Don’t know whether or not to get the H1N1 vaccination? You might want to read some of these precautions before you sign up for the shot. If you’re opting for other ways to dodge the flu, here are 14 tips to boost your immunity and stay healthy this flu season.
1. Optimize your vitamin D level. Adequate levels of vitamin D are essential for our immune systems to function optimally. Unfortunately there are no significant dietary sources of vitamin D, most of our intake comes from exposure to sunlight. If you live far from the equator, you simply don’t get enough sun through Fall and Winter to make all the vitamin D you need. So unless you supplement during this period, your innate immunity will be compromised. vitamin D plays such a crucial role in so many aspects of your body’s functioning, that supplementing with it makes sense whether you decide to get the flu shot or not.
We know that influenza always gets worse during the winter months. Now there is good evidence to suggest that this is because as sunlight hours lessen during the winter, the people living in the northern hemisphere become vitamin D deficient and are susceptible to influenza infections of all kinds.
The current recommendations from the Food and Nutrition Board of the U.S. Institute of Medicine: from 200 to 600 IU/day depending on one’s age, are way too low.
These values were originally chosen because they were found to prevent osteomalacia (bone softening) and rickets. It is now recognized that vitamin D has many additional physiological functions, for which these levels are totally inadequate. A number of scientists are therefore calling for the Food and Nutrition Board in the U.S. and its counterparts abroad to reassess their current recommendations. Get your 25 hydroxy vitamin D level checked by your Doctor (if that is not an option, you can self test your level with ZRT labs)
Although the current normal range is between 20 and 50ng/ml, this is much too low for optimal health. You want your level to be between 50 and 70ng/ml.
This is the most important step you can take to prevent the flu! It may require a number of months taking 5,000 to 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily (especially during winter) under a doctor’s supervision, to optimize your blood level. Monitor your 25 hydroxy vitamin D status every three months until you are in the optimal range, then cut back to a maintenance dose of at least 2,000 IU a day.
2. Get adequate sleep. This is an indispensable requirement for a strong immune system.
3. Get adequate exercise. This keeps you robust.
4. Take actions to lower your stress levels.
Do breathing exercises, meditate, practice yoga, spend time doing something that makes you happy. Feeling spent, overwhelmed and or mentally run down has a causal relationship to your physical health.
5. Wash your hands frequently but not excessively. It decreases your likelihood of spreading a virus to your nose, mouth or other people. Be sure you don’t use antibacterial soap because of the risk of creating resistant bacteria. Rather use a simple chemical-free soap.
6. Avoid sugar and processed foods as they decrease your immune function dramatically.
7. Eat phytonutrient rich meals (lots of colorful salads and dark greens).
8. Eat lots of garlic, it works as a broad spectrum antibiotic.
9. Take a probiotic daily (look for one with 10-20 billion organisms). A strong immune system relies heavily on having a strong foundation in the gut.
10. Keep a supply of antiviral herbal supplements on hand. As opposed to antiviral drugs, antiviral herbs do not cause resistant strains because they are multifaceted and contain literally thousands of different medicinal compounds. Thus they are able to attack viruses with a full spectrum of synergistic substances. Andrographis, Olive leaf extract, Grapefruit seed extract and Elderberry extract all have antiviral properties. Use one or a combination of some of them as a prophylactic measure, for example, whenever you travel (airports) or enter a potentially compromised environment such as a large office, auditorium, stadium, theater etc.
And if you really want to go all out, here are 4 more tips:
11. Take 1-2 grams of fish oils daily– it’s beneficial for immune function.
12. Take 2 grams of vitamin C daily, yes it does help.
13. Stock your home pharmacy with an immune building formula. Look for one that contains Cordyceps and Astragulus — take it throughout the flu season.
14. Keep homeopathic Oscillococcinum on hand. Take it at the earliest sign of a cold or flu as early intervention is essential.
If you are exposed to someone with the flu directly, you can take one dose twice a day for two days. You can also take one vial once a week throughout the winter, and two or three times a week during flu season, as a preventative measure.
For more on the flu, click here.
Frank Lipman MD, is the founder and director of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in NYC a center whose emphasis is on preventive health care and patient education. His personal blend of Western and Eastern Medicine combined with the many other complimentary modalities he has studied, has helped thousands of people recover their energy and zest for life. He is the author of the recent SPENT: End Exhaustion and Feel Great Again (2009) and Total Renewal; 7 key steps to Resilience, Vitality and Long-Term Health (2003).
Read more from the Care2 Swine Flu Project here:
Swine Flu Vaccine: What to Do?
H1N1 Vaccine-Tested In Animals First
Safety Concerns Swirl Around H1N1 Vaccine
Swine Flu (H1N1) Experts And Bill Maher On The Vaccine And Managing Your Risk
Keep Swine Flu Out Of Your House
Swine Flu Symptoms & Prevention
Swine Flu: The Single Best Way to Prevent Illness
Swine Flu Parties
Swine Flu: Can Cinnamon Fight It?
My Life With Swine Flu
H1N1 A Challenge For Working Mothers
H1N1 And Your Pets (Really!)
Toxic Pollution And The Swine Flu Vaccine
Germ-Free Children: Freaking Out About Swine Flu