What a terrific time of the year! We just finished sharing a relaxing turkey meal with family and friends, and now it’s time to focus on preparing for the upcoming holidays. This includes shopping in the malls, enjoying holiday treats and parties, and traveling to visit family and friends or going on a vacation.
Unfortunately, the exposure to others and consuming sweets and alcohol is challenging our immune system. This newsletter is about the top nine ways to boost our immune system and avoid developing cold and flu symptoms during this season.
Some Facts about Cold and Flu
Colds and flu (influenza) are virus infections. Cold and flu viruses attack the lining of the upper respiratory tract, which includes the nose, throat and sinuses. The main symptoms of a cold are sore throat, runny nose, cough and congestion of the nasal passages. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the common cold. Additionally, there is no vaccine against the cold viruses since there are too many, and they tend to mutate or change.
Influenza (or flu) is due to two main viruses – type A and B. The symptoms of influenza are similar to the common cold, but are usually more intense and include chills, fever, and body aches. If someone develops the flu, they are generally home ill for at least 2-3 days. Sometimes, especially in children, the illness can be more severe. Flu viruses are constantly changing. Each year the CDC identifies the most common forms of the influenza viruses and develops a vaccine.
The viruses for cold and flu are very contagious and transmission occurs mainly by inhalation of virally infected droplets from coughs and sneezes from infected individuals. Additionally, touching objects infected by droplets and then putting your fingers to your mouth or nose is another source of exposure.
New Study: Probiotic Benefits for Preventing Cold and Flu
Before listing the nine top tips on having a healthy holiday season, I want to report on a recent medical article. There have actually been a number of published clinical studies on the positive benefits of probiotics for the prevention of cold and flu symptoms.
The most recent article by Hao and his associates(1) reviewed 14 randomized clinical trials studying the prevention of upper respiratory tract infections. This study compared probiotics with a placebo. The studies involved 3451 children and adults. They found that the group taking probiotics had less cold and flu episodes and required fewer antibiotic prescriptions than the group taking a placebo. Probiotics reduced the number of individuals who had at least one acute upper respiratory tract infection by 42 percent.
It’s also important to note that side effects of probiotics were minor.
Now…9 Tips for Staying Healthy During the Holiday Season
- Get the flu vaccine
- Eat at least 6-8 daily servings of fruits and vegetables to boost the immune system(2)
- Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep(3)
- Maintain hydration
- Exercise 30 minutes at least 5 days a week(4)
- Avoid crowds if possible
- Wash hands frequently or use hand sanitizers after touching potentially infected surfaces
- Take a high quality probiotic…like EndoMune Advanced and EndoMune Junior
- If you think you have the flu or have been exposed to someone with the flu, contact your physician as you may benefit from taking one of anti-viral flu medications
On a personal note, this is the fifth year that I have written a December newsletter. I want to say that developing EndoMune has turned out to be one of the most gratifying professional activities in my medical career. Researching the latest medical studies on the benefits of probiotics has been challenging, but stimulating. So many people have shared with me how EndoMune has had such a positive effect on their health.
Thank you for your continued support of EndoMune Advanced and EndoMune Junior. We are continuing to work on maintaining the highest quality probiotics and developing new ones.
My very best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season and New Year!
(1) Probiotics for preventing acute upper respiratory tract infections.Hao Q, Lu Z, Dong BR, Huang CQ, Wu T.Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Sep 7;9
(2) Am J Lifestyle Med. 2009 Jul;3(1 Suppl):39S-43S. Functional Foods as Modifiers of Cardiovascular Disease. Johnston C.
(3)Sleep and immune function.Besedovsky L, Lange T, Born J.Pflugers Arch. 2011 Nov 10.
(4) Current perspective on exercise immunology. Nieman DC.Curr Sports Med Rep. 2003 Oct;2(5):239-42. Review.