I'm sure everyone has heard by now that we are in the midst of a flu epidemic. Influenza A and B, with many deaths so far and, as as usual, the flu shot has been worthless. At most, the flu shot provides protection 10% of the time. Even less for seniors, those over age 65 who need protection the most. I see influenza patients daily, and at least half of them had the flu shot.
So what can you do to protect yourself from the flu?
First of all, clean up your diet. If you're eating sugar you're suppressing your immune system. Eat a diet that is rich in colorful vegetables and fruits. Lots of berries and citrus fruits, and vegetables that are green, purple, red or orange in color. Notice I didn't say white, like potatoes. A potato is a big lump of sugar. Eat 8 servings daily. "Eight?!!" most people say. It's not as much as you'd think. One grapefruit is 2 servings. A half cup of veges or berries is one serving. A typical salad of mine will have 6 servings right off the bat. Add a handful of spinach in your protein shake in the morning, and some berries. Snack on carrots and cucumbers thruout the day.
Next, take your immune supplements. The most powerful and simple one is vitamin D. Everyone that lives in the great Northwest is low in vitamin D! It is the most important vitamin that we can take for immunity, and it also lowers risk of breast and prostate cancer, heart disease and MS. Get your levels to between 70-90 - that is optimal.
Other immune supplements that you can take daily to get you thru the flu season include Immuplex or EpiImmune by Standard Process, or Immune Essentials by Xymogen. These have a combination of 1,3/1,6 glucan, olive leaf extract, zinc, vitamin C, and selenium. I take 2 a day during flu season, one a day at other times.
If you get recurrent colds, think of zinc. Often times a zinc deficiency can lead to a predisposition to colds and flu, along with poor wound healing. At the first onset of a cold or flu, the first 24 hours take Zn acetate 75mg every 2 hours x 6 doses. First 24 hours only, stop it after that point. This may stabilize the cell membrane enough to completely eradicate the illness. For long term, make sure your multivitamin has zinc in it, between 15-45 mg. Men typically need a higher dose. And men, you might also be interested to know that a low zinc causes low testosterone.
Next, get adequate sleep. Without a consistent 7-8 hours of sleep per night, our immunity suffers, making us more vulnerable to colds.
If you do end up with the flu, start the zinc acetate, and a supplement called Congaplex - 2 caps every 2 hours while awake. This plus extra vitamin C can be very helpful in helping your body fight the illness. And at the same time, avoid sugar completely! Remember, every time you eat sugar it depresses your immune system for up to 4 hours. If you're sick, don't eat sugar. And that includes alcohol, fruit juices and soda.
This should help to keep you healthy and make it through the flu season intact. If you need more help, are ill and want to be checked for influenza, we are also a walk-in clinic and can let you know in 15 minutes whether your symptoms are simply a viral cold or influenza.
By Dr. Susan Ashley, MD