Well this long, hot summer has finally come to an end and we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief. Autumn, in my opinion the very best season in Arizona, is finally here. But autumn is unfortunately not the only season that is upon us. It is also now officially flu season: the time of year where you can’t turn on the news without hearing multiple stories about sickness, disease, and death due to contagious disease. But there is a fine line between be well-informed and being unnecessarily terrified. So I would like to take a minute to attempt to bring the terror down a few notches.
First of all, whether it is flu season or not, we are all exposed to thousands of disease-causing microbes every single day, and we have been exposed to them since the day we were born. If the simple presence of a virus or bacteria in our vicinity was enough to cause disease, we would all be sick every day of our lives. But the truth is that it’s not about the bugs, it’s about us. Micro-organisms only grow when conditions are right for them: in bodies where the immune system and other tissues are already damaged and weak. So while it is important to be well-informed and practice good hygiene, I believe that the most important way to combat the flu and other contagious illnesses is to keep your body and your immune system strong. How do you do that? Check out my 5 easy tips below:
- Keep your gut healthy:
- There is a direct link between gut health and immune health. This is one of the main reasons I focus on healing the gut first with almost all of my patients. One of your body’s primary defense systems is the “good bacteria” that form a physical barrier on the wall of your intestines so that dangerous bacteria and viruses cannot enter into the bloodstream. If your gut barrier is strong, dangerous bugs will literally just pass on through without finding anywhere to attach to and cause disease. Two of the most effective ways to keep your gut healthy this flu season are to identify and avoid food allergens and take a good quality probiotic supplement daily.
- Vitamin D:
- Vitamin D plays an important role in immune system, and many studies show that supplementation can reduce your risk of getting the flu. One of the main sources of vitamin D is sunlight. Our exposure to the sun is much less in the winter months, and this may be part of the reason why we are more prone to colds and flus during this time. Getting your vitamin D level checked with your doctor and supplementing if needed is a great way to keep your immune system functioning optimally.
- Getting regular exercise has a significant effect on your immune system. Studies show that moderate exercise (like brisk walking, jogging, or weight training) 3-4 times per week lowers your risk for getting sick. Just be careful not to take it too far; overtraining can actually lower your immune system and make you more susceptible to infection.
- Many different species of berries have anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and anti-viral properties that help to keep your immune system strong. While fresh berries can be hard to find during the winter months, frozen berries are always available. For a stronger immune-enhancing effect, I use concentrated berry extracts like black elderberry, which has been shown in scientific studies to significantly increase immune system activity.
- Homeopathic Flu Prevention:
- For the past 150 years, homeopathic physicians have been using the remedy Influenzinum as a preventative treatment for the flu. In the same way that the flu shot changes every year, a new batch of Influenzinum is produced yearly using the flu virus strains recommended by the World Health Organization. In 1998, the French Society of Homeopathy conducted a survey of 23 homeopathic doctors who used Influenzinum as a flu preventive in their practices (Coulamy, 1998). The results of this survey were quite incredible. In approximately 90% of the cases no instances of the flu occurred when Influenzinum was used preventively, and when the patients themselves were surveyed, 98 percent expressed a desire to take the same preventive treatment the following year.
The bottom line is this: no matter what the season, the secret to staying disease-free is to focus on your HEALTH and make yourself and your well-being a priority. Small changes can make all the difference. If you are interesting in learning more about the therapies listed above or have questions about what natural medicine can do for you, call 602-359-2893 and schedule a free 15 minute consult with Dr. Katie at Horizon Natural Medicine.
- Keep your gut healthy:
- Posted by Dr Katie Nuckolls
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