Are you wasting your time with Vitamin C ?
With shorter days and chillier temperatures here in Sydney, there is no denying that winter is on its way. And with winter invariably comes bouts of viruses, ranging from a slight sniffle through to full-blown-can’t-get-out-of-bed-for-a-week flu. So what can you do to prevent getting struck down by one of these winter lurgies?
Many people start taking a range of supplements like vitamin C and zinc to help boost their immunity. And while these can be a good idea, I’d argue that if your gut isn’t in good shape then you’re probably wasting your time and money.
You see, around 70% of your immune system is actually in your gut – it’s called the GALT, or gut-associated lymphoid tissue. Friendly bacteria and immune cells within your gut work to prevent diseases processes happening both inside and outside the gut. It’s not just gastro that your gut flora helps to prevent, it’s a whole range of illnesses including those winter cold and flu viruses.
So given that the gut plays such an important role in your overall immunity and associated health and wellbeing, what can you do to support it over this coming winter?
First of all, it’s worth working with a health practitioner to assess the overall state of your gut health. If it isn’t in a good way, there are a range of healing protocols we can use to get you back on track to wellness.
For people in good overall general health who want to boost their immune system during cold and flu season, there is great evidence that probiotics can really help to keep you well. By taking a good quality supplement in conjunction with a diet that is high in probiotics, you can reduce your chances of falling prey to winter viruses.
To choose an appropriate probiotic supplement, it is worth consulting with a health professional. There are many strains of probiotics, each with their own strengths and most appropriate applications. Probiotics have been shown to boost immunity by reducing the frequency and duration of colds in adults. However, in my clinic I find that probiotics aren’t a one-size-fits-all panacea and, if you have other underlying conditions, choosing the wrong probiotic can create other problems.
Of course, there are also a range of foods you can and should be eating to provide your body with a range of probiotic strains for overall gut health. These foods include natural live-bacteria yoghurt (no, the sweetened fruit flavoured varieties don’t count – the added sugar causes a raft of other issues), fermented vegetables like sauerkraut, and fermented drinks like kefir and kombucha. The other dietary element is to eat foods that are rich in prebiotics. Prebiotics give the good bacteria in your gut something to eat and stimulate their growth. Good sources of prebiotics include bananas, Jerusalem artichokes, whole oats, wheat, barley, garlic, flaxseeds, legumes, tomatoes and green vegetables.
Have you started taking a probiotic to boost your immunity? Did it help to prevent or reduce the severity of your winter illnesses? Share your experiences in the comments.
Stay tuned for our next blog post on the gut healing power of broth and its role in keeping you well this cold and flu season.