BRENDA GILL: Swine Flu Defense
Obviously, one of the important pieces of news over this last month has been the emergence of a virus endemic to pig populations. Swine flu infects people every year and is found typically in people who have been in contact with pigs, although there have been cases of person to person transmission. There is no research that can predict who is at risk and who is not. What the history of previous influenza pandemics has indicated is that patients who had the greatest risk were those whose immune systems over-reacted after the initial influenza virus infection The symptoms are related to typical flu respiratory symptoms. It seems to have originated in Mexico and those that were exposed to the virus and contracted it bring it back to the home area. Therefore, there may be many people who have been exposed to the virus, but, their immune systems have fought it and removed it from the system with no symptoms.
As always, with any type of insult to the immune system, if it is strong, it should be able to attack the intruder, kill it and remove it from the body. It’s interesting in all the news on the Swine flu there is no information or discussion on how we can strengthen the immune system, so, if we are exposed, it poses no real problem. The signs and symptoms may include fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, disorientation, chills, fatigue, possible joint achiness, dizziness, diarrhea and vomiting. In children, warning signs may include trouble breathing, bluish colour to the skin, lack of thrist, irritability, fever and cough. The virus spreads as all flus do, through coughing or sneezing or by touching something with the flu virus on it and then touching their mouth or nose. Infected people may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to seven days or more after becoming sick.
Therefore, we will discuss in the next article how you can bolster that immune system, so, you can be confident it is strong enough to battle with all the bugs that we will be exposed to in the future, being a global travelling society now.
Let’s start with the basics-food. I’ve written about this many times before, but, as a reminder, sugar or any refined food that quickly breaks down into sugar should be minimized. The majority of the time we should be eating whole grains (brown rice/whole grain pasta/bread), fruit, veggies, legumes/beans, raw nuts/seeds, fish/chicken and small amounts of red meat/dairy products. This minimizes sugars/chemicals/additives/preservatives/dyes/saturated fats that all compromise immune function.
Secondly, I typically recommend buffered Vitamin C in powder/capsules. We are one of the few species that do not manufacture Vitamin C and most of us can not get enough in food for our needs. The have been studies to show animals our size will use up to 1000 mg/hour when under stress/fighting off bacterial/viral infections. Therefore, since this is the main food to keep our immune offense strong and on alert, I suggest you bring your Vit C to bowel tolerance (unless there is kidney problems). This ensures your body always has enough to maintain all functions. Along with Vitamin C, you may want to consider Vitamin E, selenium, zinc, beta carotene, Vitamin A, which all strengthen the immune system. These you can usually find in a high quality multi-vit/min capsule.
Thirdly, I try to emphasize the need for proper sleep/rest, so the body’s systems can strengthen overnight during those 8 hours. This always brings us back to minimizing the amount of coffee/black tea/colas to 2-3c/wk and ensuring water/herbal tea 6-8 glasses/day. Also, exercise is extremely important to help all our systems to work efficiently as well. Try to get outside at least 3-5 hours/week & absorb some of that Vitamin D the sun offers us.
So, you can see, it does really boil down to basics to stay healthy, so anytime a new bug comes along, we can be confident we have the defenses to easily eliminate it!!!!!
Naturopathic Preventive Strategies
The following strategies are beneficial in the prevention of diseases such as SIV:
! Cover nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Throw the tissue in the
trash after using it.
! Cough or sneeze into sleeve or jacket of bent arm rather than into closed fist or open hand.
! Wash hands often with soap and water, especially after a cough or sneeze.
! Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth. Avoid close contact with sick people
! Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing by infected people.
! If sick stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
! Ensure adequate rest
! Wash hands with soap frequently during the day
! Do deep breathing exercises
! Walk and do stretching exercises to boost the immune system (Note: Extreme aerobic
exercises and weight training are best minimized if you have any of the above symptoms)
! Dry skin brushing and contrast showers are useful to support optimal lymphatic system
! Remember that ‘emotional’ stress, fear and worry can depress the immune system
! Allow a mild to moderate fever. A fever of 1-3 degrees above normal core body temperature
(37.5 degrees Celsius) has a profound effect on immune modulation and optimizes the
healing response If you or someone you know is experiencing a new/worse cough, shortness of breath, are feeling feverish, and/or have had shakes or chills in the last 24 hours, and have travelled within the last seven days to an infected area, or have been in contact with a sick person, contact a naturopathic doctor or other health care professional immediately.
Dr. Brenda Gill is a naturopath practising in Rossland, BC.