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by Mark Force, DC
The first and foremost key to preventing flu is to be aware of transmission - flu is transmitted in the fluid secretions of anyone infected with the flu, usually through coughing and sneezing and through touch after transmission of secretions to primarily the hands.
So, avoiding crowded areas where people are coughing and sneezing is important. Also, be sure to suspect that any surface you touch in public is a point of transmitting the flu virus. That is why washing your hands is so important. Never touch your nose, mouth, or eyes after being in public places until you have washed your hands well. Be aware that it is common to become re-exposed after washing your hands by touching sinks, faucets, door handles with your bare hands. Keep the paper hand towel that you will usually have available to you to turn off the water and open the door to the restroom.
Make sure to eat a whole food diet. The more unrefined foods and fruits and vegetables you eat, the stronger your system will be to resist infection. Get enough sleep. Eight hours is best and getting to bed before 11PM improves sleep quality. Chronic sleep deprivation is, in my opinion, the single most common reason that people end up getting sick during the flu season.
For specific nutrition to prevent flu, make sure your diet has plenty of zinc and vitamins A, C, and D. It’s common to over-supplement with vitamin C. Usually 500-1,000mg is enough. Zinc is a very critical nutrient for healthy immune response and is an extremely common deficiency. The single best way to make sure you have enough zinc is through the zinc taste test. The test is inexpensive and taking the test makes sure your zinc status is sufficient for you to avoid the flu this season.
Moms and grandmas used to give kids cod liver oil so they’d stay healthy. Turns out they were really smart. Fish liver oil is an excellent source of vitamins A and D. There has been extensive research on vitamin D in the last decade and it’s turned out to be a really critical nutrient for the immune system. There has also been some reporting that low vitamin D status may be associated with complications from the H1N1 virus.
I recommend a tablespoon of fish liver oil a day. My favorite is Barlean’s Fish Liver oil. It’s emulsified so that it’s not oily and comes in a lemon flavor. It’s actually quite good and can be used as a sweetener and flavoring in yogurt.
The health of your gut influences the health of your immune system. Cultured foods improve the quality of the flora in you intestinal tract and improve your resistance to infection. Cultured foods are sour pickles, sauerkraut, kim chee, yogurt, kefir, and sourdough breads (whole grain only, please; sourdough whole rye bread is best).
In Chinese medicine, it is considered wise to be treated every change of season. My experience is that people are more robust when using this model. Especially with the coming flu season, you should schedule a visit with your chiropractor to make sure that your nervous and meridian systems are balanced and that your nutrition is balanced for optimal resistance to infection.
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About the Author
Dr. Mark Force is a certified diplomate and teacher for the International College of Applied Kinesiology and the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture and has published research papers, helped develop nutritional formulas, and been a technical contributor for manuals on interpretation of laboratory tests and clinical nutritional protocols.
Dr. Force is married and has three daughters (24-28). He enjoys learning, travel, and the outdoors (climbing, skiing, whitewater rafting, backpacking) and competing in the Scottish Highland Games.
Visit Dr. Force's website, TheElementsOfHealth.com.