The hot summer breeze is blowing summer on by (rather quickly!), and it's almost that time of the year again for school to begin! Fall is just around the corner and so is cold and flu season. Here at Inspired Wellness Center, we believe in preparation and prevention so it’s good to think ahead. Let us discuss some pre-fall/back-to-school tips for boosting immunity and preventing colds and flu.

First things first. It is so important to wash your hands regularly. This goes for anyone and everyone. Teach your kiddos before they head off to school how important it is to have clean hands! Germs are lingering on surfaces and also in the air we breathe. While many particulates and microorganisms are rather harmless (some are quite beneficial and important), there are some that can be contagious that cause illness and disease. If your immune system is compromised due to factors such as deficiency, high levels of stress, poor diet, etc...the chances of contracting illness are higher when the body’s defenses are lowered. So, practice handwashing regularly. Lather up with soap while rubbing the hands together vigorously for 60 seconds under warm water. It is helpful to also carry hand sanitizer in your car, purse, or backpack. It is nice to be able to use a sanitizer wipe or spray after pumping gas or checking out at the grocery store. Make sure to clean surfaces such as door knobs, cell phones, countertops, bathroom sinks, etc. regularly, and make sure to be mindful if you are sick to continue to wash your hands and to cough into the sleeve of your shirt to prevent spreading illness to others.

It is important to note, children who are 6 months of age and under are still relying on the immune system of their mother, so to all the moms out there make sure to do your best to keep immunity high by eating lots of nutrient-rich food. Baby will thank you later. Your diet should include fruits, lots of vegetables, and some meat that comes from a healthy source
(preferably, not animals who were treated poorly or injected with growth hormones, antibiotics, or other substances). This leads to a greater conversation about the importance of eating good-quality fruits, vegetables, and meats. It has a huge impact on your health! When we eat too much dairy, empty sugars, processed, fried foods, and foods that were grown and
sprayed using pesticides and other chemical additives, our entire body is affected on a deep level and that can lead to poor overall health outcomes. Notice the difference between when you eat clean vs. when you eat junk. It is noticeable! Literally, what you eat, drink, and breathe constitutes the quality and quantity of the qi and blood circulating throughout your entire body. For your kids who are headed off to school…they will need to be able to use their developing brains to focus clearly, so it is important to consume nutritious foods. There are evidence-based research studies that prove the link between poor diet and ADHD. So, pack healthy lunches and do your best to teach the kiddos early on in life how to properly nourish their minds and bodies. It will have an impact on their entire lives! If you are busy, carve out extra time for healthy food

High stress over time compromises immunity. We know life is busy, and trust us we see how stressed out you all are when we treat you and how it affects the body, mind, and spirit. So, do your absolute best to get adequate amounts of rest. Go to bed at a decent hour, for the hours of the night when you sleep are the hours when your body is doing deep healing that is restorative and regenerative. Take time to clear your mind at the beginning and/or end of the day so you are able to maintain balance and harmony within the mind. The mind is SO Important to maintain lower levels of stress. This is why meditation can be so beneficial to us all in our lives. Remember to breathe deeply into the deepest part of your belly. Teach your children how to do this as well. When stress comes on…it is quite beneficial to take a moment to take deep breaths. This allows you to breathe past your diaphragm. By breathing past the diaphragm, the Vagus nerve is stimulated and helps to relax the nervous system often transferring you from the Sympathetic nervous response (fight-or-flight mode) to the
Parasympathetic nervous system (rest-and-digest mode). Don’t overthink it. Just take moments to breathe deeply to calm the nervous system, and teach your children to do the same. It is a very helpful form of self-regulation for the mind, body, and spirit. Again, high-stress levels impact immunity so we cannot emphasize this enough. Also, Traditional Chinese Medicine is GREAT at lowering stress levels, revitalizing vitality, boosting immunity, and supporting healthy functioning of all of the many dimensions of the mind, body, and spirit.

Again, a clean and healthy diet is the first step toward achieving and maintaining healthy immunity. Low-stress levels are equally as important. If you are looking for supplementation to boost immune function, there are a few that are important such as Vitamin-D, Zinc, Vitamin C, Elderberry, and Medicinal mushrooms. These are just a few, and we have added some
information about them below:

Vitamin D- enhances the pathogen-fighting effects of monocytes and macrophages- white blood cells that are important parts of your immune defense- that decreases inflammation, which helps promote immune response.

Zinc- is needed for immune cell development and communication and plays an important role in inflammatory response. Zinc also specifically protects tissue barriers in the body and helps prevent foreign pathogens from entering.

Vitamin C- supports the function of various immune cells and enhances their ability to protect against infection. It's also necessary for cellular death, which helps keep your immune system healthy by clearing out old cells and replacing them with new ones. It also functions as a powerful antioxidant, protecting against damage induced by oxidative stress, which occurs with the accumulation of reactive molecules known as free radicals.

Elderberry- Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra), which has long been used to treat infections, is being researched for its effects on immune health. In test-tube studies, elderberry extract demonstrates potent antibacterial and antiviral potential against bacterial pathogens responsible for upper respiratory tract infections and strains of the influenza virus. Also, it has
been shown to enhance immune system response and may help shorten the duration and severity of colds as well as reduce symptoms related to viral infections.

Medicinal mushrooms- have been used since ancient times to prevent and treat infection and disease. Many types of medicinal mushrooms have been studied for their immune-boosting potential. Over 270 recognized species of medicinal mushrooms are known to have immune- enhancing properties. Cordyceps, Lion’s mane, maitake, shitake, reishi, and turkey tail are all types that have been shown to benefit immune health.

Before that last summer breeze blows it’s way through, we can do a lot of prep in our bodies for the change in weather.  Our kids will be cooped up in small classrooms, with germs a plenty. But we can prepare ourselves and our kids for the upcoming cold & flu season.Be sure to eat clean and get adequate amounts of sleep.  Keep stress levels to a minimum, exercise often, stay well-hydrated, wash your hands, and last but not least…keep on smiling!  Take good care, you all!

Dr. Candace Canerdy, DACM, L.Ac.