What’s the best way to avoid the flu? Aside from common sense hygiene practices, your best first line of defense is to build a healthy immune system. At its core level, our immune system is designed to do two things: recognize harmful viruses, bacteria, and parasites that enter the body, and then destroy them. At least that’s the way it works if your immune system is working properly.
We want to be able to respond to organisms like bacteria and viruses so that they don’t cause infection, or, if they do, we can recover as soon as possible. Some people can, and will, come in contact with the current strain of swine flu and come out totally unscathed, while others will become very ill, but will recover. And sadly, some have not recovered. Much depends on the strength of the individual’s immune system, and their current state of health. Here are some tips to help you either avoid getting this flu, or recover faster if you do happen to get it.
Get a full night’s sleep. For most people, that’s usually 6-8 hours. For some, it may mean 8-10 hours. Whatever a “full night’s sleep” means to you, be sure you’re getting it in. Sleep has been proven to have important health benefits such as: balanced hormone levels (including human growth hormone and the stress hormone, cortisol), weight management (lack of sleep can contribute to weight gain), and improved emotional well-being.
Exercise. Being inactive can indirectly weaken your immune system. A sedentary lifestyle can interfere with the quality of your sleep.
Eat your veggies! Especially the dark green ones like broccoli. A compound found in broccoli and related vegetables may regulate your immune response, according to a study led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley. Also eat plenty of protein. Protein is a building block for a healthy immune system, and mind. Diets low in protein tend to be high in carbs that convert readily to glucose, spiking blood sugar and stressing the pancreas and the immune system.
Avoid refined sugars. Refined sugars are listed as high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), glucose, fructose, maltodextrin, sorbitol, mannitol, dextrin and maltose. In fact, if you make only one change to your diet, this would be the one to make. It won’t be easy, since we’re all pretty much addicted to the stuff and it’s in just about every single food item we buy, including most breads. Next time you’re shopping, read the labels and you’ll notice that you will be hard pressed to find something that does not contain HFCS along with other added sugars under various “ose” names. Try gradually cutting refined sugars out of your diet and you will notice how much better you actually feel.
Drink plenty of water and eliminate or at least cut down on your caffeine intake.
Practice daily stress reduction techniques such as Yoga or Meditation. Chronic stress suppresses the immune system, so using techniques that have been proven to reduce stress should help return your immune system to a healthier state. In addition, reducing stress lowers levels of cortisol and helps you sleep better, which in turn improves immune function. Studies show that people who meditate regularly may be able to increase their immune system response. In one experiment, people who meditated over an 8-week period produced more antibodies to a flu vaccine than people who didn’t meditate. And they still showed an increased immune system response four months later. Mindfulness meditation (which is not the same as just listening to music for a half hour or so) produces demonstrable effects on brain and immune function. These findings suggest that meditation may change brain and immune function in positive ways.
For a natural remedy to support a healthy immune system and help you maintain natural immunity, try Immunity Plus. People respond to natural medicine in different ways, some experience immediate results while many others have reported optimal benefits taking effect within 3-6 weeks. To ensure you receive optimum results it is important to take natural remedies as directed and remain consistent. You can get more information about Immunity Plus here.
The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry
Volume 19, Issue 5, May 2008, Pages 336-344
Psychosomatic Medicine 65:564-570 (2003)
American Psychosomatic Society