All Health's Breaking Loose: Give your body a fighting chance

You've made it through the holidays, through excessive sugar and rich food, the stress of parking, shopping and spending. Then there's the office parties, drinking, more drinking, more spending, not enough time to exercise and…all of the above brings us to a lack of quality sleep.

What does all this mean to your body? The short answer is that your immune system has taken a hit. Whether or not you have suffered a cold or flu, it's time to give something back to the body that has worked so hard to protect you.

The cold virus is our country's leading infectious disease. The average American suffers from two to four colds each year. There are myriad flu-like symptoms (chills, fever, cough, runny nose) that we like to blame on influenza, but a CBS News study tells us that 83-97% of the time, these flu-like symptoms are brought on by other viruses or bacteria.

Before the virus triggers the big symptoms — you know, the ones that send you to bed sneezing and moaning — be on the lookout for warning signs. When your immune system is struggling, there will be very clear signs. But if you're not paying attention, you might miss the early warning and end up flat on your back. Watch for hoarseness or a scratchy throat, a mild continual cough, tired and lifeless eyes, excessive throat-clearing, fatigue or unusual aches and pains, especially in the joints. This is your body speaking clearly in its own language, telling you it needs some help.

Your first plan of action is to ensure that you are getting enough vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is a primary cause of a weakened immune system. The best way to make sure you're getting enough vitamin D is to get a little sunshine, 10 to 15 minutes every day. If going outside is not an option, you can use vitamin D supplements.

For flu prevention, children and adults need 35 IU of vitamin D per pound of body weight. So, for example, a child weighing 100 pounds could take 3,500 IU a day of vitamin D. But surprisingly, research shows that even 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day gets rid of seasonal influenza. Each of us absorbs and processes vitamin D differently, so it is a good idea to have your blood checked if you plan to take supplements.

Get regular exercise and enough sleep. Exercise keeps nutrients circulating throughout the body and sleep provides the recovery time necessary for tissue repair and system function. Together, they keep your body's rhythms in balance.

Drink plenty of fresh juice. Fruits and vegetables are the building blocks of life, responsible for strong, healthy muscles, tissues, glands and organs. When you drink them in the form of fresh, unpasteurized juice, all the nutrients and minerals act as purifiers and are quickly and easily absorbed by the body.

Go sugar-free. Sugar feeds and multiplies the bacteria that make you sick. By removing it from your diet, you give your body a chance to catch up and recover.

Take a good quality probiotic daily. Quality probiotics are sold in the refrigerator section and contain a minimum of 5 billion CFU's. They build up your internal defenses.

Sip herbal tea throughout the day. My favorite for this time of year is Echinacea Immune Support tea made by Yogi. A combination of elderflower, ginger, yarrow and peppermint is also good. One or two cups a day is another great way to use herbs to heal and protect your body.

Stay hydrated. Your body needs water to keep all its systems functioning optimally.

Give yourself a fighting chance. It is possible to stay healthy and energetic all year long, and that's nothing to sneeze at.

I'll see you in two weeks.

Love & health,


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