Stay safe from flu this winter
As soaring numbers of people have been hit by the Japanese and Australian flu strains in the last few weeks, many people are wondering what they can do to protect themselves and their families this winter.
Your immune system is your body's army. Its purpose is to fight and protect you. It is unrealistic to expect your army to battle on your behalf without preparing it and giving it the weapons and training it needs to win. Here is my advice on training and equipping your army to protect you this winter.
- Take a vitamin D3 supplement - Vitamin D triggers and arms the immune system. It plays a crucial role in disease prevention and maintenance of optimal health. Some researchers view vitamin D as potentially more powerful than any vaccine currently available. Vitamin D is crucial to activating our immune defense. The sun is one of the best natural sources of vitamin D. However, at this time of the year, with limited sunshine in the UK, it is usually necessary to supplement. Vitamin D3 is absorbed by the body much more easily than vitamin D2. When supplementing, make sure to take your vitamin D in this form.
- Vitamin K2 - If you are taking a vitamin D3 supplement, it is advisable to combine this with vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 is essential for directing calcium from the blood to the bones. Calcification results from calcium remaining in the arteries and is a common cause of heart attack.
- What supplement to take? - It is best to take vitamins D and K in oil form as they are both fat soluble vitamins and will be much better absorbed in oil form. I use Nutri Advanced D3 drops with K2. 3 drops equal 1000 IUs. At this time of year, I like to get 8,000 - 10,000 IUs a day, or 25-30 drops. I give my kids around 3,000 - 5,000 IUs, or about 10 drops. I suggest you to seek the advice of a healthcare practitioner to ascertain your individual vitamin D3 requirement.
- Vitamin C - The benefits of vitamin C during cold and flu season are well documented. I take 1000mgs, three times a day. Lipsomal vitamin C is easily absorbed by the body and is readily available from chemists and health shops. If you or your family start to feel ill, you can up the dose of vitamin C as any excess gets excreted in urine. The body tends not to absorb more than 1000 IUs in one go. This is why it is advisable to spread your intake throughout the day.
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What else should you do?
- Drink plenty of fluids - Especially warmer fluids. Make soups and broths from scratch. Drink herbal teas like ginger and echinacea daily.
- Avoid concentrated fruit juices - Also stay clear of any sweetened beverages as sugar is harmful to the immune system.
- Include protein with each meal - Proteins are the building blocks of the body, including the immune system. Organic bone broths are great sources of protein.
- Include a wide variety of fruit and veg - A good rule of thumb is to include as many different colours as possible on your plate. Try to limit your fruit intake to a couple of pieces a day as they are often full of sugar. Make sure you eat veg with every meal.
- Zinc citrate - This is a powerful immune supporting nutrient. Pumpkin seeds, oysters and red meat are some of the best sources. Take up to (but not more than) 30mg per day.
- Probiotics - A healthy gut flora supports a healthy gut, which is integral to the immune system and a major barrier against pathogens. Look for brands that offer several species of good bacteria, containing at least 5 - 10 billion organisms per capsule.
- Eat plenty of fermented foods - Foods such as kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi are live sources of bacteria that help to replenish your gut flora.
- Arctic cod-liver oil - This is an age old remedy that has stood the test of time. Cod liver oil contains additional vitamin A and D. Fish oil is a natural anti-inflamatory, which is good for health and robust immunity.
- Cook with antiviral herbs and spices - Garlic is a very potent anti-microbial, as is black seed oil and oil of oregano. Seek the advice of an appropriate healthcare practitioner for dosage if taking herbs for therapeutic purposes.
- Sleep - A good night's sleep reduces stress and allows the body to heal itself and rebuild the immune system.
A good night's sleep reduces stress and allows the body to heal itself and rebuild the immune system