How To Reduce Winter Flu by 50%

August 11, 2010 by  
Filed under Health, Healthy Ageing, Vitamins & Supplements

Given that we seem at the moment, and perhaps for the foreseeable future, to be experiencing any combination of the four seasons in one day I thought it would be useful to give you a heads up on avoiding Winter flu the natural way. Before you head off to the doctor for your antique flu jab you might like to know that recent research has proven that a vitamin D supplement is more effective at reducing the risk of flu infection than vaccines or antiviral drugs.

The study was conducted by researchers from Jikei University School of Medicine in Tokyo and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition based on a double-blind, randomized study on 354 children between the ages of six and 15 during the winter of 2008-2009. Half the children were assigned to take a daily supplement of 1,200 IU of vitamin D, while the other half were given a placebo pill.

After one month, influenza infection rates in the two groups remained the same, but by the second month those who had been given vitamin D were 50 percent less likely to become infected than participants in the control group and this drop in infection rate corresponded with an increase in their vitamin D blood levels.

In contrast, antiviral drugs such as oseltamivir and zanamivir reduced rates of infection by only 8 percent. Even vaccines had success rates significantly lower than the 50 percent achieved by vitamin D.

When the analysis excluded children who were being given vitamin D supplements at home, the results were even better and supplementation was found to reduce the risk of infection by a staggering 67 percent.

Because vitamin D is an essential nutrient, it normally has no side-effects if taken in normal doses but at very high doses can raise calcium levels in the blood.  Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin which plays an important role in having a well-regulated immune system, and an overall lower risk of infection, heart disease, cancer and autoimmune disorders.

Before supplementing you should check with your doctor if you are taking any over-the-counter items such as magnesium-containing antacids or mineral oil or prescription medication particularly barbiturates, digoxin, phenytoin, verapamil D. Do not start or stop any medicine without doctor or pharmacist approval.

The best way to get good Vitamin D levels is to have safe and limited exposure to the sun as that is how it is naturally synthesized by the body. Using very high factor sunscreen and more limited sunlight in winter can play a part in the majority of people in the UK being deficient so if you want to add extra, without supplements, then oily fish and eggs are two of the best sources. Personally, I also always start taking Echinacea tincture in September in order to boost my immune system in preparation for the winter.

Cranberries – Not just for sauce

February 20, 2008 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition, Wellness, Womens Health

For many of us, cranberries are forever associated with turkey and Christmas, but this small red berry has a range of health benefits. Research conducted by Tel Aviv University professor Itzhak Ofek and his colleagues is revealing a surprising array of benefits beyond their well-known role in helping prevent urinary tract infections, Dr Ofek has discovered that cranberry juice can help prevent cavities, fight influenza, and reduce the recurrence of gastric ulcers. However, the berries appear to provide a greater benefit to women than men. Apparently it is a compound known as non-dialyzable material or NDM in the berries that appears to coat some of the body’s surfaces which prevents the adherence of infectious agents while not affecting the body’s beneficial bacteria.

In simple terms what this means is that there is specific inhibitor in cranberry juice that doesn’t let infections adhere to a woman’s bladder. Many women drink cranberry juice as a precaution against bladder infections, and if you can find it then try to get one without artificial sweeteners or an unsweetened one and add honey to taste.

A trial at Tel Aviv University’s School of Dental Medicine has revealed other benefits as they found that NDM inhibits oral bacteria from sticking to tooth surfaces and this helped reduce the number of cavities in the mouth, and therefore the number of fillings too.

Last June in the journal of Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, an article coauthored by Dr Ofek described how effect of cranberries helped reduce or get rid of H. Pylori, the bacteria that causes ulcers. Though again the benefits only seem to apply to women – sorry chaps.