fluCelebrate Naturopathic Medicine Week this week and visit your favorite naturopath. This is our first established week to celebrate naturopathic medicine, and we’d love to see you in the office!

While we’re talking about naturopathy, one of the best ways we can help you at this time of year is by helping you avoid the flu or reduce its severity if you happen to catch it. Flu season is upon us, but if you follow these tips and our flu protocol, you’ll successfully navigate the next few months.

There’s incredible hysteria about the flu every year, and this persuades millions of people to rush out and get a flu shot. Others are required to have it in order to keep their jobs, especially healthcare workers.

When it comes to colds and flu, we need to simply focus on taking care of ourselves. By creating a healthy environment within and outside of us, we lower our susceptibility of getting a cold or the flu. We focus too much on the bug itself instead of on what we can do to create a healthy individual. Too many people will get a flu shot and then feel that they are protected, but flu shots don’t guarantee protection or improve your health!

Instead, I recommend a few things to my patients to stay healthy from all the bugs out there, including the flu:

Wash your hands correctly and often!

If you do nothing but wash your hands as often as possible, you’ll avoid colds and flu. Here’s how to correctly wash your hands in five easy steps:

  1. Turn on warm water (not hot as it will dry out your hands), and thoroughly wet your hands.
  2. Apply soap and lather vigorously for 20 seconds. Sing “Happy Birthday” and “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” while you rub your hands together, covering every bit from the wrists to the fingertips. Don’t forget to rub the cuticles and wash fingertips and fingernails by rubbing them in the palm of the opposite hand. Don’t be afraid to use plenty of soap.
  3. Rinse thoroughly, keeping the hands below the elbows. Do not allow the hands to touch the faucet or the sink.
  4. Do not turn off the water yet. Use at least two paper towels to carefully dry hands.
  5. Use another dry paper towel to turn off the faucets, and then use your foot, the dry paper towel, or the bottom of your shirt to open the bathroom door.

If washing your hands isn’t possible, use an alcohol-based hand gel to kill germs. Follow the directions on the bottle. Wash your hands when you get home from being in public, and always wash before you eat.

Don’t panic!

Stress reduces your ability to fight colds and flu. If you’re a worrier, you can literally make yourself sick. Find ways to reduce your stress and replace anxiety with calm.

Nourish your body well.

Fill up on fruits and vegetables, which contain powerful antioxidants that can help keep up your defenses. This is by far the most important thing you can do to improve your health and immune system.

Get your zzz’s.

Sleep helps strengthen the body’s defenses. While you sleep, you produce melatonin, which may be responsible for some of the immune-boosting effects of sleep.

Get plenty of Vitamin D, Vitamin D, and…Vitamin D.

And I’ll say it again—I can’t stress enough the need for Vitamin D. Almost every single person needs a supplement; your daily vitamin is not providing adequate levels and our innate immune system (which is your first line of defense against viruses) won’t work without sufficient levels of Vitamin D.

Pop the probiotics.

You know the term—you see it in all types of new products at the grocery store. Activia is one example. They’re supposed to help keep you regular. And while these products are good, the levels of probiotics within are not high enough. Get adequate amounts through a supplement/pill formula to maintain normal, healthy gut flora. Most of your immune system is in your digestive system, which is why you need to help keep it regulated!

Swap out sweets.

Studies indicate that eating sugar and refined carbohydrates can drastically reduce and slow the activity of neutrophils, which account for half to two-thirds of white blood cells, the first responders to infection. Dump the sugar, refined carbohydrates, and white foods (bread, pasta, rice). Your local health food store has plenty of alternatives that are healthier and taste delicious.

What I most want to stress is that you don’t need to get a flu shot.

If you choose to get one, ask for a list of ingredients. You’ll likely be surprised to see the list, which includes Thimerosal (a mercury derivative that has been associated with an increase in autism), immune stimulants, preservatives, etc. Make an informed decision whether these are ingredients you want to put in your body or the bodies of your family.

In 1976, when the last outbreak of the Swine Flu was looming, more people died from getting the vaccine than did from the flu. It is my belief that no child, pregnant woman or even an elderly person should get the swine flu shot; there is has not been sufficient safety testing to justify it! And it most definitely does not guarantee protection.