Can a strong immune system help you fight off the flu?Flu season is upon us, so it’s time to start thinking about the many natural options available to prevent the seasonal flu,
Every year thousands of Canadians suffer with the flu. The common flu is a respiratory infection caused by the influenza virus. Different strains circulate every year and are highly contagious from person to person.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, influenza typically begins with headache, chills and cough followed by fever, loss of appetite, muscle aches and fatigue, running nose, sneezing, watery eyes and throat irritation, Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may occur in children. Most people recover within seven to 10 days.
Flu season is upon us, so it’s time to start thinking about the many natural options available to prevent the seasonal flu, especially for those who want to avoid taking the flu vaccine.
Recurrent or severe episodes of influenza can indicate poor immune system function, which may be due to nutrient or essential fatty acid (EFA) deficiencies. The main goal then, is to ensure the immune system is strong and ready for combat.
Vitamins such as C and D in high doses have been proven to support immune health and help fight influenza. A good-quality probiotic is also essential. Probiotics are good bacteria that live in the gut and by making sure there is an abundance of good bacteria we can make sure the bad bacteria have no room to invade. A fish oil is also going to be important in order to decrease inflammation in the body and keep the body healthy. Antiviral botanicals and zinc are also important for immune support. Some naturopathic doctors, myself included, prescribe complex homeopathic remedies that act prophylactically as an alternative to the flu vaccine. These remedies have been scientifically proven against the flu vaccine to be 88 per cent effective in preventing the flu and are taken every other week throughout the flu season (October to April). For more information contact your naturopathic doctor.
In addition to supplementation, it is also important to make sure you are getting enough sleep and keeping stress to a minimum since stress can impair the immune system. Hygiene is also important — wash your hands frequently and sneeze into your sleeve rather than your hands.
Sugar intake should be limited as it has been proven that sugar suppresses the immune system for up to 24 hours after it is consumed, making you more susceptible to contracting illness during this time. Plenty of water should be consumed on a daily basis with a goal of eight glasses per day. And of course, an exercise regimen is always a good idea to support immune health as exercise helps the body’s lymphatic system to drain, ensuring that unwanted invaders are recognized and eliminated from the body quickly and effectively.
Dr. Claudia Truglia practices Naturopathic Medicine at the Stoney Creek Natural Health Clinic, a multidisciplinary clinic in Stoney Creek, Ontario. She has an eclectic practice treating a broad range of health conditions with an emphasis on diabetes, mental health, cardiovascular health, women's health and gastrointestinal conditions. Dr. Truglia also works as a Naturopathic Consultant for CanPrev Premium Natural Health Products and as a columnist for the local Hamilton Spectator. She is a member of the BDDT-N and CAND.