It’s cold and flu season again, the time of year when a lot of us will do battle with a bug. Every year, from roughly November to April, almost half of the United States population will grab a cold and 40 percent of us will develop influenza (the flu). Some of us seem to undergo an endless series of ailments from November to April while others sail through those rough waters completely unscathed.
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The level to which we become ill can also differ from person to person. Expose three individuals to the identical set of germs. One develops pneumonia, one encounters a mild cold and the third will not be bothered whatsoever. There’s little doubt that viruses are responsible for colds and flus. Although western medicine has not been able to effect a cure, alternative health-care practitioners now believe that after you’re exposed to a virus the result (if you get sick and just how ill you get) will depend upon your body’s ability to defend itself.
To put it differently, the strength of your immune system determines the severity of your cold or flu. The immune system, more than any other region of the body, dictates your state of health. The bone marrow, spleen, liver, thymus, lymph nodes and white blood cells are its most important players, but each part of your body gets into the action to keep your defenses strong. In fifteen years of practice I have observed that immune response is influenced more by the quality of diet as well as the stresses and strains of lifestyle than by any other element.
Put the following four steps together and be among the few left standing the next time everybody else is falling like flies. The typical American diet is too processed, refined and overcooked. Because of this, it lacks a number of the nutrients we will need to maintain a healthy immune reaction. For instance, vitamins A, C, E, beta-carotene and the mineral zinc, all crucial nutrients for a strong defense, are in short supply in the typical American’s diet. Low protein intake and deficiencies in essential fatty acids (found in nuts and seeds), B-vitamins and the mineral selenium also contribute to suppressing your immune system. Eating a diet high in “live” foods, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, pure water and a small quantity of vegetable or animal protein is vital. Unfortunately, there are a lot more variables that suppress immune function than improve it.
Among the strongest of them is sugar. Each year at Halloween, my daughter eats a few of the candy she’s collected and every year she catches a cold within 24 hours. This isn’t, as she would love to think, a coincidence. Nor is it a coincidence that the cold and flu season follows on the heels of two weeks of holiday parties and their requisite sugary food ingestion. Increased consumption of sugar, such as “natural” sugars such as honey and concentrated fruit sugar in addition to the sugars in alcohol, wallops our immune reaction. Sugar competes with vitamin C for transportation into our white blood cells, weakening the white blood cells’ ability to resist infection.
A sugar sweetened soda or piece of cake that you nibble at the office party can stun your immune system into simmer for as long as five hours. Even orange juice, long venerated for its health-giving properties, can be an issue. The sugar in quarts of the fruit juice consumed during a cold can have the identical immune-suppressing impact as eating table sugar out of the bowl. Foods that cause difficulty in digestion may also place a strain on your immune reaction. The immune and digestive systems share a frequent source of power and enzyme reserve. Proper food combining frees up a tremendous amount of energy your body can use to shield you. Separate animal proteins (chicken, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, etc.) and starchy foods (breads, pasta, potatoes, rice, etc.), since they don’t digest easily together.
Meats and animal products
In general are notoriously tough to digest and should be reduced this time of year. During cold and flu season, try to limit your consumption of animal foods to three or four times per week. Poultry is far better than red meat, and fish is greatest of all. Whenever possible, buy”clean” meats in a health food store. Animal products sold in different shops may contain bacteria, pesticides, hormones and antibiotics which put an additional strain on your immune system. Non-food additives like synthetic colours, artificial sweeteners, flavorings, preservatives and synthetic oils like margarine can stress your digestive and filtering organs and hamper immune response too.
Do everything you can to remove them from your diet. Food allergies and sensitivities also appear to have an impact on our inclination to grab a cold or influenza. Chronic congestion in mucous membranes is a breeding ground for the viruses that are responsible for upper respiratory infections. Alternative practitioners have linked two of the most frequent food allergens, wheat and dairy, to increased mucous production. Whether this growth is a direct result of ingesting these foods or our body’s reaction to them is problematic, but either way the result is increased susceptibility to viral disease. During cold and flu season, consider reducing or, even better, eliminating wheat and dairy from your diet.
Make a list of all of the things you consume on a daily basis that contain wheat, dairy or their derivatives. You’ll be shocked at the amount of the stuff that you put into your body. When you ask a medical doctor,”How long can I expect to become sick with this cold?” He or she’s very likely to state the following:”If you do not take care of it, it is likely to last seven days. Should you treat it, it is going to last a week”! Although the western medical establishment takes a comparatively fatalistic view of colds and flu, many natural medical care providers think that catching a cold is just one of the ways the body does its own housecleaning.
This line of thinking holds that if your system is laboring under the weight of its own debris, or toxins, it will actually bring in a virus to make the cleansing effect of a cold or influenza. In my observations, the amount of toxicity a individual carries has a profound influence on the frequency and duration of time he or she’s sick. Most of my customers who have been through a cleansing process get sick no more than once annually and stay ill for three or four times. Compare this to the seven to 21 days many Americans are down with a bug and the value of internal detoxification becomes apparent.
Regular elimination, meaning two to three bowel movements daily, is among the most effective indicators of a person’s overall state of health. Pathogenic viruses and bacteria are brought on by standing waste within the body. Years ago, one of the first things a mother would do for a sick child was give her or him a cleansing enema. Like magic, the fever and symptoms would improve almost immediately. To improve your immunity, place yourself on a excellent internal detoxification program. After you have “cleaned house,” stay away from foods which are clogging and congesting such as white bread products, dairy (especially cheese) and high fat foods. Have you ever noticed how after a particularly stressful event, like moving or changing jobs, your immunity is diminished? During stressful times, hormones are released by the body which may shrink the thymus gland, weakening your immune reaction.
The more stress you’re under, the higher your probability of viral infection. In 1 study, 420 people were rated for trying occurrences over the course of a year. The team was then subjected to one of five cold viruses and analyzed for antibodies in 30 days. Ninety percent of those under the best amount of stress became infected, compared to 74 percent of those under the least strain. In a different study of 100 individuals, individuals who experienced high levels of anger and anxiety were four times as likely to come up with a viral or bacterial disease as those who didn’t feel these emotions. Sleep is 1 nutrient for which there isn’t any replacement. Nor is there a supplement that will compensate for a lack of it.
The immune system works best when the parasympathetic nervous system is dominant. This happens when you’re relaxed, refreshed, meditating and particularly when you’re sleeping. There’s a natural ebb and flow of energy within the body’s organs and systems within the course of a day. The immune system gathers strength throughout the dark hours when we are at rest. Most of us need between six and eight hours sleep per day. If you are not getting this much or when you rely on an alarm to wake you, there’s an excellent chance you’re sleep deprived.
To be sure you’re giving your body the amount of sleep it needs, consider going to bed five minutes earlier each night until you can wake up before the alarm goes off.
- Vitamin C. This enhances white blood cell function and increases interferon production (proteins released by white blood cells that fight viruses).
- Vitamin A and Zinc. These help fortify the immune system and accelerate tissue healing. They kill viruses directly and help heal mucous membranes which get inflamed with a cold. They raise T-cell activity and the use of white blood cells. Along with vitamin C, they also trigger the thymus gland.
- Vitamin E and Selenium. They enhance antibody production and reaction and cell membrane integrity.
- Echinacea. This mobilizes the lymph system, the origin of our immune reaction. It reduces inflammation anywhere in the body. Use it for short intervals and do not use it with HIV or with auto-immune ailments.
- Astragalus. This is toning to the immune system. It balances the power of all of the inner organs and combats fatigue by nourishing the adrenal glands. It can be alternated with Echinacea.
- B Vitamins. These counteract the effects of pressure on the central nervous system, which is vital to the recovery process.
- Free-form amino acids. The sulfur-containing amino acids, L-cysteine and methionine are free radical trappers. Glutathione is a potent antioxidant and immune system enhancer. Taurine is used as a shield by white blood cells when they enter battle. Ninety percent of all of the taurine in the body is from the white blood cells.
- Magnesium. This increases the amount of white blood cells, particularly T-cells.
- Garlic. This possesses powerful anti-microbial and antiviral action. Allicin, the active ingredient in garlic, is deactivated in warmth. Garlic should be eaten raw or in deodorized capsule form.