Preparing for the fall season includes several fun things: cold and crisp air, leaves turning red and, of course, apple cider and pumpkin spice lattes. The last thing any of us wishes or plans for is to combat the flu.
Last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), multiple strains of the flu virus were prevalent, and many suffered from some or all the symptoms of the flu.
Prevention Is Better Than the Cure
When it comes to health and wellness, especially seasonal issues such as the flu, the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” rings true. Some basic yet easily forgotten practices to revive, especially if you have young children in the house, would be frequent handwashing, not touching your face often, keeping your office and household spaces clean, and of course, eating foods that can not only help one build the immune system but can ward off an acute disease such as the flu before it spreads throughout the body.
However, should symptoms of the flu come on, advice or treatment from your health professional is better than the advice of your favorite blogger. In addition, while natural remedies can help, they should not replace medicine, advice or feedback provided by a health professional.
Additionally, regardless of what the statistics show, getting the flu vaccine is a no-brainer. Certainly, in recent years the effectiveness of the flu vaccine might have varied throughout the season. However, influenza is a highly contagious viral infection, and flu vaccines are designed to offer protection against multiple strains of the virus each year.
Dietary Remedies That Work
There are a few things to keep in mind about the flu vaccine ahead of time. For starters, the vaccine takes approximately two weeks to reach full effectiveness; therefore, typically, the CDC recommends getting the vaccine at the beginning of fall before the flu season is at its worst. The flu season in 2018 will begin in October and peak in February 2019.
Additionally, the flu vaccine does not offer guaranteed protection against the flu since the virus used to compile the vaccine does not always mimic that circulating in the community. Including foods, herbs and spices of medicinal value in your daily diet months before the flu season hits and throughout it is one of the best ways to dodge this notoriously contagious virus.
Bone broth, garlic, greek yogurt or kefir, and oatmeal work to help build the immune system and beat the flu. One caveat: There are countless medicinal foods; however, for simplicity, these four common remedies that are easily accessible at a local grocery store. Before embarking on your kitchen pantry medicinal magic, be sure to check with your health professional if you take medications for other health conditions such as hypertension or diabetes, among others, to prevent drug-nutrient interactions or unwarranted side-effects.
Food is Thy Medicine
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, repeatedly reminded us that without nutritious foods, no drug, supplement or treatment will take effect within the body. Acute infections such as the flu are easily preventable by utilizing simple strategies. Using your kitchen pantry as your medicine cabinet, practicing hygienic habits, drinking plenty of fluids and being physically active are the easiest ways to beat seasonal health disorders. A healthy eating plan can prepare your immune system to fight the most rigorous of flu strains.
There seem to be so many inconsistencies about bone broth; so in relation to treating the flu, here’s the intel: Bone broth contains collagen peptides that line the gastrointestinal (GI) and respiratory tract (RT) lining, in addition to strengthening joints and bones. Because the flu is a viral infection that affects the GI tract and RT, it can cause unbearable aches and pain. Bone broth can help bolster those linings and lessen the effects of the flu and fight the virus.
As a textbook cure for bacterial, viral and parasitic infections, garlic tops the charts. The active ingredient found in garlic, allicin, is used in many immune-boosting supplements. Time and again, studies have shown that consumption of garlic can enhance the rate at which the immune system fights infections, thereby preventing and eradicating the infection, in this case the flu. As a bonus, allicin is the most powerful remedy for reducing bad cholesterol (LDL).
Greek Yogurt or Kefir
The live cultures found in kefir and Greek yogurt can not only soothe the throat but also protect the lining of the gut, which is frequently under attack during an acute infection such as the flu, especially if one is taking antiviral medication or pain pills. According to a study published in the Journal of International Immunopharmacology, yogurt can boost the immune system, thus fighting the viral infection effectively. Avoid yogurt loaded with sugar and artificial sweeteners; instead, opt for plain yogurt with some fresh fruit.
This cholesterol-lowering food can help treat and prevent the flu. What makes oatmeal a flu-fighting machine is the high concentration of immune-boosting fibers called beta-glucans, along with antioxidants such as vitamin E. This also aids in preventing GI disturbances that often accompany flu medications.
There’s nothing more soothing than warm tea when a sore throat strikes, or you may need a pick me up after a cold fall day. Chai tea is synonymous with a variety of spices that allows it its authentic and unique flavors. This medicinal makeover utilizes an array of medicinal spices that can come in handy during flu season.
This beverage can be consumed two to three times per day to ease congestion, sore throat or flu-like symptoms. This recipe is not, however, a substitute for a flu shot.
2 pods cardamom
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon cinnamon
8-10 pepper corns
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon black tea of choice
1 cup milk, or non-dairy milk like almond, coconut or cashew milk
Add the spices to milk and bring them to a boil; simmer for 2-3 minutes. Strain and pour into a cup. Add a sweetener of choice, if desired.
Dr. Suman Ahuja completed her education at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York and at Texas Tech. She has a a doctorate in clinical nutrition with an emphasis on obesity treatment and prevention.