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The Truth About Colds and Flu

March 31st, 2014 by Cath King from Seeking Health

The cold and flu season is fast approaching. For many that means an annual flu shot. Is this really in our best interests? And what are the alternatives?

What is a cold or flu?

The common cold is a caused by more than 200 viruses. Although viruses are all around us, infection only occurs when we provide the right internal environment for them to survive. Virology professor, Vincent Racaniello tells us that viruses are passive, completely at the mercy of their environment. Most of these viruses are airborne, but some are also found on surfaces such as door knobs, telephones and people’s hands.

According to Nutritional Doctor, Joel Robbins, we don’t catch a cold, so much as earn one, through making wrong choices in our diet and lifestyle, and so providing optimal conditions for viruses. Most adults earn up to six colds a year, while children can earn up to twelve. Only about five to twenty per cent of the population earns the flu each year.

The flu is also caused by many viruses (although different ones to the common cold). It is a more severe disease than a cold with high fevers, severe fatigue, muscle aches and occasionally nausea and vomiting.

How do you earn a cold or flu?

There are many contributing factors to catching a cold or flu. Some of these are beyond your control, such as: working or living in close proximity to others, your age (young children and those over 65 years of age are most susceptible), being pregnant and the time of year (colds and flus transmit easier when we spend more time closed up indoors). The most significant factors though, are completely within your control – your level of toxicity and the strength of your immune system.

Cold and flu viruses only infect and kill weak, toxic cells. These are cells you want to get rid of, so the viruses are actually doing us a favour. It is these cells, that the viruses have destroyed, that are expelled in all the mucus you produce as a symptom of your cold or flu. A cold or flu is nature’s way of keeping you healthy long term, by purging all the weak, toxic cells from your body. That’s why it is never a good idea to supress symptoms with over-the-counter medications, which only add to your toxicity and prevent your body getting rid of the dead cells in the most effective way possible.

Although colds and flu can be helpful, it is still best if you don’t need to get them. Looking after your cell health by reducing toxicity and feeding your cells correctly to build immunity is a far better option.

How do you reduce toxicity?

Although we take in toxins through the air we breathe and the chemicals in the cleaning products and personal care products we use, the main way we put chemicals into our bodies is through the food we eat.

Your body will naturally detoxify when you stop putting toxins in. So the first step is to clean up your diet by getting rid of processed and junk food, drinking plenty of clean water (not tea, coffee, fruit juice or fizzy drink) and increasing your intake of high fibre vegetables and fruit. Organic produce has an advantage over conventionally grown produce in this regard.

How do you feed your cells?

I promote a nutrition plan that has as its foundation a whole-food, high raw, plant-based diet to provide maximum nutrition per calorie consumed. However, due to the depleted state of our soils (in New Zealand and elsewhere in the world) our food is likewise, depleted in the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants necessary to provide optimal nutrition.

With this in mind, I recommend individualised “insurance protocols”, which include: superfoods, medicinal herbs and supplements. This ensures that you can provide the nutrition needed for cellular health.

Other important factors.

Stress weakens our immune response so avoiding and managing stress is critical to having a strong immune system. Practices such as meditation, deep breathing, yoga and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) can help to reduce stress hormones such as cortisol.

Similarly, sleep dissolves stress and facilitates detoxification, so getting seven to eight hours of quality sleep each night is a must.

Of course, a natural, wholefood diet is not optional when it comes to maintaining health. The emphasis needs to be on fresh, raw fruits and vegetables. Casseroles and soups can seem more attractive when cold weather hits, but salads are still an important addition to your daily menu. Above all, avoid sugar and processed foods like … well … a plague.

Another important health practice is exercise. Exercise, especially outdoors, improves your immune response as long as you don’t overdo it and cause stress to your body.

Finally, supplements can enhance the practices mentioned above. It is important to note that supplements are just that, supplemental to your nutrition and lifestyle strategies. On their own, they are ineffective. The most important supplement to take is vitamin D. This is because the sun in Christchurch, during the winter months, does not supply enough of this essential vitamin to meet our needs. My favourite products for immune strength are garlic (both fresh in our food and in supplement form), ginger, olive leaf extract, vitamin C, pau d’arco (taheebo) and a good quality probiotic.

In addition to building your immune system, other cold and flu prevention strategies include: frequent hand washing, avoiding smoky environments, avoiding crowded, unventilated areas and containing coughs and sneezes in the crook of your elbow.

Why use natural methods?

Exposure to multiple vaccines is immunosuppressive, according to paediatrician, Janet Levatin. This year’s flu vaccines are FLUVAX, INFLUVAC and FLUARIX. In addition to the inactivated viruses, they also include chemicals such as aluminium-based adjuvants, preservatives such as 2-phenoxyethanol, surficants like the detergent – Sodium Taurodeoxycholate, formaldehyde and the disinfectant – propiolactone.

Ultimately, taking the natural road to cold and flu prevention lessens the number of toxins your body has to deal with and can increase your long term health.

“The best six doctors anywhere
And no one can deny it
Are sunshine, water, rest, and air
Exercise and diet.
These six will gladly you attend
If only you are willing
Your mind they’ll ease
Your will they’ll mend
And charge you not a shilling.”
— Nursery rhyme quoted by Wayne Fields, What the River Knows, 1990

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