The Cold-Flu Season: Can Nutrition Help You
Marion Hauser, M.S.R.D.
Well, it’s that time again. People are dropping like flies! You can hear the sniffles, coughs, and moans….Every year it happens. Once the weather starts getting cold, everyone starts getting a cold! Proper nutrition and following your specific Hauser Diet is essential for resisting and recovering from a cold.
What’s the pH connection? As we have talked about in our prior newsletters, colder weather causes patients to become more acidic. Warm weather causes them to become more alkaline.
Neutral blood pH on our pH meter is 7.50 to 7.52. People whose test results show acidic blood (pH lower than 7.50) will find that they have an even harder time keeping their blood pH within normal range when the weather turns cold. These people are typically those who are already wearing a scarf and hat (when the temperature is only in the 50’s).
So what’s the point here? Foods that acidify the blood are what? Do you remember from our previous articles? That’s right – carbohydrates! So for those of you who are supposed to be following Hauser Diet #1 and Hauser Diet #2 (higher protein diets), fall-winter is NOT the time to start cheating on your diets and begin eating sweets, soda, mocha lattes and the like. Coffee also acidifies the blood. So, when the weather starts cooling down, the Lions and Otters need to prepare for hibernation and stick to their diets that are primarily proteins, fats, and vegetables, with a few whole grains in there. Why? Because if you don’t do this, you will make your body more acidic? What happens? You feel more tired, lethargic, exhausted, and guess what? You catch a cold!
So if your office is starting to bring in the sweet treats or you are tempted to eat some Halloween candy, DO NOT DO IT! Buy some nuts or nut butters, some string cheese or organic beef jerky to munch on! This is what you carnivores need!
What about the alkaline people? Well, I am one of those people and I cannot tell you how happy I am that it is colder now! I am still wearing shorts to run in. I am still bearing my toes with sandals without socks. I LOVE THIS WEATHER! We wake up and the temperatures are in the 40’s and the highs are in the 50’s or 60’s. Running and exercising in this weather is ideal. No more overheating from the heat of the summer. I have been doing an experiment on myself over the last month. I have been checking my pH levels every week. Guess what? They are steadily going down – just as the temperatures are going down. Yesterday my blood pH was 7.51 – right in the middle of neutral. Interestingly enough, I am a Hauser Diet #4 (Monkey), so I typically eat more carbohydrates than protein. Lately, I have been eating more like a Hauser Diet #3 (Bear) with a balanced amount of protein, carbohydrates and fat. Yet, my blood pH did not alkalinize, but is now neutral. The point here is that for the alkaline people – you can actually eat a little more protein and not have to stick so closely to the vegetarian diet during the colder months. I have a 10K race on Sunday and I am hoping that I will do well because the temperature will be perfect for me! I’ll let you know how it goes! Read how Marion did!
But still stick to your diets! This does not give you the freedom to eat all of the sugary foods laying around either! The effect is still bad on the body. Stick with veggies, complex carbs, fruits, and lean proteins!
Back to the colds…
Let’s talk about sugar: White blood cells (WBC’s) in your body are there to protect you. They destroy cold viruses and other foreign invaders. They become lethargic when you eat sweets. So, it is a good idea to stay away from sweets when you have cold as well as as a preventive strategy during the cold season.
Researchers from one study I read had volunteers consume 100 grams of sugar, which is the equivalent of two cans of soda. Blood samples were then collected from the volunteers. They found that neutrophil (WBC) activity in the volunteers had plummeted by 50 percent after consuming the sugar. Five hours later, neutrophil activity still remained substantially below normal.
Sugar in any form, including sucrose, fructose, corn syrup, cane sugar, honey, can impair neutrophil activity. The worst offenders are candy and sweets, which are almost pure sugar and have virtually no nutritional value!
What else can I do? Take plenty of fluids to flush toxic by-products out of the body as quickly and efficiently as possible. The ideal liquids are water and herbal teas. If you already have a cold, it is best to avoid drinks that have a diuretic (fluid-eliminating) effect, such as regular tea and coffee. Try to drink at least 6 glasses of water per day.
Milk and other dairy products. Some people who may have undiscovered allergies may find that milk triggers the release of histamine, a chemical that contributes to runny nose and nasal congestion which can make chest, sinus, and nasal congestion worse. Others find that milk products thicken the mucus, making things worse. This might be a good time to switch to soy milk!
Alcoholic drinks: As the festive times arise, we are invited to more parties and are offered alcoholic drinks more often. Watch out for these for a number of reasons – first and foremost, they act like sugar as described above – especially if you are consuming fancy fruity drinks like Margaritas or Pina Coladas. Alcohol is also dehydrating. It can deplete the body of vitamin C, and put extra strain on the liver, which has to work extra hard to detoxify the body during illness..
Get your vitamins! Take supplements as needed to ensure you are receiving the recommended dietary allowances for vitamin A, the vitamin B complex (vitamins Bl, B2, Bs, B6, folic acid), and vitamin C, as well as the minerals zinc and copper. If you are not getting appropriate nutrients, start on a good multivitamin. Many of our clients say that their energy and stamina improve greatly just by getting on a good multivitamin. We also recommend that you increase your intake of immune stimulating herbals during this time of year. It’s hard to stay away from all of those germs. Kids are in day care and passing around the colds – to the parents and the other kids. Office staffs pass the germs between them by coughing and touching phones and door knobs with infected hands. Clean your areas!
What about Vitamin C? Controversy remains as to whether Vitamin C helps prevent colds. Nobel laureate Linus Pauling supported Vitamin C for the common cold back in 1970. Some studies have since shown that the nutrient helps. Others have concluded that vitamin C doesn't help fight colds at all. We ourselves swear by it.
What about zinc? You’ll see cold medicines, cough drops and the like supplemented with added zinc nowadays which is very interesting to me. Unfortunately, these cough drops usually contain a lot of sugar, so you are sort of defeating the purpose by taking them. If your diet is deficient in zinc, your body could be low in neutrophils, making you more susceptible to infections, including colds. In a research study to test the effectiveness of zinc lozenges in treating cold, the researchers found that cold-infected volunteers who took a 23-milligram zinc gluconate lozenge every 2 hours had significantly shorter colds than cold-infected volunteers who took placebo. Other research has shown that lozenges made only with either zinc gluconate-glycine or zinc acetate shorten the duration of cold symptoms.
Zinc works best if you start sucking on lozenges at the first sign of a tickle in your throat. Take one lozenge every 2 hours until your symptoms subside, unless the lozenges give you an upset stomach. In that case, use them as often as you comfortably can.
What about the Chicken Soup Factor? Chicken soup, also known as "Jewish penicillin," has been a mainstay of folk medicine for 800 years. I know that my in-laws have sworn by it. Dr. Hauser’s grandmother, grandma Eva, would always dish up some chicken soup at the first sign of cold or flu. I have to say, I think it really works (or at least it makes you feel better) – and even some modern studies have shown this. Researchers suspect that the soup's cold-fighting powers come not from the chicken but from the vegetables that are usually part of the stock, as well as from the heat of the warm liquid. Soup is found to reduce cold symptoms at least, especially congestion. So get out that crock pot, go skin a chicken (okay, buy it at the store), and make some of that yummy chicken soup that is not only tasty, but good for you.
Knock out a cold with spicy food Any food spicy enough to make your eyes water will have the same effect on your nose, promoting drainage. If you feel like eating, a hot, spicy pepper or spice, you may actually find that this will help your body fight your cold. Break up congestion with a bowl of chili or other spicy foods containing horseradish, hot pepper sauce, hot mustard or curry. Hot Mexican or Indian foods are good congestion busters. I know it sounds weird – but it works!
Drink lots of hot fluids! Just like grandma used to say – have some hot tea! My mom used to make me hot lemon water and that can really sooth the throat. Cold viruses grow and multiply fast when the temperature around them is around 90°F. However, they are far less comfortable-and less likely to replicate so quickly-when their environment heats up. Drink some hot fluids. This will warm your throat and should help impair viral replication. As a bonus, hot fluids have a mild decongestant effect, which helps relieve nasal stuffiness. Taking herbal teas such as ginger and Echinacea tea is doubly helpful
Try to clear up nasal congestion! To clear up nasal congestion, we use steam inhalation adding tea tree oil to the water, covering your head with a towel and breathing deeply.
So what’s the bottom line here?
Follow the right Hauser Diet for your specific type. If you have not gotten tested, come on in and get it done now! You need to know what your type is before the holidays set in!
Avoid sugar and sweets.
Drink plenty of fluids, like water and herbal teas.
Take your vitamins and herbals, including vitamin C.
Try some chicken soup and hot spicy foods if you do get a cold.
And as always, get plenty of rest and stick to your exercise program!