Get the Flu to Skip Over You
You’ve probably heard a lot about an impending bad flu season, but there’s no need to overreact. In fact, getting stressed out will only weaken your immune system and make you more vulnerable to a sneaky virus attack. So take a break from the mass media, breathe deeply, and review these tips for staying healthy and flu-free this season.
Should you vaccinate?
You should discuss vaccination options with your personal physician to see if a vaccination is appropriate for you – and if so, which type of vaccine would be best for you (e.g., shot, nasal spray, etc.). To find out the latest information about flu vaccines and guidelines, please visit the Centers for Disease Control Web site. Whether or not you choose to get a flu shot, there is much that you can do to give your body a fighting chance against viruses.
To help ward off this season’s ailments, start with the basics:
- Wash your hands frequently – you should use warm water and soap and rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds to get rid of germs and bacteria.
- Eat a good diet, which means cutting out sugar and getting plenty of whole, unrefined foods, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables and adequate protein.
- Take a high-quality multivitamin and mineral supplement on an ongoing basis.
- Live a balanced life that does not include too much stress. This includes getting adequate sleep. Sleep is recovery time for the body’s functions, including the immune system.
- Supplement with high doses of vitamin C, perhaps 3,000 mg per day, when you’re feeling vulnerable to the cold or flu.
- See a holistic practitioner who can help you to support your immune system.
Do any new supplements show promise?
In addition to the tips above, there are a few supplements being added to the “immune-enhancing” tip lists this year. Recent studies show elderberry to be a promising herb for warding off the flu and other viruses, says Dr. Jane Guiltinan, naturopathic physician at Bastyr Center for Natural Health. And bee propolis, which is actually a food substance, has also been shown to boost immunity. Taking a multivitamin and probiotic supplement may help as well. A new study published in the International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics showed that supplementing with a multivitamin-mineral and probiotic combination may bolster the immune system and help prevent and fight the common cold. (Note: Consult with a naturopathic doctor before taking any new supplements.)
What about Airborne, the new fizzy tablet that purports to help you ward off airborne viruses in crowded places? Guiltinan says she finds it helpful in certain circumstances. “I take Airborne when I travel, since airplanes can be so dehydrating. Airborne contains electrolytes, antioxidants and echinacea,” she explains.
So don’t fret about the flu this year. Make a plan to stay healthy, and stick to it. You’ll likely find that the scary news stories weren’t worthy of your worry, since you’re too busy being well!
Sources: Seattle Post-Intelligencer; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Contributors: Jane Guiltinan, ND
Author: Sydney Maupin, staff writer