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By Audrey Sckoropad

We are in the middle of the cold season, which is also the season of colds and flu. It is therefore important to focus on our defenses and our immune system and to detoxify our body to avoid these discomforts. In addition, we often use antibiotics that are not necessary for colds and flu, as they are caused by viruses and not bacteria. When used too frequently, antibiotics can cause upset and damage to the digestive system. That’s why it’s best to act in advance to optimize our immune health. Here are some tips to help you do that

1. Integrate probiotics

One of the best ways to prevent viral infections is to ensure the health of our digestive system – our intestinal flora. Some studies have shown that children who took a combination of probiotics and vitamin C on a daily basis had fewer episodes of colds and flu. There are different probiotic options for both adults and children. My favorite: Bio-K products.

2. Avoid immunosuppressive foods.

Coffee, white sugar, alcohol and foods high in saturated fats all contribute to lowering the immune system’s defenses. An excess of fatty and processed foods can compromise the lymphatic system, limiting the body’s ability to fight infection.

3. Advocate for whole, nutrient-rich foods.

When it comes to your immune health, there is no substitute for good nutrition! It’s important to make sure you eat a healthy diet with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, which are the main sources of vitamins and minerals. This will give you a wide range of nutrients. Aim for five to seven servings of vegetables and fruit a day. I like to make sure I get enough of them in my smoothies.

4. Learn to manage stress

Stress is one of the major immune suppressors. To better manage it, you can think about meditation, yoga, acupuncture or nature walks. For me, nothing is better than taking a bath with salts flavored with essential oils with a good book to relax.

5. Spend time in nature.

In addition to helping reduce your stress, a walk in the woods (especially on a sunny day) will increase your vitamin D levels. Vitamin D boosts the immune system’s ability to recognize and fight pathogens, especially influenza (which causes the flu) and respiratory tract infections. Since the days are shorter in the Quebec winter, it is a good idea to take a vitamin D supplement.

6. Stay adequately hydrated.

Don’t forget your fluids. Good hydration plays an essential role in protecting your body against viruses. In fact, we need about 1 L of water for every 22 kg. If you don’t like to drink that much water, increase your intake of herbal teas and green vegetable juices. Remember that coffee, tea and alcohol have a diuretic effect, so don’t count them in your water intake. You can also add fresh lemon or berries, ginger and spearmint to water to make it tastier and richer in antioxidants, and to give it a detox effect!

7. Clean up, or detox!

Too often our health takes a back seat to lack of sleep and physical activity, too much junk food, high stress, lack of time for ourselves, etc. A detox can help you rebalance your body and re-evaluate your lifestyle. The word detox can be frightening to some. However, there are different types of detoxes, which are not necessarily restrictive. A detox can range from juices and smoothies to a break from social media, whole, unprocessed foods and deep breathing exercises. It can also mean giving yourself 7-8 hours of sleep each night, getting more exercise and boosting your self-esteem. All of this is to bring your body and mind back into better balance.

8. Use natural supplements.

Look for a quality supplement with high levels of vitamins A, C, D and zinc, all in their bioavailable forms. Antioxidants (flavonoids), elderberry, echinacea, beta-glucans, medicinal mushrooms, garlic, lysine, olive leaf and sage are also incredible antivirals.