fungi, yeasts, and protozoa, including ringworm.
Some of the viruses inactivated, at least to some degree, by Monolaurin include:
- Herpes simplex-1, simplex-2 & viridae
- Vesicular stomatitis
- Visna virus
The big question being targeted, in research today, is how much Lauric Acid from coconuts and other food sources actually gets turned into Monolaurin in the human body. I am anxiously awaiting the answer to this question.
In the meantime, I have personal experience with Monolaurin as a supplement and it has been, consistently, a good one. As with all supplements, quality is key. To that end, I can only recommend the brand that I have experience with.
Once again, I have written a much longer article than I intended to. It’s hard to make it short when there is so much good information to share!
The big takeaways from this post are:
- Understand and fully appreciate the role your digestive system plays in your overall health
- Be aware of and apply available, natural means to build a strong immune system
- When you need a little boost to fight bacterial infections and common viruses, pull out the big guns!
As always, thank you for spending time with me today!
*Remember to check with a healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, including the introduction of supplements.