“This Flu Season is the Worst in Nearly a Decade” Reads the Headline on the New York Times.
Are you looking around at all the stuffy, red noses and wondering, “What can I do to boost my defenses so I don’t get it (again)?”, or maybe you’re already sick and trying to recover. Here are some tips for nutritional support as a natural flu prevention you can use to boost your immune system so that your body can do what it does best – work for you!
As important in prevention as well as recovery. Sleep tends to get pushed aside when we are over-tasked and under stress. If you’re already sick, then stay home and rest. You’re helping yourself recover faster, and keeping the rest of us from being exposed. Check out my previous blog about the importance of sleep as well as some tips for maximizing your hours of Zzzz’s.
Stress halts your immune system and creates an open door for cold and flu viruses. Combat daily stressors with meditation – it’s free and all you need is a few minutes per day. Along with its many destressing benefits, meditation increases your immunity. You can find tips for meditation in this blog about the importance of meditation for your brain health.
In general, sugar adds more inflammation for your body to manage. More importantly, sugar/glucose actually uses the same pathway into your cells as Vitamin C. Sugar is more powerful and will be pulled into your cells instead of the immune super-power of Vitamin C. Plus sugar hides the virus from your immune system. The important immune cells (antigen-presenting dendritic cells) that activate your immune response become blind to the virus.
Avoid Other Inflammatory Foods:
Gluten converts to sugar. Processed foods tend to be high in sugar but also contain preservatives and additives that your body has to work hard to detoxify. Alcohol also has to be detoxified and puts a load on your liver (and your liver is an important player in your immune system). Any other foods that stress your unique body are also going to stress your immune system and should be avoided. (If you aren’t sure what those are for you, check out my services for Food Allergy & Sensitivity Testing)
Drink Water & Fluids:
Water is the medium through which your body transfers nutrients and transmits biochemical signals. When you’re hydrated, you’re giving your body a clear avenue to work. If you’re already sick, water also helps to thin mucus and relieve congestion. Water, tea, especially chamomile, and bone broth are all ideal choices for preventing or recovering from a cold. Avoid milks or dairy which will increase mucus production and avoid any sugary juices or sodas.
Eat Simple Cooked Meals:
Cooking needs to be simple and fast when we’re sick. Crockpots and soups are wonderful choices because you can maximize nutritional value from whole vegetables and proteins in a way that is easy to digest.
Mushrooms contain a compound called glycans, which support the T-cells in your body that fight viruses. Add: coriolus versicolor, reishi, maitake, shitake, cordyceps, lion’s mane, beta-glucans, lentinan, to your soups and broths or try one of the immune blends by Host Defense
Are both good for prevention as well as recovery.
- Vitamin C – 1,000 mg /day (increase to 3-4x per day if you’re sick)
- Zinc – 25 mg / day with food
- Vitamin A – not beta carotene, instead retinol or retinyl, usually from cod liver oil – 5-10,000 IUs/ per day (increase to 100,000 IUs for just 1 day if you’re sick). (Do NOT take if you are pregnant, nursing or trying to get pregnant)
If you are sick and trying to recover, here are a few more tips for some common symptoms:
- A Saline Gargle washes away the mucus that is protecting the germs in your throat. Use ½-3/4 teaspoon of sea salt to 1 cup of warm filtered water.
- Try Throat Comfort tea by Yogi Tea or Throat Coat tea by Traditional Medicinals
- Avoid gluten, dairy, sugar, eggs or peanut butter which contribute to mucus production.
- Add Fish Oil – 2 TBSP per day to aid nasal mucus drainage.
- Drink turmeric tea.
- Try a Neti Pot or Sinus Rinse, using pure filtered or distilled water.
- Rub lavender and peppermint essential oils over nose and temples (be careful not to get into your eyes).
- Use Digestive Enzymes in between meals to break up congestion or try BCQ (available from Jen).
- Try Wishgarden Respiratory Support and Serious Cough – 1 dropper each waking hour.
- Add local raw or Manuka honey to tea.
- Use an onion press to break up mucus and coughs:
- Chop and steam an onion
- Wrap in a thin cloth
- Place cloth on chest, cover with a towel, and place a heating pad on top
- Lay with the onion on your chest for 20-30 minutes
Finally, if you do get sick, don’t fret but rather thank your immune system. It’s doing its job to protect you. Every time you get sick your immune system creates memory of that particular invader. The next time you come into contact with that invader your immune system will be able to mount a quicker, stronger attack and you won’t feel as sick. Your body is an amazing machine especially when it’s given the tools to fight back. Wishing you and your family a healthy winter.
Yield: 1 cup
1 bag roasted dandelion root tea (Traditional Medicinals brand is recommended)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp minced ginger
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
Unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk to taste
Raw honey, to taste
1. Brew a large cup of roasted dandelion root tea.
2. Stir in turmeric, ginger, and black pepper, and let steep 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Lighten with some almond milk, and stir in honey, if desired.
Disclaimer: Nutrition therapy is not intended as a diagnosis, treatment, prescription, or cure for any disease, or as a substitute for medical care. Jen Marshall and Stacy St Germain are not licensed medical providers. Nutrition plans are not intended as a substitution for traditional medical care, nor should be interpreted as medical advice, but instead is an adjunctive and supportive therapy.