Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Flu Season is Coming! Want to Avoid Getting a Flu Shot?




We have a saying in our house at this time of year. You drive around town and see all of the signage for, "Come get your flu shots!" and we say, "Come and get your flu!". We have known countless people who have ONLY ever gotten the flu the year that they got their flu shot.


So what are some things that you CAN do to avoid getting the flu - or at least to make it not so harsh on your family if someone does so happen to bring it home?







Green Med Info has assembled a list of studies demonstrating more than 150 beneficial health effects of garlic! For example, studies show that regular consumption of (primarily raw) garlic:

May be effective against drug-resistant bacteria
Reduces risk for heart disease,2 including heart attack3 and stroke
Helps normalize your cholesterol4 and blood pressure
Protects against cancer,5, 6 including brain,7 lung,8 and prostate9 cancer
Reduces risk of osteoarthritis10
It’s thought that much of garlic’s therapeutic effect comes from its sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin, which are also what give it its characteristic smell. Other health-promoting compounds include oligosaccharides, arginine-rich proteins, selenium and flavonoids.11

Research12 has revealed that as allicin digests in your body, it produces sulfenic acid, a compound that reacts with dangerous free radicals faster than any other known compound.

This is one of the reasons why I named garlic as one of the top seven anti-aging foods you can consume. Garlic is also a triple threat against infections, offering antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties.

Garlic may be particularly useful in preparation for cold and flu season, as it contains compounds capable of killing a wide variety of organisms, including viruses and bacteria that can cause earaches, colds and influenza. The respected research organization Cochrane Database—which has repeatedly reported that the science does not support the use of flu vaccine as a first-line defense—has also reviewed studies on the alternatives, such as the use of garlic.15





Another immune building booster:

VITAMIN D - preferably D3, not D2.

Yes, the best way to get vitamin D is from sunlight - always have that be your first choice. But Vitamin D3 is the best supplement, if necessary.

According to Dr. Mercola, Vitamin D can cut your flu risk nearly in half!!

According to the findings from a 2010 study that didn't get any widespread attention, vitamin D is a highly effective way to avoid influenza. 

In fact, children taking low doses of Vitamin D3 were shown to be 42 percent less likely to come down with the flu.

The randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study included 430 children aged 6-15, who were followed between December 2008 and March 2009.

Half were given 1,200 IU's of vitamin D3 daily, while the other half received a placebo.

Influenza strains were determined through lab testing of nose and throat swabs.

Eighteen of the children taking vitamin D contracted influenza Type A, compared to 31 children in the placebo group.

Type B influenza rates were unaffected by vitamin D use, however, the illness resulting from Type B influenza strains is typically milder than Type A.

Considering the fact that influenza was reduced by 42 percent at a dose of just 1,200 IU's a day, it's possible that even better results might be obtained with higher dosages—depending on just how deficient you are to begin with, of course, because it's not really the dosage that matters; it's the amount of vitamin D in your blood.



Another great immune booster for fighting against the flu is Vitamin C!

This vitamin is super easy to get through your food (and no, I am not talking about foods supplemented with vitamin C!)

Foods that naturally contain Vitamin C include:
Kiwi
Broccoli
Citrus Fruits
Guavas
Red and Green Hot Chili Peppers
Thyme
Bell Peppers
Parsley
Brussel Sprouts
Kale
Papayas
Cauliflower
Mustard Greens
Strawberries
and more!


Eat lots during the flu season. Eat large leafy salads with plenty of peppers every day. Make sure to eat a piece of citrus fruit with every meal. You can easily get plenty of vitamin C this way!




Become *slightly* germ-obsessed, at least for the next couple of months. Wash your hands a little more often (Tea Tree Soap is a great germ fighting soap!) and wipe down kitchen and toy surfaces more often.

Vinegar and water or rubbing alcohol and water are great natural germ fighters that you can safely spray around your children! We have a separate spray bottle for each that is clearly labeled and do about a 50/50 ratio. We use washcloths for cleaning and then simply toss them in the laundry and repeat!




Elderberry

I often hear about elderberry in my holistic crowds but I have never personally used it (well, other than the elderberry wine my Gramps used to make!) It is so sweet it is used in jams, lemonades, and yes, wine, elderberry is packed with quercetin (which is an antioxidant that has antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties). This is a native European, Asian, and North American plant which may also help activate the immune system. Research suggests that you take 1 to 2 teaspoons four times daily for three to four days when feeling sick.  You might also want to try sipping elderberry tea which can also soothe flu symptoms.






Echinacea
This is another herb that I don't have a lot of experience with except as an added ingredient with some remedies. Having antiviral and antibacterial properties, this traditional Native American remedy contains polysaccharides that can raise levels of infection-fighting white blood cells, among other functions. It is recommended getting 3 grams of Echinacea purpurea (a well-studied species) daily when you are feeling sick, but make sure that you reduce the dose when you begin to feel better. Be weary of using echinacea if there are severe allergies to the aster family of plants in your family history though.




Ginger
We often use ginger in our home for upset tummies of any kind. Ginger is a very pungent root that can act as an antihistamine and decongestant. Try tossing some fresh, chopped ginger into a stir-fry meal or even into some soup or bone broth to lessen symptoms or use it to make a strong cup of ginger tea which is another favorite in our home.



Here is a simple ginger tea recipe I found online long ago and no longer remember the source:

Remove the skin from a piece of fresh ginger.
Then cut off about a 2 inch piece.
Slice up the ginger and add it to 2 cups of water.
Simmer the mixture uncovered for 20 minutes.
Pour the mixture into a mug, add a tablespoon (or more to taste) of honey and the juice from a fresh-squeezed lemon.

What does your family plan to do to fight off the flu this year?