Food Freedom Friday Edition 78 - Suitcase SOS

Busy entrepreneurs travel a lot, congregate indoors and spend less time in the sun. This is great for growing business, creating opportunities and getting deals done, but not quite as effective at maintaining vitamin D levels, optimizing immunity and preventing that forever debilitating cold from rearing its ugly head just when you need all your wits about you.

It isn't that these opportunistic pathogens magically appear just when you least expect them—they're always around. Your ability to respond to them is dependent on what you do on a daily basis, and your ability to fight them off once they have arrived takes a few special tricks.

When you come down with a cold, it is due to some combination of factors has weakened your defenses. Travelling often creates an environment where poor choices and limited options abound. You might be able to get away with one or two transgressions, but a bucketful of poor choices will cause your immune system to crash. And then suddenly…you're sick.

Many people believe that colds, but this is simply incorrect. Colds are caused by viruses. It is also important to recognize that, although a virus triggers your cold symptoms, it is not the real cause of the illness.

That cold that always sneaks up on you mid-business travel or just before an important meeting is largely due to a compromised immune system. Research has also recently confirmed that "catching" a cold may also be due to an underlying vitamin D deficiency. Less than optimal vitamin D levels will significantly impair your immune response and make you far more susceptible to contracting colds, and other respiratory infections.

There are multiple other ways you may end up with a compromised immune system. Some of the more common contributing factors include:

·         Eating too much sugar,  too many grains and relying on processed foods

·         Not getting enough sleep

·         Insufficient exercise

·         Inadequately managing physical and emotional stressors in your life

·         Any combination of the above

Prevention is always the best course of action, but, there are a few simple, effective and natural ways to conquer that cold should you feel it coming on. Your only choice need not be the latest over-the-counter medication that leaves you drowsy and/or wired and fogs your thinking.

I call this the ‘Suitcase SOS Kit’. Keep it together at home and with you when travelling to nip that cold in the bud!

1.       Vitamin D is the number one way to conquer that pesky cold. It is an amazingly effective antimicrobial agent, producing 200 to 300 different antimicrobial peptides in your body that kill bacteria, viruses and fungi.

The best source for vitamin D is direct sun exposure. When travelling for work this is often just not practical, and for those in cooler climates not always an option. Your next best bet is an oral supplement.

Researchers have found that 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day played a role in both preventing and treating seasonal colds. Adults can consume up to 35 IU per pound of body weight per day and typically need an average of 5,000 IU per day as a regular supplement.

2.       Zinc Carnosine Zinc is an essential mineral that plays an important role in immunity. Those who avoid meat, in particular, can be at risk for a zinc deficiency. The recommended daily intake is 15 mg per day.

Studies show that adequate zinc consumption, or supplementation, not only prevents the onset of a cold, but also decrease the duration if taken at the onset of symptoms. Zinc is presently believed to be one of the most effective remedy against the common cold.

3.       Vitamin C is a highly potent antioxidant that has been shown to boost immune function and reduce cold duration.

Your body cannot store vitamin C and it needs to be consumed through diet and/or supplementation daily.

Use a natural form such as acerola, which contains associated micronutrients. The upper recommended limit for vitamin C supplementation is 2,000 mg

4.       Oregano Oil is a broad spectrum anti-microbial whose ability to fight off infections makes it stand out among natural home therapies.

Oregano oil can be taken orally or used topically. To clear lungs and bronchial passages mix it with a base of oil and rub onto the chest or boil it with hot water or add it to a vaporizer to inhale the steam.

The higher the carvacrol concentration in the oil, the more effective it is. Carvacrol is the most active antimicrobial agent in oregano oil.

5.       Propolis is derived from a resin-like material from the buds of poplar and cone-bearing trees and is most often obtained from beehives. It contains highly effective, broad-spectrum antimicrobial compounds and is a rich source of caffeic acid and apigenin, two very important compounds that aid in immune response.

Along with your Suitcase SOS pack, there are some lifestyle options to follow to both prevent and treat the onset of the ‘travel cold’. Choose wisely.

I am not an extremist. I advocate balancing healthful choices with enjoying life, which includes celebrating from time to time.

That said, when you are feeling th4e stirrings and tickles of the onset of a cold, this is not the time to be eating sugar, artificial sweeteners or processed foods. Sugar is particularly damaging to your immune system. During travel you are more vulnerable and your immune system needs ramping up rather than suppression in order to combat any emerging infection.

You must address nutrition, sleep, exercise and stress issues the moment you first feel yourself getting a bug. This is when my immune-enhancing strategies will be most effective.

When you begin to feel that  cold coming on, it is time to address ALL of the contributing factors immediately.

Assessing your diet and including foods that will strengthen your immune response is vital in creating the foundation for strengthened immunity and decreased inflammation. Good choices on the road include:

·         High-quality whey protein

·         Fermented foods such as  sauerkraut, kefir, kimchee, miso and pickles,

·         Organic eggs, if possible from pastured chickens

·         Grass-fed beef

·         Coconut oil

·         Organic, locally grown fruits and vegetables

·         Garlic, a potent antimicrobial that kills bacteria, viruses AND fungi

·         Turmeric, oregano, cinnamon and cloves as flavourings and additions to meals

Water is essential for the optimal function of every system in your body. Make sure you are drinking plenty of fresh, pure water. Taking your own filter-equipped to-go cup can ensure you always have filtered water on hand.

Pay close attention to how you are sleeping. Insufficient sleep, or not enough restorative sleep, will increase your risk for a viral take-over and suppress your chances of a speedy recovery.

Don’t underestimate the importance of regular movement and exercise to increasing your resistance to illness. There is evidence that regular, moderate exercise can reduce your risk for respiratory illness by boosting your immune system. Be aware though that over-exercising can actually place more stress on the body, which can suppress the immune system. Going for a walk is a good option if you feel the onset of an infection. The small rise in body temperature will be an unwelcome climate for the viral invader.

Emotional and physiological stressors can also predispose you to an infection as well as prolong its duration. Finding ways to manage daily stress as well as your reactions to circumstances beyond your control will contribute to a strong and resilient immune system. Travelling in itself can be a huge source of stress and scheduling some time to both physically and mentally decompress is vital to your success.

In my experience, most of the people incorporating a significant number of these smart supplementation and lifestyle choices into their daily lives and travel routines and regimens simply do not get sick. When they do, it if often mild and short-lived, especially with my Suitcase SOS kit of supplements to send those pathogens packing!

Michal Ofer