It’s not the bug that’s the issue, its your immune system: Options for flu protection this fall/winter

Dr. Brenda Gill
By Dr. Brenda Gill
October 10th, 2011

Now that fall is upon us, it is time to bolster the system for the winter.  I’ve already seen the start of viral flus, so, this will help prevent and minimize the typical viral and bacterial flus common at this time of year.

I try to remind folks that having one cold or flu per year is a good thing; it helps to re-train and remind the immune system what it needs to look out for, what it needs to destroy and keep it vigilant.  It is like any other system in our body, if we don’t require it to practise, it will start to be less effective when we really need it. 

Many of you can relate to the first day skiing.  If you have not done exercises that require the muscles to contract and relax and re-learn what they need to do, many find themselves sore the next day.  It is exactly the same concept.  If we keep on top of the system as we move into a different activity, or in this case, a new challenge(s) the response is much smoother.

A good cold/flu response is mounting a fever that breaks after 1 night, with the duration of the cold/flu only 3-4 days.  It is important to keep hydrated during that period, rest and replace electrolyes if necessary with miso broth, and not to worry about food.         

The important steps to bolster the system are: 

1.    Drink at least 1/2 your body weight in ounces per day of water to flush toxins.

2.    Eat a well-balanced diet as we discussed in the past for adequate nutrients.

3.    Minimize foods that compromise the immune system- you know the stuff that comes in boxes/cans with few real ingredients and lots of artificial/ chemical stuff!  Remember, 1 tsp of sugar decreases immune function by 50% for 4 hours. 

4.    Minimize fried foods with hydrogenated, oxidized, saturated fats that create a toxic load on the system.

5.    Consider maximizing a non-citrus neutral based Vitamin C at this time of year as a powder or capsule.  Remember, no chewables or ascorbic acid/calcium ascorbate- this just wears the enamel off teeth, makes you acidic, so, you can’t detoxify and contributes to the sugar load.

6.    Consider a Multi Vitamin/Mineral in capsule form to make sure you are getting all the nutrients you should, unless you eat mostly organic foods.

7.    Keep to a routine, so, you are eating each meal at about the same time and keep to 3 meals per day.  This keeps the blood sugar regulated properly to minimize cortisol, which minimizes any stress on the adrenal gland, liver and pancreas.

8.    Get 8 hours of sleep per night– remember every hour before midnight is worth 2 after midnight to restore adrenal balance.

9.    Minimize alcohol and acidic/stimulant drinks, including coffee/tea/green white tea yerba mate/honey bush/rooibos and pop  to 2-3/week to minimize adrenal stress.

10. Resolve any conflicts at work or at home as quickly as possible to restore adrenal balance.

11. Maintain some type of activity routine with a component of increased heart rate- walking/running/cycling/dancing/rebounding etc and components of strength and flexibility such as yoga/Tai Chi/Pilates. 

12. If you wish to bolster your system even further, consider using the flu kit. 

These are available at this time of year. One vial is formulated according to the most common, virulent strains of bacteria/viruses that year.  The other vial optimizes the ability of the immune system to identify/locate/destroy and be more vigilant for foreign bugs. You take them 2/week fo 4-5 weeks to protect you for the season.  I have many patients that have chosen this approach and have had little trouble with the colds/flus of the season.

Brenda Gill is a naturopath practising in Rossland, BC.

Categories: Health

Other News Stories