Flu, Flu, Everywhere the Flu

Winter in Monroe, Wisconsin:

  • Snow happens. A lot. And it’s gorgeous to look at an absolute delight to drive in.  
  • NOTHING burns like your bare feet running along the icy crevices of your driveway as you quickly run out to get your phone charger from the car. *Why didn’t I take two extra seconds to put my freaking boots on?!*
  • Hot coffee and tea are everything. But then again, they’re everything in the summer too. And spring. And fall. Okay… hot coffee and tea are everything all year round.
  • Influenza happens. And whether you live in rural Wisconsin or hopping New York City it can Take.You.Down. Also, fun fact- influenza is sneaky and usually likes to appear when you have a fun event planned or on a major holiday.  

Whether you’re vaccinated or not (this is not going to be a discussion on this debate!) the fact is: the current influenza vaccination is performing poorly to prevent influenza and its complications. 

I want to share with you my favorite trusted resources to help boost your immunity against the flu AND know what to do when you feel the dreaded scratchy throat and sniffly nose begin.

TO PREVENT CONTRACTING INFLUENZA:

REMEMBER: The name of ANY game is DECREASING INFLAMMATION in your body!  

  1. Maintain Routine Sleep/Wake Cycles: Circadian rhythms love routine! This helps balance cortisol (which can be highly inflammatory). People who sleep less than seven hours are almost three times more likely to develop a cold than those who slept eight hours or more!
  2. Avoid Sugary/Processed Foods and Abstain from Alcohol: All of these are major causes of inflammation, which is a common factor in many illnesses and diseases. Don’t worry- you can still enjoy your life and love the food you eat! Here’s a list of 121 different snack ideas that are simple to make and taste amazing! 
  3. Wash with Soap and Water: Avoid alcohol hand sanitizers as they dry your skin (the main barrier to infection) creating microscopic cuts. They can also disrupt healthy bacteria on your body and create imbalance. Make sure to wash your hands with warm water and scrub for at least 20 seconds!
  4. Take a Quality Multi-Vitamin: I recommend something like Alpha Base without Iron, as it will help fill in any missed nutrients in your diet of whole foods, vegetables and fruits.
  5. Take a Probiotic: Taking probiotics can lower your chances of getting a cold! Probiotics help boost your immune system in your gut lining by populating your intestine with a variety of healthy bacteria. My favorite moderate dose probiotic is OrthoBiotic 100. If you’re prone to get sick easily, add a probiotic yeast like S. Boulardii.
  6. Avoid Contact with Sick Friends and Family: If someone has the flu, they are still contagious 7 days after the first day of symptoms! Viral shedding can continue up to 10-14 days as well, so use gloves if you’re emptying trash bags of kleenex, wipe and clean all doorknobs, and require masks if they feel they MUST return the boxed DVD set of “F.R.I.E.N.D.S.” today.

IF YOU FEEL THE FLU COMING ON:

REMEMBER:  Influenza is a respiratory disease. It’s not the “stomach flu” (we’ll talk about that in a future blog post). Follow these tips when you feel the sniffles, sinus congestion, and body aches:

  1. Temporarily avoid dairy and gluten until you feel better. These foods trigger your body to work overtime as it creates cytokines of inflammation. When you avoid them, you free up your body to divert energy to fighting the impending infection! Don’t worry. I got you covered- here’s a list of delish gluten, dairy, and refined sugar free snacks!
  2. Stay hydrated. Drink enough water to make your urine pale yellow. This helps flush all those toxic byproducts created by the virus in your tissues. You can check it this article to see how many ounces you should aim to drink per day.
  3. Irrigate your nasal passages with sterile, distilled water. Physically removing the viruses from your tissues is the best way to hasten recovery. You can learn how to do this here!
  4. Take Viracid, my favorite blend of immune-boosting antioxidants. It contains high dose Vitamin C, Zinc, B vitamins, Elderberry, Lysine, and Echinacea to help thwart viral replication. 
  5. Increase your Vitamin D3 to 10,000 IU daily to tighten up the leaky junctions in your gut.
  6. If you have a scratchy sore throat, avoid the sugary lozenges. Herbal teas with honey help soothe the throat. Bone broth soup is an obvious winner. But if you absolutely can’t get to sleep, an old Family Medicine trick is to gargle and spit 1 teaspoon of children’s liquid benadryl. The anti-histamine will temporarily dry up drainage and provide anesthetic so you can fall asleep quicker.
  7. Fevers are important as they help the body kill viruses. Don’t immediately medicate yourself at the first sign of warmth. But if you MUST keep comfortable, avoid tylenol (as it can deplete glutathione, your body’s primary antioxidant!). Instead, try ibuprofen 200mg (two tablets with food) every 6 hours if needed. Keeping mindful, NSAIDS like ibuprofen will cause leaky gut, so take care of yourself in other ways mentioned above!

Lastly, if you get the flu stay home. Don’t spread the love to others and if you’re not in an absolute corpse like state the whole duration of your illness use that time to:

  1. Read your favorite novel (my book will be ready for your enjoyment during the 2020 flu season. Shameless plug. You’re welcome.)
  2. Watch something fun and informative on Netflix like Sex Explained. It’s doctor approved for factual, reliable, adult sex ed!
  3. Do something creative. Like sign up for my complementary 10 Day Creative AF Challenge. Another shameless plug but it’s so fun and life-giving and it might brighten your spirit amidst the chills and fevers.
  4. Go for a slow, therapeutic walk outside. Even 5 minutes of fresh air will help you to feel more rejuvenated!