Beach Metro Community News
It’s that time of year again when we’re all faced with the increased possibility of catching the common cold or flu. For some of us, getting the cold or flu produces mild symptoms, but for others, it can lead to a serious sinus infection, bronchitis, or even pneumonia (especially in the case of flu).
If you have already had the flu this year, your body will have developed antibodies to the influenza virus. These antibodies that you have developed from actually having the flu are stronger than the antibodies that you would get from the flu vaccine and will protect you for a longer time.
Whether or not you have had the flu vaccine, there are ways in which you can boost up your immune system in order to increase your body’s resistance against the flu virus. Remember, prevention is the key.
Supporting your immune system
There are a variety of viruses that can cause a cold or flu, but normally, your body’s natural defenses will fight off these viruses. However, when your immune system is weakened, your risk of catching an illness increases greatly. The most common way one can be infected is from hand to hand contact. Therefore, it is very important to wash your hands with soap and water adequately, especially if you yourself are sick or you are in contact with someone who is infected. Obtaining adequate sleep and rest is also important, as your immune system lowers when you are fatigued or physically exhausted. Stress management is also important as excess stress can also weaken your defense system. Regular exercise and relaxation methods such as: deep breathing, meditation, yoga, qi gong or tai chi can be beneficial to relieve stress. Therapies such as massage and acupuncture can also help you to reduce or cope with stress.
Ensure optimal nutrition and hydration
Your immune system requires certain nutrients in order to function optimally. Therefore, ensure that you are eating a healthy diet, consisting of at least 5 to 10 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables a day. Include herbs such as garlic, onions, ginger, thyme, and oregano in your cooking in order to further boost your immune system. Avoid eating refined sugar as it can depress your immune system up to 5 hours after consuming it. Also remember to drink plenty of pure, filtered water (at least six to eight glasses a day) to aid in detoxification.
Prevention is the key
Therapeutic doses of antioxidant nutrients such as vitamin C (with bioflavonoids), vitamin A, vitamin E, selenium and zinc can be very important to support the immune system. Essential fatty acids such as those found in flaxseed oil, fish oils, evening primrose oil, and hempseed oil are vital for the proper functioning of the immune system. Herbs such as Echinacea (for short-term use) and Astragalus (deep immune system tonic) also stimulate the immune system. (Antimicrobial herbs such as Goldenseal and Osha can help decrease symptoms if you do get a cold or flu). Homeopathic medicine has also been shown to be very safe and effective for flu prevention. Speak to your naturopathic doctor about the different options.
In conclusion, if you have a generally healthy immune system, you should be able to prevent against getting the flu. If, however, you do happen to get sick despite your precautions, your body should have the ability to overcome it within a week to nine days, with relatively mild symptoms, as well as build an immunity to the virus. There are also natural ways to effectively decrease the severity and duration of symptoms. Furthermore, remember that it is not bad or unhealthy to get one or two colds a year. However, getting sick any more than that can signify a weakened immune system. In this case, it is even more pertinent to strengthen your immune system, especially during this time of the year.
Note: This article is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace proper diagnosis and treatment by a qualified healthcare professional.