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Don’t be “Flu’d”

*This is an excerpt from Dr. Mercola’s article titled “During one of the worst flu seasons, is the Flu Vaccine the answer?”

According to the New York Times, the United States is in the middle of not just one, but three emerging flu or flulike epidemics:
•    An early start to the annual flu season with “an unusually aggressive virus”
•    A surge in a new type of norovirus (“stomach flu”), known as the Sydney 2012 variant, and
•    “The worst whooping cough (pertussis) outbreak in 60 years”

Boston has declared a health emergency, as hospitals are filling up. In New York, many are also coming down with laryngitis, characterized by a sore, scratchy throat, and sometimes loss of voice. Other infections also appear to be widespread. One of the researchers on my staff was recently ill with severe flu-like symptoms. She told me:

“I just went through this over Christmas/New Years. I was around an Alzheimer’s patient who’d been sick. I was helping him get seated in a chair when he began coughing in my face. Two days later I had a fever of 101.2 and really felt bad. I also was coughing. I went to my doctor, who did a flu test. But it was NOT the flu…a few tests later, I found out I had strep with a cough. 

It lasts about a week, the fever about three days. The doctor said it’s ‘terribly contagious’ and it’s going around ‘all over.’

Since then I’ve talked to many people locally who said they came down with this ‘flu’ even though they had a flu shot (I never get them myself)…yet I’m the only one I’ve talked with whose doctor bothered to actually do tests to determine whether it was flu or not — everybody else’s doctor just assumed it was flu. Makes me wonder how much of this reported ‘flu’ is flu, and how much is this strep-with-cough thing that I had?”

How to Protect Yourself During the Flu Season

Avoiding a serious case of influenza is not about vaccination but more about maintaining a healthy, well functioning immune system. By following these simple guidelines, you can help keep your immune system in optimal working order so that you’re far less likely to acquire the infection to begin with or, if you do get sick with the flu, you are better prepared to move through it without complications and soon return to good health.

•    Optimize Your Gut Flora. This may be the single most important strategy you can implement as the bacteria in your gut have enormous control of your immune response. The best way to improve your beneficial bacteria ratio is to avoid sugars as they will feed the pathogenic bacteria. Additionally, processed foods and most grains should be limited and replacing with healthy fats like coconut oil, avocados, olives, olive oil, butter, eggs and nuts. Once you change your diet, then regular use of fermented foods can radically optimize the function of your immune response.

•    Optimize your vitamin D levels. As I’ve previously reported, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best strategies for avoiding infections of ALL kinds, and vitamin D deficiency may actually be the true culprit behind the seasonality of the flu–not the flu virus itself. This is probably the single most important and least expensive action you can take. Regularly monitor your vitamin D levels to confirm your levels are within the therapeutic range of 50-70 ng/ml.
Ideally, you’ll want to get all your vitamin D from sun exposure or a safe tanning bed, but you can also take an oral vitamin D3 supplement. According to the latest review by Carole Baggerly (Grassrootshealth.org), adults need about 8,000 IU’s a day. Be sure to take vitamin K2 if you are taking oral vitamin D as it has a powerful synergy and will help prevent any D toxicity.

•    Avoid Sugar and Processed Foods. Sugar impairs the quality of your immune response almost immediately, and as you likely know, a healthy immune system is one of the most important keys to fighting off viruses and other illness. It also can decimate your beneficial bacteria and feed the pathogenic yeast and viruses. Be aware that sugar (typically in the form of high fructose corn syrup) is present in foods you may not suspect, like ketchup and fruit juice. If you are healthy then sugar can be consumed but the LAST thing you should be eating when you are sick is sugar.

•    Get Plenty of Rest. Just like it becomes harder for you to get your daily tasks done if you’re tired, if your body is overly fatigued it will be harder for it to fight the flu. Be sure to check out my article Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep for some great tips to help you get quality rest.

•    Have Effective Tools to Address Stress. We all face some stress every day, but if stress becomes overwhelming then your body will be less able to fight off the flu and other illness. If you feel that stress is taking a toll on your health, consider using an energy psychology tool such as the Emotional Freedom Technique, which is remarkably effective in relieving stress associated with all kinds of events, from work to family to trauma.

•    Get Regular Exercise. When you exercise, you increase your circulation and your blood flow throughout your body. The components of your immune system are also better circulated, which means your immune system has a better chance of finding an illness before it spreads. Be sure to stay hydrated–drink plenty of fluids, especially water. However, it would be wise to radically reduce the intensity of your workouts while you are sick. No Peak Fitness exercises until you are better.

•    Take a High-Quality Source of Animal-Based Omega-3 Fats. Increase your intake of healthy and essential fats like the omega-3 found in krill oil, which is crucial for maintaining health. It is also vitally important to avoid damaged omega-6 oils that are Trans fats and in processed foods as it will seriously damage your immune response.

•    Wash Your Hands. Washing your hands will decrease your likelihood of spreading a virus to your nose, mouth or other people. Be sure you don’t use antibacterial soap for this–antibacterial soaps are completely unnecessary, and they cause far more harm than good. Instead, identify a simple chemical-free soap that you can switch your family to.

•    Tried and True Hygiene Measures. In addition to washing your hands regularly, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. If possible, avoid close contact with those, who are sick and, if you are sick, avoid close contact with those who are well.

•    Use Natural Antibiotics. Examples include oil of oregano and garlic. These work like broad-spectrum antibiotics against bacteria, viruses, and protozoa in your body. And unlike pharmaceutical antibiotics, they do not appear to lead to resistance.

•    Avoid Hospitals. I’d recommend you stay away from hospitals unless you’re having an emergency and need expert medical care, as hospitals are prime breeding grounds for infections of all kinds. The best place to get plenty of rest and recover from illness that is not life-threatening is usually in the comfort of your own home.
*This excerpt is reprinted with permission from www.mercola.com.