Flu Season, Some Basic Tips
As a result of findings coming out of Australia, experts are saying that this year’s flu shot in North America will have an effectiveness of approximately 10%. Some years are better than others with regards to the effectiveness of flu vaccinations, but 10% really scrapes the bottom of the barrel.
So, I thought I would share a few basic tips that one can do to help strengthen the immune system and to offset the intensity of the flu, should you contract it.
First, as I’m sure many of you are aware, if you have been out in public, hand-washing can go a long way. And whatever you do, don’t touch your face! No touching your nose, no touching your lips, no touching/scratching/rubbing your eyes. All are routes that a flu virus can enter your body. It’s hard not to, as it’s often done subconsciously, but try to be aware! If you can work preventatively and avoid contracting the flu in the first place, you’re ten steps ahead of the game!
Although it might be challenging over the holiday season, try to limit the intake of sugar. Increased sugar intake will weaken the immune system! Of course, increasing your dietary intake of fruits and vegetables will provide a whole lot of nutrition to help strengthen your body, including your immune system. Maybe now is the time to start juicing! And don’t forget that garlic and onions are good for strengthening the immune system, so add plenty into your cooking.
In my opinion, vitamin C and zinc are useful supplements for supporting immune function (always take zinc with food). There is also so much evidence supporting the connection of healthy bowel flora to healthy immune function that a multi strain probiotic supplement should definitely be taken on a regular basis during the season (ideally, take probiotics on an empty stomach).
Finally, I can’t stress enough the importance of sleep. It’s during your sleeping time that the body rebuilds and strengthens. Preventatively, try to ensure you are getting enough so your body doesn’t become weakened and more susceptible to colds and the flu. If you contract the flu, bed rest and plenty of sleep are in order. If you try to be a hero and push yourself to do things once you’ve caught ‘the bug’, it will just take longer for you to recover.
Again, these are the basic foundational things to give your immune system a little added support. A strong immune system may help you avoid a full blown flu attack, or help to reduce the time you require to work through it. There are a wide range of things one can do to boost up immune function, from dietary changes, to supplements & herbs to other therapies such as acupuncture and hydrotherapy. Plan a visit to a licensed naturopathic doctor close to you to find out which things might best be suited to your particular needs and stay a step ahead of this years flu season!
Yours in Health,
Dr. Jeff Appelmann, BSc, ND