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.

Swine Flu prevention – 6 ways to help yourself

May 3, 2009 by  
Filed under Health


Although Gordon Brown assures us Britain is well prepared to deal with an outbreak of Swine Flu, I am always happier to take proactive action myself and there are some simple measures we can all take. They are not guaranteed to prevent you getting it, but they will certainly help.

The symptoms are of course very similar to any other flu you might experience: fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, chills and fatigue so report to your doctor if you have these. However, what you also need to do is focus on strengthening your own immune response to prevent infection getting a hold and developing.

1 This time of year I usually have stopped taking Echinacea, but it is my first port of call to build up my defences and if you can get Echinacea tincture that is the most effective in my opinion. Boots produce their own and there is an excellent one made by Bioforce from helath stores. Take it daily for three weeks then a week off.

2 Next increase the amount of vitamin C you are taking, at least 1 gram a day in two 500mg doses is the most effective. Have as natural and unprocessed diet as you can, and juicing your fruit and vegetables gets you the maximum vitamins from them.

3 Your body requires oxygen for every cell to function properly because viruses can neither survive nor thrive in it. Therefore, the best defence against microbes, germs, harmful bacteria and viruses, such as the swine influenza virus, is to keep the body oxygenated. Add in eggs to your diet as they are excellent for improving your oxygen absorption. See the healthy bites item on eggs below.

4 Are you breathing deeply enough? Shallow breathing will not bring enough oxygen into so your system, and being out in the fresh air every day is a must. Walking at a moderate pace while breathing in for a count of six, and out for a count of six, is one of the simplest ways to do this. If you find a count of six difficult, reduce it to four, or if it becomes easy increase to six or eight.

5 Limit foods and substances that stress the body such as sugar, caffeine, alcohol, smoking, too much red meat and processed foods high in saturated and hydrogenated fats. 6 Finally, go back to basic hygiene and wash your hands in hot soapy water frequently and carry hand gel when you are out and use it after contact with others such as a handshake – and contact in public places with stair rails, lift buttons and so on.

It may all seem like a nonsense, but people have died from not taking this seriously. The good habits outlined here will help protect you, and if you maintain them you will have a solid barrier to prevent future infection.

Top 7 tips for flu prevention

October 6, 2008 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition, Health, Natural Medicine

After mentioning last week about the ineffectiveness of some flu jabs, I have been asked to give some more suggestions as to how you can prevent this seasonal visitor. With the weather changing so rapidly, from hot to cold on a daily basis, our bodies are more vulnerable to attack from viruses so you could try these simple tools to help you stay ahead of the flu:

1 Always wash your hands, inside and outside of the home, with hot water and soap. Carry a hand cleansing gel or towel for those times when handwashing facilities are not available. Oh and remember, one of the major ways to pick up viruses is not from public toilets, but public handrails. Wipe/wash your hands after placing them on a stair rail or support on an escalator.

2 There is an excellent homoeopathic cold and flu remedy made up by Galen Pharmacy in Dorchester. You take one tablet twice a day every fortnight until the bottle is finished. I swear by it, and if you want to order then call them on 01305 263996 and they will post you a dinky little bottle with an invoice, usually the same day.

3 If you don’t want a complete remedy then you just take astragalus. It is an immune-enhacing herb used in Chinese medicine that can help to build resistance to both the flu and the common cold.

4 Echinacea is well favoured as a winter boost to the immune system, just don’t take it continuously.

5 Keep your antioxidant levels high by eating plenty of berries, drinking green tea and the occasional piece of dark chocolate – all of which provide you with natural and tasty – antioxidants.

6 Maintain good levels of vitamin C and zinc in your diet to support your immune system.

7 Make sure you have plenty of fluids because staying hydrated keeps your nasal passages moist. This provides a better natural defence against viruses.

Think Z’s for winter protection

I am not talking about catching up on your sleep, though winter is the time for slowing down and even hibernating if you are a bear! Z is for zinc and although perhaps it’s best known, and most popular effect is on the sex drive, it is also essential for supporting the immune system.

Many people get shots for flu or pneumonia with the onset of winter, but their effectiveness is reduced if you don’t have a strong immune system to help support their benefits. It’s a bit like swallowing vitamins to help your health,but not eating regularly or well – they will not do the job on their own. The truth is that once you get over the age of 55, you are likely to have a zinc deficiency and this leads to a greater susceptibility to infections, and increased oxidative stress. The good news is that this is easily reversed by taking a zinc supplement for just one year. The suggested dose is 45mg daily and a US study that showed that just that amount reduced the incidence of infections and inflammation. Speaking specifically about pneumonia, there is a new study from the Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in the US that looked at residents in Nursing homes in Boston. Half the residents were given a placebo, and half given daily supplements of vitamins, including zinc. The trial lasted a year and at the end of it everyone was given a blood test to check their zinc levels. Interestingly the trial only gave people half the recommended dietary allowance, and yet those who received the supplements and had nearly normal zinc levels had less incidence and duration of pneumonia, together with less use of antibiotics. Of those who were given antibiotics, the patients with low blood levels of zinc needed greater amounts than those with reasonable zinc levels.

The researchers were very clear that taking zinc supplements could help the over 55′s to reduce the frequency and serious effects of attacks of pneumonia – which can be fatal in vulnerable patients.

Although the US study suggested 45mg a day for supplementation, the RDA (recommended daily allowance) is just 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women. Many nutritionists consider the RDA to be far too low but you might want to start with that and gradually increase the amount – or talk it over with your doctor if you are concerned.

Need more reasons to up your zinc levels? As well as helping protect your immune system zinc is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, protects your eyes from age-related macular degeneration and it inhibits the abnormal blood clotting that contributes to heart disease. Don’t like supplements? Make a point of adding zinc-rich foods to your daily diet such as red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, whole grains, and dairy products. Two of the best sources are oysters and cabbage, though not at the same time if you have any respect for your taste buds!