Boost your immunity this winter |

Boost your immunity this winter

Charlie OwenVail, CO, Colorado
AE Natures Provider TS 11-25-07 001

EAGLE COUNTY, COLORADO James Huzella and Blake Gruber of Edwards both appear physically fit and vibrantly healthy; but looks can be deceiving.I have a stuffy nose right now, said Huzella, who believes this will be as unhealthy as he gets the entire winter. Its all mental, its all positive thinking.The two young men are shopping for workout supplements at GNC in Avon and neither seem too concerned about the flu or common cold. Thats not to say that they dont do their part in preventing such ailments.Gruber endorses the use of a small, flat, dissolvable tablet called Airborne, which contains 17 herbs and nutrients, which he says helps prevent the effects of many harmful germs and bacteria that can lead to full-blown sickness. When it comes to Huzellas arsenal of defense against illness, he cites drinking lots of water, constant exercise and eating sushi among his practices.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions website, five to 20 percent of the American population contract the flu each year, and of those people, about 36,000 die from it. With each winter season in the valley comes the news of a new flu-bug being passed around homes and offices. Add to that a transient population and an influx of foreign travelers and we have the perfect amount of heat to get the cauldron of sickness boiling.Naturopathic doctor Jay Gilbert runs Vail Natural Medicine. He encourages the use of herbs, flowers and other homeopathic remedies to cure sickness.The human immune system is very complex, which has caused it to be misunderstood until very recently, Gilbert said. Many of the components that make up the immune system such as the tonsils, adenoids, spleen and appendix have long been regarded as useless, even expendable, by those in the mainstream medical field, but in fact each plays a key role in fighting off disease and keeping us healthy.True health can only be achieved by maintaining a strong, properly functioning immune system, Gilbert said.But just how does one maintain a strong immune system?A few of Gilberts suggestions seem like common sense eat a healthy diet (one high in complex carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables and fiber) and exercise, avoid exposure to harmful chemicals, and take Echinacea during the winter months but how often do we choose to actually follow such good advice? Often times its easier to just cross our fingers and hope we avoid the inevitable rather than making preemptive strikes against our microscopic enemies. Based on Gilberts advice, this is not a good idea.

Vitamin C is really important, said Monica McNamara, a sales associate at GNC in Avon. And shes right. Besides the obvious health benefits of providing antioxidants and aiding in enzyme reactions, a lack of it can lead to a bevy of skin and metabolic problems such as scurvy and even death. The good news is that it can be taken in so many forms that there is no excuse not to include it in your diet. It can be found in many fruits and taken as a supplement in tablet or powder form.You can take as much as you want because its water soluble, McNamara said.She also recommends taking Echinacea which can be purchased as a tea or as capsules and a daily multi-vitamin.Everything (supplements) helps something but with the vitamins it kind of takes a little bit of all the supplements and puts it into one product, said McNamara, explaining that multi-vitamins are one of GNCs best selling products.Natures Providers also offers products that can help in the war on germs. Employee Lizz Arellano described one of their newest weapons, Blockade, a lozenge that, once dissolved, claims to block viruses from entering human cells, and stop them before they multiply. She recommends supplements that are whole food or live food based. Host Defense is one such product. The capsules, manufactured by a company called New Chapter, uses mostly organic mushrooms and other natural vitamins to boost immune system strength. Dellng Zing, owner of Freshies Natural Food Market in Edward, says mushrooms, especially fresh, organic ones, boost the immune system.They grow in moldy, dark, damp places and they have some really unique antiviral (and) antibacterial properties, Zing said.

Almost as important to keeping your immune system healthy is our mindset, said Arellano, who believes that positive thinking goes a long way when trying to stay healthy. You can talk yourself out of a lot of things, but you can talk yourself into things, too, Arellano said.But she knows that all the positive thought in the world cant keep us from running into the occasional nasty virus, which is why there are entire shelves of products dedicated to making sure that our immune systems dont let us down.Of course, if youre not afraid of needles, a flu shot is always an option; and then there is good hygeine like washing your hands after coming in contact with high traffic areas like door knobs and toilets. Think of it as preventive maintenence on a machine thats much easier to keep running smoothly than to rebuild once its broken down.Arts & Entertainment writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 748-2939 or

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