As a health author, I am watching people on TV and at home in a tourist town bracing for the worst. The "worried well" are stocking up on food, face masks, money, and more. As a kid, tween, and teenager, I recall the contagious polio epidemic, tuberculosis, and mononucleosis hitting my neighborhood, my friends. At 25, my mom died of pneumonia.
Later, as a magazine journalist living in San Francisco, I wrote about the frightening AIDS outbreak, which we learned can affect all people of all ages. After penning books such as Doctors' Orders: What 101 Doctors Do to Stay Healthy, and The Healing Powers of Vinegar, Olive Oil, and Chocolate series, I know that good nutrition with supplements and healthful lifestyle changes are the best prevention plan to bolster the immune system--whatever the "vicious" monster virus may be. The glitch is, while this virus may not be as deadly as the 1918 Spanish flu--it doesn't discriminate. People with healthy immune systems are not immune.
But it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you get and stay healthier and you end up contracting the virus from getting infected by another person, your body will be in better shape to fight the symptoms of the flu and get well faster.
So, here are ten natural flu-busters that Southern California-based Dr. Ray Sahelian, M.D., recommends to his patients to keep from getting influenza, straight from my book Doctors' Orders. Plus, the CDC also touts practicing good health habits and "social distancing" during this contagious swine flu virus outbreak.
Currently, there are two prescribed anti-viral drugs. One vaccine is in the works for what is now technically called "influenza A(H1N1) virus"--and continues to spread around the globe. And the good news is, this virus doesn't have the deadly nature as other pandemic viruses in the past.
1. Drink plenty of fluids. Drinking water, herbal teas, and vitamin C-rich liquids can flush out any toxins that you accumulate.
2. Wash your hands frequently. Viruses can be transmitted by shaking someone's hand and then touching your face, nose or mouth. (This is probably the most important strategy. See previous blog for the Four Thieves Formula--apple cider vinegar and herbs.)
3. Eat right. "There are many plant chemicals such as carotenoids and flavonoids that have antiviral and antibacterial activity," he says. So eating nutritious produce daily will help keep your immune system strong. He also eats fish, whole grains, onions and garlic which help stave off flu, too.
4. Treat yourself well. "I try to minimize junk food, but I do succumb to chocolate or calcium-rich ice cream once or twice a week," he says. "It's possible that lots of sugar can interfere with the proper functioning of the immune system."
5. Take vitamin C. Most of the research says that it improves the immune system.
6. Take echinacea. This herb is touted to have both antibiotic and immune-stimulating properties. But note, it's best used as a preventive measure before you get the flu.
7. Zinc yourself well.. "Zinc lozenges are the most powerful," he says. Zinc is a potent virus-fighters that can cut the time you spend in misery.
8. Drink herbal teas. "Warm liquids help loosen mucus," explains Dr. Sahelian.
9. Exercise, exercise, exercise. "It helps me sleep more deeply at night. Deep sleep is a time when the immune system has a chance to regroup itself and get revitalized," notes the good doctor.
10. Chill out. By keeping your stress levels down, you can keep your immune system up and healthy.
* Swine Flu Infections Around the World http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30485593/