With the news that swine flu is now officially a pandemic, I thought it might be useful to look at some natural ways to boost your immune system and to help stave off the flu.
RULE ONE: Don’t panic.
If you’re basically healthy, the flu doesn’t pose too many serious risks to health. But equally don’t be daft. If you feel ill, stay home. If you can avoid large crowds, then that makes sense. But don’t get overly anxious as that, in itself, can lower your immune system. Take particular care with the elderly, very young and those with lowered immune responses. If in doubt, stay home and seek medical help – if we are all sensible, we can stop the spread of this virus.
RULE TWO: Good basic hygiene.
- Wash your hands frequently and use wipes or hand gel to clean your hands after you have left the toilet. Wash your hands properly – as in good old fashioned rubbing and scrubbing – a quick rinse won’t do it.
- Get extra help with alcohol-based hand wipes or gels. Use a big dollop and rub hands until dry.
- Wash your hands or use a hand wipe immediately before you eat a meal.
- Use clean tissues and cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze – bin the tissue after one use.
RULE THREE: Natural immune enhancers
- Get enough sleep. So many people simply aren’t giving their bodies and that important immune system the opportunity to rest and replenish. If you’re tired all the time, ten to one your immune system is under par too.
- Eat the best and most nutritious food you can. Supercharge your diet with lots of fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables (berries are majorly high in antioxidants as are broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables). If you’re strapped for time, get your 5 a day (minimum) from juices.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners and additives – they don’t help your body one little bit.
- Exercise. Don’t overdo it (that can punish the immune system too) but get out in the open and walk, cycle, run, dance, whatever. Outdoor workouts are going to win over stuffy gyms for obvious reasons.
- Drink your two litres of water a day. Keep your body hydrated.
- Meditate or practice mindfulness – just sitting and quietly becoming aware of the moment. Sounds mad but these practices can help to keep you calm and relaxed, which in turn soothes the immune system. If you’re tense and uptight your body will find it harder to resist viruses. Yoga can help too.
- Visualise. Again, sounds like madness but there are studies that show that you can boost your immune system by using visualisation techniques. Imagining your body’s killer cells launching into action against viruses for example, in the guise of soldiers, or ninja warriors or whatever – this one is nice for children who might be scared of catching the virus as it gives them something to do.
RULE FOUR: Get a little extra help.
Some supplements and herbs are proven immune enhancers. They take a bit of time to build up (and aren’t a substitute for a good diet and healthy living) but can be an extra boost.
* 10 Day Get Well, Stay Well – a combination of key vitamins and herbs with immune-supporting properties that gives a shot in the arm to the immune system.
* Host Defense by New Chapter – shown to increase human Natural Killer (NK) cell activity by up to 300 percent. Contains a mix of organic mushrooms plus broad spectrum B-Glucans (also a mighty immune protector).
* Organic Chywanaprash by Pukka Herbs. A traditional ayurvedic blend of fruit, spieces, herbs and honey – either spread over toast or dissolve in warm water. Used as a daily tonic and for times when under stress. Also soothing and calming which can’t be a bad thing.
* Astragulus: a tonic herb that protects the immune system and can be a boon for anyone with immune-deficiency. Don’t take if there is fever present.
* If you have to fly or head out in crowds on the tube or train, try Flight Spray, a nasal hydrating spray that can help boost the immune system and prevent picking up bugs and viruses. The ingredients (turmeric root and spearmint) provide an unsuitable environment for germs and viruses to reproduce. You simply spray 2-3 blasts into each nostril and repeat as needed.
All supplements mentioned are available from http://www.victoriahealth.com
Hope this helps. If anyone has any other ideas, please do add them in the comment box. The more we can share thoughts and things that work, the better for all of us. Thank you.