Swine Flu Prevention


The three best ways to protect yourself from this current threat and any that may follow are:

1) maintain a potent immune system;
2) use common sense measures to protect yourself; and
3) encourage the same in those around you.

There are many natural substances that help support immunity. Below, I’ve put together a list of several inexpensive options that are widely available and that also promote other aspects of good health. All of these measures are very safe and have what I call “side benefits” (as opposed to “side effects”).

Don’t Panic: Stress suppresses your ability to fight infections . You can literally worry yourself sick or find a way to constructively process these very real feelings. Go for a walk with a friend. Practice deep breathing or guided imagery. Meditate. Get a massage. Watch funny movies – laugh! You may not be able to control the viral realm of the world, but you can help your body and mind be strong in the face of any viral challenge.

Don’t Comfort Yourself with Sugar: As tempting as it may be, try to avoid reaching for starchy and sugary snacks to soothe negative feelings. A famous study from 1973 indicates that consuming large amounts of carbohydrates and sugar can drastically lower the activity of neutrophils. Neutrophils account for about 50-70% of white blood cells and are the first responders when an infection is detected by the body. The effects of these unhealthy carbohydrates can last for over 5 hours.

Sleep It Off: When in the midst of an illness the body often demands more sleep, simply because sleep helps strengthen the body’s defenses. The same is true when trying to stay well. The key is to get adequate sleep (usually between 7-9 hours) in a completely dark environment. Darkness is necessary in order for the brain to produce adequate/optimal levels of melatonin, which may be responsible for some of the immune-boosting effects of sleep.

Let the Sunshine In: There’s a growing body of evidence that vitamin D is imperative for optimal immune function. You can prime your body’s immune system by getting regular sun exposure. The key is to spend time in the sun during the morning and evening hours so as not to get a sunburn. Some experts recommend 15 minutes or more of “smart sun exposure” several times a week. Nutritional supplements can also be used to ensure a consistent and adequate supply of vitamin D.

Know Your Berries: Black currant and black elderberry extracts may help combat influenza. Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu, an Israeli virologist, proposes that black elderberries may interfere with the flu virus’ ability to attach to healthy cells.

Drink and Gargle with Tea: A study from September 2006 found that gargling with a green tea extract helped to prevent the incidence of influenza in a nursing home setting. Subjects gargled 3 times a day for 3 months with a green tea concentrate that was standardized for catechin and ECGC content. A 1997 study also found anti-influenza activity in patients who gargled with a black tea extract. Many other laboratory experiments suggest a role for tea in the prevention of flu-related illnesses and in supporting the immune system.

Take Your Multi: There are many nutrients that are absolutely vital to ensure health immunity. The simplest way to nutritionally “cover your bases” is to take a high potency multivitamin/mineral. Ideally, this means taking a supplement that needs to be consumed 2-3 times a day with meals or snacks.