Saturday, February 2, 2013

Surviving the 2013 Flu Season: Natural Health Tips to Beat the Dreaded Flu Season from a St Pete Naturopathic Physician

The ick, as I call it, is going around with a vengance.  You wouldn't wish your enemy with the flu bug this year.  We're seeing two types - both long lasting - both very strong and taxing on many systems of the body.
  • Stomach Flu (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea)
  • Regular Flu (muscle aches, headaches, throat soreness, chest cough, congestion)
Both can be prevented and you can minimize the symptoms so that you don't feel so yucky, for so long.

I want to share with you my Naturopathic tips on staying well this flu season. My clients who are following this protocol are fortified and are strong against the flu. Even when their kids or work environments are bombarded by the flu virus, they're immune systems are able to ward off the ick.

Melissa's Ick Tips:
  • Stay well rested
Sounds easier said than done, but a well rested body is strong against flu invasions.  Catching a minimum of 8 hours of sleep is essential during this season.  Drinking Valerian Tea or taking an herbal supplement with passion flower, l-theanine, valerian, magnesium and chamomile will help calm your nervous system, reducing the effects of stress and allowing your body to stay strong each day against the flu.

Sleep is restorative and helps fortifies and rejuvenates our system.  It lowers our cortisol levels by recharging and nourishing our adrenal glands, thereby helping us stay healthy.

I recommend getting a minimum of 8 hours of sleep.  Some of my clients require more, but 8 is a good average that will help your system repair. The goal is to wake up naturally around the time you alarm would go off and not feel exhausted.  Some of the things we might address if you get 8 hours of sleep are are still tired, you might want to screen for adrenal fatigue or chronic fatigue.

A supplement I often recommend is easily found at your local drug stores: Alteril.  It's an amazing natural sleep aid.  Love it!  It works on any condition where sleep is troubling or long, extended sleep is difficult to achieve.

  • Stay well hydrated
Our lymphatic system is our main defense against the flu. It is our garbage disposal system and it allows our body to fight the flu. Staying well hydrated is key to keeping all our mucous membranes lubricated and our immune system working well.

Hydrate with ginger tea, lemon infused waters and refraining from caffeine and soda will allow your body to maintain its strength during this flu season.  Teas infused with herbs like echinacea, elderberry, goldenseal, and an assortment of mixes like Sore Throat etc.... these are great to add to your hydration mix each day.
  • Stress Less
Stress creates a weakened immune system.  Activities like walking, yoga, meditation, exercise and playing with your children or pets all can help minimize your stress levels.
  • Exercise -- even lightly 3-4x a week
Walking daily for 30 minutes is enough exercise to get your lymphatic system moving.  Moving the muscle in a cardiovascular way -through walking, swimming, running, bicycling or any aerobic activity.  Making the heart pump and moving the muscles, the lymphatic system gets moving.  Our lymphatic system is our garbage disposal system.  It helps move cellular debris and cellular waste and allows our immune system to be as strong as it can be.

Moving our muscles and sweating is a good way to help protect our bodies from viral invasions like the common cold or the flu bug.

  • Avoid Eating Sugar
Avoiding sugar is key for keeping the immune system strong.  Consuming too much sugar suppresses immune system cells responsible for attacking bacteria. Even consuming just 75 to 100 grams of a sugar (about 2 sodas) reduces the ability of white blood cells to overpower and destroy bacteria. This effect is seen for at least a few hours after consuming a sugary drink.
  • Sip, Eat, Chew on Some Ginger
GInger is an amazing, healing root that helps your body beat the symptoms of the cold and flu season.  The stuffy head, the runny nose, the throat soreness and the congestion in the upper respiratory tract can all be managed very easily by brewing up ginger tea, eating candied ginger and soups with lots of fresh ginger will cut mucous and clears the ‘microcirculatory channels’ of the body, including the pesky sinuses that tend to flare up from time to time.

Ginger will also calm any tummy aches, cramps and any gas you might experience. It will also calm nausea.  The stomach flu particularly needs good amounts of ginger.  For those that cannot keep anything down - just a freshly brewed ginger tea with a little touch of raw honey. 
Ginger is so good, I'll be writing another article just on the Benefits of Ginger.  Stay tuned...

If you or one of your family members is sitting at home with the 2013 flu - I hope these tips help.  Hydration is key as it getting as much restful sleep.
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