6 Tips for Flu Prevention
When we sleep our body repairs and restores. Consider creating a new nightly ritual to relax your mind and body. A warm mineral salt bath with essential oils is not just for vacation. As the cooler weather sets in (any time now…here in Arizona) it may sound more appealing! Eight hours is a great amount of sleep to aim for but each person has their own sleep hour need. Add “sleep” to your appointment calendar! It may be the most important appointment you keep each day.
Keep stress to a minimum
We have known for years that stress negatively affects immune function. Stress reduction could be as easy as taking 10 minutes each day to breathe deeply into your belly and focus only on your breathing during that time. You could also read inspirational books, listen to music that is relaxing to you, get a massage or just sit quietly in gratitude. This month you may even make an effort to remove stressful stimuli from your life.
Walking for 20-30 minutes/day, biking a few miles each day in your neighborhood after dinner, taking a yoga class, gardening or moderate weight lifting all get your blood moving, reduce stress, improve immune function and strengthen your muscles! Some activity trackers have applications that remind you to move regularly! Consider investing in an activity tracker for yourself or loved one this holiday season. NS now sells Garmin watches with activity trackers. Inquire with our staff for more information!!
When mucous membranes (our first line of immune defense) get dry we create a perfect venue for introducing unwelcomed microorganisms. Simple reminders include taking a (glass or stainless steel) water bottle with you at all times. This could help you keep measure of your water intake.
Another thought for keeping mucous membranes hydrated is to run a humidifier at night. This is especially important when heat is turned on in homes during the winter.
Wash your hands regularly
Keeping hands clean is still one of the best ways we can prevent transmission of germs. Using soap and water is still superior to hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer should only be used when soap and water is not available as they usually contain unhealthy chemicals.
Sugar can suppress immune function. Limit your sugar intake to prevent colds and flu. Eat naturally occurring sugars in seasonal fruits and vegetables to quench your sweet tooth.
Supplements to consider
It is a great idea for both children and adults to get their Vitamin D (25-hydroxy-vitamin D) levels checked before flu season. Studies show that preventive dosing for children starts with 1200iu/day and for adults 5000iu/day. Vitamin D is a fat soluable vitamin which means the body stores it. Check with your Naturopathic Physician for the dosing strategy best for you.
Zinc is a mineral that increases the bodies own immune factors that kill bacteria and viruses. Zinc deficient children are more susceptible to the flu virus. Supplementing with 20mg each day can prove to be preventative against both colds and flu.
A number of different types of proflora have been studied and have shown to improve immune function or decrease incidence of flu during a given season. The types of beneficial bacteria in human intestines is in constant flux. A useful approach with proflora during cold and flu season is to vary the type taken from month to month. Important strains to include are Lactobacillus GG, Bifidobacteria, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and fructooligosaccharides to feed good bacteria.