Stopping the Cold and Flu Onslaught

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It’s that time of year: cold and flu season are fast approaching. And, with the quick and early drop in temperatures  (global what?), the season promises to be longer and nastier. There is no “cure” for the cold and flu. Even though drugs and other substances may help, your body must fight off the viruses through the immune system. This is why it’s vital to boost your immune system especially this time of year. Here are a few ways to accomplish that:

1.  Sleep- Getting enough sleep (7-9 hours for adults) is crucial to keep your immune system at top performance. How many Americans get enough sleep? My guess is not enough

2.  Exercise- Exercise can boost your immune system in important ways. However, you can’t over-exercise or your immune system takes a hit. Workouts that go too long cause stress on the body and immune system.

3.  Eat well- Low sugar, whole grain foods, limited meat, lots of fruit and vegetables, and other healthy choices boost a person’s overall health and immune power.

4.  Stress- Keeping the body in a constant fight or flight response wreaks havoc with the immune system. This is true even for low level daily stress, so you should avoid it if possible or deal with it through relaxation techniques, fun activities, friends, etc. A good, basic technique is an easy one to remember. In a high stress environment think of: STAR (Smile, Take a Deep Breath And Relax). This can really make a big difference.

I don’t specifically recommend supplements because that is a personal decision to be made with a doctor, but I use them and believe they have an important place in fighting colds and the flu. So, the following represents my personal experience and is not medical advice. I start with Vitamin C. I typically also take Oregano Oil, Olive Leaf, N-Acetyl Cysteine, and Bromelain. The first two may have anti-viral properties and the last two could help with congestion. I also fry up green beans or spinach in a lot of garlic. It’s bad for the breath, but probably beneficial in getting rid of foreign invaders in the body.

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Adequate Rest Prevents Infections

The answer to preventing the flu – swine or otherwise – may be as simple as getting a good night’s sleep. A new study found that those who slept an average of less than 7 hours a night had a 300% greater incidence of virus development than those who got 8 hours or more.  Those who lost sleep were 550% more likely to develop an infection than those with adequate rest. So, according to this research, something as simple as 8 hours of sleep a night has a profound effect upon our health!

I love to sleep. Not in a “I’m depressed and love the world of sleep” type thing, but in the sense that after a full day, I look forward to sleeping. I have never been the type to brag about only getting 4 hours of sleep. In fact, if I get that little sleep, you’ll hear about it, but it won’t be bragging. I admit I need 8 hours a night, or I can sense that I am not quite at my full potential. America is basically sleep-deprived, and since studies show that tired people are also more obese, maybe we should serious look at our country’s lack of sleep as part of our healthcare crisis! Note to politicians: Instead of throwing more money at health care, throw sleep instead.

Sick!

I have been feeling sick the last couple of days. I am around 120 kids all day, and I taught an evening adult education class last week too, and somewhere along the line, I caught something. I didn’t get a flu shot this year. I had been mulling not getting one this year anyway, especially after some recent headlines suggesting the flu shot may not be as effective as once thought (from the New York Times). Well, fate intervened, and when my school offered free flu shots, I was about 3 minutes too late to get a free one. It’s not that long of a story, but basically I was leaving town right after that to visit my brother, so I picked up Jennifer and packed a few things in the car, and by the time I got to school, the nurse had just left.

I am the type of guy that likes to try natural remedies before going to the doctor. I honestly am not sure if I have a cold or flu at this point, but I know that my sinuses are possibly infected. I am feeling a lot better today. Yesterday, I began the day out in the bitter cold, pushing a peanut across a street downtown for charity (along with about 50 others). That didn’t help my sickness, so I spent the afternoon napping, and missed a party I really wanted to go to later in the evening. Last night, I was reading a little bit about Vitamin D and infection, so I took about 6000 IU of it. I also took Quercetin, a flavonoid found in onions, and Bromelain, an enzyme from pineapples. When taken on an empty stomach, both are said to help clear out the sinuses. I take the Quercetin buccally, which means I mix it with a little water, and swish it in my mouth for a minute, and it absorbs in the mucous membranes in the mouth. I usually feel an almost instant sinus-clearing effect. Speaking of sinus clearing…I also drank a concoction I made, which consisted of 1 habanero pepper chopped, a bouillon cube, a little olive oil, and water. The mixture tasted like super-spicy chicken soup, and boy did it clear the sinuses!

This morning, I woke up feeling much better, and will be heading to church in about an hour, and probably going to the Y this afternoon.