Winter is Here: Keep your Immune System Strong

Winter is Here: Keep your Immune System Strong

It’s the time of year of year where we spread more than holiday cheer…

Winter is here, the beautiful bluffs glittered with snow and fireplaces glowing an amber hue. Oh the beauties of the Iowa seasons! What might not be so beautiful, are those illnesses that can accompany the cold and winter months. In the winter, we are typically indoors more often, running to holiday parties and family gatherings with other people that are ill, and the cycle of never ending coughs and colds pursue. Most winter illnesses can be managed with TLC and sleep, but ailments like the flu, shingles and other viruses, can really knock someone down hard. Taking preventative measures now, can help keep you striving throughout the seasons.

The definition of Influenza aka “Flu”: 

Web MD’s definition of influenza is “a viral infection. People often use the term “flu” to describe any kind of mild illness, such as a cold or a stomach virus, that has symptoms like the flu. But the real flu is different. Flu symptoms are usually worse than a cold and last longer. The flu usually does not cause vomiting or diarrhea in adults. The flu causes a fever, body aches, a headache, a dry cough, and a sore or dry throat. You will probably feel tired and less hungry than usual. The symptoms usually are the worst for the first 3 or 4 days. But it can take 1 to 2 weeks to get completely better”.

Since the immune system is most likely suppressed, prior to ever having flu or shingles, sometimes other opportunistic infections such as ear infections or pneumonia can come about adding insult to injury.

The easiest way to avoid illness is to improve and maintain your immune system! Typically when our immune system is not functioning (which can be due to stress, disease, everyday toxin overload, decreased exercise, increased sweets/decreased nutritious foods) we are highly susceptible to illnesses, as our body is working hard to process all of the other stressors in the body.

How to keep healthy

  1. Decrease stress. Realize that the stresses of holidays and don’t overdo it. Take “me-time” so can unwind, relax, meditate and focus on what is really important to you in your current life. Holidays sometimes mean we aren’t able to avoid the people that are what I call “energy zappers”, but we can try to limit our exposure to them.
  2. Decrease toxins. As I emphasize throughout all my articles, decreasing toxins in our lives will help enhance our immune system. Choose organic when possible, avoid chemicals – including artificial scents/products (perfume, laundry detergent, body wash, lotions, candles). Use essential oils to diffuse throughout the house, some specific essential oils (I use one called Thieves), can actually eliminate spores and other toxins from the air. Do the magnificent detox baths 2-5x/week with 2 cups epsom salt + 1/4 cup baking soda.
  3. Take supplements. Vitamin C and zinc are my go-to supplements when I’m feeling rundown. Vitamin C 1000mg three times daily and Zinc 25-30mg daily can really help perk up the immune system. I always recommend purchasing supplements that do not have fillers or a lot of “other ingredients”, they won’t perk you up as well as high qualities brands will. Use Select Balance for all your supplement needs! 
  4. Get IV Nutrition! Say what? IV nutritional therapy loads your body with high dose vitamins and minerals, bypassing the GI system and going straight into your bloodstream. Delivering powerful nutrients & antioxidants directly to your cells, will get you on your feet faster! Vive IV Therapy in Dubuque is a great place to utilize for this purpose. Vive IV has an infusion called the “Natural Flu shot” where there are high doses of VItamin C, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals infused in an IV bag to help give that needed boost when people are feeling the start of an illness coming on.
  5. Vitamin D3 Injections! 50,000 IU injections we recommend doing once weekly x6-8 weeks to help your immune system. Optimal (between 60-80) Vitamin D levels have been shown in studies to be more effective than the flu shot. In addition, you can also take 5,000IU (or more depending on your levels), during the winter month to keep your levels optimal.

Being proactive and helping your immune system stay at the top of its game, will get you through this winter and all other seasons, in a breeze!

How to Ease Holiday Hangovers

Happy Holidays to you all! As I flip on the radio each December, I hear a few songs that claim this <Winter> is “the most wonderful time of the year”. I agree that celebrating is extra special when the nights are long, days are short, and colder temps fill the air. These holiday traditions indeed make the transition from Winter to Spring easier. During the holidays, it can be easy to overindulge in food and libations. Alcohol and processed foods/sugar can be inflammatory to the body so it’s best to truly enjoy these in moderation. But, if you are indulging in a glass (or two) of your favorite spirits, I have given a few pointers to get you through the holidays (or any special occasion) feeling your best.

First let me tell you the scientific equation for that hangover you might experience. Hangovers = Dehydration + VItamin/Mineral/Nutrient Loss. The liver is an amazing organ in our body. It  tries to filter out the toxins from our blood as efficiently as possible, but when our liver is overworked and taxed from alcohol, it can have a harder time filtering and breaking down toxins in the body. This is typically where people start feeling the negative effects of alcohol.

Here are pointers to help get you through before, during, and after a night of consuming alcohol:

  1. Keep Hydrated:  Have a glass of water in between every alcoholic beverage consumed. This will give your liver more time to process and remove toxins.  Grab some coconut water (natural electrolyte booster without all the sugars and chemicals that most electrolyte sugar drinks contain), and drink this just before going to bed to help hydrate cells.
  2. Eat a Meal with Healthy Fat: Fat can help slow down absorption of alcohol in the body. A meal cooked with coconut oil or olive oil, fatty fish, organic tree nuts (not peanuts), and avocados are some great ideas to help get good fats into your body.
  3. Choose Alcohol Carefully: Choosing a liquor that is lighter in color and higher quality can be the best route to go when picking your drink. Alcohol has particles (called congeners if we want to get technical) that are impurities if not filtered out. Usually the high sugared alcohol or the alcohol with color contains a lot of these particles which overburdens the bodies ability to cleanse and increases overall inflammation in the body.
  4. The Morning After: After a night indulging in alcohol, make an omelet with organic eggs. Eggs contain an amino acid called cysteine, which helps create antioxidants in the body and helps the liver function better. Eggs can also help stabilize blood sugar in the body, making you feel better overall.  For the vegan options: Use legumes, sunflower seeds, and whole grains like quinoa, teff or couscous to help replenish the cystine in the body.
  5. For those stubborn hangovers: The dreadful lingering headaches that can be coupled with the winter seasonal illnesses, can be cured faster by taking supplements like a good quality B-Complex Multivitamin + Vitamin C. For the fastest recovery, get an IV “Revive Infusion” to quickly help you hydrate and receive powerful amounts of multiple B vitamins, Minerals and Vitamin C directly into your veins to nourish your cells. You can find IV infusions at Vive IV Therapy right here in Dubuque!

I hope everyone has an amazing Holiday Season! The Winter Solstice was celebrated and now the nights are turning shorter and the sun is hanging around longer. This could really be the most wonderful time of the year! Cheers to a happy and healthy 2019!

Wintertime Blues: Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder

Wintertime Blues: Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder

Winters can be brutal no matter where we live. In Iowa, we get the opportunity to witness unseasonably warm temps one day, and then  -30 degrees the next. These varying temps can change our clothing layers and our mood. Up to 20% of Americans are diagnosed with “Seasonal Affective Disorder” or SAD for short.

What is seasonal affective disorder? 

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a seasonal change in mood, which is often seen as increased depression. SAD is 4x more common in women and usually doesn’t appear until after 20 years of age. The seasonal changes where nights get longer and days get shorter, can trigger this. Having less light exposure can change the circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycles) in the body, which can also trigger SAD.  Some common signs can look like:

  • A change in appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue/ lack of energy
  • Increased tiredness (but can experience insomnia)
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Avoidance of social situations

Are you SAD or is it something else? 

Symptoms of SAD can closely correlate with other common health issues such as recurrent depression & subclinical hypothyroidism (low thyroid function). 1 in 8 women have low thyroid function and typically are not diagnosed or get misdiagnosed with depression. This can lead to the start of long term medications such as antidepressants, without considering thyroid function. Most thyroid symptoms typically occur year round, unlike SAD, which can help determine the cause. Hair loss, fatigue, low mood, weight gain, anxiety, fertility problems, high cholesterol, bowel changes, and the other symptoms listed above, can be common with thyroid issues. If symptoms don’t go away after the winter months, then you should be looked at further for other underlying health conditions. If you are really struggling with these symptoms, I recommend getting checked out and not waiting until Spring to see if you’re body and mind will turn the corner. Always better to be safe when it comes to your health!

Treatment of SAD

  1. Getting Outside: Doing this every morning or at least exposing yourself to the sun for just 20 minutes can decrease levels of SAD. Even just having your office desk facing a window can be effective in a short amount of time.
  2. Light Therapy: I use a “HappyLight” box that I purchased locally at Body & Soul Wellness Center. Sitting in front of a light box that has 10,000 lumens for 30-60 min. daily can help decrease SAD in less than 2 weeks. If you don’t have time to use it while getting ready in the a.m., plug it in at work for a great alternative.
  3. Circadian Rhythm Sleep Cycles: See my older post in the Telegraph Harold from July, 2017 where I chatted about the circadian rhythm & how to enhance this cycle. Install the “FLUX” application on your computer/phone to help with blue light, avoid caffiene in evenings, have regular bedtime routine, and more.   Circadian Rhythm – Warning, this is Not a Dance Move
  4. Eating Healthy Fat and High Quality Proteins: This can help balance blood sugar which therefore helps decrease inflammation and controls mood. Looking at a Keto-type diet will give you good ideas of healthy fat/protein. Here’s our Pinterest page if you’re looking for ideas: Select Balance Pinterest
  5. Getting your Vitamin D3! I typically recommend 5,000 IU daily throughout the winter. Most people have decreased serum Vitamin D3 labs which can be a cause of depression. Always get your lab checked if you’re not sure where your levels stand. 
    To get that powerful boost, get IM injections! We recommend doing 50,000 IU injections weekly x6 weeks at our clinic- Vive IV Therapy.And to support orally, we recommend Select Balance Vitamin D3.
  6. Adding Omega 3 Fatty Acids: 2,000mg of DHA/EPA daily can help boost mood and lower inflammation. Select Balance Fish Oil
  7. The Power Of Curcumin! Curcumin acts as an antidepressant, anti anxiety and anti inflammatory herbal supplement. I recommend 600mg-1000mg daily. Make sure when you are purchasing curcumin it has bromelain and/or black pepper to help with absorption, otherwise take with high fats. Select Balance Curcumin

Hopefully this Winter you can enjoy the sunshine and stay cozy! I’m going to go get my light therapy by jumping on my powder skis! See you all next month!