You have probably heard this on the news already, but there have been reports that the Flu Shot only carries about 10% effectiveness this winter (typical estimates of efficacy are more like 40-60%, however last year was about 20%). Not everyone gets the flu shot, for different reasons, but most people are still interested in protecting themselves and their families as best as possible.
Top 5 Remedies for Flu Prevention
1. Vitamin D3 - 400IU per day for kids and 2000IU per day for adults
This is the general recommended dose for those who are not overly deficient in this nutrient. Vitamin D is important for regulating the immune system. This is a good time to test your values as it tends to be our lowest point in the year.
2. Vitamin C - 1000mg per day
Vitamin C helps to boost immune function, especially by increasing the number of white blood cells. Eating sufficient vegetables and fruits will keep levels high but you may need an extra boost in the winter months.
3. Fresh Air - daily
Indoor air quality is particularly low in the winter and our lungs are challenged by the extra particulate matter and low moisture levels. Get outside and also consider a humidfier (or essential oil diffuser) in your house to keep your nasal passages moist to fight germs most effectively.
4. Probiotics - 10 billion CFU daily for maintenance, 50 billion after antibiotics
It is estimated that 80% of our immune system actually resides in our gut. Keeping the right balance of good bacteria promotes the fighting power of our immune system.
5. Exercise - at least 3 times per week but try to move in some way every day
The immune system travels through our lymphatics and collects in lymph nodes (that's why the nodes swell when we get sick as the immune system finds a place to do battle). Lymphatics are different than blood vessels because they don't have the benefit of a heart to pump the fluids around. Instead we need to move our bodies in order to move the lymph fluid around faster. If you can't or don't exercise, you can also try contrast showers or infrared sauna to achieve a similar effect (or do those things anyways for an extra boost).
My 5 Favourite Flu Treatments
1. Bone Broth Soups
Save leftover bones in the freezer so that you can prepare a batch when you hear the first sniffle. You can also find bone broth at some of the local grocery stores if you don't have the time to make it. There's nothing like homemade chicken soup when you're not feeling well. Also, try to keep sugar and dairy to a minimum when you're fighting a bug.
2. Herbs like Echinacea
Echinacea is a fantastic antimicrobial that helps tackle colds and stomach viruses. You can dose it at 150mg three times per day, or even higher if we discuss it together. My go-to is a blend of Echinacea, Andrographis, Berberine, and Goldenseal for a potent anti-infection remedy.
Honey is a great sore throat soother. You can make a concoction of 1/4 lemon, 2 tsp honey, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, pinch of sea salt, minced ginger plus hot water. A brand called Traditional Medicinals also makes some wonderful blends like Echinacea Plus, Throat Coat, Cold Formula and Breathe Easy to help with symptomatic relief. I use the Echinacea Plus with my kids (cooled with ice cubes) because it contains Elderberry, another great antimicrobial herb.
You may not have tried homeopathic remedies before, or you might not know that you have. I find that they are incredibly useful for shortening the length of infections and providing relief of symptoms when you choose the right remedy. For kids I like the Kids 0-9 remedies for Cough & Cold as well as Sore Throat, and for adults I use Flu Milieu. There are also specific targeted remedies depending on the symptoms, like Arsenicum album for stomach flu and Gelsemium for the 2018 Influenza. There are also homeopathic remedies that can help prevent infections and boost immunity, which we can discuss if you are interested.
There is a tendency, whether it be by necessity or by pressure from outside sources, to power through any illnesses. I encourage you to prioritize your health and give yourself permission to pause when your body needs a break. We most often get sick when we are run down, so some extra sleep and quiet time is the fastest route to getting back on track.
Take good care of yourselves, you cannot pour from an empty cup,