5 Steps To Prevent A Cold Or Flu: What To Eat, What To Avoid

Sick of feeling sick? Dr. Janine Bowring offers five steps to help you prevent and treat your next cold.

We always talk about treating a cold or flu, but are there ways to prevent one in the first place?

Prevention is key in keeping a healthy immune system. As naturopathic doctors, we don't like to use the word "strengthening" as an immune system that's too efficient causes a whole host of auto-immune disorders.

So there are five key steps in both preventing and treating the cold and flu:

Antioxidants are the key to healthy cells and a healthy immune system. Whole food antioxidants contained in superfoods -- such as pomegranates, goji berries, blueberries, blackberries, acai berries and cranberries -- help to fight the free radicals that are toxic to our systems.

Eat fruits and vegetables that are highest on the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) scale. This means these fruits and vegetables are rated highest in their ability to naturally quench free radicals. The above named fruits rank as some of the highest. In the vegetable category, kale ranks highest. Spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and carrots are also great choices.

Avoid too much sugar, which suppresses the immune system. Bacterial and viral organisms thrive when they're fed sugar. It's important to stick to natural sugars from fruits and vegetables rather than refined sugar products, including white sugar, brown sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and glucose.

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Make sure to supplement in the winter months with a good form of vitamin D. Living in Canada, we need to ensure adequate amounts of vitamin D throughout the winter when we typically don't have direct sun exposure to our skin. I usually recommend 400-1000IU of vitamin D in a liquid emulsified form -- the body absorbs it best.

Limit stress. Stress off-sets our entire endocrine system, thus preventing our immune systems from functioning optimally. We all have stress, but it's what we do with our stress that makes a difference as to how much it affects our health. I often recommend my patients have a healthy outlet for stress, whether it's punching a pillow, regular exercise or yoga and meditation. Whatever stress we don't process becomes a toxin to our body and can have negative health consequences, including lowered immunity.

Regular detoxification of the major internal organs helps to flush out accumulated toxins. The five major detoxification organs include the liver, kidneys, lungs, digestive tract and skin. Regular detoxification of these organs is necessary to keep their function optimal and to combat toxins in our environment, food and water that we are exposed to daily. Certain detoxification supplements exist on the market. Be sure to choose a detoxification supplement that targets all the internal organs listed above. This ensures the toxins that are released from one organ do not become lodged in another.