New column: An Apple a Day
Survive flu, cold season
The Apple a Day health column started on Feb. 13 in all four of Tri-County Newspapers: Corning Observer, Orland Press-Register, Willows Journal and Colusa County Sun-Herald. The author, Missy Beavers, owns Health Habit in Willows, and is a health and wellness consultant. The column will appear on the second Wednesday of each month. The next column is on a new study on vegetable oils and other polyunsaturated fats, and is very informative. The column is an exciting new addition to TCN content, so get a copy of the paper and read it yourself.
We are in the middle of on the dreaded cold and flu season.
The numbers of hospitalizations and mortalities from the virus are on the rise and experts are projecting this year to be the worst in history. The common cold had become a common concern for the entire population and we are all trying out best to avoid catching it.
How does one go about avoiding the flu? One must first understand how it is contracted.
The common cold and flu is caused by a virus. When a virus enters the body one of two things happens: The immune system is activated to quarantine and destroy the virus and we continue on with life as usual; or the virus multiplies and turns into an ugly cold or flu that lands us in bed clutching a box of tissues.
The Center for Disease Control reports that the virus is spread through droplets that are passed from an affected person when they cough, sneeze or talk.
The CDC website notes that, “People with the flu can spread it to people up to six feet away.”
This is why it is best to stay home when you are experiencing flu-like symptoms in order to keep everyone else within six feet of you from getting sick.
Unfortunately, most people don’t stay home when they are sick and we are exposed to the flu virus multiple times a day. Since we can’t take the virus out of our environment, the best defense against the flu is to support the immune system enough to survive the outbreak. The following are some tips on how to walk through a flu sneeze cloud and come out untouched:
• Wash you hands frequently. Imagine there is a flu virus living on a stapler in the office supply room. An unsuspecting victim clicks a few papers together and walks away with the virus on her hands. A few moments later she rubs her tired eyes as she looks at her computer screen and covers a yawn with her virus infested hand. The virus is now in her body and the dreaded flu begins.
While the CDC notes that is less common to pick up the virus from objects as it is from person to person, they do stress frequent hand washing to remove the virus from hands. It is also important to keep from touching the mouth, nose and eyes as these are easy entry ways for the virus to get into the body.
• Get 7-8 hours of sleep. With so many demands on our time, it seems that sleep is the last priority for a majority of the population and many of us are guilty of not getting enough. The Mayo Clinic notes that studies have been done to show that those who do not get enough sleep at night are more prone to infections.
When we sleep, our bodies produce infection fighting antibodies, cells and proteins that help us fight infections. Chronic sleep deprivation dramatically decreases the bodies’ immunity and has also been linked with obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Focus on getting quality sleep each night. It isn’t just for beauty anymore.
• Cut the sugar. A spoonful of sugar may help the medicine got down, but it can also land you with a bad case of the flu. In a research study done at Loma Linda University, volunteers were given 100 grams of sugar – equivalent to drinking two 12 ounce cans of soda or 8 tablespoons – and had their blood drawn. The blood was then mixed with bacteria and they discovered that the bodies’ ability to fight infection dropped by 40 percent.
The average American consumes far more than 100 grams of sugar a day, which means we are a nation with a chronically suppressed immune system. Is it any wonder that cold and flu season happens right after the holidays when most of us have eaten ourselves into a sugar coma? Kick the sugar to keep the immunity up.
• Move your body. If sugar lowers immunity then exercise is the antidote. In a study performed at the University of Southern Carolina in 2009, researchers found that moderate exercise was a defining factor in immunity. Gentle movement such as walking or yoga for 20 to 30 minutes a day assists the body in producing T cells that fight infection, and cancer. The study also found that excessive exercise can deplete the immune system and make the body more susceptible to infection.
Perhaps those New Year’s resolutions to get back in the gym are over-exercising our unconditioned bodies and pushing us toward the flu. Start slowly when getting into exercise and stick to walking and gentle exercise to stay well.
• Look for natural treatments. These recommendations may be too late for the many who have already caught the dreaded flu. For those who are in the throes of the fever, body aches and chills, consider some natural treatments before reaching for a neon colored liquid in the medicine aisle.
Many over the counter flu remedies contain added sugars and dyes and chemicals that deplete the immune system. Some natural anti-viral treatments that have stood the test of time include Echinacea, Vitamin C, olive leaf, garlic, Goldenseal, and Colloidal Silver.
Avoiding the cold and flu during this dreaded season does not have to be a stressful endeavor. Be good to your body, wash your hands often, get adequate sleep, move your body daily and cut out the sugar, and you will come through the season feeling fantastic.