The overall goal in flu prevention is a healthy immune system. Preventing the flu also requires good judgement, appropriate choices, and knowledge of alternatives. While flu shots and hand-washing are most recommended by the CDC for prevention, getting a flu shot is no guarantee that you won’t get the flu. The fact is that so many people each year who are vaccinated still get the flu, some ending up in the hospital with life-threatening secondary infections of pneumonia or sepsis.
You can add responsible safeguards of non-toxic natural remedies and health-promoting activities that help prevent getting the flu – or greatly lessen symptoms and duration if the flu takes hold.
Flu Viruses are Lurking Everywhere
The flu is contagious and can be transmitted through breathing air containing the virus or by touching contaminated surfaces. It’s difficult to isolate yourself. You are in a work environment, children are in school or daycare, elderly are in nursing facilities, and the sick are in hospitals. And while it makes sense not to willingly come in contact with flu-infected people, you visit hospitals, doctor’s offices, and urgent care facilities where people are already sick with the flu. You travel on buses, trains, and planes and go to concerts, movie theaters, stores, and places of worship where people are incubating the flu or already have symptoms. You eat in restaurants where people prepare and serve you food, use public restrooms, touch railings and doorknobs; and the challenge is to stay healthy and avoid catching the flu.
Recipe for Natural Flu Prevention – 11 Things
Even if your health is compromised from trauma, surgery, auto-immune disease, allergy, infections, heart disease, diabetes, cancer or anxiety, making you more prone to the flu, you don’t have to play Russian Roulette. You will benefit from these immune-boosting measures.
- Gut health: Did you know about 80% of your immune cells resides in your gut? Your intestinal lining can become damaged from a poor diet, allowing toxins and allergens into your bloodstream, leaving you vulnerable to the flu. The 100 trillion or so bacteria living in your intestines help with your intestinal and overall health. The population destroyed by antibiotics (your prescriptions and those in your meats and dairy) can be restored with probiotics in supplements or food. Eat foods like plain whole fat yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kombucha and tempeh. Work with your nutrition-knowledgeable health provider to optimize your gut health and keep your immune system healthy.
- Vitamin D: Sunlight exposure to your skin is needed for your body to produce Vitamin D. But with everyone freaked out about skin cancer, toxin-filled sunscreens have effectively blocked the body’s ability to manufacture this vitamin. Vitamin D is crucial to activating our immune defenses and that without adequate blood levels, our T cells – the killer cells of the immune system – will not be able to react to and fight off the flu and other serious infections in the body. It’s important to get your Vitamin D levels checked to see if supplementation is needed.
- Vitamin C: This is a big immune booster. Scientists have discovered that Vitamin C helps to stimulate both the production and function of many types of white blood cells. This increase and efficiency of the body’s white blood cell count is an important factor for protecting your body against the flu. How much supplement should you take during flu season? Some practitioners say to bowel tolerance. It’s always best to work with a health professional.
- Echinacea: This plant extract stimulates the body’s immune response to resist bacterial and viral invaders. This unique herb activates T cells and lymphocytes (a sub-type of white blood cell) and stimulates macrophages that engulf and destroy problematic invaders (the ingestion of bacteria).
- Elderberry: Scientists conducting studies on Elderberry showed that elderberry anthocyanins enhance immune function by boosting the production of cytokines. These unique proteins act as messengers in the immune system to help regulate immune response, thus helping to defend the body against flu and other diseases. It is considered safe for pregnant women, the elderly, and children over age 2.
- Essential oils: Essential oils – also known as aromatherapy – are gaining more scientific traction with good studies to back them up for immune defense. There are several oils that boost the immune system. A few are tea tree, eucalyptus, oregano, bergamot, and clove. A simple oil diffuser around the home or office is a great way to gently spread oils that kill germs. These oils can also be put in cleaning supplies, deodorants, steam pots, saunas, and body lotions.
- Exercise: Exercise can boost your immune system and help your body fight off the flu and other harmful diseases. Research shows moderate amounts of aerobic exercise such as jogging, brisk walking and cycling during the cold and flu season can enhance the body’s defenses against viruses and bacteria.
- Hydration: You build up waste products in your body and drinking a lot of pure water helps to flush out toxins and wastes from your body. This allows your immune system to be more efficient at fighting infection. Dehydration can affect your energy levels, as well as your ability to sleep, which can make you less likely to exercise which can weaken the immune system.
- Nutrition: Healthy food choices are important but of little value if you have poor digestion, lack of absorption or ineffective assimilation of nutrients. Rushing through meals or eating meals too close to bedtime can all cause weakening of the immune system making you less able to destroy germs. A diet that is healthy for the immune system should avoid excessive consumption of refined sugars and highly processed foods containing preservatives, pesticides and chemical additives.
- Stress management: Negative emotions can literally make you physically ill. People tend to make poor health choices when they continue to have negative thoughts. But physically, continued stress causes the adrenal glands to release extra cortisol to help your body manage the stress. During a period of elevated cortisol levels, immune system cells disappear from the blood. Work on developing a mindfulness or meditation practice, even for 5 minutes out of your day to see if it makes a difference for you in making healthier lifestyle choices. The product of which is a healthier immune system and that is the overall goal here in flu prevention.
- Adequate sleep: 7-9 hours of quality sleep is essential for a healthy immune system. During sleep, your body produces cytokines, protective proteins that stimulate and coordinate white blood cell activity to fight infection and inflammation. Without enough sleep you are more vulnerable to infections like colds, flu and coughs.
You can use your ‘gut feeling” in deciding how you will approach this flu season. Alternative health practitioners can help with improving your overall physical and emotional health with guidance in balancing body chemistry and energy pathways, detoxification, reducing inflammation, restoring gut health, correcting hormonal imbalances, and improving mind-body connections.
Be sure to check our directory for practitioners skilled in these natural therapies to help you live a healthier life and avoid getting the flu.