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How to Prepare for Flu Season

ESTIMATED READING TIME 5 MINUTES

How to prepare for Flu Season

How to Prepare for Flu Season

Yes, it’s that time of year again, and unpredictable weather combined with flu, colds and COVID all doing the rounds means many people are struggling with the flu. But don’t despair, the Embracing Nutrition team are here to help with some practical suggestions to prepare for flu season.

Get Flu Ready this Winter

Flu viruses are sneaky. They mutate every year, so they’re not immediately recognised by your immune system. This means they need to be identified afresh by your roving immune cells. It makes sense, then, to ensure your immune system is in tip-top condition and ready to spring into action whenever it encounters a virus.

Your immune system works incredibly hard for you. But with an overwhelm of bugs to deal with, it can’t be a superpower all the time. Its fighting force of white blood cells needs certain nutrients to function well. So, keeping a supply of these in your supplement cabinet means they’ll be on hand when you need them.

• Vitamin C

Your body needs to be drip-fed vitamin C throughout the day, as this nutrient can’t be stored in the body. So, once it’s gone, it’s gone. Historically humans would have grazed on fruit and vegetables all day long.

Vitamin C is needed to feed your immune system’s cells. When your body is actively fighting an infection, vitamin C is used up more rapidly. So it makes sense to ensure you have an adequate supply. Covering half your plate with brightly coloured fruit and vegetables at each meal is a great start, but during flu season you may benefit from an additional supplement of vitamin C.

• Zinc

Your immune cells need zinc to function, and this mineral seems to have a direct antiviral activity, too. People who are deficient in zinc are more prone to developing viral infections 1. Zinc is rich in red meat, shellfish especially oysters, lentils and hemp and pumpkin seeds. Many vegetarians are low in zinc, so a supplement may be advisable.

• Black Elderberry

black elderberry to aid off flu

Hippocrates referred to the elder tree as his medicine chest. Black elderberry has been studied in relation to its ability to disarm flu viruses and was found to reduce the duration of flu symptoms 2. It may prevent viruses from getting inside your body cells, too. It’s available in pastilles and syrup.

• Manuka Honey

This wonderful natural substance contains some magic going by the name of Unique Manuka Factor (UMF). This is a measure of the honey’s antibacterial potency, but it’s also been shown to prevent viruses from replicating 3. Make a comforting brew with honey, lemon juice and fresh ginger. Remember to stay hydrated, especially if you have a runny nose.

• Echinacea

Used for centuries to support immune health, modern science has shown it has antiviral activity and boosts immune cell production. Available in tincture, capsule or as a tea, it’s handy to keep in the cupboard for flu season.

• Garlic

An essential for any natural store cupboard, garlic possesses antiviral activity. Studies have demonstrated it’s effective against the influenza virus and can support the activity of your immune cells. How about trying garlic-infused honey or vinegar? Or sprinkle crushed raw garlic over cooked savoury dishes.

• Berries

Each tiny berry is bursting with antioxidants including polyphenols, which seem to prevent the influenza virus from attacking cells. Out of berry season, the best approach is to buy a bag of organic frozen mixed berries so they’re handy whenever you need them. Eat with natural live yoghurt, in smoothies or with chia puddings.

• Immune-Boosting Chicken Soup

This is traditionally recommended for when you’re fighting off a bug. Intriguingly, science has now found that an amino acid present in chicken can help manage inflammation in the initial stages of a viral infection. Make sure to include plenty of garlic in your soup, too.

• Marvellous Mushrooms

Many mushrooms contain substances which can reduce the replication of the influenza virus and boost immune cells. Especially useful seem to be shitake, cordyceps and turkey tail. Use dried or fresh in warming soups, stews or as a tea.

Personalised Support for Your Immune System

If you or a loved one seem to be on a constant merry-go-round of colds and flu, it sounds like your immune system could do with some extra tender loving care. Functional medicine believes your immune system is perfectly capable of doing its job of naturally fighting off bacteria and viruses, given the correct tools for the job.

Help is at hand – we can guide you towards the most appropriate immune-friendly foods, nutrients, herbs, and lifestyle choices so you can sail through the flu season. Contact our friendly team today.

References

Did you know you can request a FREE 15 minute Discovery Call

Do you need personalised natural support for immunity to flu and other winter bugs? Then book a free 15-minute discovery call to see if Functional Medicine is for you.

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