What causes the rise in colds/Flu’s in the fall?

Most of us know that Flu season and cold season is during the fall, but a lot of us don’t know why it occurs every year at the same time.

As Fall nears, the season starts to change from warm sunshine to a cold and dreary place.  Meaning we get less hours of sunlight, and we get less exercise.  Therefore, we are getting less Vitamin D which in turn will start to tax our immune system.  The journal Nature Immunology provides details of the synergy between the sunshine vitamin and our adaptive immune killer T cells. Vitamin D is shown to provide the activation key that stimulates T cells into action when invaders are detected.  Maintain your vitamin D blood levels between 50 and 70 ng/ml for optimal protection.

Another common trigger is the Holidays.  The fall brings Halloween where we and our kids get lots of candy, and eat more than usual because it is Halloween. Next comes Thanksgiving, where we are overindulging with appetizers that really could be a meal in itself, and then eating a full course meal for dinner with stuffing, gravy, breads, biscuits, candied ham,  candied potatoes.  All filled with excess sugar than our bodies are used to.  And don’t forget we haven’t even gotten to dessert!   Then we have leftovers!  And just when we think we are done with the leftovers, the holiday parties start, the cookie bakes, Hanukkah, and Christmas Eve and Day.  Are you starting to understand what I am saying?  We are eating WAY more sugar than ever before.  There are actual research studies and papers showing the negative effects of sugar on our immune system.  it basically shuts our immune system down because it is so overloaded by the sugar.  The results of a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) demonstrates that the amount of sugar in two sweetened beverages lowers immune response by 50% for up to five hours after drinking or eating. A diet filled with complex carbohydrates has no detrimental effect on immunity and the high nutritional content of fresh vegetables, nuts and seeds provide the building blocks required to mount a healthy attack as needed.

So what can we do about it?  Being informed that sugar, exercise, and Vitamin D all play a role in weakening our immune system is a start.  Get yourself outside as much as possible, try to exercise or do some form of vigorous activity at least an hour/day.  Start taking a Vitamin D3 supplement.  Dr. Chris and I take 4000 IU’s /day, and Harper takes a combined Fish Oil/Vitamin D3 supplement which we follow the directions on how much to give her according to weight/age.  (nordicnaturals.com)   We have found her supplement at Nature’s Nutrition, Amazon, and even diapers.com.  Next, watch what you eat.  Try not to overindulge.  If you have a problem with saying no, don’t keep it in the house.  Eat more salads with dark leafy greens (ex. spinach, kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, arugula).   Try to skip all the sugary juices, sodas, or alcoholic beverages.  Drink more water!  Be sure to wash your hands especially after using the restroom or being in any public place.  We need to start to become more proactive with our health and not wait for the symptoms to start.

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Elderberry Syrup

Fall is a common time for colds and/or the Flu to start showing up.  If you or any of your family members have ever gotten the Flu, you know how helpless you feel to watch them suffer because there is no antibiotic to give to treat a viral infection.  Elderberry syrup is one way to treat the flu naturally by speeding up the healing, and getting you or your family member better at a faster rate.

Elderberries are a type of plant that is known is have therapeutic benefits.   The berries contain high doses of vitamin A, B, and C all of which stimulate the immune response.  Black Elderberries (sambucus nigra) have been shown to prevent flu and speed recovery in those who have the flu.

Elderberry syrup can be purchased online.  We found ours on amazon, it is by the brand Nature’s Way.  You can also make your own after purchasing the elderberries , which also can be found online or at your local health food store, like Nature’s Nutrition in Brick.  Here is the recipe below:

Ingredients

  • ⅔ cup black elderberries
  • 3½ cups of water
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh or dried ginger root
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • ½ teaspoon cloves or clove powder
  • 1 cup raw honey (we get from our farmer’s market)
  1. Pour water into medium saucepan and add elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves (do not add honey!)
  2. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour until the liquid has reduced by almost half. At that point, remove from heat and let cool enough to be handled. Pour through a strainer into a glass jar or bowl.
  3. Discard the elderberries and let the liquid cool to lukewarm. When it is no longer hot, add 1 cup of honey and stir well.
  4. When honey is well mixed into the elderberry mixture, pour the syrup into a pint sized mason jar or 16 ounce glass bottle of some kind.
  5. Hooray! You just made homemade elderberry syrup! Store in the fridge.
  6. Standard dose is ½ tsp to 1 tsp for kids and ½ Tbsp to 1 Tbsp for adults. If the flu does strike, take the normal dose every 2-3 hours instead of once a day until symptoms disappear.

It is recommended to take daily during the flu season, but if you have a healthy diet and get your rest like us, we only take it when we start to feel like we are coming down with something or if one of us in the house gets sick.