It’s that time of year again. Fall is creeping it’s way into our memories as temperatures drop, jackets and boots are pulled out of storage, Michael Buble starts crooning Christmas carols over loudspeakers in stores and the seasonal onslaught of colds, coughs and the flu begins.
Everywhere we turn, someone seems to be muffling a sneeze into their sleeve, blowing their nose or clearing their throat and we find ourselves suddenly suspicious of every door knob or piece of public equipment we touch. Luckily, there are ways to steer clear of seasonal sickness — saving your sick days and money spent on Advil Cold & Flu…
Our 6ix Cycle team is made up of some pretty incredible people, two of which happen to have careers in the health industry (aside from leading our members through an intense sweat on the bike). We sat down with Squad Leaders Rebecca and Nastasia to get the low-down on the best immunity-boosting tips and tricks this season.
1. Wash Your Hands… Hell, Wash Everything
This may seem pretty basic but seriously guys, hygiene is never over-rated and it’s maintenance is, without a doubt, the #1 way to prevent getting a cold or flu. Wash yo hands, yo bike, yo weights — whatever it is, keep it clean and keep your hygiene tight. And for those times you can’t wash any impending germs away (public transit comes to mind) try to keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you (you know, since it’s socially frowned upon to walk around in a Hazmat suit, and all…).
Give your body a boost with a daily dose of probiotics. Basically, think of your body as having a blanket of open sockets — bacteria and viruses can attach into these sockets just as a plug would. However, if there’s already plugs occupying those sockets (in this case, those plugs are probiotics), there is less opportunity for a pathogenic bacteria to get in there and take over.
Most of the immune system is found in the gut, which is why probiotics (strain specific) can have such a huge impact on our immunity. Whether it’s our skin health, autoimmune diseases, or our mood, probiotics can play a major role in our body’s daily function (way above and beyond digestion).
3. Scale Back the Brews
Hell hath no fury like an adult who’s been told they should pass on that post-work day glass of vino or a cold pint. Of course, we know that a life well lived is a life well balanced (which includes treating yourself here and there) but when it comes to boosting your immune system, alcohol isn’t exactly in your corner. In fact, research shows that consuming sugar or alcohol more or less paralyzes your immune system for a few hours after consumption. So, if you’re worried about fighting off a serious case of the common cold or flu, consider trading in a daily pint or cocktail for a cup (or many) of water or tea, instead. It’s a sacrifice for the greater good, you guys.
4. Vitamin C For That Active Body
Basically, our bodies don't make vitamin C (we get it from our diet) but it plays a role in immune function, bone structure, iron absorption and healthy skin. Interestingly enough, there is no real evidence to support claims that Vitamin C reduces prevalence of the common cold as it relates to the general population — It is, however, effective in the case of active individuals (like our members that kick ass on a spin bike each week). Studies showed that Vitamin C consumption helped to halve the common cold risk in those trial participants who were exposed to short periods of extreme physical stress.
5. Oregano Oil
Let us preface this by saying Oregano Oil does not taste good — it packs a potent punch that may not be everyone’s favourite flavour, but its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiseptic and antioxidant properties make it a popular natural remedy to stave off colds and coughs.
Oregano Oil is antimicrobial, making it great to gargle (a few drops) in warm, salt water if you have a sore throat. When a virus enters the body through a gateway (our nose, mouth or eyes) it tends to replicate and live in the throat, before making it’s way further down into the respiratory tract. With this in mind, a quick gargle with salt water and oregano oil will help to kill any potential virus or bacteria that may be trying to set up shop in your body. You can also take a few drops under your tongue 1-2 times a day, depending on the ratio of potency. Make sure to speak to a healthcare provider before taking this, as it can come with some side effects in certain cases (allergic reactions etc.).
6. Why Was the Mushroom Invited to the Party? Because He’s a Fungi...
Believe it or not, specific types of mushrooms can increase your body’s white blood cell count. Maitake and Astragalus mushrooms are often found in bone broth soups or a part of the tradition “change of season” soups you can buy from asian supermarkets. These mushrooms help to stimulate the immune system by increasing white blood cells called ‘T Cells’ which act as your fighter cells during a viral invasion like the common cold.