I try to write about wellness at the start of the year. I think it’s the right thing to do after the excesses of the holidays.
After chatting with Dr. Christine Gonzalez about which type of water is best, I learned that she has tips on how to prevent and control flu the natural way. And since it applies not just to flu prevention but to the common cold as well, I asked her to share it, especially since I’ve bumped into so many people with either a cough, cold or both these says.
According to Gonzalez, “Flu can be avoided naturally by strengthening our immune system. We have an amazing network of protective cells, tissues and organs to help us fight all forms of diseases, including flu. The immune system is our first line of defense.
“A diet containing a rainbow of colors, from vegetables and fruits, ensures that we are getting more phytonutrients (substances found only in plants that help our body fight disease and promote good health). Foods can certainly act as medicine, in that they protect and heal our body.
“Eating a wide variety of fresh, nutritious and colorful foods packed with powerful vitamins and minerals is the first step to ensuring a strong immune system. Vitamins A, B6, C and E and the minerals zinc, iron, copper and selenium are critical to maintaining a strong and healthy immune system.
“During cold and flu season, increase your dosage of vitamin C from pure calamansi or lemon juice (2-3 oz three times a day) for added virus-fighting benefits. Should you still become sick, studies have shown that the powerful antioxidants in vitamin C can reduce both the symptoms and duration of the flu. Adding antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables to your daily diet will keep your immune system strong.”
“The power of food in normalizing chronic disease and helping you achieve optimal health is quite profound,” added Gonzalez.
“Cruciferous vegetables have a special chemical composition: sulfur-containing compounds that when broken down by biting, blending or chopping, a chemical reaction occurs that converts these sulfur-containing compounds into isothiocyanates (ITCs). ITC compounds called Sulforaphane (SFN) have infinite proven anti-cancer and immune-boosting capabilities. They contain antiviral and antibacterial agents that keep you disease-free.
“Adding one or two of the following cruciferous vegetables to your daily plate or juice drink is like taking an antiviral pill: broccoli, arugula, beet greens, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, radishes, red cabbage, turnip greens, or watercress.
“One of our indigenous foods contain compounds with similar protective activity—Moringa oleifera, known as malunggay. It has a phytochemical closely related to sulforaphane.”
However, Gonzalez advised against dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yogurt, because they increase mucus, which only makes congestion worse.
“Adequately feeding your immune system boosts its fighting power,” said Gonzalez. Immune boosters work in many ways.
Children often do not feel like eating following a cold or flu. Their nutrition suffers and thus their immune system. This accounts for the common occurrence of getting one infection after another. It is best to keep them well-nourished so that their nutritional reserves can withstand several days of poor eating.
Drink this smoothie daily upon school entry, beginning daycare, exposure to contagious illness or when you or your child feel a cold coming on…
2 c of pili or rice or coconut milk
1 c kefir or plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp unicellular powder (optional)
½ tsp moringa powder
1 frozen banana, chopped
½ c frozen organic blueberries
½ c each of your favorite fruit (organic strawberries, papaya, pineapple, etc.)
½ tsp virgin coconut oil
1 tbsp oats or wheat germ
Combine all the ingredients and blend until smooth. Serve immediately after blending while the mixture still has a bubbly, milkshake-like consistency.
Brew a cup
“Jump-start your immune system with a delicious, freshly brewed turmeric tea. Turmeric is a deep-orange root with an active medicinal ingredient called curcumin. It has the best anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties.
“Turmeric’s antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agents can help our body fight against colds, cough and flu. When symptoms of these infections are present, slice thinly or grate fresh turmeric root, pour hot water into the cup and steep for 10 minutes. Add lemon or honey to taste.
“With extra time, prepare this delicious creamy turmeric tea. Steep for 10 minutes in a small amount of hot water freshly grated turmeric root, a pinch of cayenne pepper and finely chopped ginger root (half an inch). Strain the blend after steeping. Meanwhile, warm gently a cup of coconut or rice or pili nut milk. Add the warm milk to the turmeric mixture, sweetened with organic honey if needed, and start seeping. This is a great recipe if the cough and/or flu is accompanied by a sore throat or runny nose.
Garlic + exercise
“Certain foods can give you an extra boost and should be factored into your regular eating habits. Garlic is known for its antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties and can prevent infections from taking hold and spreading. A daily serving of two raw garlic cloves will provide you with the bulbous herb’s healthy benefits.”
Tip: To avoid offensive garlic breath, crush cloves and add extra virgin olive oil or extra virgin coconut oil; also best if taken before a meal. Chew a sprig of parsley after the meal.
“Exercise, a major part of the human body’s defense strategy, can increase the number of white blood cells up to 14 times their normal amount. That is an able army to fight any battle and it could be produced regularly.
“Exercise is also a great way to reduce stress and its harmful effects on the immune system. It has been estimated that 90 percent of illness and disease is stress-related. But don’t overdo it! Too much exercise can have the opposite effect on your immune system. Exercising for more than 90 minutes a day could make you more susceptible to the flu virus.
Sleep well, wash hands
“Medical researchers are discovering that sleep is your body’s way of recharging your immune system, explaining why poor sleepers are prone to infections and heart diseases. Poor sleep patterns are linked to poor health, and those who sleep less than six hours a night have a shorter life expectancy than those who sleep longer. Research shows that the immune system needs 9 ½ hours of sleep in total darkness to recharge completely.
“It is in your hands. Infectious diseases commonly spread through hand-to-hand contact, including the common cold and flu. Proper hand-washing is also the most effective way of preventing the spread of many serious illnesses, including SARS. Good hand hygiene is proven to benefit health. Properly cleaning your hands is simple and extremely effective in preventing the virus from entering your system.”
You may reach Dr. Christine E.V. Gonzalez (NMD, PhD – Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine/PhD, Holistic Nutrition/PhD, Natural Medicine, Fellow of the American Naturopathic Oncology) at 0917-888-HEAL (4325); e-mail [email protected]