The cold and flu season is fast approaching and there is no better way to treat the flu then with PREVENTION! Dr. Andrea Proulx, our Naturopathic Doctor at the Active Health Institute has put together some very practical tips to help in avoiding the flu and help boost your immune function.
Thanks Dr. Proulx!
First and foremost: wash your hands. It can’t be said enough. Use soap and warm water for 30 seconds or more. Washing with a bar of soap has been shown to be as effective as anti-bacterial soaps to stave off harmful bugs.
Beware of anti-bacterial soaps that contain ‘triclosan’ as an ingredient. Triclosan has been shown in low doses to interfere with hormones. In addition, it bio-accumulates – meaning that it does not decompose in the environment and just builds up. Fore more information on this toxic compound and others found in soaps visit the Environmental Working Group at www.ewg.org.
A diet containing healthy, whole foods will help your body stay strong. Here are some beneficial foods to help fight infection and keep your body going during the cold or flu season:
Garlic – raw cloves are best! Garlic is very effective in fighting against bacteria, viruses and parasites. The volatile oils (which give garlic that lovely smell) are mostly eliminated through the lungs making this tasty herb useful for respiratory infections. If you don’t like the flavour of garlic, professional quality oil of oregano is as effective as raw garlic. Health food stores and medical clinics that carry professional products will have this product for you.
Water – drink extra fluids to keep your body hydrated (no, coffee does not count! Not even decaf). Fluids help to thin mucous making it easier for your body to get rid of them. Herbal teas can be a soothing way to stay hydrated when you’re feeling under the weather.
Avoid sugar and sweets – ingestion of 100g of glucose, fructose, sucrose, honey or orange juice significantly reduces white blood cell activity. Effects last up to 5 hrs and start within 30 minutes. Typically, white blood cell activity is reduced by 50% within 2 hours, leaving you more susceptible to all sorts of germs. Unfortunately, many popular ‘cold-and-flu’ treatment options contain some form of sugar.
Ginger – fresh ginger root from your local produce section, helps promote perspiration. Thinly slice fresh ginger root into a cup, pour in boiling water and let steep for 4 minutes. Add a touch of honey for the little ones who may find the ginger too spicy.
Herbal Tea – Sage tea helps to break up congestion. Chamomile tea promotes rest and relaxation. Remember always buy the loose leaf/flower teas from your favourite tea shop as the bagged tea you find at your grocer is significantly less effective.
Success in the dreaded ‘Cold and Flu Season’ lies in active prevention, a healthy lifestyle and good nutrition. Internet resources such as World’s Healthiest Foods www.whfoods.com can be helpful to get you started. Keep the AHI team nearby to give you further medical support!
Dr Joseph Hoffman: Medical Herbalism
Dr Joseph Pizzorno: Textbook of Natural Medicine
Environmental Working Group: www.ewg.org