Doing a quick goggle search on flu prevention will provide you with some natural ways to prevent the flu. Suggestions such as hygiene, washing hands frequently, sneezing into your elbow, and avoiding large crowds during the flu and cold season will appear. However the best way to prevent the flu is enhancing your immune system and there are a number of ways to do this.
Enhancing Your Immune System
Probiotics enhance the immune system by impacting our gut health. About 70% of our immune system is in our gut and is called Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue. Improving our gut health improves our overall immune health. In particular, this affects our mucosal immunity which is also found in the respiratory tract where we come in contact with the flu.
Studies on the following specific strains of probiotics have proven to be beneficial against the flu:
1) Bifidobacterium longum MM-2 – this specific probiotic strain is directly anti-influenza
2) Bacillus subtilis CU1 – this supplementation was found to be a safe, effective way to stimulate immune response in the elderly population
Vitamin D is very important for our immune system. A number of immune system cells have Vitamin D receptors and require Vitamin D for proper functioning. When we see Vitamin D deficiencies we see things like immune dysfunction, autoimmunity, and altered immune states.
Zinc is also important for proper immune function, especially natural killer cells. Natural killer cells are responsible for killing virally infected cells and tumor cells.
Vitamin C is very important in contributing to immune function. Not only is it an antioxidant that scavenges free radicals but it also has direct microbial killing effects and helps our immune system combat infections.
Examples of medicinal mushrooms are reishi, cordyceps, turkey tail, chaga, shiitake, maitake, and agaricus. These are rich in polysaccharides which are powerful immune modulators that help our immune system to fight infections.
Diet and Lifestyle
There are a number of ways to boost the immune system with our diet and lifestyle, which aids in flu prevention.
1) Diet – Be careful to avoid sugars and alcohol. Both of these impact our immune system by dampening its effect and prohibits us from fighting infections properly.
2) Exercise – Is important as it increases circulation which brings immune cells to all of our tissues. It also boosts mitochondrial ATP production. ATP is the energy unit in the cells that helps immune cells to fight off infection.
3) Stress Management – Stress suppresses the immune system so engaging in stress management activities like mediation, yoga, breathing exercises, prayer, etc can reduce your stress levels and boost your immune system.
4) Sleep – Sleep is the time when we regenerate and repair. This is often the time our immune system is most active so it is important that you are getting at least 7-9 hours of restful sleep each night.
When Flu Prevention Measures Fail
When prevention measures fail, one way to treat the flu is with antiviral botanicals. The following are powerful immune modulators and immune stimulants:
d. Chinese skullcap
e. Olive Leaf Extract
These are just some of the herbs in our toolkit available to fight infection and boost your immune system. If you would like more information on flu prevention or treating the flu, please contact us at https://naturopathic-doctors.com/contact/to schedule a free 10 minute consult with Dr. Alyssa Christoforou.