7 Tips for Preventing the Cold & Flu

The FLU – a name that historically has been called, “breakbone fever.”  If you’ve ever had a bad case of the flu, you know what I’m talking about.  

The flu, called influenza, is a contagious respiratory virus that can cause mild to severe symptoms.  These symptoms are different than cold symptoms, coming on more suddenly than the flu.  Classic flu  symptoms are fever, chills, headache, muscle and body aches, maybe a mild cough or a sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, and fatigue.  Not all people get a fever and you may or may not get all of these symptoms.   A complete recovery may take several days but is usually over in less than two weeks with symptoms normalizing in 3 to 5 days.  If it takes longer than that it would be wise to go see your doctor.

The flu season usually runs from the month of October to March and sometimes gets a second wind in April or May.  

The CDC recommends that everyone get the vaccine.  It would benefit those most who work in the health care industry, those who are at a higher risk of getting the flu, adults with underlying medical challenges, or if you take a medication that suppresses your immune system.  

With that in mind, the Cochrane Library, which “consists of several databases that contain different types of high-quality, independent evidence to inform healthcare decision-making,” lists all the side-effects to taking the flu vaccine.  Findings have shown that the value of the flu vaccine for children under that age of two is low and the effectiveness of the flu has ranged from 24% a few years back to a maximum effectiveness of 60-70%.  In many peoples opinions, the benefits have been overestimated and the harmful effects have been under-reported.

If you do get the vaccine, know that it will take 10 to 14 days after receiving the vaccine to gain immunity so if you have been exposed to the flu before or during that window, you may still get the flu.  One more thing.  If you do get a flu shot, tell your doctor that you want the preloaded injection.  It’s a single dose of the killed vaccine versus the multi-dose flu vile that contains mercury which is used as a preservative.  

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PREVENT THE FLU?

Look for some of the items listed below at your local Health Food Stores, Whole Foods, or Amazon.

PRACTICE GOOD HYGIENE – We have heard if before.  WASH YOUR HANDS.  Use plain soap and water and wash for 20 seconds.  Singing Happy Birthday one time through is a good gauge of time.  Stay away from antibacterial soaps as they build up antibiotic resistance.  That means that if you need an antibiotic for something, it may not work for you.  Keep your hands away from your face.  Stay at home when you’re sick and better yet, stay away from the doctor’s office as much as you can during flu season and try giving hugs instead of handshakes.

EAT WELL –  Eating a whole food diet, good quality protein, and fats, LOTS OF VEGETABLES (6-10 servings), and STAY HYDRATED.  Be drinking water, hot teas, or soup every hour.  You don’t want to get dehydrated because when you dry out, your mucous membranes dry out and they will get irritated and inflamed, making your chances of getting sick more likely.  

It’s also really important to CUT OUT SUGAR.  Fruit juices, alcohol, processed foods, and desserts all should be avoided during cold and flu season.  I know how difficult this can be during the holiday season but here’s the scoop.  After eating sugar, your immune system is suppressed, those white blood cells of yours are not working optimally to fight off pathogens for hours after consuming it. 

Dairy would be good to avoid as well especially if you are sensitive to it.  It promotes inflammation and increases congestion.

 

 

GET MORE REST – If your body is tired, your immune system is down.  Getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night is optimum so getting to bed at 10 PM when cortisol levels are at their lowest is best!

> REDUCE STRESS – The holiday season is very different from the lazy days of summer.  We are usually a bit busier, doing extra shopping, cooking, and more time spent with family and friends.  And to make it even more stressful, sometimes our family gatherings aren’t the easiest.  My go-to tip for reducing stress is the TAKE BIG BELLY BREATHS.  Inhale slowly, don’t hold your breath, and exhale slowly.  Make sure your belly moves and do this about 20 times a couple of times a day.  This diaphragmatic breathing tells your body that you are safe and feeling safe reduces your stress levels. 

SALINE FLUSH – Use your Neti pot every day or at least 2 to 3 times per week  is known to help reduce the cold and flu, lowers the number of days you are out sick from work, less loss of school days, and reduces the use of antibiotics.

If you already have a stuffy nose from a cold or a sinus infection, don’t use a neti pot.  It flushes bacteria farther in.  And if you have well water, go ahead and boil your water first, let it cool then use it for your net pot.

SUPPLEMENTS – Supplements are great support for your immune system through cold and flu season or when you are feeling yourself starting to get symptoms.  Check dosages on bottles and please talk to your doctor.

    Take a multivitamin to cover any nutrients you may not be getting regularly from the food you eat. If your child is a picky eater, a kids multivitamin would be a great idea.   

    Take Vitamin D3.  Most people are deficient and those that are low are more than 10 times more likely to get a cold or flu.  Vitamin D helps your immune system function optimally and will reduce your chances of getting sick by about 42%!  

    Take buffered Vitamin C which supports your immune system and reduces instances of colds.

    Zinc Citrate – boosts your immune system. 

    Probiotics are good for your overall immune health.  Healthy gut flora is a barrier against pathogens and is important for the overall health of your immune system.  Probiotics have been shown to prevent cold, flu, and upper respiratory infections.  You can find probiotics specifically for kids too.  Look for “billions” of CFUs and the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria species.  

    Fish oil or cod liver oil keep your immune system strong.  Fish oils are anti-inflammatory, contain Vitamin A, which is important for immune protection, and Vitamin D

> HERBS  There are wonderful herbs that you can take daily, use for prevention or when cold or flu symptoms are starting to be felt.  Herbs have anti-viral and immune boosting effects and are gentle and safe on the body.

    echinacea, liquid extract

    elderberry syrup

    astragalus

    medicinal mushrooms

And don’t forget the power of cooking with herbs.  I’ve written about that for the last three weeks so go check out my previous blogs.  Onions, garlic, and turmeric are just some herbs that help prevents and treat infections.  These cooking herbs have anti-viral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory effects.  

Lastly, let me remind you to ask for help, rest, keep your room dark and sleep well.  

If you start on some of these protocols now, you can reduce the number of days you are sick and the reduce the severity of your symptoms so go stock up your medicine cabinet now!

Disclaimer:  This protocol is provided for educational purposes only.  It is not intended to cure or treat any medical conditions.  This protocol is not a substitute for medical advice.  All clients are strongly urged to consult your doctor or medical professional before taking any new herbs or supplements.

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