Vail Health Insights column: Fight viruses with vitamin regimen and naturopathic remedies | VailDaily.com

Vail Health Insights column: Fight viruses with vitamin regimen and naturopathic remedies

The cold and flu season is upon us. Ninety-five percent of colds are due to viral infections. Antibiotics only work for bacterial infections, not viruses. This means that antibiotics do not work for colds.

Since we live in an area where tourists come from all over the world, we get many different types of viral infections. I have been living in the Vail Valley for 18 years and it appears that every year, these viral infections continue to get worse. Many people are getting colds that last for three weeks, and they are still going to work or school and exposing others.

So how can you get your immune system ready to protect you this season?

First, make sure you're taking a good multivitamin that contains the antioxidants vitamin A, C, D, E and selenium. Our immune systems are bombarded by free radicals on a daily basis from our environment. These antioxidants protect our immune system from viruses, bacteria and chemicals in our environment.

Many people are deficient in vitamin D, and this is why it is important to get a blood test to make sure you're not deficient. Vitamin D is our anti-inflammatory vitamin. Studies show that vitamin D also prevents colds and flu, as well as breast cancer, prostate cancer, allergies, asthma and dementia.

Many people are also deficient in probiotics. Probiotics can also prevent us from viral, bacterial, flu and parasite infections. Not all probiotics are good. Probiotics are best refrigerated because they lose their potency with heat and sunlight. One should be taking at least 15 billion of acidophilus and bifidobacterium daily.

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Make sure you wash your hands after touching areas such as door handles, phones, pens or computers where many other people are working. Keep from shaking hands with a lot of people. Get eight hours of sleep each night and exercise for one hour five times a week. People in our community tend to do too much exercise, which can actually deplete your immune system.

Eat healthy: at least five to 12 organic veggies each day and protein with each meal. Alcohol in moderation: two drinks, and no more than three times per week. Take sugar and fructose out of your diet. These foods are responsible for inflammation and lowering your immune system's effectiveness. If you start feeling a cold or flu coming on, immediately start taking antiviral herbs such as Echinacea, garlic, ginger, osha, astragalus, schisandra, etc. These are the strongest in tincture form. These herbs can reduce your symptoms within in a couple of days.

Drink hot teas such as ginger, lemon and honey. I have crafted a cold and flu tea that works very well. Consume chicken or miso soup with ginger and garlic. Eliminate dairy-type foods, as these only produce more mucous. All of these recommendations will reduce mucous, thus getting rid of your cold faster. Doing a sinus rinse daily with a Neti pot can help, especially if you get a lot of sinus infections.

I offer a cold and flu clinic where I do an exam looking of your sinuses, throat and ears and listening to your lungs. Then I put together a specific antiviral and antibacterial tincture related to your condition. The key is coming in as soon as you get sick. There is no need to be sick for three weeks this winter.

Deborah Wiancek is a naturopathic physician who has had a family practice at the Riverwalk Natural Health Clinic & Pharmacy for 18 years. She can be reached at 970-926-7606, or visit riverwalknaturalhealth.blogspot.com or follow twitter.com/riverwalk.