Be Ready to Beat the Flu

Flu season is here! Warm weather followed by COLD and back again – perfect conditions for wandering flu viruses! To be ready to beat the flu, we need to understand three scenarios: how and why the flu enters a body, what the body’s immune response is, and how we can best prevent the flu from ever settling in. 

There are hundreds of flu viruses floating around, looking for factories where they can replicate (make copies/clones of themselves). The human body is one such factory. In fact, every cell in your body is a potential flu factory. Flu’s favorite mode of entry is our nose or mouth/throat. All it takes is a nearby cough from a flu infected person to get in.

 People who have flu shots get live attenuated versions of the 3 most commonly expected flues in their shot. The immune system responds to the shot by producing antibodies that will latch onto and mobilize the viruses. These antibodies give us temporary protection if any of those 3 viruses attack us. The antibodies then signal phagocyte white blood cells (the trash collectors), to glob onto the virus and get rid of it. However, if at the same time your body is making antibodies against those three viruses you are attacked by some other virulent flu, your body may have less energy to work on yet a fourth strain of antibodies and that flu virus may take over. Here’s how: 

A virus is an incomplete organism, a knobby little spiked capsule of DNA or RNA. Every human cell contains both Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA), the genetic recipe for manufacture of all our body cells, and Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) for replication and repairs. In addition, our cells contain all the necessary manufacturing tools (cell structures). A virus spike pokes and invades a human cell, squirts in its own nucleic acid, and takes over the factory to endlessly replicate itself, until the cell bursts and releases thousands of viruses to invade other cells. Viruses are truly fast operators which is why they can knock the stuffing out of us so quickly. 

If, at the stage when we start to feel ‘like I’m coming down with something,’ the flu virus is met with hot lemon water, hot salt water gargles and little else, it gives up and loses its oomph. Here’s where the old adage kicks in, ‘Starve a cold or you’ll feed a fever.’ The emphasis is on clearing out the system, not clogging it up with more work. Instead, have lots of water and hourly Vitamin C. Avoid taking huge doses of Vitamin C all at once. Our bodies can only absorb about 1000 mg/hr. The rest just goes through as waste. Taken every hour we are awake, Vitamin C can help bodies fight the flu by stimulating the production of collagen, the protein fiber that gives our cells strong walls. Strengthened cells can then work to resist the virus.

 Vitamin D3 also helps as it stimulates production of acids that zing viruses, etc. 1000 iu/day is the recommended dose for winter protection when we typically get less sun.

 However – if, at the first sign, the flu virus is met with ice cream and cool, sweet, fruity drinks and hearty meals with plenty of chips and fries, the virus will thrive and continue replicating. Flu loves sugar! Look out for all those white foods: potatoes, pasta, grains, milk, sugar, cheese, dairy, sodas, sweeteners, and avoid them for the duration of the flu.

 Aside from the ongoing debate about the value of flu vaccines, my concern with flu shots is that they can give people a false sense of security. People then skip taking prudent precautions to prevent the flu from gaining entry in the first place, much less settling in.

 Here are conditions a flu virus likes:

1. a tired body, one that gets little sleep and keeps stoked with coffee, sodas and energy bars.

2. a body already weakened by a cold or some other malady.

3. a sluggish body, one that gets little exercise.

 Here are conditions the flu virus does not like:

1. a rested, well hydrated body with strong cells.

2. a well nourished body.

3. a well exercised body.

 Here’s what has worked for generations: If you sense that you’re coming down with something, give it your full attention. Everything else can wait or will be fouled up. Don’t wait until the flu raises your temperature. Beat the flu to the punch by sweating it out before it gets the chance to raise your temperature. Bundle up, have a cup of hot lemon water, and stay put while your body works up a sweat. Stay covered until the sweat passes. You may save your body the strain of developing a high temperature to deal with the flu, and you’ll be able to enjoy life again in no time.

 If you miss that window of opportunity, keep starving the virus with lemon water and salt water gargles, stay warm and work with your body to maintain enough sweat to defeat the flu. Chicken soup or mild vegetable soups also help.

 We can each do our part to keep flu viruses from spreading. Given the observation that we humans touch our hands to our mouths several times an hour, regular hand washing is a wise practice. If we have a cold or feel we are coming down with the flu, we can show consideration for others by staying home and getting well. This may mean missing a singing rehearsal or competitive sport practice, food shopping, or other activities that put us in close contact with others.

 Flues have been around for eons. Long ago, our ancestors figured out simple practices that helped them to fend off and survive flu viruses. Those who observed the practices developed strong immune systems that could deal with any flu virus. They didn’t need flu shots. It’s up to us to use their legacy wisely and spread good health around.

 

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