By Dr. Tara Barker
Well, flu season is coming upon us quickly, and most people would love to skip getting sick this year. The biggest question is…How? Here are the easiest ways to keep yourself and loved ones free of the nastiest of colds this (and every) year.
First of all, the flu is a virus. A viral infection cannot be treated with antibiotics. A virus can only overwhelm your defenses and multiply in your body if your body's defenses are not adequate to begin with. If you are strong, vital, and have a health immune sysytem, your body will most likely be able to stave off most colds, flus, and bacteria. The problem comes when you are stressed, eating poorly, not taking a good multivitamin, or have been recently sick. The traditional holiday season, with its stress, gift buying, wrapping, travel, visiting, and overeating, is a perfect occasion for you to fall ill with the flu. Here is what you can do.
1. Take a quality multivitamin. If you are not eating in the most stellar fashion, chances are you are low on many nutrients. This is just a fact in today's world. A good, quality supplement will provide you with the immune enhancing and flu fighting nutrients like zinc, vitamin A, selenium, vitamin C, and the B vitamins. Keeping your defenses up and your body healthy is the first line of defense.
2. Do your best not to become stressed. Stress threatens your immunity immensely. It's just not worth it to become stressed and sick. Try to remember what your goal is in the highest regard. Instead of thinking, "Oh no! I'll be late!" think "My goal is to arrive and do my best. I will take control and responsibility over what I can and do my best." If you show up authentically and remain true to your ideals while not getting bogged down in the stress of every event in the moment, you can truly do your immune system (and psyche) a service.
3. Eat well as often as you can. Now, we all know that fudge, pies, yams with marshmallow, and loads of rolls and butter may show up on our plates. They just tend to do that. But as often as you can, eat your veggies. Lots of veggies of all varieties. Eat whole fruit. If you eat grains, eat mostly whole grains instead of flour products. Don't overdo dairy products as they are mucus producing and hard to digest for some people. Drink lots of water throughout the day and go easy on the coffee, black tea, and try to avoid sodas altogether. Even diet sodas cause an immune lowering effect for hours after you consume. Sugar inhibits your immune system for hours after you eat it (or drink it) and is an invitation to all sorts of viral and bacterial nasties. So unless you are serious about inviting them in to stay, don't open that door too often.
4. Exercise daily. Even if you just go for a walk for 20 minutes, get in exercise every day. Your body needs it. It is good for the soul. Make it fun by going with a friend or your partner and talking. Or go alone and enjoy your thoughts. Go at sunset or sunrise for an enhanced experience.
5. Wash your hands. Most people get the flu by shaking hands, touching a doorknob, or picking up a phone in which the virus has been on and then touching their eyes, nose, hair, or mouth. The virus typically enters by the mucous membranes of the nose or mouth, but could enter through any mucous membrane of the body. During flu season, be sure to remain conscious of touching your mouth, nose, or eyes, especially if you recently touched an object that others may have touched. Wash your hands if in doubt.
6. If you do get the flu, see your naturopath immediately for a quicker resolution. Homeopathic remedies, herbs, hydrotherapy, and other treatments often help your body to more quickly eliminate the virus than over the counter products or doing nothing. Some remedies, if begun when you notice the first symptoms, can even prevent the flu from a full attack. You could also take home treatments that your family could take in order to prevent them from contracting the virus.
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