Preventing the flu…naturally

I get a little cranky this time of year with all the advertising, which sounds like harassment to me, about getting a flu shot.  Statistically the flu shot does a dreadful job of actually preventing the flu, and it carries a lot of very serious risks, including death.  I propose some alternatives to the flu shot for preventing the flu.  Alternatives which, like all things I recommend to my patients, promise to do no harm.  I want to help you not just avoid the flu, but be healthier and stronger in general.  Doesn't that sound good?

Lets get started.  Step one- Get you rest.  Sleep is a time for repair and rejuvenation of your body.  Many people suffer from poor sleep or not enough of it.  I help my patients every day find the underlying causes of poor sleep and correct them without drugs.  If you are not sleeping well, seek help.   

Reduce your stress.  I just can't say this one enough.  Most Americans suffer from too much stress and it wears us down leaving us more prone to illness.  There are thousands of ways to do it.  Just do it.

Eat well.  Cook your food, from scratch.  Avoiding packaged and processed foods is one of the best things you can do for your health.  Buy whole foods, a nice rule for the grocery store is not to buy anything with more than 5 ingredients.  Then bring it home and cook it!

Consider some extra support.  Many people ask me about supplements to help prevent winter ills like the flu.  Here are a few of my favorites; 

Vitamin A- animal sourced- Eat liver.  I recommend getting your vitamin A in the biologically available form found only in animal foods like liver and cod liver oil.  We have been told that eating orange veggies like carrots which are high in beta carotene will give us all the Vitamin A we need.  For most of us this is not true.  Genetics plays a role in how well you make that conversion.  Because of our genes, many of us can only convert beta carotene to Vitamin A 30% as well as the rest of the population.  Another huge problem is that healthy thyroid function is crucial to your ability to make this conversion.  If your thyroid gland is underperforming- which is INCREDIBLY common, forget it.  You will not be able to use that beta carotene.  I do nutritional blood testing all the time and over and over I see vitamin A low.  These patients are much more likely to report that get "every bug that is going around".  To protect yourself from all viral illnesses like shingles, colds, and the flu, make sure you are getting adequate vitamin A in your diet.  Eating liver and onions once a week can go a long way towards preventing the flu.  Pasture raised or wild caught meats of course are best.  Or take a cod liver oil supplement.

Oscillococcinum- this is a homeopathic remedy which when used at the first signs of flu can nip it in the bud.  I recommend you keep it in your medicine cabinet so you can take it anytime you start to feel the aches and fatigue of something coming on, or whenever someone at work or home has the flu to prevent you from getting it.

Chicken soup- This old fashioned remedy is truly a super food.  I recommend making it the way Sally Fallon does with some vinegar to make sure you extract the minerals from the chicken bones.  Click here for a recipe.