How to fight the flu when you have it?

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CDC Says “Take 3” Actions to Fight Flu

Flu is a serious contagious disease that can lead to hospitalization and even death.

CDC urges you to take the following actions to protect yourself and others from influenza (flu):

Take time to get a flu vaccine.

  • CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.
  • While there are many different flu viruses, a flu vaccine protects against the viruses that research suggests will be most common. (See Vaccine Virus Selection for this season’s vaccine composition.)
  • Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations.
  • Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every year before flu activity begins in their community. CDC recommends getting vaccinated by the end of October. Learn more about vaccine timing.
  • Vaccination of high risk persons is especially important to decrease their risk of severe flu illness.
  • People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with certain chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.
  • Vaccination also is important for health care workers, and other people who live with or care for high risk people to keep from spreading flu to them.
  • Children younger than 6 months are at high risk of serious flu illness, but are too young to be vaccinated. People who care for infants should be vaccinated instead.

Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.

  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
  • If you are sick with flu symptoms, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
  • See Everyday Preventive Actions pdf icon and Nonpharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) for more information about actions – apart from getting vaccinated and taking medicine – that people and communities can take to help slow the spread of illnesses like influenza (flu).

Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.

  • If you are sick with flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat your illness.
  • Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. They are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) and are not available over-the-counter.
  • Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For people with high risk factors pdf icon, treatment with an antiviral drug can mean the difference between having a milder illness versus a very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay.
  • Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within 2 days of getting sick, but starting them later can still be helpful, especially if the sick person has a high risk factor or is very sick from flu. Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking this drug.
  • Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also may have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with flu and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.

Visit CDC’s website to find out what to do if you get sick with the flu.

Take Three Actions to Fight Flu Infographic

View the full Take Three Actions to Fight Flu Infographic, here.

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This may be one of the worst flu seasons in decades — so fight it with these 10 proven treatments

The flu is nothing to sneeze at.

Americans seem to have been exchanging germs as well as gifts over the holidays, as more than one in four people (26.3%) tested the week ending Dec. 28, 2019 came up positive for the flu, the CDC reports.

The 2017-2018 flu season was the deadliest in more than four decades with 80,000 deaths caused by the flu, including 180 children. And it looks like the virus is back with a vengeance for winter 2019-2020, which is on track to be just as bad, as seen on this CDC graph.

CDC

There have been at least 6.4 million flu illnesses, 55,000 hospitalizations and 2,900 deaths from flu already, and that doesn’t include all of those sick puppies laid up with the virus who didn’t go see a doctor. The fatalities also include 27 kids, which is the highest number of child flu deaths at this point in the season since the CDC started keeping records 17 years ago, CNN noted.

— CDC (@CDCgov) January 6, 2020

Flu activity peaks between December and February, so now is the time to protect yourself and your family. The average household spends $338 on over-the-counter medications every year, which ramps up during cold and flu season, and $328 billion on prescription retail drugs available at pharmacies. But before you start banking on supposed cure-alls like supplements, fortified lozenges and Cold-EEZE — or worse, skipping the flu shot like more than 40% of Americans — read up on these scientifically proven preventatives and treatments that doctors and registered dietitians prescribed to MarketWatch.

BEFORE YOU GET SICK

Do:

Get your flu shot. Don’t let reports of some seasons having somewhat ineffective vaccines put you off. (For example, the 2017-2018 vaccine’s efficacy rate was just about 36%, which means it cut flu-related doctors visits by that amount.) The CDC still recommends you get it, even this late into the season, because the vaccine can still lower your risk of complications or dying from the flu even if you do get sick. Don’t delay, as Dr. Keith Roach, physician at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, told MarketWatch that it takes two weeks for the vaccine to work. “There’s some benefit, and it’s usually free, since it’s covered by insurance, so the value that you get for the cost is infinite,” he said. If you’re uninsured, the shots run between $40 and $60 at drugstores like CVS CVS, -2.71%, Walmart WMT, -1.79% and Target TGT, -3.43%, or those with Costco COST, -1.28% or Sam’s Club memberships can get jabbed for just $20 or $30. You can also find health centers near you, or look up your state’s vaccine offerings, at Vaccines.gov.

Getty Images/iStockphoto Get your flu shot, health professionals say.

Stock up on hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes. “The main way we get the flu is through personal contact,” explained Dr. Roach, “or touching something that a person with the flu has already touched — which, in a city or an office, can mean practically anything.” You should wash your hands frequently, especially after shaking hands with someone or grabbing a doorknob, but in a pinch, Dr. Roach said that swiping your hands or cleaning your desk or phone with cleaning wipes (just $1 or less for travel-size sanitizer and $5 and up for wipes) is “still worth doing.”

Eat orange fruits and veggies, plus shellfish and greens. While there’s scant evidence to support supplements, there is research to support that getting immune-boosting vitamins and minerals from whole foods is important for holistic health. “Zinc and vitamin C are both involved in the body’s response to infection and are utilized by the cells of the immune system,” said Tanya Zuckerbrot, a registered dietitian and best-selling of author “The F-Factor Diet,” who recommends fortifying yourself with sweet yellow peppers and red peppers, kale and broccoli for vitamin C, and oysters, lean lamb and beef, spinach and mushrooms for zinc.

Get plenty of sleep. “Sleep is actually more important than diet,” said Dr. Roach, pointing to research showing your immune system releases proteins called cytokines in your sleep, which are needed to fight infections and inflammation. So not catching enough Zs suppresses your immune system — which makes you more likely to catch a cold or the flu if you come in contact with it.

Exercise. Breaking a sweat doesn’t just make your muscles stronger — it also pumps up your immune system. A 2010 study found that regular exercisers nearly halved their risk of catching cold viruses, and those who still got sick suffered less severe symptoms. “Exercise will absolutely boost the immune system, even into the day after you exercise,” said Dr. Roach.

Don’t:

Load up on supplements and zinc lozenges. “It’s all snake oil,” said Dr. Roach — and that goes for effervescent vitamin C megadoses (familiar ones include Airborne and Emergen-C that run $7 to $13) and lozenges fortified with zinc ($5 to $10). Consumer Reports reported that Americans spent $35 billion on dietary supplements in 2015 alone — even though manufacturers don’t have to prove to the Food and Drug Administration that their products are effective or even safe. “There is no good data that shows they are effective,” said Dr. Roach.

IF YOU’RE SICK

Do:

See a doctor as soon as you experience symptoms. You want to be prescribed an antiviral flu medication like Tamiflu or Roche RHHBY, -1.67% ($50 to $130, often covered by insurance) as soon as possible, which can reduce the time that you’re sick from half a day to two days. “Even one less sick day is a huge monetary incentive for someone,” said Dr. Roach. “This isn’t walking around with a box of tissues — the flu is lying in bed wishing you were dead. The muscle aches feel like you were hit by a truck. So by all means, see a doctor and get an anti-flu medication at the earliest possible onset of symptoms, which include the sudden onset of muscle aches, fever, headache and often some upper respiratory symptoms such as a runny nose, cough or sore throat.”

Use over-the-counter meds to ease specific symptoms. But don’t grab just any cold medicine just for the sake of throwing something else at the flu. Dr. Roach recommends tailoring your medications to your ailments, such as acetaminophen (like Johnson & Johnson’s JNJ, -0.99% Tylenol) for the muscle aches, suphedrine (Sudafed) for stuffy noses, and dextromethorphan (Pfizer-made PFE, +0.46% Robitussin) for coughs, or combination drugs like Procter & Gamble’s PG, -1.06% DayQuil/NyQuil, or Tylenol Cold + Flu to treat multiple symptoms. “But don’t take something if you don’t need it,” he said. “Some of these can make you feel wired, raise your heart rate or give you dry mouth.”

Slurp chicken soup. “There really is something to chicken soup,” said Dr. Roach. “Studies have found that viral shedding actually is decreased when you have chicken soup, compared with just hot water.” Nutritionist and registered dietitian Keri Glassman also suggests throwing some Cordyceps mushrooms into your soup, “which are antibacterial and are also known to be effective in fighting off viral infections,” she said. “And add in garlic and onion — not just for flavor, but for a dose of antiseptic and immunity-boosting compounds.”

Getty Images/iStockphoto Doctors shared their tried and tested flu remedies — like chicken soup.

Sip plenty of clear fluids. When you are febrile in the throes of the flu, you tend to sweat and breathe with you mouth open, so you often lose a lot more fluid than you realize. Drink enough clear fluids (like water or tea) so that you’re urinating every few hours, and the urine isn’t dark and concentrated. And steep yourself in hot tea with honey. “Honey is a cure-all for so many things because of its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties,” said Glassman. “And it’s also good for coating a sore throat and helping you feel better.”

Use hot showers and vaporizers to decongest. Getting some steam won’t make you better any faster, but it can help you breathe more easily. “The steam helps you get rid of the mucous lining your airways, which can make it difficult and uncomfortable to breathe,” said Dr. Roach. “I tell people to get into a shower as hot as they can stand, and breathe the steam in and out as much as they can through their nasal passages.” Then cough, sneeze and blow your nose for 10 minutes after your sauna. And a humidifier can also soothe dry and cracked nasal passages. Plus, dry air helps the flu virus live longer, so aim to keep the humidity in your room at 30% to 50%.

Don’t:

Try working through it. “Every person with the flu on average infects another three people, and one of the people you infect might be somebody who could get in big trouble with it,” said Dr. Roach, including young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions. “Between 12,000 and 56,000 people die from the flu every year. So stay at home. Don’t go infecting those other three people. It will be better for you and a whole lot better for the rest of the world.”

Rely on homeopathic remedies. Don’t trust any over-the-counter remedy that promises to cure the flu itself, as opposed to treating symptoms. “These remedies have no active medications in them, and so they aren’t going to work beyond a placebo effect,” said Dr. Roach. “There are some herbal remedies out there that might be beneficial, but just haven’t been proven yet; but nonetheless, I’d recommend that people save their money and use proven treatments.”

This article was originally published in February 2018, and has been updated with the most recent CDC data for winter 2019-2020.

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How to Treat the Flu

If you have the flu, you probably aren’t feeling too well right about now. Here’s the bad news: there’s no cure for it and it usually lasts for one to two weeks. The good news? We’ll tell you about some simple flu treatments that can help you feel better in the meantime (plus, we’ll give you suggestions to help you avoid the flu next time around). Here’s how to treat the flu—or at least those pesky flu symptoms:

5 Ways to Treat the Flu

  • Rest up: When you first come down with the flu, rest is what will help give your body the energy it needs to fight the flu virus and flu symptoms. This is when you should spend lots of time in bed and on the couch. Stay at home and rest, especially during the first 24 hours after becoming ill (unless medical attention is necessary).

  • Avoid contact with others: If you think you have the flu, it’s best to stay home and avoid close contact with those that are healthy. Flu viruses commonly spread through airborne droplets created when an infected person sneezes or coughs.

  • Stay hydrated: Drinking lots of liquids like water, sports drinks or electrolyte beverages will help prevent dehydration and treat the flu. And don’t forget tea and broth—hot liquids help relieve nasal congestion and soothe the uncomfortably inflamed membranes that line your nose and throat.

  • Take some medicine: If you’ve got a fever, cough or other flu symptoms, over-the-counter cough and cold medicines, like NyQuil and DayQuil can help ease flu symptoms in adults. NyQuil and DayQuil temporarily relieve common symptoms, such as fever and body aches. And for relief of your worst cold and flu symptoms, you can try NyQuil and DayQuil SEVERE.

  • See your doctor: It’s important to note that if you become very sick with the flu or are at a high risk of developing complications from the flu, you should call your doctor. He or she may put you on antiviral drugs within the 48 hours of your symptoms, which can lessen the severity and duration of flu symptoms.

4 Ways to Boost Your Immune System

As you’re figuring out how to treat the flu, it’s also important to remember that the best protection against cold and flu season is a healthy immune system. So here’s how to keep it strong:

  • De-stress: Research shows that stress decreases your ability to stay healthy, especially during cold and flu season. Try taking a mini meditation break during the day—just close your eyes and focus on breathing in and out for a few minutes (and if you have even more time, go for it!).

  • Get enough sleep: When you consistently sleep seven to eight hours a night, your body has a chance to repair cells and maintain your immune system.

  • Eat well: A nutritious and well-balanced diet gives your body the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. Make sure to include a good variety of fruits and vegetables in your daily meals—along with protein and healthy fats.

  • Exercise: A common recommendation is to try for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least three times a week.

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15 Natural Flu Remedies to Ease Your Symptoms

Do natural flu remedies really work?

The flu virus can have some serious complications and can be particularly dangerous to children and the elderly. Influenza also goes through mutations, which can make it stronger and increasingly life threatening. If you’ve contracted the flu, natural remedies can help you get relief from symptoms and may shorten the duration of your illness—but be sure to check with a doctor if symptoms are severe. If prevention is what you’re looking for, there are several ways to lessen the chance you’ll catch the flu.

1. Open a window to ventilate indoor spaces

A recent study at the University of Maryland found that you don’t have to sneeze or cough to spread influenza. The simple act of breathing is enough to scatter droplets of the virus to others. Dr. Donald Milton, Professor of Public Health at the University of Maryland and one of the authors of the study, said that his research team used a machine called the Gesundheit II to catch virus-filled droplets from university students who had flu-like symptoms. “It is not clear that distance makes a big difference,” he said, when asked how people can protect themselves from the germs that cause flu, adding that, “Dilution ventilation is good, and most homes don’t have a lot, so cracking a window may be a good idea.”

2. Wear a scarf for flu prevention

If breathing in your own home is a problem, imagine the issue in public spaces with a lot of people. Dr. Milton’s advice on keeping well in public is simple, if difficult to apply: “Avoid public spaces with poor dilution ventilation.” But what if you’re healthy and you need to be in public spaces? Could a mask help?

While Dr. Milton said that the evidence about masks is unclear and the benefits “small at best,” other doctors think there might be some merit to wearing something over the mouth—providing it’s done right.

3. Take N-acetyl L-cysteine (NAC)

Taken as a preventative, N-acetyl L-cysteine is an immune-boosting anti-oxidant that has been shown to effectively fight the flu. In a randomized, double-blind study conducted on 262 people, those taking NAC twice daily during flu season had significantly fewer flu episodes than those taking a placebo. Moreover, those who took the NAC and still got the flu spent less time in bed and had fewer and less intense symptoms than those who didn’t.

The recommended dose for NAC—which you can buy at most health food stores—is 600 mg twice daily for adults and 300 mg twice daily for kids during flu season.

4. Drink nettle tea to boost immunity

Nettle is a powerful herbal remedy that can boost your immune system with its endless list of vitamins and minerals, not only helping you to fight a virus, but prevent them too. Nettle tea has a pleasant, almost minty, flavor that makes it easy to take. Other teas can help as well. For more information, read 5 Amazing Herbal Teas to Help You Beat the Flu.

5. De-stress

Besides the healthy habits you already know about—including eating a diet full of fruits and vegetables, getting plenty of exercise, and drinking lots of water—minimizing stress is known to be a factor in preventing illness. A meta-analytic study of 30 years of research published in Psychological Bulletin found that while it’s difficult to define stress precisely, the relationship between stress and a physical response in the body can’t be denied. In other words, it may be just as important to de-stress as it is to wash your hands, and a relaxing cup of tea (see above) may have more effect than vitamins alone.

6. Eat fermented foods and probiotics

Probiotics are helpful living cultures that reside in a healthy gut and help keep your immune system stronger. These good bacteria can maintain your body’s balance, which not only improves your digestive system, but can also have positive side effects like reducing eczema, allergies, and oral health problems.

You can purchase supplements that give you all the bacteria you need in the form of a pill, or you can eat foods that are jam-packed with probiotics, especially fermented foods such as yogurt with live cultures, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, miso, and pickles. But keep in mind that commercial versions of these products are often not fermented the same way that homemade versions would be. Read the labels to make sure they actually contain live cultures.

7. Get rested

One of the biggest reasons that illness seems to hang on longer than it used to is because you aren’t stopping and resting. Take as many sick days as required to actually start feeling well, instead of pushing through. Not only are you fighting against your body if you go to work or keep on with your normal routine, you are putting yourself and others at risk.

In Victorian times sickness was taken very seriously (for good reason), and people embraced the idea of convalescence. Instead of going about their daily lives, people in convalescence would lie down for days, but would do so while trying to get fresh air on the porch, eating good meals, reading books, and maintaining their mental health. Do whatever it is that makes you feel the most rested, including lots of sleep.

8. Replace lost electrolytes

If you’ve contracted the flu and you’re feeling nauseous, it’s very easy to get dehydrated. Little sips of warm ginger tea with honey won’t just soothe your throat, they can also help settle your stomach. You can make your own natural electrolyte drink by mixing coconut water, salt, honey and a few other key ingredients.

Homemade Electrolyte Drink
3 cups coconut water
1 cup water
1/2 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

9. Use oregano and eucalyptus oil for breathing and sore throats

Instead of reaching for the vapor rub, use a drop of eucalyptus oil on the chest to open the breathing passages and sooth sore throats. And instead of cold and flu medications that mask symptoms, try oregano oil which studies show can help shorten the flu.

Add 5 drops to a small amount of water and swish it around in your mouth and under your tongue. But be warned – it’s not very pleasant. Gargle it as well to really knock out the bacteria in your throat. Repeat four times a day until your flu symptoms are gone. For children, use no more than three drops.

It should be noted that oregano oil is not an essential oil like eucalyptus oil, but rather an infused oil. It can be harsh on the skin and it is very powerful. That’s why it shouldn’t be used by pregnant and breastfeeding women, and like any herbal remedy, just because it’s natural, doesn’t mean more is better. Stick to a small amount and listen to your body for reactions.

10 Tips for Preventing the Cold & Flu Naturally

August 13th, 2019

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Flu season is well underway, and I’ve received lots of questions on The Myers Way® Facebook Community about how to avoid seasonal illness and stay well this winter. This is an important question, as getting sick can stress your immune system, increasing your risk of a flare up in an autoimmune condition, thyroid dysfunction, or other chronic illness. Getting a cold or the flu can also often lead to taking antibiotics which are typically unnecessary (since the cold and flu are both caused by viruses) and can damage your gut.

Let’s look at my top 10 tips for natural ways you can support your immune system to prevent a cold and the flu!

10 Tips to Support Your Immune System and Prevent the Cold & Flu Naturally

Ensuring a strong foundation of health and following simple best practices will go a long way in decreasing your risk of getting the flu. Here are ten tips for staying healthy this flu season.

1. Wash Your Hands Frequently and Thoroughly

This is the number one way to prevent the flu and other respiratory infections. You must scrub your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds in order to kill viruses. Twenty seconds is about how long it takes to sing the ABC’s one time through. Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth without first washing your hands.

2. Repair Your Gut

Your gut is your gateway to health, as nearly 80% of your immune system is located in your gut. Make sure your gut is in tip-top shape, and take a high-quality, multi-strain probiotic with at least 25 billion units. This will keep your levels of good gut bacteria up to help fight off infections.

3. Reduce Sugar and Alcohol Consumption

With the abundance of holiday treats out this time of year, sugar cravings can be a real bear. However, consuming too much sugar can suppress your immune system and make it more difficult for your body to fight off infections, including the flu virus. It also leaves you open to gut infections such as Candida and SIBO, which suppress your immune system and cause leaky gut. And even moderate alcohol consumption suppresses your central nervous system, and therefore your immune system.

4. Reduce Your Stress

Stress is known to suppress your immune system. Consider meditation, yoga, or acupuncture. See additional relaxation tips and learn about my favorite ways to relieve stress in this article.

5. Get 7-9 Hours of Sleep Every Night

Your body relies on sleep to recuperate from daily exposure to toxins. Chronic sleep deprivation can significantly reduce immune function.

6. Take an Immune Booster

Give your immune system an added boost with a supplement containing immunoglobulins and protein, such as the immune boost powder I carry in my store. This supplement is a purified form of colostrum, which is the first milk after birth designed to bolster the immune system.

The immunoglobulins in colostrum will boost your IgA antibodies – which are your body’s first line of defense. These IgA antibodies are produced by immune cells in your gut and can deactivate and even eliminate harmful pathogens and toxins, such as those that come with seasonal sickness and bacterial imbalances. This means immune boost will strengthen, not heighten your immune system, which is key for anyone with autoimmunity.

I recommend this supplement for anyone looking to take preventative measures with their health and avoid seasonal illnesses. Although it is sourced from dairy, it is free of casein (the protein in dairy that most people are sensitive to), and contains such minimal dairy that it will not cause a reaction for the average person.

7. Supplement with Glutathione and Turmeric

Antioxidants are very important for your immune function. Glutathione is the chief antioxidant in your body, responsible for enhancing your immune system and helping your liver with detoxification. Curcumin is the orange pigment in turmeric and a potent free radical scavenger that improves joint health and cardiovascular function.

8. Optimize Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a powerful immune system modulator, meaning it is key to fighting off infections and regulating autoimmunity. Optimal levels range from 50 to 70 ng/mL, so I recommend taking 5,000 IU of a high-quality vitamin D supplement per day and working with a physician to regularly monitor your levels. You will also want to be sure that your vitamin D supplement is paired with vitamin K (like the one I carry in my store) to ensure that it is safely absorbed and doesn’t lead to artery calcifications.

9. Drink Bone Broth

You probably remember your mother or grandmother giving you chicken soup when you were sick, and how it always seemed to help you feel better! It’s not just folklore–bone broth is actually extremely beneficial for your immune system. In fact, a study published in the journal Chest showed that eating chicken soup during a respiratory infection reduced upper respiratory symptoms, as well as the number of white blood cells (the immune cells responsible for cold and flu symptoms). These benefits are thought to be from bone broth’s ability to reduce inflammation, thanks to amino acids such as proline and glycine.1

You can make your own bone broth this Thanksgiving by saving your turkey bones and vegetable scraps, and simply boiling them for about 8 hours (a slow-cooker comes in handy here). Or, if you want the benefits of bone broth without the hassle, you can supplement with collagen or gelatin, both of which act to optimize your immune system and support a healthy gut lining to defend your body against invading pathogens.

10. Get Plenty of Exercise

Exercise can boost your immune system by increasing your circulation. Increased circulation allows antibodies to travel throughout your bloodstream faster, making it easier for your immune system to fight off an illness. Exercise can also enhance your immune system by relieving stress and slowing the release of stress hormones in the body.

Supporting your immune system, strengthening your gut health, and remaining rested and stress-free are not only the keys to preventing the flu, they are an integral part of The Myers Way®, and will keep you on the path to optimal health.

Article Sources

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11035691

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While winter may be a time we seriously consider warding off colds and flu, I believe building a strong, healthy immune system is something we should think about year-round.

FOOD AS MEDICINE

Every time I sit down to a meal, I always consider if I’m nourishing my body with nutrient-rich foods or if I’m just satisfying my taste buds. A good diet has always played a vital role in supporting health, which is why it is so important to think about what you put into your mouth every time you eat and drink. Is what you’re consuming making a positive or negative difference to your body?

Eating according to the seasons is a great way to support and strengthen our health, nourish our bodies and improve our immunity.

For the winter season, I like to eat warming soups and broths that nourish the body and I love using antimicrobial aromatics like ginger and turmeric to combat inflammation and boost circulation.

This is the exact reason why I designed Natural Immune Support and Turmeric Latte, which includes ginger and turmeric, as a wonderful remedy to fight colds and flu.

The healthier our gastrointestinal tract is, the healthier we are. The gut plays an imperative role in immune function. It is our link to the external world and our first line of defence against any pathogens that may cause harm. In fact, the majority (about 70 per cent) of our immune system resides in the gut, ready to fight against any ingested nasties that don’t belong there. Probiotics are especially helpful in supporting our immune systems, which is why I focus on eating these foods daily.

Probiotics are live micro-organisms (good bacteria) that reside in the gut. They support our immune system, aid digestion and assist with nutrient absorption into our bloodstream.

THE SUPER IMMUNITY REMEDIES TO FIGHT COLDS + FLU

Protein + Amino Acids

Research studies have shown that a deficiency of high-quality protein can result in depletion of immune cells, the inability of the body to make antibodies, and other immune-related problems.

In a nutshell, protein helps repair the body, assists in recovery from illness and sports injuries, prevents muscle wastage, keeps blood sugars stable, supports weight loss and a healthy metabolism.

Good sources of protein and essential amino acids include bone broth, fish, organic chicken, grass fed meats, cultured natural yoghurt, organic eggs, nuts and seeds, nut butters and milks, quinoa, hummus, tahini, tempeh, green peas and Healthy Chef Protein. Every process in the body requires protein, as our body relies on having an adequate pool of amino acids available to function properly.

Recipes to try: Immune-Boosting Chicken Soup or my Banana + Chia Smoothie

Turmeric

Because turmeric has high antioxidant and anti-bacterial properties, it assists in reducing the symptoms of cold and flu. Researchers at George Mason University have found that turmeric shows promise in combating certain viruses as curcumin strongly down-regulates the levels of extracellular infectious viruses.

Not only is turmeric a powerhouse of nutrients, it makes an incredibly healing and delicious drink when combined with cinnamon, ginger and vanilla bean.

These key ingredients can be found in Healthy Chef Turmeric Latte, as I absolutely adore these ingredients as they take me back to my much-loved childhood drink my Aunt used to make to help me sleep.

Recipe to try: Life-Changing Golden Mylk

Ginger

Studies have shown that ginger has potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. It helps to boost immune function and combat cellular damage. This warming spice stimulates digestion, gut motility and bowel function while helping to relieve bloating, cramping and nausea.

Because of this, I love to make restorative soups and juices using ginger. The addition of other immune-boosting spices such as turmeric, further support digestion and boost immune function.

I also love to sip on Healthy Chef Gingersnap Chai Tea during the cooler months as it is an incredibly healing drink that tastes divine with nut milk and a dash of Manuka honey.

Recipe to try: Organic Chicken Bone Broth With Ginger Aromatics

Manuka honey

Honey has been widely accepted as food and medicine by all generations, traditions, and civilisations, both ancient and modern. Studies show that manuka honey, in particular, has the power to combat numerous species of bacteria, including antibiotic-resistant varieties. Manuka honey is antimicrobial and antiviral. It is the presence of Methylglyoxal (MGO) within Manuka Honey that has special antibacterial effects, which help alleviate the cause of a range of colds and flu symptoms such as blocked sinuses, sore throat and coughs.

Recipe to try: Make SWITCHEL – a cold and flu remedy to ease inflammation and support digestive health. Combine 1 teaspoon of Manuka honey with 1 tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar and 3 cups of filtered water and a little muddled ginger. Mix through until honey is disolved and drink. I also love to add a spoonful of Manuka honey to Healthy Chef Lemon + Ginger tea to help support my immune health on daily basis.

Garlic

Garlic is also an immune system warrior, protecting the body from infections and illness because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Garlic contains allicin, a potent phytonutrient that is great for cardiac health. It has been shown to help to lower blood pressure, inhibit blood clotting and promote healthy cholesterol levels.

Recipe to try: Immune-Boosting Congee

Probiotics + Fermented Foods

Probiotics are live microorganisms (good bacteria) that reside in the gut. Probiotics support our immune system, aid digestion and assist with nutrient absorption into our bloodstream. If you have intestinal dysbiosis or poor gut flora such as yours truly, you’ll be more susceptible to viral and bacterial infections (and colds and flu). I make sure to take probiotics and eat fermented foods daily. Fermented foods are naturally packed with probiotics that promote healthy gut bacteria – we’ve been making loads of sauerkraut and kimchi in the office and eating a spoonful each day with our soups and salads.

Examples of probiotics include kefir, kombucha tea, yoghurt, miso, sauerkraut, kimchi, fermented vegetables and Healthy Chef Green Smoothie.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C acts as your personal bodyguard, helping to protect cells and assist in healing. Studies show the use of vitamin C reduce the duration and symptoms of colds. Lemons, oranges, grapefruit and limes are a great source of vitamin C which helps maintain the body’s defence against bacterial infections. Lemons, in particular, are wonderful for your digestive system and I’m always squeezing lemon juice into 2 big glasses of room temperature water every morning to help start the day. Additional Natural Immune Support or Cold-Pressed Wheatgrass adds an extra boost of Vitamin C, D and chlorophyll – particularly useful when I’m stressed and run down and need to recover quickly. I recommend making an Immune Boosting Smoothie with oranges, limes, turmeric, ginger and leafy greens that will make you feel wonderful straight after drinking it.

Lemons, oranges, grapefruit and limes are great sources of Vitamin C, which helps maintain the body’s defence against bacterial infections.

Recipe to try: Rescue Remedy

SLEEP + REST

Make getting 8 hours of restful sleep a night your number one priority! Just a few nights of not sleeping well can elevate inflammatory markers and reduce the protective capability of your immune system. That’s why it is a good idea to go to bed earlier, sleep longer and rest more, especially during the winter season.

STRESS MANAGEMENT

Chronic stress and not giving your body enough time to recover from an illness can make you more susceptible to infections. Research shows that people who are under severe stress have lower white blood cell counts and are more vulnerable to colds and flu. Once a person catches a cold or flu, stress can make the symptoms even worse.

Research shows that people who are under severe stress have lower white blood cell counts and are more vulnerable to colds and flu. I like to wind down for the night with a mug of Relax + Renew Tea, which promotes a restful sleep.

To ensure you are giving your body the best defence to ward off colds and flu, you need to consider the quality of your lifestyle habits as well as your diet.

7 Natural Flu Remedies That Actually Work

2. Gargle Often to Soothe a Sore Throat

“If you have a sore throat, gargle with water or salt water,” Dr. Horovitz recommends. Gargling often may help reduce swelling in the throat and loosen mucus, which can remove irritants, such as bacteria and allergens, from the throat.

3. Get Better Faster With Zinc

Zinc lozenges can help you feel better faster if you start taking them as soon as you feel fluish, says Neil Schachter, MD, medical director of the Mount Sinai–National Jewish Health Respiratory Institute in New York City and the author of The Good Doctor’s Guide to Colds & Flu. “I recommend using one or two lozenges per day,” he says. Zinc may help boost immunity, which can shorten the duration or severity of the flu, he explains. However, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health advises checking with your doctor or pharmacist first as zinc may interact with antibiotics and penicillamine, a drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

4. Drink Enough to Dodge Dehydration

“If you have a fever, you’re at risk for dehydration, so it’s important to make sure you’re drinking enough fluids,” says Dana Simpler, MD, a primary care doctor at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. One way dehydration delays your recovery is by making it harder for the immune system soldiers that squelch invading viruses to travel through your body.

5. Chase Trouble Away With Chicken Soup

Chicken soup isn’t just warm and comforting. A study published in the American Journal of Therapeutics found that a compound in chicken soup called carnosine can help the body’s immune system fight off the flu in its early days. A previous study published in the journal Chest, suggested that chicken soup has an anti-inflammatory effect that may ease symptoms and shorten upper respiratory tract infections. Dr. Schachter notes that soup and other hot liquids, such as tea, have other benefits: They relieve nasal congestion, help you stay hydrated, and soothe inflamed membranes in your nose and throat.

6. Clear Congestion Quickly With a Neti Pot

If you’re stuffed up and feeling miserable, using a neti pot — a small teapot-like vessel with a long spout — to flush mucus from your nasal passages twice a day can help, Horovitz says. This is done by placing a saline solution made with distilled, sterilized, or previously boiled water in the neti pot and following the instructions that came with neti pot.

7. Keep Nasal Passageways Moist With Steamy Showers

Taking a long steamy shower can help moisturize your throat and nasal passages, while also helping to clear them of mucus, Schachter says. If the flu is making you feel light-headed or weak, simply turn on the hot water, sit in the bathroom and inhale the steam for up to 10 minutes.

Still not feeling better? It may be time to move beyond natural flu remedies and seek medical help. It’s important to contact your healthcare provider, as the flu can have serious consequences, ranging from ear infections to pneumonia to worsening of chronic conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, and diabetes, according to the CDC. “You should be feeling better within five to seven days, but if you are not and still have a fever or have started to feel badly again, be sure to call your doctor,” Schachter says.

Herbal Therapies for Prevention and Treatment of Influenza and Influenza-Like Illness

Many herbal therapies were employed for prevention and treatment of viral respiratory illnesses. The herbal medicine, maoto, has been traditionally prescribed to patients with influenza in Japan. The administration of oral maoto granules to adults with seasonal influenza was well tolerated and associated with equivalent clinical and virological efficacy to neuraminidase inhibitors . Maoto exerts antipyretic activity in influenza virus-infected mice and reduces virus through augmentation of the virus-bound natural antibodies . Glycyrrhizin is an active component of licorice roots. It was investigated in mice infected with influenza virus A2 (H2N2) study revealed that glycyrrhizin might protect mice which were exposed to a lethal amount of influenza virus through the stimulation of IFN-gamma production by T cells . Korean red ginseng (KRG) has become a popular influenza-like illness (ILI) medication in Korea. Predy et al. showed that the ginseng extracts decreased duration, severity, and frequency of symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections . Ki-Chan et al. also demonstrated that the KRG extract can efficiently reduce the ILI incidence . Antiwei, a traditional Chinese prescription in the treatment of influenza, was found effective and well tolerated in treatment of natural influenza infection in adults . Another herbal product called COLD-fX (CVT-E002), a proprietary extract of the roots of North American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius). COLD-fX intake by immunocompetent elderly patients during an early cold and flu season reduced the relative risk and duration of respiratory symptoms by 48% and 55% respectively . Elderberry intake also reduced the symptoms of influenza virus . Extracts of berries inhibit influenza virus infection in vitro , and polyphenol is one of the key factors in the antiviral effects of berries . Echinacea preparations are extensively used for the prevention and the management of the common cold. The preliminary results were encouraging, and suggest that Polinacea (roots of Echinacea angustifolia) could be used for improving the immune response to influenza vaccine . In vitro test of the antiviral activities of Thuja orientalis, Aster spathulifolius, and Pinus thunbergii were examined. The three plant extracts were shown to induce a high cell viability rate after the infection with the influenza A/PR/8/34 virus. Thuja orientalis was found to have a stronger inhibitory effect than that with Aster spathulifolius or Pinus thunbergii. These results suggested that T. orientalis might be used for influenza treatment . An aqueous-ethanolic extract of a mixture of Thujae occidentalis herba, Baptisiae tinctoriae radix, Echinaceae purpureae radix and Echinaceae pallidae radix were given orally for mice with Influenza A virus infection. The extract therapy induced a statistically significant increase in the survival rate, prolonged the mean survival time and reduced lung consolidation and virus titer. The study confirmed that the plants mixture extract administration 6 days before exposure was a potent inhibitor of Influenza A virus in vivo . Clinacanthus siamensis leaf extract showed activity in vitro and in vivo tests on influenza virus. After oral administration to mouse, the extract produced a higher anti-influenza virus IgG and IgA antibodies compared to oseltamivir . Punica granatum (Pomegranate) had shown anti-influenza properties. Pomegranate polyphenol extract (PPE) was tested. It revealed replication suppression of influenza A virus in cell culture. PPE also prevented agglutination of chicken red blood cells by influenza virus, inhibited viral RNA replication, and was virucidal. In addition, the combination of PPE and oseltamivir synergistically had increased the anti-influenza effect of oseltamivir . Electron microscopic analysis indicated that viral inactivation by pomegranates polyphenols was primarily a consequence of virion structural damage . Psidium guajava Linn. (guava tea) had markedly inhibited the growth of clinical influenza A (H1N1) isolates. Guava tea inhibited viral hemagglutination and sialidase activity . A plant known as Epimedium koreanum Nakai was extensively used in traditional Korean and Chinese medicine to treat a variety of diseases. It was effective against different influenza A subtypes by significant reduction in viral replication. The mechanism of antiviral activity was revealed where an aqueous extract from the plant induced the secretion of type I IFN and pro-inflammatory cytokines and the subsequent stimulation of the antiviral activity in cells . A Chinese herbal known as Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi (baicalin), was used for the treatment of the common cold, fever and influenza virus infections. In cell culture and in mice baicalin revealed obvious antiviral activity that increased in a dose-dependent manner, indicating that baicalin affected virus budding. The investigators concluded that baicalin acts as a neuraminidase inhibitor, with distinct inhibitory activities that were effective against different strains of influenza A virus . The root of Paeonia lactiflora Pall. (Bai Shao) a common chinese herb was employed in many recipes to treat viral infections and liver diseases. The synthesis of both viral RNA and protein was tremendously inhibited when the cells were treated with Bai Shao extract. The study demonstrated that the extract inhibits viral hemagglutination and viral binding to and penetration into host cells .

Flu – treatment

Flu can be severe and may cause serious illness and death. Those most at risk are the very young and elderly.

But if you are generally fit and healthy, you can manage your symptoms at home. You can usually treat the flu without seeing your GP and should begin to feel better in about a week.

Things you can do to get better quicker:

  • Stay indoors.
  • Rest and sleep.
  • Keep warm.
  • Take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature and treat aches and pains.
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Your pee should be light yellow or clear.
  • Don’t smoke

You can start your normal activities again when you feel well enough.

Flu – how it develops and how to treat it

Flu symptoms can come on suddenly. But to treat them you need your bed, not an antibiotic. Symptoms usually progress in both adults and children over a week.

Here is how you can treat them at each stage.

First 2 days

Symptoms like a sore throat, fever and muscle ache develop quickly. You or your child will feel very unwell.

Usually, you do not need to contact your GP as most flu can be treated at home.

Drink plenty of liquids to replace those lost from sweating. Get lots of rest and eat healthily.

If you are at risk of the complications of flu, you should contact your GP as you may need special anti-viral medicines. These work best if started within 48 hours of flu symptoms.

Related topic

Complications of flu

Days 3 to 5

Your symptoms are now at their peak. You or your child will feel at your worst.

Continue to drink plenty of liquids to replace those lost from sweating and runny noses.

Make sure you are still getting lots of rest and eating healthily.

Days 5 to 8

You should start to feel much better although a cough and general tiredness may last for 2 to 3 weeks.

Continue to drink plenty of liquids and eat healthily. You can return to normal activities when you feel better.

Ask your pharmacist

Your pharmacist can advise you on over-the-counter medicines that will help.

You may not be well enough to go to the pharmacy. If possible, ask someone to go for you

Be careful not to use any flu remedies if you’re taking paracetamol and ibuprofen tablets. This is because they may also contain paracetamol and it’s easy to take more than the recommended dose.

Speak to a pharmacist before giving medicines to children.

When to go to your GP

Usually, you do not need to see your GP if you have flu.

But you should contact your GP if:

  • you’re worried about your baby’s or child’s symptoms
  • you’re 65 or over
  • you’re pregnant
  • you have a long-term medical condition – for example, a heart, lung, kidney or neurological disease
  • have a weak immune system – for example, if you have diabetes or you’re having chemotherapy
  • your symptoms don’t improve after 7 days

You may need special anti-viral medicines. These work best if started within 48 hours of flu symptoms.

If you are worried or concerned about the flu, you should talk to your GP or pharmacist.

Antibiotics

Doctors don’t recommend antibiotics for flu because they won’t relieve your symptoms or speed up your recovery.

Flu is a virus and antibiotics cannot treat viruses. Antibiotics are only needed if you develop a complication like bacterial pneumonia.

How to prevent flu

The flu vaccine reduces the risk of catching flu and spreading it to others.

It’s best to get the vaccine in early October- the start of the flu season.

You should get the flu vaccine every year to lower your risk of getting the flu virus. This is because the type of types of flu viruses that are circulating every year are different.

Flu – vaccination

How to avoid spreading the flu

Flu is very infectious and easily spread to other people. You’re more likely to give it to other people in the first 5 to 6 days of getting flu.

Flu is spread by germs from coughs and sneezes. They can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours.

To reduce the risk of spreading flu:

  • wash your hands often with warm water and soap
  • use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze
  • bin used tissues as quickly as possible
  • try to avoid all unnecessary contact with others
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with your hands as this helps spreads the flu virus
  • clean surfaces and items inside the house regularly

Hand hygiene

In an emergency

Call 999 or go to your nearest emergency department (ED) if you:

  • develop sudden chest pain
  • have difficulty breathing
  • start coughing up blood

Preventing and Treating the Flu in Your Home

Preventing and Treating the Flu in Your Home:

The onset of the fall season brings with it, the onset of flu season. Some experts are predicting this flu season to be very rough this year. Many parents worry about how to protect their family from the virus and it all starts in the home. While avoiding the flu is not 100% guaranteed, there are steps you can take that assist in preventing it. Your home can be a safe haven from the flu virus if you take action towards preventing it. Below are some tips to get you started.

  1. Wash your hands. As soon as you enter your home, wash your hands with soap and water. The length of time you wash is important too. Sing “Row Your Boat” once while scrubbing along the palms, fingers and under the nails. Then rinse and you’re done. Be sure to dry your hands on a clean towel. Washing our hands prevents germs from spreading to surfaces or to ourselves.
  1. Disinfect surfaces. Take a few minutes to wipe down all surfaces in your home with a disinfectant spray geared towards targeting the flu virus. Don’t forget to wipe down your phones, computers and remote controls too. Be sure to wash all blankets, sheets and towels on a regular basis with high heat using a color-safe bleach.
  1. Avoid others who are sick. Often times, it is difficult for us to know who is infected. The flu virus can be contagious for one day before you start showing symptoms and up to 7 days after. Avoid close contact with people if you know they are sick. If you are the one who is sick, separate yourself from others. Sleep in a different room from your partner and avoid washing dishes and cooking meals, if you can.
  1. Maintain an overall healthy lifestyle. Making sure that you are practicing self-care may help your chances of fighting off the flu virus. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, between 7-9 hours. Eating dark leafy greens has been shown to assist in strengthening the immune system. Take time to de-stress and relax. Even 30 minutes a day of calm slow breathing can help you to decompress and feel better. Drinking hot teas can also help soothe not only a sore throat but can help to aid in the reduction of stress. Make sure you’re drinking caffeine-free tea so you’ll be able to fall asleep at night.
  1. What to do if you get sick. Sometimes, you can do everything needed to prevent the flu and you or a member of your family still catches it. If this happens, there are a few things you can do to make sure you don’t spread it to the other members of your household. Be sure to drink plenty of water. If you have been running a fever or vomiting, drinking water will assist in replenishing lost fluids. Dispose of tissues as soon as possible. Leaving used tissues out can spread the virus to other parts of the home. Coughing or sneezing into your hand can spread germs rapidly. Cough and sneeze into your elbow to prevent this from happening.

If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms or you would like more information on treating and preventing the flu, please visit one of 140+ nationwide urgent care locations.

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