Just say “NO” to the so-called cold & flu season

Listen to Healthy by Nature this week to find out how to improve your memory, concentration and mood. Guest, Dr. Kyl Smith, author of Brighter Mind, is always interesting and fun. Also, learn about a new cookie that doesn’t raise your blood sugar.

My Dallas area lecture this week: “Stay Off of the Slippery Slope to Diabetes.” 1:00 PM, Saturday, November 13, 2010 at the Natural Grocers on the NW corner of Campbell and Coit. No reservations required, but here is the store number in case you need directions: (972) 735-9200


The conventional wisdom: get vaccinated, wash your hands frequently, don’t pick your nose unless your fingers are clean, cough into your sleeve, and stay home if you are sick. I don’t have space to address the flu shot controversy (this interview with Dr. Blaylock gives some of the story that you won’t see on the evening news), but, in the best case, the vaccine is good for one type of influenza and you might be exposed to another type. Otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with the standard advice except that it isn’t nearly enough. This week I discuss how to arm your defenses and next week I’ll reveal what’s in my just-in-case-emergency-remedy-kit.

Eat to build immunity.

Avoid sugar. It disables your immune system for hours at a time.1 Remember that starch (e.g. flour) is almost immediately digested into sugar. That sugar-fest that starts at Halloween and continues through Valentine’s Day may be part of our seasonal problem.

Vitamin C is well known and we think of citrus fruits as the source. However, I suggest eating the orange or grapefruit rather than drinking the juice. With the whole food you gain flavonoids and fiber while you avoid the blood sugar spike and increased calories that come with the juice. Potatoes are a source of Vitamin C, but C is destroyed by the heat used to make chips or fries. Tomatoes have Vitamin C but catsup is loaded with sugar. Other sources: strawberries, broccoli, green & red peppers, cantaloupe and cabbage.

• Lack of Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, during the winter may be the most important reason that colds and flu have their own “season”. Food sources include fish, egg yolks, some dairy products and certain mushrooms. If a food is fortified with Vitamin D, make sure it is D3 not D2. It’s hard to get enough D from food which is one reason Grandma dispensed cod liver oil. Get tested and make sure your Vitamin D blood levels are in the optimum range (50-70).

Vitamin A is another immune-boosting component of cod liver oil. Vitamin A also supports the health of the mucous membranes like those of the sinuses, throat and lungs.2 We should eat lots of colorful vegetables because, among other things, they contain carotenes which we convert into Vitamin A. (Contrary to common belief, there is no Vitamin A in carrots.) Not everyone is good at making the conversion from carotene to A. Routine supplements should probably be limited to 5,000 IU and be balanced with sufficient Vitamin D.

Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish, grass-fed beef and eggs (from chickens fed an omega 3 enhanced diet) help the immune system…yet another reason cod liver oil used to be a staple.3

• Keep your intestinal bacteria in good shape because 60-80% of your immune system is in the intestinal tract. These friendly bacteria also make vitamins including Vitamin A. Fermented foods such as the sauerkraut in the refrigerated section of the health food store contain probiotics, but most others are pasteurized. Again, supplementation might be best. More info.

Minerals are critical for immune functions. Dark green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts seafood, figs, and apples are rich in Magnesium. For Zinc look to oysters, crab, beans, nuts, whole grains and the much-maligned red meat.

Avoid these immune zappers:

• Stress. Practice relaxation because stress depletes important disease-fighting nutrients such as magnesium, zinc and vitamin A.

• Dehydration. None of our cells work right without adequate water in which most processes take place. Of course, filtered clean water is better because toxins reduce immune function.

• Sleep deprivation. While we sleep the body repairs everything including the immune system.

• Medications that reduce stomach acid. Stomach acid is a first line defense against pathogens. Speaking of meds, also watch out for unnecessary antibiotics that kill off the beneficial intestinal bacteria. (Most upper respiratory issues are from viruses that don’t respond to antibiotics.)

• Low thyroid function and high blood sugar—both interfere with immune function.

Learn more about supporting your immune system. Link.

My first book : Natural Alternatives to Nexium, Maalox, Tagamet, Prilosec & Other Acid Blockers. Subtitle: What to Use to Relieve Acid Reflux, Heartburn, and Gastric Ailments.

My latest book : Aloe Vera-Modern Science Sheds Light on an Ancient Herbal Remedy

Copyright 2010 Martie Whittekin, CCN

1American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 26, 1180-1184. Role of sugars in human neutrophilic phagocytosis. Albert Sanchez.

2Biofactors. 2010 Aug 27. [Epub ahead of print] Retinoic acid: A key player in immunity. Pino-Lagos K

3Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2010 Apr-Jun;82(4-6):179-87. Epub 2010 Mar 1. Polyunsaturated fatty acids in the modulation of T-cell signalling. Akhtar Khan N.

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