Naturopathic Cold/Flu Prevention
Beach Metro Community News
It’s that time of year again as we enter into the cold/flu season, many of my patients have asked how they can prevent themselves from contracting the H1N1 virus, commonly known as “swine flu”. If you are one of those individuals who have already contracted the virus, then you already have the antibodies against it. However, it is still essential to maintain a strong immune system throughout the cold/flu season to defend yourself against other viruses and bacteria.
How Can You Protect Yourself?
There are many ways that we can optimize our health in order to provide the best defense that we can against any type of infectious illness. This starts with balancing our immune system and our internal environment so that viruses and other microorganisms will not have a favourable terrain to flourish in.
Ensure adequate sleep. If you are not well-rested, your immune system will not function optimally and you are more prone to acquiring an infection. Get at least eight hours of restful sleep a night.
Wash hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. Take extra caution when touching door knobs, shopping carts, elevator buttons, shared: computers, exercise equipment, and phones. Do not touch your nose, eyes or face without washing your hands first.
Manage stress levels efficiently. Stress is one of the biggest culprits contributing to ill-health. During times of stress people typically do not eat optimally. Furthermore, stress can increase acidity in the body, resulting in a lowered immune response. Techniques such as yoga, meditation, tai chi, deep breathing and massage can be very helpful to aid your body to respond to stress. Take a B complex vitamin to support your body if you are under chronic stress.
Ensure adequate water intake (at least 6 to 8 glasses of water a day) to ensure proper elimination. A buildup of toxins can overwhelm the immune system and make you more susceptible to catching a virus. Add fresh lemon in the water to help alkalinize your system.
Ensure optimal nutritional intake. Research has shown that 65% of people are deficient in multiple nutrients. It may be beneficial to take a good quality multivitamin-mineral supplement (without iron and copper) to support your immune system, especially during times of stress.
Exercise regularly. Exercising 45 minutes a day, five days a week will enhance immune function overall. (However, do not do vigorous exercise if you are sick, as this will add more stress on your body).
Take supplements to support your immune system. Vitamin C has been shown to strengthen the immune system and prevent viral infections. Our bodies can only absorb a certain amount at a certain time, so take Vitamin C in divided dosages throughout the day, rather than taking one massive dose. Studies have also shown that adequate levels of Vitamin D helps to protect against the flu. Although our bodies can naturally make vitamin D from exposure to the sun, most people are deficient in this vital nutrient. Check your blood levels of vitamin D to find out if you are deficient. Essential fatty acids, such as those found in fish oil or cod liver oil, are also required for optimal immune function. Replenishing the good bacteria in our bodies with probiotics will also help to protect us from infections.
Incorporate medicinal foods for immune support.
Include herbs such as garlic, onions, ginger, thyme, oregano and astragalus in your cooking, as well as medicinal mushrooms (such as reishi, shitake, and maitake). These together can help to promote strong immune function and to prevent against all types of infections. At the same time, remember to maintain a healthy diet with lots of colourful fruits and vegetables and avoid processed foods and sugar. Sugar will weaken your immune system and also feed the bad microorganisms in your body. Consuming more fruits and vegetables will also help to alkalinize your system and contribute to a better immune response.
Note: This article is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace proper diagnosis and treatment by a qualified healthcare professional.