It's coming to that time again...
For half your office to be out of action...
For your training to be rudely interrupted...
For your sleep to go to hell...
Cold and flu season is fast approaching!
Before we get to the supplements, please heed the most basic piece of advice you already know, but always ignore.
The most simple way to avoid getting sick is to avoid the bacteria that cause the sickness in the first place!
So, wash your hands, avoid touching hand rails and other items in public places where possible, and keep your hands away from your face.
Also, stay away from that one colleague who seems to constantly be sick. You can find a reason to talk to them again in a few months!
Your next resort will be making sure your nutrition and general lifestyle is sorted. Read my sleep article again, make sure you eat enough protein (it supports immune function) and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.
OK - with all that out of the way, let's get to the supplements!
Garlic is a preventative measure, so you should be taking it throughout cold and flu season to avoid getting sick in the first place.
It works by improving the ability of white blood cells to destroy invaders and upregulates the production of some immune cells (specifically, killer T-cells).
Garlic comes in supplemental form - look for aged garlic extract, and take around 800-1000mg in divided doses throughout the day.
You can also just eat it! You'd need 2-3 cloves throughout the day to get the same benefit as the above supplemental dosage, though.
Zinc is important to immune system function and research has shown effectiveness in reducing the length of illness for infectious diseases like the common cold.
This is also something I'd recommend taking throughout winter, but you need to make sure you don't take too much as it can interfere with the absorption of other minerals such as copper.
5-10mg per day is a safe low end for zinc supplementation.
There is a huge variety of benefits from adequate vitamin D levels, but to focus on the immune benefits, vitamin D has solid evidence backing its ability to reduce the risk of catching the flu.
You should regularly check your vitamin D levels with your doctor, but to gain the immune benefits, you'd be aiming for blood levels of between 50-125mol/L or 20-50ng/mL (depending on the units used in your country). Personally, I like to be in the upper half of those ranges (or the 3rd quartile).
There is a study done in Japan that showed that children taking 1200IU of Vitamin D daily were 40% less likely to get the flu during winter. This should be of note for parents who understand how easy it is to get sickness passed on from your kid!
Your daily dose should be tied to your current levels, but a safe bet is 2000-3000IU per day for adults.
Echinacea supplementation has mixed effects in the literature.
Some evidence seems to point to a reduced risk of infection and reduced length of sickness if taken consistently on a daily basis, but other evidence reports no significant effects.
The dosages used in studies range from 1000mg to 1500mg taken in divided doses daily, so this is a good range to aim for.
Andrographis supplementation also has unclear effects in the literature.
Some evidence shows reduced length of illness as well as reduced severity of symptoms related to the common cold, but most of the research doesn't actually look at andrographis supplementation as a stand-alone. It's very often paired up with another herb (usually some form of ginseng), so it's difficult to say for sure how effective it is.
Still, based on the current human research, I'd say it's worth trying to get over a cold that's already taken root.
One of the other problems in the research and on the shelves is that there doesn't seem to be a standardised extract concentration of the active ingredient. This means dosages will vary quite a lot depending on the quality of the supplement.
Dosages should be around 5000mg of standard root extract, or 200mg for a concentrate.
This herb has good evidence for use with acute lung infections, and less convincing use for the common cold.
Still, it can help treat illness involving a bad cough.
Around 50mg per day split up into even doses is recommended
So there you have it - the major supplements I'd be looking at to reduce your chances of getting sick or prevent the worst symptoms of the common cold.
Let us know in the comments if there are any other supplements you might have heard of that you'd like to know about!
Does your work bring you value?
Do the things you own give you value?
Do social media apps like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat give you value?
I recently started listening to a podcast by The Minimalists (find the link below) and 3 episodes in; I absolutely love it!
A minimalist is not a person that de-clutters their home till they’ve barely got any things left, as many people think.
A minimalist is a person that is learning what adds value to their life; what to hold on to and what is a waste of time or space.
“Value is something that serves purpose or brings joy”
As a new business owner this got me thinking. Everything in life is about value; how valuable are things that I own?
How can I add value to the service I provide to my personal training clients?
Or how about the things that I do on a daily basis, do they add value to my life?
There's a really simple exercise you can do to work out what is adding value to your life, and what isn't.
Write down 5 things that you want to achieve in life.
For me, I would like to:
Now write down things that you do on a regular basis that will not get you closer to reaching your goals.
My main ones are:
By asking yourself these questions you will be able to identify things in your life that don't give you value, or won't take you anywhere in life.
Start cleaning out bad habits or physical things that no longer give you value - this can change over time, and could be completely different in a month or a year's time.
By doing these exercises and being honest with yourself, you will find more enjoyment and focus to go where you want to go, be who you want to be or do what you want to do!
I’ve officially uninstalled Facebook and Instagram on my phone. But I have left Instagram on my ipad so I can post pictures because I’m still trying to find out if Instagram gives value to our clients and followers - time will tell.
It's an ongoing process. And if I can’t find value... I will uninstall it there as well.
I think the minimalist movement that is happening around the world is really cool and if you want to learn more have a look at The Minimalists website (it’s quite slick!) or listen to the podcast - links below.
For more information about Lucid Health Coaching and how we help people live a healthier life please visit our Facebook page: facebook.com/LucidHealthCoaching
And if it brings you value check out our instagram page: @lucidhealthcoaching
If you asked me what the number one thing you could do to improve not only your training, but every aspect of your life – the answer is sleep!
Most people pay it off.
Most people think they sleep enough, or they can get through this week ok.
But the fact is that every hour you sacrifice to Netflix, or work, or anything else for that matter counts against you. And it doesn’t matter what the yardstick is – just take a minute to Google sleep + your number one fear in life.
Want to earn less?
Feel less confident?
Then keep on sleeping less!
The scariest thing about this is that EVERYONE KNOWS! Everyone knows that they should probably sleep more; that sleep is really important.
Those that think they aren’t affected by getting 6 hours of sleep or less are already affected! Research shows that 11 days in a row with <6 hours of sleep and your cognitive ability will be about the same as if you had stayed awake for 24 hours straight.
By the time you get to 22 days of <6 hours of sleep, you'll be thinking on the same level as someone who has stayed up for 48 hours straight. Now you're reacting at the level of someone over the legal limit for alcohol - yes, this was actually studied way back in 1999.
But where’s the action? The fact is that every step you take to improve your life is going to be hindered unless you optimise your sleep.
So what steps can you take today?
There are plenty more “sleep hygiene” tips out there, but the bottom line is that action and consistency are the two factors that’ll get you across the line!
Belenky et al. "Patterns of performance degradation and restoration during sleep restriction and subsequent recovery: a sleep dose-response study." J Sleep Res 2003;12:1-12
Powell et al. "A comparative model: reaction time performance in sleep-disordered breathing versus alcohol-impaired controls." Laryngoscope. 1999 Oct;109(10):1648-54.
Van Dongen et al. "Systematic interindividual differences in neurobehavioral impairment from sleep loss: evidence of trait-like differential vulnerability." Sleep 2004;27:423-433