How to protect yourself against the flu this season. Yep, it’s flu season again, and each year it seems to be getting a little more frightening. Some people are opting for the flu vaccine, whilst others are looking for some natural flu prevention methods. Prevention is always better than the cure, so making sure that you and your family have a robust immune system is a key to preventing any type of illness.
Supplements to reduce colds and flu
Protect yourself against the flu this season
- Vitamin C – a hotly debated remedy, however, studies do show that vitamin C will boost immune function by increasing white blood cells. Adults can take 1000mg 3-4 times per day. Your body can only absorb a small amount of vitamin C at any one time. Dividing your intake over 3-4 doses throughout the day is the best way to maximise absorption.
- Vitamin D – people with low levels of vitamin D are more likely to get colds, flu and respiratory infections.1 Take vitamin D3 2000IU per day. Don’t forget to get out into the sunshine to naturally boost your vitamin D levels.
- Zinc – zinc has antiviral properties and has shown to reduce the length and severity of a cold.2 I recommend adults taking up t0 30mg of zinc in a lozenge at the first sign of infection to reduce the replication of the virus in the mouth and throat. I always keep zinc lozenges on hand, as swift and immediate treatment is crucial in stopping the infection before it takes hold.
- Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) – this is a traditional North American and much-loved herb for the treatment of colds and flu. It is a potent antiviral herb that can inactivate the flu and boost your immune system. Studies have shown that elderberry can reduce the length of infection by 4 days, compared to those taking a placebo.3,4 Elderberry syrup is a delicious extract that children love, making this the perfect flu remedy for children. Adults can take 15ml syrup up to 4 times per day. For children, refer to the dosage on the bottle.
- Echinacea – Echinacea is a tradition immune tonic that also has anti-inflammatory actions. A recent study has shown that Echinacea purpurea extract is as effective as antiviral medication when given during the early stages of influenza infection. This a great treatment option without the side effects and drug-resistant risks of antiviral medication.5
- Probiotics – with over 75% of your immune cells being produced in your digestive system, a healthy gut microbiome is essential for a healthy immune system. When it comes to probiotics it’s important that you use the correct strains for the condition that you are treating. Look for Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactbacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis.
Lifestyle Tips to reduce cold and flu
- Hygiene – Hand washing, coughing and sneezing into your elbow and using a hand sanitizer are important to reduce the incidence of infection.
- Rest – A healthy body is a rested body.
- Hydration – adequate water is needed to flush the virus out of your body. Green and black tea (without milk and sugar) are great immune boosters and count towards your water intake for the day. You can also make tea with ginger, cinnamon and honey to help relieve symptoms of colds and flu.
- Stay at home when you are sick. Apart from the obvious fact that you will reduce spreading the flu, staying at home and resting during the early stages of an illness can give your body the chance it needs to combat it. Gone are the days of “soldiering on”.
- Healthy diet –a healthy diet filled with nutrient-rich foods is the cornerstone of good health. Enjoy lots of seasonal fruits and vegetables, pasture-raised meats, seafood, nuts, seeds, legumes and healing foods like bone broth. Warming soups made with garlic, onion, turmeric, ginger, oregano and rosemary will all be potent immune boosters with antimicrobial activity. Soup is easy to digest, making the nutrients readily available to your body.
- Avoid sugar – sugar feeds the bad bacteria in your body and reduces your immune system ability to fight infection. This makes sugar one of the most important foods to avoid if you are trying to support your immune system. Try natural sweeteners like green leaf stevia or xylitol.
Naturopathic support can help to prevent and treat colds and flu. If you want to make sure you are doing the right things for your body, book in an online consultation and we can put together a health protocol that will get your immune system fighting strong. If you think you are already coming down with an illness, book online for a 20-minute acute consultation to get the treatment you need straight away.
Please remember, if your symptoms don’t improve within 3-4 days, or they get progressively worse, please see a medical doctor. If your child has a high fever that doesn’t reduce, or they become listless, please seek immediate medical attention.