23 May Don’t reach for that Vitamin C this winter
I finally get to use this line from Game of Thrones because “Winter Is Coming” (insert theme song here).
Luckily down-under we don’t have to deal with severe winters, Australia has pretty mild winters and I consider ourselves lucky, because I’m not a fan of the cold. But just like the rest of the world we still get sick down here because there is a change in season and every year there is talk of the flu vaccine (which you could not force me to get even if you offered me a bagillion dollars) and I love observing how people almost proudly comparing how their cold was worse than yours or visa versa. Have you ever noticed this phenomenon?
I remember as a kid having a cough or a runny nose and mum would make me take some vitamin c or drink some orange juice or have an orange. God bless her… she was only doing what was the norm and pretty much everyone still does this today when they feel a cold coming on. But the truth is that taking vitamin C when you start to feel unwell has no preventative measures once you are actually sick.
Every year (around winter) you see articles in the news, in your facebook feed and on reddit with little “tips to stay healthy during winter” but they are all missing one really important piece to the puzzle. Supporting a healthy immune system takes more than Vitamin C.
So here is my take…
Don’t waste your money on vitamin c, unless you are taking it regularly as a preventative and long term supplement. There is scientific evidence that proves taking vitamin c right before a cold or once you are sick only helps by reducing the severity.
Vitamin c as a general every day supplement is great and will provide important preventative benefits such as immune support, antioxidants and helping to build connective tissue in the body. If we dive a little deeper than the fluffy fancy words (i just mentioned) let me remind you that your gut lining is made of connective tissue and we need to keep our gut lining strong and healthy to maintain good gut health which in tern means a healthy immune system. So YES vitamin C is a mighty important supplement but is provides little benefits when we dose up on vitamin c on the DAY we start to get a sore throat, in that case you are just wasting your money. It needs to be a supplement you take daily to actually provide benefits to preventing a cold or virus during winter.
Looking after your gut health is going to make a bigger impact on preventing a cold or a flu this season. Approx 65-75% of your immune system is housed just behind the gut lining which is only one cell thick. Your gut helps to filter out the pathogens, viruses and “cold causing bugs” however you also need a strong army of beneficial bacteria in your gut to help to kill off the bad winter bugs before it gets to your immune system. So come this time of year I tend to take a few preventative supplements (like olive leaf extract, collagen and vitamin c) and include a probiotic to the mix as well to give me that extra boost that is needed around this time of year.
So here are a few ways you can boost your immune power through protecting and strengthening your immune system by giving your gut health the supplements needed.
Collagen – is a must for helping to build a healthy gut lining which is crucial for creating the perfect place for your beneficial bacteria to live. If you have a thriving and healthy colony of beneficial bacteria it will nip any cold or virus in the bud before making you sick. If you catch colds easily you might want to consider following a gut healing approach to help build up your immune system.
Vitamin C – while i mentioned it is no quick fix for colds, it can reduce the severity, which is definitely a bonus. It is needed to help build healthy skin and connective tissue by increasing the availability of collagen, so basically they work synergistically together to help build the gut lining. Vitamin C also provide an abundance of antioxidants to help
Olive Leaf Extract (OLE) – I’m a huge fan of OLE. It is very high in antioxidants which really support. Specifically the polyphenols which are a group of antioxidants that neutralise free radicals and reduce inflammation (gut inflammation). At the beginning of the winter season I start to take a few OLE capsules daily as a way to boost my immunity over the season because i don’t live in a bubble, I have to deal with people all day and that means coming into contact with a lot of coughing. OLE is also much better at reducing the severity of colds and flues more so than vitamin c so I always have it on hand if i’m feeling a little run down or stressed, which to can lower your immunity.
Probiotics – I work on feeding my gut bugs (aka gut microbiome or gut biome) daily by consuming fermented foods throughout the day, this replenishes my gut biome. BUT a healthy gut biome is a diverse one and there are too many factors to list that might cause your gut biome to be impaired. The main triggers would be taking antibiotics which wipes out the bad AND good bacteria, poor diet choices and stress. Sometimes you don’t have control over things like stress but eating a healthy diet rich in vegetables and real unprocessed foods will help feed what beneficial bacteria you have. However during winter you may need a boost… if you can’t consume fermented foods daily (sauerkraut, fermented vegetables, kefir, kombucha etc) then taking a probiotic supplement could be the way to go for you… then again if you are consuming fermented foods it is still going to be topping up your gut biome and adding to the diversity of your gut bugs.
So you see now why dosing up on vitamin c when you think you are getting sick is going to do pretty much nothing…
I want you to stay well and healthy this winter, but these tools can be used throughout the year or throughout a stressful time of your life when you know your immunity might be compromised. Also eating healthy foods are going to assist with a strong immune system so don’t think you can indulge on comfort food throughout the winter because you are taking supplements or preventative measures… wellness is an all rounder and you need to consider all factors. Try to mix up your exercise routine to accommodate for when it gets colder or on rainy days. Soups loaded with veggies or bone broths are amazing comfort foods so try to make big batches so you have these on hand.
I wish you well this winter.
Start dosing up now and the beginning of the season to help get you through with grace and ease.