8 Guidelines for Flu Prevention
Rachel Oppitz, N.D.
1. ELIMINATE SUGAR
100 grams of sugar decreases the immune response by 50% for six hours. Avoiding sugar is the single most important nutritional factor that you can address to avoid the flu. You can also bolster the immune system by increasing the healthy and essential omega-3 oils (wild salmon, walnuts, and ground flax seeds). Also emphasize the good carbohydrates found in non-starchy vegetables and quality proteins ( free range, organic, grass fed animals, wild game, and fish).
2. EXERCISE REGULARLY
Regular exercise improves the body's ability to fight infections by increasing core body temperature thereby increasing white blood cell activity. For optimal immune system function, 30 minutes of daily exercise is essential. Regular exercise dramatically improves sleep quality as well.
3. GET ENOUGH REST
During the deepest phases of sleep, the immune system is strengthened, energy is restored, and growth hormone is released. Insomnia and insufficient sleep affect hormone levels and accelerate aging. The following sleep recommendations will enhance the immune system function. Aim for at least 7 hours/night (optimal would be 9). Get to bed as early as possible--the body, particularly the adrenal glands, do a majority of their recharging/ recovering before midnight. Go to sleep at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. Avoid before bed snacks, especially grains, alcohol, and sugars. Sleep in complete darkness; when light hits the eyes, it disrupts the circadian rhythm of the pineal gland and the production of melatonin and serotonin.
4. EAT GARLIC
Garlic is antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. Fresh garlic gives optimal health benefits. The active ingredient is destroyed within one hour of smashing the garlic. 1-2 medium size cloves should be taken daily; compress prior to consumption to release active ingredient. If you develop a socially offensive odor, slightly decrease the dose.
5. AVOID STRESS
Periods of short-term stress trigger the immune system to prepare for injury or infection, similar to a "fight or flight" response. Long-term stress causes excessive wear on the body and activates a deterioration of the immune system. The following are just a few stress management techniques: prayer, meditation, deep breathing exercises, journaling, yoga, emotional freedom technique, exercise, regular massage/bodywork.
6. WASH YOUR HANDS
Handwashing is one habit that can help prevent the flu and other infections, particularly in young children. The best handwashing technique involves these steps: use warm water; work up a good lather up to the wrists for at least 10-15 seconds; don't forget to get all surfaces including the backs of the hands, wrists, between the fingers, and the fingernails. Word of caution--avoid the use of antibacterial soaps as they are not necessary and may contribute to the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
7. UTILIZE HOMEOPATHY
Oscillococcinum (oh-SILL-oh-co-SI-num) or Flu Solution can be used for prevention, when exposed to the virus, or when early stage influenza signs and symptoms arise. More specific remedies may also be able to help you shorten the course of the flu.
8. DRINK PLENTY OF WATER
Water is needed to sustain adequate blood and lymph flow which are the key transporters in the immune system.