What to do during cold and flu season

Whether or not get a flu vaccine is an individual choice. Vaccine proponents claim that the flu shot protects against influenza infection and, if contracted, lessens the severity of the flu. However, there are concerns about the flu vaccine. More than 500 different viruses can cause flu-like symptoms and these viruses are constantly changing. Each year, the flu vaccine is formulated from the three most common strains seen in the previous year, which may or may not be specific for the current year`s flu.Vaccines contain many ingredients including a preservative, which is made up of either egg protein or thimerosal (a toxic mercury-containing compound) and formaldehyde (a carcinogen). Allergic reactions to these ingredients can occur. It takes about two weeks after the flu shot to develop enough antibodies to offer protection from the influenza virus. These antibodies start to lose their effectiveness within a few months.

In today`s society, many people fear getting sick. the reasons people give vary from not having enough time to get sick to the perception that any from of illness is an inherent personal weakness. What many people don`t realize is that getting sick may actually be a good thing because it gives the immune system a chance to work. The body`s immune system is intricately designed as a kind of “policing” system to distinguish between foreign and internal “invaders” such as the bacteria, viruses, fungi and cells within the body that are no longer functioning properly. If you never get sick, how will you know that your immune system is working as it should? Don`t get me wrong – I am not advocating that you run out and contract deadly viruses just to challenge your immune system. However, getting a benign cold or flu every couple of years is not a national emergency. Instead, it is a natural opportunity for your body to form the defenses, or immunity, it needs so that the next time you come into contact with the same bug, your body knows exactly how to take care of it.

The good news is if you do get a cold or flu, many dietary strategies, herbs and supplements can complement the natural effectiveness of your immune system.

IMMUNITY AND LIFESTYLE

Eat a diet that is low in sugar, caffeine, fat and alcohol as these substances reduce immune system function. Focus on eating five to 10 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables daily and include garlic, onions, thyme, cayenne, ginger and oregano in your food preparation to help boost your immune system and fight off microorganisms. Often times, we simply get sick because we don`t take the time to care for ourselves when we are well. Aim for balance in your work and other activities. Stress decreases the immune system`s ability to protect against bacteria and viruses. Do not touch your mouth, nose or ears without washing your hands first, as these are portals of entry for microorganisms. If you develop cold or flu-like symptoms, stay home, limit exposure to others, stay well hydrated, get plenty of sleep and allow your body time to recover.

SUPPORT IMMUNITY

Cold and flu viruses are constantly mutating and dividing to from new strains. Our bodies have never encountered these strains before, so as they say in sports-the best offense is a good defense. When you support the natural processes of your body, you bounce back and recover quickly from any cold or flu virus that you may contract. There are many natural treatments available to boost your immune system, such as

  • vitamin C (with bioflavonoids)
  • zinc
  • vitamin A
  • garlic
  • probiotics
  • essential fatty acids, and herbal and homeopathic remedies

Some of the options available may also help to prevent infection or, if taken before getting ill, reduce symptom intensity. Others may be useful to take if you do get ill.

VITAMIN D

Flu is generally a seasonal disease, with outbreaks increasing in the late winter as vitamin D levels in the body decline. Flu outbreaks decrease in the summer as vitamin D levels rise.

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