The Flu Vaccine And Your Family
In preparation for flu season, conventional methods of dealing with the virus are beginning to hit the market. The most notable and one of the most controversial is the flu vaccine. Every year, a new vaccine is formulated with 3 strains of flu viruses that researchers have determined are to be the most prevalent. The Center for Disease Control recommends that everyone over the age of 6 receive a flu shot, but especially the elderly, those with chronic illnesses, and those with a weakened immune system.
But is the flu vaccine really right for your family? The CDC says the vaccine doesn't work in every case. In fact, there are two factors that determine its effectiveness. First, a person's state of health is a factor. Those with healthy immune systems will respond better to the vaccine. Second, its effectiveness is also determined by what strains of the virus are included in the formulation. The flu vaccine targets only the three most prevalent strains of flu but there are actually many other types of viruses that circulate during flu season that can bring on similar symptoms. So depending on how healthy you are and what viruses circulate in your area, the CDC states, "it's possible that no benefit from flu vaccination may be observed." In addition, very few studies have been conducted of the safety of flu vaccines as new formulas are developed. In fact, there are disturbing reports of adverse effects of flu vaccines, especially for pregnant women. Also, very few longitudinal studies been conducted to determine the long-term effect of vaccine use. Essentially, the fact is that our public health policy has embraced a form of flu prevention that they cannot guarantee is safe or effective.
That's why Holistic Medicine focuses on strengthening the body's immune system as a standard flu prevention method. Holistic Doctors, such as Naturopathic Doctors know that boosting a person's health is the single most effective way to prevent disease in the body. Not only is it safe to enhance the body's immunity, but it is an effective method for preventing infection from ALL the viruses that circulate during flu season, not just the three most common. That's why, unlike the the advocates of flu vaccines, Holistic Health Doctors can guarantee that immune-boosting preventive medicine is both safe and effective for every member of your family. There are also no negative side effects, and the positive side effects include having more energy and feeling better in general.
Whatever you decide to do for your family, everyone can benefit from the following tips to fight the flu naturally:
- Basic Hygiene. Wash hands frequently, especially after visiting public places. Cover your mouth when coughing and sneezing.
- Get More Sleep. Not getting proper rest can put unnecessary stress on the body and lower immunity. Get at least 8 hours of high-quality sleep each night, and rest more when you feel under the weather. Sleep is when your body repairs itself.
- Increase Vitamin C. Eat foods such as kiwi, grapes, strawberries, and oranges to give your body an antioxidant and immune boost.
- Increase Vitamin A. Vitamin A helps maintain the health and integrity of the mucous membranes, so foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach and kale can also help stave off the flu.
- Drink Herbal Tea. Herbal teas such as red clover, echinacea, lemon and honey, or other commercially available cold/flu formulas can help fortify the body's immune system. Also, green tea is high in antioxidants and can help strengthen T-cells (the body's primary defense against infections).
- Increase Vitamin E. It can help boost immunity and enables T-cells to fight infection. E rich foods include almonds, sunflower seeds, butter and egg yolks.
- Supplement Vitamin D. Japanese researchers have shown that school aged children taking 1200 IU of Vitamin D per day had a 42% lower risk of contracting the flu than children taking a placebo. Vitamin D has increasingly been shown to be one of the most effective ways to prevent illness.
- Homeopathic Flu Support. A homeopathic flu vaccine is similar to conventional vaccines, only without the harmful additives, preservatives, and side effects. Homeopathic flu (Influenzinum) uses infinitesimal doses of flu strains to stimulate your body's vital force to offer protection from invading pathogens.
One of the ancient grains of the Aztecs and Mayans, Amaranth is technically not a grain. It's a seed, making it both gluten-free and non-allergenic. One of its most unique characteristics is its high protein content, providing over 14 grams of protein in a single cup. It is also rich in lysine and methionine, two essential amino acids commonly lacking in grains, as well as a lengthy list of minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. Because of it's high mineral content, Amaranth helps support the immune system. It also can help reduce inflammation in the body if used to replace wheat and gluten. For a quick and easy Amaranth recipe, bring 2? cups of water or broth to a boil and add one cup of Amaranth seeds. Lower heat to medium-high and cook about 20 minutes, until the seeds are tender. If desired, add a little turmeric or chopped ginger root. Amaranth can also be sprouted as you would any other seed.
This recipe is a wonderful gluten-free option to increase fiber and protein in the diet. It holds up well to slicing and is very tasty!
- 3 large eggs
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups Amaranth flour
- 1 1/2 cups tapioca starch flour
- 1 cup fine brown rice flour
- 2/3 cup instant non-fat dry milk powder (for dairy free substitute with finely ground nuts or almond flour)
- 2 teaspoons xanthan gum
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons ground flax seed (optional)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/4 cups warm water (105-115°F)
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine eggs, oil, and lemon juice. In a separate medium bowl, combine flours, dry milk powder (or nuts/nut flour), xanthan gum, salt, flax seed, yeast and sugar. Pour ? of the warm water into stand mixer and blend with egg mixture. Slowly add dry ingredients a little at a time until completely incorporated. Add remaining water, reserving some water if necessary (see note on humidity below). Mix batter on high speed for 3? minutes, then pour into prepared pan. Batter will be thicker than a cake batter and nothing like the consistency of regular bread dough.
Cover bread with foil and place in a cold oven. Set a pan of hot water on a lower shelf underneath the bread. Leave for 10 minutes with oven door closed. This will cause the bread to rise quickly. Remove bread from oven (do not uncover) and place in a warm place in the kitchen. Preheat oven to 400°F. Bread will continue to rise as oven preheats.
Uncover bread and bake for 10 minutes to brown the top. Cover bread with foil and continue to bake bread for 35-40 minutes. Turn bread out onto a cooling rack. When completely cooled, wrap tightly to maintain freshness for as long as possible.
Helpful tips: If humidity is high, reduce the amount of water in the recipe to avoid over rising. Many gluten-free bakers experience the frustrating situation in which a beautiful loaf of bread deflates once removed from the oven. You will need to experiment a little to get just the right amount of water in your bread depending on the humidity in the air. If in question, use less water than the recipe calls for. You may use rapid rise yeast instead of regular yeast. If doing so, eliminate the cold oven rise method with a pan of hot water, follow yeast package directions instead for rise time.
Zinc is an immune-boosting nutrient. In fact, over two hundred enzymes in our body require this mineral to function, which is far more than any other nutrient in our diet. Zinc deficiency can lead to impaired wound healing, increased susceptibility to colds and flu, and decreased sense of taste and smell. Zinc has also been shown to help maintain healthy skin and reduce the incidence of prostate enlargement. Zinc is extremely important during cold and flu season because many immune cells require zinc for optimal function. To increase zinc in your diet, try eating more Crimini mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, and spinach. Other good sources include asparagus, chard, scallops, lamb, beef, maple syrup, shrimp, green peas, yogurt, oats, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, turkey, miso, and spelt.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
Ashwagandha is widely used in Ayurvedic medicine for its rejuvenating properties. It is an immune-boosting herb that increases red and white blood cell counts, making it a very effective treatment for colds and flu, autoimmune disorders, and cancers. Well known for its ability to calm and strengthen the nervous system, and for tonifying without over stimulating, Ashwagandha is commonly used in treating chronic conditions as well as weakness, insomnia, and nervous exhaustion. It is an important herb for anyone trying to regain their strength and stamina after an illness. This herb can be taken as a tincture, a tea, or even in capsule form. Talk with your Doctor about the health benefits of Ashwagandha.
Hydrotherapy (or "water cure") refers to the therapeutic use of water to stimulate the body's healing force. The process involves applying hot wet towels to the chest and abdomen and wrapping the person in warm blankets. After the skin has warmed, the warm towel is replaced with a cold one. The application of warmth soothes and relaxes the tissues and organs, and the cold then stimulates a rush of blood flow to the area. The increased blood flow and circulation helps stimulate the immune system and detoxify the body. The application of hot and cold water to the body stimulates digestion, circulation, and the immune system, and brings relief from pain. It also helps to detoxify metals, pesticides and herbicides, and other toxic buildup from improper diet and lifestyle.
In a clinical setting, a mild electrical stimulation is applied to the organs of detoxification to further enhance the healing process. While constitutional hydrotherapy can be done by yourself at home, for maximum benefit it should be performed by a knowledgeable practitioner. However, other forms of hydrotherapy can easily be utilized at home on different areas of the body to successfully treat various conditions. Full baths, foot baths, sitz baths, steam inhalations, hot compresses, saunas and douches can all provide healthful benefits to various conditions.
Photo attributions: Paha_L/stockfresh.com, Cyanocorax/freeimages.com, gvdvarst/freeimages.com, Chris 73/wikipedia.org, Wowbobwow12/wikipedia.org, Dr. Meghna Thacker ("Today" photo)
The information offered by this newsletter is presented for educational purposes. Nothing contained within should be construed as nor is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. This information should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider. Always consult with your physician or other qualified health care provider before embarking on a new treatment, diet or fitness program. You should never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information contained within this newsletter.