Natural Ways to Prevent the Flu This Year

If you have never gotten a flu shot, here’s to hoping you continue your trend.  If you routinely get them, the information you are about to read may make you change your mind.The infamous “flu,” also known as influenza, that everyone tries to avoid during the winter is a respiratory illness caused by flu viruses.  The virus can travel from person to person in droplets from coughs or sneezes, either through the air or on your hands or other objects.In reality, preventing the flu has nothing to do with a shot, and everything to do with the lifestyle choices you make.  But for many, this seems to be a difficult thing to do.One of the key groups to which flu vaccines are pushed, the elderly, is perhaps the most misled of all.

The majority of people who die from the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are the elderly, therefore public health agencies urge everyone over the age of 50 to get a flu shot.You may be surprised to learn, however, that flu vaccines have never been proven to prevent flu-related deaths in people over age 65.  That’s right. A study in the Lancet, released October 2007, found that NO existing studies have conclusively proven that flu shots prevent flu-related deaths among the elderly.  In fact, back in 2005 a similar study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that flu shots prevent far fewer deaths in the elderly than previously thought.

That report highlighted that although immunization rates in the elderly (people over 65) increased 50 percent in the past 20 years, there has not been a consequent decline in flu-related deaths.  Yet you don’t hear about these findings in the media, or at your local pharmacy, which surely is promoting its upcoming flu shot clinics to anyone who will have them.

Why doesn’t the flu shot always work to prevent the flu?  There is evidence that flu vaccines are less effective in older people because the elderly have lower immune activity. But the key problem has to do with the way flu vaccines work.

The Problems With Flu Vaccines

There are two types of flu vaccine, the flu shot (which contains a dead “inactivated” virus) and the nasal-spray version (which contains a live virus), both of which operate on the premise that they cause antibodies to develop in your body that will protect you against being infected with an influenza virus.

The problem here, and it is a major one, is that the flu vaccines are only effective against three strains of the virus.

Each year, the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the CDC collect samples of flu viruses and, based on flu activity and other factors, select three viruses (two subtypes of influenza A viruses and one influenza B virus) to be used in the current year’s flu vaccines.

However, flu viruses are constantly changing, and there’s no way to know whether the agencies will choose the exact strains that may infect you.

During the 2003-2004 flu season, for instance, the CDC
announced that the flu vaccine had “no or low effectiveness” against influenza or influenza-like illness. Depending on how the data were analyzed, the vaccine protected from zero percent to 14 percent of study participants that year. 1

So please listen up: You can still get the flu, even if you get a flu shot.

It even says so right on the CDC’s own Web site:

“The ability of flu vaccine to protect a person depends on two things: 1) the age and health status of the person getting the vaccine, and 2) the similarity or “match” between the virus strains in the vaccine and those in circulation.” 2

How to Prevent the Flu Naturally

1. Eat right for your nutritional type, including avoiding sugar.

The foods that are ideal for your nutritional type are also those that will keep your body functioning at its highest level. Base your diet on them, and your immune system will be in full force. And, of course, your strong immune system is key to fighting off viruses and other illness, including the flu.

If you eat a lot of processed foods and sugar, however, your immune system will suffer. Sugar decreases the function of your immune system almost immediately.

It is especially imperative to avoid sugar if you feel you are coming down with something, but keeping sugar out of your diet for the long haul will do wonders for your health and make your body stronger, which will make it harder for the flu to bother you.

You can find out more about nutritional typing at www.Mercola.com.

2. Wash your hands regularly.

This one is simple, but often overlooked.  Washing your hands will decrease your likelihood of spreading a virus to your nose or mouth (where it can enter your body) or to other people.  Children especially need to be reminded to wash their hands, as they often put them in, or near, their mouths.  I have my family wash their hands every time they come into the house–and NOT with an antibacterial soap!

The best hand-washing technique involves three steps:

  1. Use warm water
  2. Work up a good lather all the way up to your wrists for at least 10 or 15 seconds
  3. Don’t forget to get all surfaces including the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers and an area often overlooked, your fingernails

3. Exercise regularly.

When you exercise you increase your circulation and your blood flow throughout your body.  The components of your immune system are also better circulated, which means your immune system has a better chance of finding an illness before it has a chance to spread.

Exercising helps your immune system to be more efficient in weeding out and acting upon viruses and diseases.  This is why I am now teaching Nia classes locally.  It’s also a fun, non-impact way to become more aware of how your body is designed to move.

4. Get plenty of sunshine or vitamin D.

In April 2005, an influenza epidemic started sweeping through the maximum-security hospital for the criminally insane where Dr. John Cannell worked.

As the epidemic progressed, he noticed something unusual: although wards all around him became infected, no patients on his ward became ill, despite intermingling of both patients and nurses.

The only difference was that all of the patients on Dr. Cannell’s ward had been taking 2,000 units of vitamin D every day for several months or longer.

Shortly after the epidemic, a paper in the journal Nature showed that vitamin D was a potent antibiotic, working by increasing the body’s production of proteins called antimicrobial peptides.  Antimicrobial peptides destroy the cell walls of bacteria, fungi, and viruses, including the influenza virus.

The BEST way to get your vitamin D is from safe sun exposure every day.  Spending up to an hour in the sun each day is not an unreasonable goal.

5. Optimize Your Omega-3 Fats

Your immune system can’t possibly fight infections effectively if you aren’t receiving optimal doses of the animal-based omega-3 fats DHA and EPA.  Research has shown that these omega-3 fats support your immune system and provide greater resistance to common illnesses such as the flu.

Traditionally, you could get these healthy omega-3 fats from eating clean sources of seafood.  However, pollution, including industrial pollutants and toxins like mercury, PCBs, heavy metals and radioactive poisons, has contaminated most seafood on the planet.  While there are a few sources of high-quality fish left, such as small fish like sardines and salmon from Alaska, they are either not palatable to many people, or they are not easy to find.  This is why it is recommended that you get your omega-3 fats from krill oil. Krill are small shrimp or prawn-like creatures, and their oil is high in the vital compounds EPA and DHA, but is purified so you don’t have to worry about any pollutants.  Just make sure you choose a high-quality brand that contains genuine neptune processed krill.

6. Get adequate sleep.

Just like it becomes harder for you to get your daily tasks done if you’re tired, if your body is overly fatigued it will be harder for it to fight the flu. Regular rest will keep you strong and ensure that your body has the strength to fight off any potential invaders.

7. Address your emotional stress.

It has been estimated that up to 90 percent of illness and disease is stress-related. Simply put, stress wears you down emotionally and physically. Being under too much of it, for too long, is like opening the floodgates for any invader to enter your body. Your defenses will just be too weak to keep them out.

My favorite, and most highly recommended, form of stress relief is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which is a type of psychological acupressure.  You can learn more about it at www.Mercola.com, and you can also try other methods of stress management such as meditation, yoga, prayer, journaling, or other methods.

So there you have it.  A simple plan to stay healthy this flu season that does not involve any type of substance that you inject or inhale.

Keep these recommendations handy, and refer to them often. Most of all, stick to them, and you and your family can bid the flu a fond farewell.

 

1  Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report January 16, 2004, 53(01);8-11. “Preliminary Assessment of the Effectiveness of the 2003–04 Inactivated Influenza Vaccine — Colorado, December 2003”

2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Seasonal Flu Vaccine, http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/fluvaccine.htm

Photo used with approval.  Author:  Renjith Krishnan

The content for this post was derived from a special report written by Dr. Mersola on http://www.mercola.com called “NatuForget the Flu Shot, Here’s How You REALLY Prevent the Flu” to help people make educated choices.  

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