Panic has set in with this year’s flu epidemic and there is good reason to be concerned. This year’s flu strain is the H3N2 and it kills an estimated 36,000 people in the United States each year, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Influenza_A_virus_subtype_H3N2. Children, the elderly and anyone with a compromised immune system are at highest risk.
Compared with last year, a record year for the least number of cases of the H1N1 strain (before 1998 this was a virus only found in swine, thus its name “swine flu”). Gee wonder how it crossed over to the human population. This year we are at a record high. You can view US maps to see what has happened over the course of the season, http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/usmap.htm, it is scary.
Mass hysteria helps no one. The best defense against the flu is a strong and healthy immune system. Flu shots are “based on predictions” and they contain preservatives and additives that lower the immune system and are not that healthy (formaldehyde, mercury, MSG, aluminum, http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/additives.htm) which is why I myself do not have a lot of faith in them but I do understand why high risk individuals might want to get a flu shot.
This means de-stress, sleep, eat foods that support your immune system and use supplements. Lack of sleep and poor nutrition over time can wear your body down. On a daily basis, boost your immune system.
- Stress affects hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline, norepinephrine and immune cells (T-cells, natural killer cells and neutrophils) and acid-base balance. Try stress reduction techniques such as deep breathing, listening to relaxing music, guided imagery, breaks to get up and walk away from the stressful area, journaling and anything that takes you to a good place. Laughing is a great way to combat the physical results of stress.
- Get some shut eye, for adults seven to eight hours of sleep a night will help keep your immune system on track and children and teens should shoot for nine or more. According to the mayo clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/lack-of-sleep/AN02065, “during sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep.”
A weak immune system needs more vitamins (B-complex, C , D vitamin) and minerals ( zinc, potassium, magnesium potassium) and creates an environment that needs antioxidants, healthy fats like Omega 3 fats and supplements. Optimize your nutritional status through your daily diet.
When you nourish your immune system with sleep, good foods and less stress, it will repay the favor by keeping you well during flu season.
Next week I will detail foods and supplements that you can choose to enhance your immune system. If you cannot wait until next week, try these 5 quick suggestions to get started, http://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2009/11/03/eat-to-beat-sickness-5-quick-nutrition-tips/.
- Flu epidemic strikes millions of Americans already vaccinated against the flu | The Shocking Lack of Evidence Supporting Flu Vaccines | What’s in flu shots? Aluminum, mercury, MSG and formaldehyde (truth11.com)
- New York declares flu emergency amid national epidemic (rawstory.com)
- Should you Get the Flu Shot? (nourishingwayscenter.wordpress.com)