Immune Boosting for Winter

During the stages of pregnancy it is essential to protect your body against colds and flu. Winter can be a miserable time of coughs, cold and flu. How can you avoid getting ill during this crucial time of your life? Dr Bridget Farham has some ideas.

During the second World War in Britain, there was a serious food rationing. People supplemented their rations by growing vegetables, but the British climate does not produce much other than root veggies, cabbage and other similar produce. Items that were severely restricted included butter, meat and dairy products.

You might think that people living on this sort of diet became ill and more prone to infections such as colds and flu, but not a bit of it. There is good evidence to show that people were healthier than usual, with far fewer cases of coughs, colds and flu than they have had before or after the rationing. What was it that apparently boosted their immune systems at a time when you could arguably think that people would be so easily stressed that illness was almost a certainty?

Immune boosting? Is it a hype or reality?

Many people think that it was simple calorie restrictions that led to the increase in health of people rationed during the war – not something to try out during pregnancy, though. However, there is also the fact that their diet was rich in vegetables and grains, and poor in dairy products and meats.This lends itself nicely to the idea that it was antioxidants, found in fruit and veggies, that did the trick. But are antioxidants all they are made out to be?

Clinical trails of the supplements known to have antioxidant properties, such as beta-carotene, vitamins A, C, E & selenium, have been equivocal, certainly for their possible effects on cancer. In fact, in some trails regular supplements with antioxidants has been shown to be harmful and given the huge quantities of vitamins and other supplements consumed in most Western societies, that is certainly something to take notice of.

So, can you boost your immune system?

I would not recommend using any of those so-called immune boosting supplements that can be purchased over the counter during pregnancy. It is difficult to know if what they contain is safe to use during the stages of pregnancy, for the simple reason that there are no clinical proof or trails testing their effects on the foetus. However, there are plenty of simple measures you can take to ensure that you are in optimum health and that you minimize your chances of ending up miserable with a cold or lying in bed with true influenza and it usually old-fashioned advise 🙂

Old- fashioned way to good health

What your mother and grandmother told you about the benefits of plenty of sleep, fresh air and a varied diet is as applicable today as a 100 years ago.

  • Tiredness/sleep – When you are pregnant you will find that during the stages of pregnancy tiredness is a real issue and a tired person is stressed and susceptible to infections. For this reason, make sure you get plenty of regular sleep, this is the time when 8 hours of sleep a night is necessary.
  • Exercise – This is important, it will make you feel better, helps circulation and help you sleep better. Regular exercise also helps you to make the right food choices and reduces stress.
  • Diet – Eat a sensible, balanced diet that contains a high proportion of carbohydrates, moderate amounts of protein and small amount of fats. Fats should contribute about 10 percent of your total daily caloric intake – don’t leave them out altogether. You need fats to metabolize certain vitamins and your body needs fats for all sorts of other metabolic processes. And your baby also needs them for the same reason.
  • Fruit – Eat enough fruit and vegetables, a small portion of protein each day and use moderate amount of cooking oils(vegetable oils only – olive and canola oils are particularly good) and spread.
  • Dairy – Dairy products are essential, such as milk, cheese and yogurt. If you are eating a balanced diet, you have no need of vitamin supplements other than the iron supplement that you doctor or midwife has prescribed for you.

The flu vaccine during pregnancy

Pregnant women are generally warned to avoid most medications during the pregnancy stages and many people have the impression that you shouldn’t have a flu vaccine. In fact, pregnant women are one of the high-risk groups who are advised to have a flu vaccine. It used to be thought that you should avoid a flu vaccine during the first three month of pregnancy, but the current ones are known to be safe at any stage of pregnancy. It is also a good idea if other people in your household have a flu vaccine, because this will reduce the risk or chance of catching flu even further. Having a flu vaccine can also protect your unborn child. Your vaccine will transfer the flu antibodies to him and prevent flu for about two months after birth.

article from Healthy Pregnancy

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