January 8, 2012
It’s that time of year again: the media will be running stories on the flu, and flu shots, giving the impression that everyone is equally susceptible to the flu, and that the flu shot is the only way to avoid it. This just isn’t true. The flu shot doesn’t always work, for a variety of reasons, so you can get the flu shot but later still get the flu. And, of course, there are people who don’t get the flu shot, and still don’t get the flu.
Why? Because a combination of their natural resistance, or immunity, to the flu virus plus, perhaps, less exposure to the virus protects them. Increasing your immunity to the flu, and decreasing your exposure to the virus is easy. And whether or not you get a flu shot, these recommendations will increase your resistance to all infections and help keep you healthy.
To increase your resistance to infection:
- Learn what your food allergies are, and avoid them. This is the most powerful way to increase your resistance to infections. If you get more than two of the same kind of infections in a year: colds, sore throats, bronchitis, you probably have an allergy.
- Drink plenty of water, 6-8 glasses per day, to stay well hydrated. When your upper respiratory tract (eyes, nose, throat, and bronchi) get dried out, you are more susceptible to infections.
- Avoid things that dehydrate you, so keep caffeine and alcohol to a minimum.
- Cut way back on refined sugars and sweets. The less ice cream, cakes, cookies, candy, soda and the like, the better. Sugar is bad for your immune system.
- Get enough sleep. Less than seven hours isn’t acceptable for most people, and eight hours per night is ideal.
- Manage your stress. Running yourself ragged and not taking care of yourself can come back to bite you as flu, colds, sore throats, and other infections.
- Get your vitamin D level tested. Take at least 2000 IU Vitamin D per day. If your level is below 35, check with your doctor about how much vitamin D to take.
- Take the supplement NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine), 600 mg twice per day. This powerful antioxidant has been proven to reduce your chances of getting the flu.
- We recommend you take additional vitamin C. Ideally, 500 mg twice/day, with breakfast and dinner.
- Elderberry Fruit Extract (EFE) shortens the course of the flu. Based on this, I recommend taking EFE during the whole flu season as a preventive. Look for a liquid extract made with glycerin rather than sugar, since sugar is bad for you.
- Eat garlic. Garlic capsules and tablets don’t help —you have to eat garlic. To deal with odor concerns, eat several sprigs of parsley with the garlic. Parsley is a great source of non-toxic vitamin A, which also means it’s full of naturally healthy antioxidants and phytonutrients. The combination of parsley and garlic is a natural cleanser of your kidneys and arteries.
To decrease your exposure to the flu virus:
- Wash your hands with soap and hot water. This is far superior to antibacterial wipes or sprays. Some of those spray have only alcohol in them, which won’t help against many viruses and bacteria. And triclosan®, an antimicrobial chemical in many of those products, is a chemical that may slowly build up in our bodies causing potential problems, plus it washes down our drains into streams, rivers, oceans, and groundwater.
- Don’t touch surfaces in public places if you don’t have to.
- Don’t touch your eyes mouth face and nose unless necessary, and then ideally only after washing your hands. This is the main way viruses get transmitted.
If your immunity is strong, your body can fend off the flu virus. Still, it makes sense to also avoid unnecessary exposure. Keep in mind that the U.S. CDC recommends the flu vaccine for young children; the elderly; and people with compromised immune systems such as those undergoing chemotherapy or who’ve had organ transplants.
Have a healthy winter!