“Flu Season” is upon us again and a lot of people are worried, confused, and wondering what they can do to limit their own (and perhaps their family’s) susceptibility to any type of flu. Immunization for the seasonal flu is in full swing, which I am sure you could tell with all the flu shot “deals” out there. I really like the one offering a percentage discount at their store if you get your shot there.
With the recent study from the University of Minnesota showing that the flu vaccine is only effective 59% of the time, I have been constantly asked by patients on how they could help prevent the flu naturally.
I tell my patients that we have been fending off the ever-changing influenza virus for over 2000 years. So our best course of action when faced with a flu pandemic is not to panic! Our immune system can be very effective at fighting off infection, when fully supported.
There are many ways to boost your immune system naturally, to limit your chance of contracting a flu virus. Some of these are common-sense precautions, but others are newly understood methods. I’d like to share with you some natural methods everyone can use to keep the flu at bay.
1. Washing Your Hands Regular hand-washing is probably the single most underutilized preventive measure there is. Of all the possible non-pharmaceutical, public health interventions for limiting pandemics, clean hands top the list! But don’t waste your time and money on antimicrobial soaps or hand sanitizers — they simply don’t work on viruses like colds and flu, and provide no added value over plain soap and water.
2. Watch What You Eat A healthy diet, including a few proven immune-boosting foods, is one of the best ways to avoid catching the flu.
· Increase your Vitamin C & D.
· Eat garlic. Garlic has strong natural antiviral properties that can help to fight off a flu virus and provides a strong boost to your immune system.
· Drink plenty of water
· Avoid sugar, tobacco & alcohol as they will suppress your immune system
3. Exercise, But Not Too Much A moderate amount of exercise, 30-60 minutes a day, boosts immunity, while high-intensity exercise (90 minutes a day or more) actually suppresses it.
4. SLEEP! Getting a good night’s sleep, at least 8 hours, is essential for the immune system to recharge itself. An overly fatigued body doesn’t have the necessary strength to fight off infections.
5. Get Adjusted! Research has shown that within 30 minutes of your chiropractic adjustment, your white blood cells increase, which in turn boosts your immune system. In fact, Dr. Ronald Pero of NYU did a study that showed chiropractic patients were shown to have a 200% greater immune competence than people who had not received chiropractic care,
6. Listen To Your Body Today’s busy world places so many demands on us. It’s important to listen to the little clues our bodies may give us, telling us that things aren’t quite right and that we may need some support. Those clues are different for different people — some get a tickle in the throat, others get a mild stomachache, while still others get a shot of fatigue. But if we take the time to recognize these signs, then take a nap, gargle with salt water, say no to a planned activity, or have some chicken soup, we may prevent a cold or flu, or at least diminish the length and intensity of our illness.
A final note, if you do decide to get vaccinated, please due your own research and make an educated decision. No vaccine is fool-proof, and plenty of people have gotten vaccinated without realizing they had already been exposed — and they came down with the flu anyway! Taking precautions against transmission and supporting your immune health just makes sense. If nothing else, doing so will ensure that any flu (or cold) you might catch puts you out of commission for a shorter time.
Dr. Jeff McQuaite
295 Logan Street
Doylestown, PA 18901