It’s flu season again. Rather than getting caught up in mass hysteria, arm yourself against viral attack with practical ways to boost your immune system.
Eat a rainbow of foods. When your immune system detects an enemy, it must rapidly draw vitamins and minerals from the blood to make white blood cell ninja fighters. If those vitamins aren’t there, you are vulnerable to a long, drawn-out battle. Make sure you are eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. If your are doing this, you can be sure you are getting tons of immune boosting nutrients like vitamin A, E, C, B-6 and zinc. A healthy immune system is your best defense against infection.
You’re gonna need a breath mint – Garlic is a fantastic way to boost the immune system. It is a super anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and antibiotic food. Plus it makes food taste and smell delicious.
Getting enough sleep is crucial in optimizing immune response. So is decreasing stress. There it is again. Just get more sleep and don’t sweat the small stuff. Look for an upcoming blog on decreasing stress and increasing joy.
Getting adequate exercise has also been linked to lower incidence of infection. Just 20 minutes a day of brisk exercise can make a huge difference.
Avoid refined grains, sugary and starchy foods. Sugar suppresses the immune system. It seems that flu season, besides falling in the winter months, also occurs in the months when many of us are indulging in sweet treats a little more often.
Adequate levels of Vitamin D are essential to an immune system’s ability to quickly and effectively fight off infection. It’s also important for preventing osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, depression, and dementia. Harvard Medical School asserts that as many as one third of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D. Vitamin D is produced in our bodies using sunlight that comes in contact with our largest organ: our skin. We can also get vitamin D through diet. Salmon is a good source, most milk is fortified with vitamin D and a good vitamin D3 supplement is great too (5,000 IU per day for adults). My favorite dietary source with a slew of other healthy benefits is fermented cod liver oil. The flu usually runs rampant in the winter months when direct sunlight is diminished in many areas of the world and people are bundled up and keeping indoors. This is why flu cases go down the farther south you track and disappear in summer months. Increasing your sun exposure (sans sunscreen) by 10 minutes a day is adequate for most people. If you live north of San Francisco, don’t bother doing this between November and March since the UV rays aren’t direct enough to make vitamin D. I would suggest a blood test to discover if you are deficient and supplementing through diet.
Getting Over the Flu Fast
So what if you get the flu? Well first you should make sure it is in fact influenza. Here’s Dr. Darla’s blog on how to correctly identify the symptoms of influenza. So if you have the flu, how can you get recover as quickly and as painless as possible?
Cut the sweets. Eating sugar will suppress your immune system from fighting off nasty bugs. I know it’s comforting to eat, but sweets will only make it worse.
I’m going to suggest vitamin D again. Taking several thousand IU per day of a good D3 supplement can shorten the duration of infection. It’s pretty hard to overdose on D, and when I’m sick I take a medicinal dose of about 20,000 IU per day. Also, vitamin C in large amounts can greatly speed up your recovery. It’s pretty much impossible to overdose on C, so take at least 5,000 mg per day or more. Zinc prevents a virus from replicating.
When I feel the “ick”, I like to take a detox bath. It really lessens my symptoms and shortens the duration of my illness. Here’s a link to the recipe. Detox Bath
If you are pregnant, make sure to consult your physician before taking a detox bath.
Get lots of sleep. Your workplace will get the job done without you. They don’t need you spreading around the flu either. Stay home and sleep, sleep, sleep.
Cinnamon is anti-viral and anti-bacterial too. Mix 1 tablespoon cinnamon with one teaspoon of honey and mix it into an herbal tea.
Since the flu is usually accompanied by fever, it will often lead to dehydration. Make sure you stay hydrated with lots of broth or chicken soup. Broth isn’t just comforting flu food, it has lots of immune boosting nutrients. Herbal teas and hot lemon water help too. Nettle leaf tea has a huge amount of vitamins and minerals and detoxifies the body. Other herbs that help fight flu are elderberry, yarrow, ginger, chamomile, and peppermint. Consult your local herbalist for the correct ways to use these herbs. Fever is the body’s natural defense for killing a virus, so using drugs to stop a fever can actually prolong an illness. To keep a fever out of the dangerous zone, without killing it completely, I use peppermint essential oil on the bottom of my feet. Make sure you do plenty of research into the safe use of essential oils before trying this one.
Whatever natural remedy or prevention method you choose, make sure it will not interfere with any medications you are taking and try them one at a time. Stay healthy and disease free this season. And most importantly, your thoughts are more effective than any vaccine or remedy. If you think you’re immune to the flu with absolute, fearless certainty, I’m willing to bet it’ll pass you by.Important Notes: I am not a doctor, nor do I claim to be a doctor. I cannot treat, cure, prevent or diagnose any illness. If you have concerns about any illness, talk to your doctor. Do you own research on natural remedies to ensure that you think they are safe.
Merianne Drew is a holistic health coach specializing in integrative and energetic nutrition. She coaches individuals to better health by teaching practical ways to incorporate healthy eating and lifestyle choices. Find out if health coaching is a good fit for you by scheduling a health strategy session. firstname.lastname@example.org