Especially during this year 2020 we have heard overwhelmingly about viruses that it became confusing for most people drawing a large number of people into fear and paranoia. Keep in mind one thing is that humanity has been living with viruses since the beginning of time and we still will until the end of time. It is part of life part of the ecosystem in which the human species has also born, grew and developed.
Here let’s get health creative and bring our focus on grounded and practical information about how to live with the flu and many other viruses that are around.
A highly contagious virus, flu or influenza affects the upper-respiratory system causing fatigue, fever, chills, nasal congestion, aches and dry cough. The virus can be spread by inhaling infected moisture droplets in the air (from a cough or sneeze), exchange of saliva (sharing eating utensils or kissing) and may even be contracted through the nose, mouth or eyes via the hands touching shared objects.
Flu is caused by the influenza virus. This virus surrounds us throughout the year but tends to strike more in winter, when our immune systems are impaired and we spend more time indoors where the virus is easily spread. One could say that the root cause of influenza is in fact an impaired immune system. There is mounting evidence that suggests vitamin D deficiency (which boosts the immune system), of which our most potent source is natural sunlight, is the cause for the seasonal nature of the flu.
Being that the primary factor in contracting influenza is an impaired immune system the best diet for combatting the flu is an immune boosting diet. A diet rich in Vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients is a good place to start. In addition to supplying key nutrients for the body to stay alive, many of these compounds act as powerful antioxidants that are powerful scavengers of damaging free radicals. This means plenty of whole plant foods, in particular a large variety of different vegetables, fruit & moderate amounts of whole grains. These foods will also greatly boost your intake of dietary fiber, which is key for digestive health and consequently a strong immune system.
Including moderate amounts of nuts and seeds will further boost these nutrients as well as supply the body with valuable proteins and the ever-important anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid. Walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds & fresh water fish are all good sources of omega-3. Omega-6s on the other hand when consumed in excess have been shown to increase inflammation. Studies have shown that the typical western diet contains far too many Omega-6s and too few omega-3s. Vegetable cooking oils are known to be particularly high in omega-6s, in particular sunflower and corn oil being.
Including probiotic foods to improve the health of your gut flora is also another important step. Some probiotic rich foods include sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, natto, natural yoghurt, kombucha and puer tea. Increasing digestive enzymes will further aid digestion and immunity. A healthy gut should produce sufficient enzymes by itself but these may be further boosted by eating raw fruits and vegetables such as papaya, pineapple, sprouted seeds and legumes, mango, kiwi, avocado as well as coconut oil, raw honey, raw dairy, soaked nuts & particularly mushrooms. The science on raw foods and enzymes is still heavily debated amongst nutritionists but regardless raw fruits and vegetables are wonderful sources of minerals, vitamins & phytonutrients.
Foods to severely restrict are sugar, processed grains (refined flours especially from wheat) and processed packaged foods. Refined sugars and other processed foods are the meal of choice for candida, which disrupts nutrient absorption while also severely affecting the immune system.
Herbs, spices and other supplements may also help you boost your immune system and fend of the flu. Garlic will help fend off viruses, bacteria and fungi. Cinnamon, cloves, turmeric and oregano all have powerful antioxidant effects. Oregano oil is also useful for its antimicrobial properties.
There are a number of simple steps one can take to boost immunity thereby decreasing chances of coming down with the flu. Drinking plenty of fluids is one way to do this. Water is crucial for the health and well being of every system in the body, it helps ensure nutrients are delivered efficiently and toxins are flushed effectively. If you’re trying to find a good way to include more healthful herbs and spices in your diet consider having them as a tea in hot water.
As you may have guessed by now, another important immune booster is vitamin D and the best source we have is the sun. Vitamin D is a powerful antimicrobial that has been show to be effective against bacteria, viruses and fungi. Taken at levels of 2000 IU (International Units) per day it has been shown to put an end to influenza. One study also found maintaining optimum levels of vitamin D to decrease risks of developing cancer by 60%. How much vitamin D one should be having is highly contentious amongst nutritionists and authorities, with figures ranging from 600 IU to 30000 IU for adults. The science is still out but there is no doubt that extra sunshine in your daily life will have healthful benefits. Conveniently the skin is able to regulate when it’s had too much. Once the skin becomes burnt we naturally stop absorbing more vitamin D. Oral supplements however are another story. Be very careful when taking Vitamin D as an oral supplement as it does have a number of harmful side effects when taken in excess.
Other important considerations when it comes to your immune system are getting enough sleep, regular exercise (though don’t over do it), avoiding stress and staying relaxed and happy. All of these factors can have significant impact on your health and if neglected leave you more prone to the flu and other illnesses.
|Impaired immune system
|Fruits, vegetables & whole grains
|Nuts & seeds
|Antioxidant rich foods
|Improving your digestive health
|Too much omega-6s
|Cinnamon, turmeric, clove, ginger & garlic
|Sunbathing (vitamin D)
|Enough good quality sleep
|Being relaxed & happy
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