As swine flu continues to spread, experts from the Centers for Disease Control to the World Health Organization to neighborhood doctors are echoing the call for everyone to practice smart flu prevention techniques. Here are 10 ways to keep your body boosted and your immune system ready to fight infection.
Wash Your Hands
And wash them often, in hot soapy water, and for the amount of time it takes you to sing "Happy Birthday" twice (15-20 seconds).
Get Enough Sleep
This means slightly different things to different people, but try to get 8 hours of good rest each night to keep your immune system in top flu-fighting shape.
Drink 8-10 8-oz. glasses of water each day to flush toxins from your system and maintain good moisture and mucous production in your sinuses.
Eat Immune-Boosting Foods
Keeping your body strong, nourished, and ready to fight infection is important in flu prevention. Fatty foods can slow your metabolism, make you feel sluggish, and compromise your immune system. So stick with whole grains, colorful vegetables, and vitamin-rich fruits.
In addition to being a mood depressant, alcohol is an immune suppressant that can actually decrease your resistance to viral infections like swine flu. For women, alcohol suppresses estrogen production, which further impairs the immune system. So avoid alcoholic beverages to keep your immune system strong.
Keep Physically Active
Mild to moderate exercise—for example brisk walking for 30-40 minutes 3-4 times a week—supports the immune system by increasing circulation, oxygenating the body, purging toxins through sweat, and releasing tension and stress. So get moving!
Be Vigilant of Surfaces
This is as much a mindfulness exercise as anything else. Be aware of what public surfaces you touch, when you've shaken hands with someone, or when you're using something like a pen that others have recently used--and don't touch your face until you've had a chance to wash your hands.
Avoid Contact with Sick People
A more blunt way to put this is, don’t get spit on. Flu virus is spread when particles dispersed into the air through a cough or sneeze reach someone else’s nose. So if you’re coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth (and then wash your hands), and if you have to be around someone who is sick, try to stay a few feet away from them and avoid physical contact.
Know When to Get Help
Swine flu can look like regular flu, so don't feel like you necessarily are infected if you're exhibiting flu-like symptoms. But do go to your doctor if you live in an area where there are documented cases, or if your symptoms are severe.
Swine Flu Home Remedies
1. Take Vitamin D which improves immunity to H1N1 flu by increasing production of antimicrobial agents in the body. These antimicrobials can fight swine flu and other types of influenza. It’s no coincidence that flu season coincides with the lowest annual levels of Vitamin D. To ramp up your immune system, take 2000-5000 mg a day of Vitamin D. The best form of Vitamin D to use is D3.
2. Take Vitamin C as it not only boosts levels of infection fighting white blood cells, but it also increases the number of interferon antibodies which work to keep the swine flu from even entering cells. Aim for 200 mg ingested over the course of day either in food or supplements.
3. Take Vitamin E which fosters production of natural killer cells that seek out and destroy swine flu germs. It’s hard to eat enough food to reach therapeutic levels of Vitamin E, so consider a supplemental dose between 100-400 mg.
4. Eat foods rich in Vitamin A to boost immune response, however, because high levels can be toxic, avoid supplements and eat your carrots. Be especially careful of Vitamin A intake if you are pregnant as high levels can hurt a fetus.
5. Eat foods rich in bioflavonoids. Bioflavonoids fill up cell receptor sites so H1N1 flu germs can’t get into your cells and cause infection. Bioflavonoids are found in white and green teas, wine, dark chocolate, peppers, garlic, blueberries, and citrus fruits. For best results, combine with foods rich in vitamin C and calcium.
6. Take a zinc supplement. Zinc doesn’t just increase immune response, it makes it fight the swine flu more aggressively. Supplement with 15 to 25 mg a day and don’t go over 75 mg as that can actually weaken your immune system.
Garlic (allicin) – Very effective antiviral. Best if fresh (raw) and crushed. Must be consumed within 1 hour of crushing. Dosage is initially 2 to 3 cloves per day but later reduce until no body odour occurs. No toxic effects noted. (Pubmed PMID 9049657)
Vitamin C – Boosts the immune system and is an antiviral by blocking the enzyme neuraminadase. Viruses need neuraminadase to reproduce. There are anecdotal stories of people taking large amounts of Vitamin
C (children ½) surviving the Spanish Flu. Research shows that it may reduce the production of cytokines TNF-a and IL-6. A study on 470 people involved giving the test group 1000 mg hourly for 6 hours and then 1000 mg 3 times daily after reporting flu symptoms. Symptoms decreased by 85%. (Pubmed PMID 10543583, 634178, 16169205, 12876306)
Green Tea (possible Tamiflu/Relenza alternative)- Very effective antiviral. Also decreases the production of the cytokine (catechins) TNF-a. Inhibits neuraminidase. May have antiviral activity that is equal to other antivirals such as Tamiflu. (Pubmed PMID 16137775)
St Johns Wort (Hypericum) – Very effective antiviral. Also decreases the production of the cytokine IL-6. Hypericum is an extract from St John’s Wort. There have been some very successful field trials in
commercial flocks infected with H5N1 in Vietnam. (Pubmed PMID 7857513, 11518071, 11362353, 7857513, 11518071)
Vitamin E – Immune booster. Also decreases the production of the cytokine TNF-a. (Pubmed PMID 155882360, 10929076) Experiments involved using mice. Very suitable for immune compromised people, especially the elderly. Effects enhanced when taken with Vitamin C.
Apple Juice – Antiviral. Fresh apple juice including the pulp and skin has greater antiviral activity than heated commercial apple juice. More research is needed. Effectiveness on H5N1 is unknown. (Pubmed
PMID 32832, 12452634)
Resveratrol – Antiviral. In addition to inhibiting neuraminidase, Resveratrol also sends a message to cells to stop manufacturing viruses. This is a proven antiviral found naturally in red wine,
peanuts, mulberries, Japanese Knotwood root (richest source), raisins and red grapes. Resveratrol supplements are relatively inexpensive, are more stable than wine and is available in liquid form for absorption in the mouth. No toxic effects noted. (Pubmed PMID 1583880, 12817628, 15985724)
Scuttellaria (Skullcap) – Antiviral. A herb used as a tea. It has no side effects and is also a mild tranquilliser. Research suggests neuraminidase, which is a substance needed by the H5N1 virus to
reproduce, may be inhibited.
Cranberry Juice – Early research shows that it may be an antiviral, making viruses less able to invade or multiply. Effectiveness on H5N1 is unknown. (Pubmed PMID15781126)
Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa) – Decreases the production of the cytokine TNF-a. Also boosts immune system. The number of white blood cells was significantly increased during treatment. No toxicity was
Active constituents can be found in the leaves, bark, vine, and roots. Water extraction from bark used. Children and pregnant women are to avoid. Has a potentially damaging effect on the DNA of proliferating cells. (cancers, foetuses, growing children)
Curcumin (Tumeric Spice) – Decreases the production of the cytokine TNF-a. This is the yellow compound in turmeric spice. Research shows that this may be very good for preventing a cytokine storm although
this is not proven. Must be taken with food or gastritis or peptic ulcers may occur. Pregnant women and feeding mothers should avoid this. The medicinal properties of curcurnin cannot be utilised when used alone due to rapid metabolism in the liver and intestinal wall. When combined with Piperine found in black pepper the absorption is increased with no adverse effects. Obtainable from health stores in tablets, liquid, capsules already combined with piperine. Dosage is 500mg to 4000mg daily.
Astragalus root (Astragali Radix) – Boosts immune system. (Pubmed PMID15588652)
Tea tree Steam Inhalation – Reduces the cytokine TNF-a. Add 2 drops of tea tree oil in a bowl of steaming water. Cover head with a towel and inhale for 5 to 10 minutes. Relieves congestion and fights infection. Its effectiveness is unknown. (Pubmed PMID 11131302)
The following substances may be best to avoid during a H5N1 pandemic
Elderberry juice (Sambucal) – AVOID – Increases production of
cytokines TNF-a and IL-6. This substance is very effective against the common flu but may not be desirable for the H5N1 virus. Increases in these cytokines may trigger a lethal cytokine storm. (Isr Med Journal2002 Nov;4:944-6)
Micro Algae (Chlorella and Spirulina) – AVOID – Increases production of cytokine TNF-a. (Pubmed PMID 11731916)
Honey – AVOID – Increases production of cytokines TNF-a and IL-6. (Pubmed PMID12824009)
Chocolate – AVOID – Increases production of cytokines TNF-a and IL-6. (Pubmed PMID 12885154, PMID 10917928)
Echinacea – AVOID – Increases production of cytokines TNF-a and IL-6. Although it is often used for normal flu, research shows that it may increase the chance of cytokine storms for H5N1. (Pubmed PMID 15556647, 9568541)
Kimchi – AVOID – Increases production of cytokines TNF-a and IL-6. (Pubmed PMID15630182)
Dairy products & Bananas – AVOID – These foods increase mucous production.
Dr Palaniappan recommends coconut water
Prevention of Influenza A (H1N1).
Former associate professor of ecology at Universiti Malaya has authored several books on complementary therapy called, ' Ecological Healing System ' .
Dr Palaniappan said his 33 years of research had shown that high acidity in the body resulted in loss of immunity, thus making people more susceptible to viral diseases likeDr Palaniappan recommends coconut water
Hence, to prevent acidity, it was essential to consume alkaline food and drinks that could neutralise excess acid in the body.
Dr Palaniappan recommends coconut water, which is alkaline, and therefore could be used as a herbal medicine for the prevention of Influenza A (H1N1).
For example, he said, those who felt feverish and developed a burning sensation while attending to a call of nature because of extreme acidity, could neutralise it by drinking coconut water, twice a day, for three days.
He also recommended orange, lemon and pomelo which, despite containing citric acid, were very rich in potassium and therefore, would not disturb the body ' s immunity.
According to Dr Palaniappan, excessive physical activity like running a marathon should be avoided as it produced acid due to excessive metabolic activity.
Similarly, he said, keeping late nights without adequate sleep and working without proper rest could also increase
the body ' s acidity which in turn, lowered immunity and made the body vulnerable to viral attacks.
Dr Palaniappan ' s blog: http://ecohealingsystem.blogspot.com/ discusses the therapy in more detail.