Natural Flu Prevention

Natural Flu Prevention - Integrative Medicine in Springfield Missouri

Natural Flu Prevention

As the weather turns colder, it’s definitely the start of cold and flu season. What are the best ways to combat the flu and stay healthy? We practice integrative medicine in Springfield Missouri by taking a holistic approach to fighting the flu and examining what you eat, your stress level and how much sleep you’re getting.

Let Food Be Your Medicine

If you’re trying to combat the flu, you need to avoid foods that suppress your immune system. Some foods even stifle your body’s immunity for hours after ingestion. Any food that contains white flour, refined grains, or refined sugars falls into this category. Moderate alcohol intake suppresses the central nervous system, and therefore your immune system.

You should always try to include protein with every meal. Proteins feed your immune and detoxification systems. Clean and lean animal protein, as well as legumes, nuts, or seeds (which are a great non-meat source of protein) are important to eat with all meals and snacks. Add garlic, onions, ginger, and lots of healing spices (like oregano and turmeric) to everything. They not only add great flavor, but they also offer a wide spectrum of antimicrobial properties.

Choose colorful fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamins A and C as well as phytonutrients that support the immune system like broccoli, peppers, sweet potatoes, and squashes. It is critically important to consume three servings of fruit and four or more serving of vegetables every day.

You also need to make sure that you’re drinking plenty of fluids. With the drier, cooler air inside and out, fall and winter can be challenging times to stay hydrated. Consuming the right amount of fluid supports all your body’s functions including your immune system.

Try to make soups and broths from scratch with fresh vegetables and enjoy them throughout the week. Drink herbal teas and always keep a bottle of filtered water with you at all time. Avoid concentrated fruit juices and sweetened beverages. The added sugar is harmful to your immune system. If your sweet cravings cannot be controlled, trying diluting the juice with sparkling water for a healthy alternative to soda.

Heal Your Gut

Your gut regulates which particles pass through the intestinal lining into the rest of your body. Healthy digestive tracts are designed with small gates that allow digested foods to pass while keeping out larger food particles and other antigens (foreign particles that cause immune reactions).

When the gates in your intestinal lining become damaged, they allow large food particles and unwanted substances to enter the rest of your body. Once inside, they are treated as foreign invaders and cause immune reactions that trigger inflammation and pain.

80% of your immune system is located in your gut, so it’s very crucial to heal your gut. Here are some steps to follow to improve your gut health while reducing and reversing illness:

• Take a probiotic.

• Eat fermented and cultured foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and fresh pickles. Not only do these foods contain probiotics, but they are also full of digestive enzymes, which can aid your stomach, liver, or gallbladder.

• Eat sprouted vegetables. These contain dramatically increased amounts of enzymes compared to their unsprouted counterparts.

• Try to consume demulcents that soothe irritated or inflamed tissues like almonds, barley, coconut oil, figs, parsley, prunes, and sage.

• Eat more fiber. Fiber helps regulate your digestive tract and also acts as food for your good bacteria.

Get Sufficient Sleep

We all know that sleep restores and heals the body. Chronic sleep deprivation can significantly reduce immune function. T-cells go down when you’re sleep deprived and inflammatory cytokines go up. This leads to a dramatically greater risk of developing a cold or flu. Without adequate sleep, optimal immune function is next to impossible. It’s like trying to drive a car that hasn’t been refueled. It just doesn’t work properly. On dark winter nights, try heading to bed earlier and aim for at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night.

Reduce Your Holiday Stress

Keeping your stress under control during the holidays isn’t always easy, but your basic body functions slow or completely shut down whenever your body is stressed. Stress increases your heart rate, blood pressure, glucose levels, adrenaline, cortisol, free radicals and oxidative damage. This initiates the “fight or flight” response, places undue strain upon the heart, and can also increase the feelings of anxiety and depression.

Alleviating stress will insure that your immune system can function properly. Incorporating various relaxation and breathing techniques throughout the day to help relieve stress and allow your mind to rest is also very helpful. Consider meditation, yoga, acupuncture, or exercise (which not only reduces stress, but also boosts your immune system in and of itself).

If you can follow these steps to watch what you eat, lower your stress and get plenty of sleep, you’ll improve your chances of staying healthy this cold and flu season. Call our office if you’d like to schedule an appointment to get additional help improving your health and wellness.

Keri Sutton - RN, MSN, ANP-C, AGPCNP-BC

Keri is a Nurse Practitioner and founder at Kare Health & Wellness. Keri's pursuit of personal answers to her own health issues landed her in the top of Functional Medicine. As she utilized functional Medicine to get her own health and life back, she made it her life's work to bring this empowering form of healthcare to as many people as she can.

About Us

Our mission is to create a safe environment for our patients to share their story and be empowered to take control of their health.  We constantly challenge patients to think differently about their health. We never find contentment in simply being disease free. We want to help patients optimize their vitality of life so that they can strive for things that they thought were unattainable.

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