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On the first Monday of the new school year I found myself taking two calls from two different schools telling me that both my kiddos were feeling crummy and needed a ride home. Yes, already. Before long, everyone in our house felt under-the-weather.

While no one wants to be sick or see their children get sick either, becoming ill from time to time is actually important. Catching a cold is an educational exercise for our immune systems. The ability to mount an appropriate healing response is a sign of good health. While getting sick all the time is problematic, getting sick occasionally is reassuring and an opportunity to slow down, reflect, and reassess.

As a naturopathic doctor with two kids and a partner that works in the public school system as well, my family has ample opportunity to contract illness. Given that, I still aim for prevention. Healthy lifestyle habits go a long way to minimize risk, and decrease the severity and duration when illness does strike. Here are my recommendations to weather this cold and flu season well.

  • SLEEP: Sleep is critical to overall health and immune system function. Make sure that you and your family members prioritize the appropriate amount of sleep.
  • HYGIENE:
    • Wash your hands. Whenever anyone comes home from work or school, make sure they wash hands upon entering the house. Note that research is conclusive: old fashioned soap and water work just as well as antimicrobial soap or hand sanitizer and have the added benefit of not being harmful to us (carcinogenic, endocrine disruptor, create lethal superbugs).
    • Remind yourself and your kids how to effectively cover your cough and sneezes: Use the crook of your elbow, not your hand.
    • Keep the house on the cooler side as germs like warm environments.
    • Air out the house briefly (ie: open up all the windows and maybe doors) daily or at least weekly, even in the cold of winter.
  • EXERCISE: Regular moderate exercise enhances immunity.
  • GO OUTSIDE: Whether this is for exercise specifically or just to get out, do it. Fresh air and sunlight is good for us. Cold air is not bad for us. Dress and layer comfortably for the weather and keep your neck and ears warm. If you have a young child, dress them the way you dress to keep comfortable; i.e., if you get cold and put your hood up, put theirs up too.
  • HYDRATION: Sufficient water intake is critical to every function in our body, not the least of which is expelling pathogens. Being adequately hydrated can tip the scale from successfully staving off full-blown illness or succumbing to it.
  • DIET: A whole foods diet supports optimal health. Highly processed foods or “food-like substances,” and those with added sugar, actually suppress your immune system.
  • STRESS: Throughout these months when life doesn’t slow down and we are additionally exposed to so many pathogens, it is more important than ever to have routine coping mechanisms such as mindfulness, breath work, and yoga  – as well as any other exercises or activities that bring you joy.
  • SUPPLEMENTATION: I am not actually a big fan of taking supplements myself or for my children, however, you may find us taking them this time of year:
    • PROBIOTICS: Ideally, you will be consuming probiotics in the food you eat – from your garden or the farm your food came from, from yogurt, miso, sauerkraut, kombucha, and any other of the varieties of fermented foods now available at many grocery stores. If you feel like you are not good at getting probiotics into your diet, consider taking a potent probiotic supplement.
    • VITAMIN C: Vitamin C helps prevent and/or reduce the duration of the common cold (Note: It only works as prevention if you regularly take it). Food sources of vitamin C include: papaya, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, strawberries, pineapple, oranges, kiwi, cantaloupe, and cauliflower.
    • ZINC: Zinc also helps reduce the duration and severity of the common cold, and many people are deficient in zinc. Food sources include: beef, lamb, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, cashews, turkey, quinoa, and shrimp.
    • BLACK ELDERBERRY: Taken as a syrup or even better as a warm tea, this is a delicious fall and wintertime routine. Black elderberry is an antiviral useful in preventing the flu.
    • TULSI TEA: This is a readily available (at most grocery stores) herbal tea that helps your body simply adapt to the various stressors of life, including a change in season. For best results, drink it daily.

Here’s to our beautiful weather, and may you weather it beautifully!

If you feel run down or need immune system support, please call to make an appointment.

720-340-0193 or Book Now

Boulder’s air quality has been all over the map this summer. Hazy, smokey days, even when the fires are not homegrown, are not as rare as they once were. As fires become more prevalent throughout the country, winds may bring smoke from just about anywhere; therefore, it is a good idea to know how to best support optimal respiratory health. If you can see it in the air, you are breathing it. It may be causing symptoms such as a stuffy nose and a frequent need to clear your throat. Accordingly, recent air quality reports suggest children stay inside – this, just as school is starting up, and just when they really need to be outdoors to blow off some steam. It can be a real real bummer! Here are some commonsense things you can do to increase the quality of air in your home during these times, as well as some herbal and nutritional safeguards you might want to know about. After all, we still need to move our bodies outside.

First of all, know your risks

Do you have a very young child in the home? If so, his/her lungs are not fully developed and so extra caution is in order. Do you have a lung disease, asthma, or other chronic lung condition? If so, proceed with caution. Even without these predisposing factors, anyone can suffer if breathing air with extra particulate in it. And with cold and flu season right upon us, the poor air quality can make individuals even more susceptible to germs going around.

Start with some common sense from Meghan Van Vleet ND

  • Check the air quality reports and recommendations (Colorado Air Quality or Weather Underground Air Quality Index), and use your own best judgement as to weather the risks outweigh the benefits for you or your children to recreate outdoors. Also, consider how long and how much exertion you are comfortable with given the air quality.
  • When the air quality is poor, consider closing your windows. If you have forced air and are able, turn on the fan so that the air is run through the furnace filter. Use the highest quality air filter you can. Look into the highest filtration 3M Filtrete filters.
  • If you don’t have forced air (or even if you do), consider purchasing an air purifier. These can range greatly in quality, price, and volume. Here are some options:
    • Austin Air & EnviroKlenz both sell a variety of top notch air purifiers – from single-room purifiers to whole house air purifiers. These are an investment, yet, if you suffer from respiratory health issues, worth the money.
    • Guardian Technologies GermGaurdian is a useful more economical option for a single room: Lightweight and easy to move from room to room as needed.

Herbal approaches you can take today to support respiratory health in Boulder, CO

  • Drink a tea daily that supports respiratory health, such as Breathe Deep by Yogi Tea.
  • Use Lavender and Eucalyptus oils in a diffuser (for 10 years and older).
  • Use elderberry syrup by the spoonful or mixed in water for a tasty drink.

Nutritional approaches to respiratory health with Meghan Van Vleet ND

  • Consume a mineral rich diet heavy in fruits and vegetables.
  • Reduce or eliminate any known food sensitivities/allergies that could contribute to congestion and inflammation.

Lastly, exercise and breath work are actually in order

Even outdoors, if your routine calls for it. Rigorous exercise dilates airways and helps us clear our lungs of particulate when we cough. Regular deep breathing exercises help us maintain the full working capacity of our lungs.

So, if you can, go ahead and take a deep breath right now.

If you are struggling with the air quality and would like support beyond these simple measures, I can help.

Call today to make an appointment.

720-340-0193 or Book Now