The top 3 things you need to know as we support our immune system against swine flu.
1. The flu is the flu is the flu.
Influenza or the “flu” is caused by infection with a virus. There are many strains of flu virus and these are continually changing. Our immune system has to adapt and change along with the virus by building antibodies against it. This new strain of flu virus, H1N1, is a close relative to Influenza A, which causes people to get the flu every year. The reason H1N1 is such a problem is that we have not been exposed to this new strain before. What we have to remember is that the same basic health measures that we use to prevent the common Influenza infection are what we need to do to prevent swine flu.
2. Get back to the basics of health- sleep, hydration and nutrition.
These three simple areas of health can greatly reduce the probability that swine flu will become an issue for you. You should be getting 8-10 hours of sleep per night. Sleep is a time that we rest and repair our bodies which promotes immune function. Drinking an optimal amount of water is essential to immune health. You should be drinking half your ideal body weight in ounces (example: if your ideal weight is 100lbs, you drink 50 ounces of water throughout the day). Nutrition is the corner stone to immune health. Eating the correct ratios and proper types of protein, carbohydrate and fat along with fresh vegetables and fruit will give your body the fuel that it needs to keep the immune system strong. The single best dietary change you can make when working to prevent swine flu is to decrease your refined carbohydrate intake.
3. Reduce your stress level to increase immune function.
When the body is under stress, immune function will dramatically decrease making you more susceptible to disease. This has to do with the levels of certain hormones that are stimulated during times of stress. When you manage your stress effectively you prevent yourself from contracting most health problems such as swine flu. Breathing and exercise are two of the most beneficial lifestyle aspects that you can use when reducing stress. Performing 100 conscious abdominal breathes per day (in through the nose and out through the mouth) works to fully oxygenate the brain leading to decrease stress levels. With regards to exercise, walking at a brisk pace for 30 minutes a day outside (rain or shine) will increase endorphins in your body reducing stress levels. Utilize both these lifestyle changes to decrease your risk of contracting swine flu.
Jesse Buttler, ND