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Dr. Roger De Sesa: Holistic tips to combat the flu

Proactive Health

Posted: November 4, 2010 9:49 p.m.
Updated: November 5, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 

No matter the season, it’s not any fun to get a cold or the flu. What’s ironic is that our habits over the busy holiday season actually help us get sick.

We spend more time indoors breathing dry air. We eat more sugar, which depresses our immune system. We increase consumption of dairy and egg-based foods, which promote the overproduction of mucus in our respiratory tract.

This excess mucus traps and supports the growth of bacteria and viruses. The holiday stress also wears down our immune system. See how it all fits together?

First, let’s examine the difference between a cold and flu. A cold is usually characterized by a stuffy nose or sore throat and maybe some fatigue, coughing and sneezing.

With the flu, a fever is common, as well as aches and pains, fatigue and a cough. Sometimes, a stuffy nose, sneezing and sore throat accompany the flu.

There are numerous strategies that everyone can implement to stay healthy during the upcoming holidays and cold/flu season.

Most importantly, wash your hands frequently — rubbing vigorously for 20 seconds (sing the alphabet song) each time. Don’t forget the back of your hands and under the nails. Use a paper towel to turn off the water and to open the door on the way out.

Also, avoid shaking hands with someone who is sick.

Make choices to promote a strong immune system. Although there are health benefits linked to coffee and tea, green tea is especially high in antioxidant action.

A Sept. 19, 2006 article in “Time” magazine found that the Japanese population who drank five or more cups of green tea daily had lower mortality rates.

Garlic offers antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal activity. A study by the University of Maryland Medical Center reported that garlic helps prevent and treat the common cold.

Finally, consider adding acidophilus to your diet to help strengthen your immune system.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Get eight hours of sleep, relax often, eat moderately, drink plenty of pure water and decrease consumption of alcohol and sugar, which again depresses the immune system.

Get a chiropractic adjustment to maximize the nervous system function, which controls and coordinates all the functions in your body, including your immune system. Chiropractic adjustments help restore the body to its natural state of optimal health.

Take a quality, high potency multivitamin-mineral, such as Solgar, with at least 1,000 mg vitamin C; 5,000 IU vitamin A; 20,000 IU beta-carotene; 400 IU vitamin E; 15 mg zinc and 25 mg of the B vitamins. Also take Omega 3 fatty acids like those found in fish or flaxseed oil.

Spend about 15 minutes each day in the sun without sunscreen to soak up your vitamin D.

While the amount of sunshine depends also on where you live, the time of day, age and skin tone, a few minutes each day seems reasonable.

Dr. Jean Tang of Stanford School of Medicine acknowledged the balance between protection and maintaining vitamin D levels in a “Time” magazine article on Oct. 19. “…The safest recommendation is that some amount of sun exposure, such as what you would get by exercising outside or walking to your car or walking to work, is always reasonable,” she said.
If you do start to feel ill, slow down immediately and get extra rest. Stop your activity before it stops you. Follow the remaining steps below to minimize your illness.

Eat lightly at the first sign of feeling bad. Cut back to only fruits and vegetables. If you’re hungry, eat more. If not, eat less.
Take echinacea mixed with goldenseal at the first sign of a cold for about two weeks or longer if your illness is prevailing.

Find them at your local health food store or pharmacy. Another homeopathic prevention is to use oscillococcinum, which is popular in France, to relieve flu-like symptoms.

Use a humidifier in your bedroom overnight to moisten the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract.

Take a long, hot bath with a teaspoon of added eucalyptus or thyme oil (unless you are taking homeopathic medicines). Towel-dry and then climb into bed for a deep rest.

Dr. Roger De Sesa owns De Sesa Chiropractic Clinic Inc. (http://www.scvhealthcare.com/) and Proactive Health Systems and has been in Santa Clarita for 11 years. He enjoys lecturing about health and wellness. De Sesa is a member of the U.S. Wellness Chamber of Commerce and a board member of the Santa Clarita Chamber of Commerce Health and Wellness Committee.

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