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Ten healthiest ways to prevent the flu

BY DR. PANCHAJANYA PAUL, MD*

The most reliable way to fight flu has to come through a healthy diet, exercise, and sleep. Here are top ten ways to combat flu that my family has been following for the last many years.

  1. Vitamin C: Linus Pauling, a two times Nobel laureate postulated that a high dose of vitamin C could protect against common cold. All raw fruits, vegetables, and meat are rich in vitamin C, and vitamin B. Much of vitamin B & C get destroyed during the cooking process. Citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, grapefruits, berries, limes are rich in vitamin C. Another rich source of vitamin C is sauerkraut, which is high in vitamin C along with probiotics. Besides natural food, another option is to take vitamin C supplements in the form of liposomal formulations which are readily absorbable.
  • Probiotics: Our body harbors billions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi which exists in a symbiotic relationship with the human genes. These so-called good bacteria live as long as we are alive. These good bacteria called probiotics fight against the pathogenic bacteria to ensure its survival as well as ours. Eating food rich in a soluble fiber called pre-biotics supports these friendly bacteria. Any time we take antibiotics we kill some of the good bacteria which make our body week. Probiotic-rich food include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and pickles. Taking over-the-counter probiotics can also replenish some of the lost bacteria. And make sure to have the right amount of fiber in your diet in the form of apples, broccoli, carrots, beans, pulses, plantains, and sprouts.
  • Soups and Stocks: Soups, stocks, and broths have been a traditional part of cuisine in cold regions. When we simmer the bones and meat for a long time and prepare a stew, many nutrients otherwise not available in regular diet becomes accessible.  The hyaluronic acid and collagen present in the broth help fight against germs. Soups containing vegetables are powerhouses of vitamins and minerals. For vegetarians, a healthy alternative is a curry made with turmeric, ginger, garlic, onion, yogurt, and other herbs.
  • Cod Liver oil– Cod liver oil has been a health superfood used for last three thousand years in Europe. Liver and organ meats were prized and eaten by the ancient Greeks, Romans, Vikings, Russians, and the majority of ancient traditional cultures other traditional Nordic people. Wild carnivores gorge on the organs first after the kill leaving behind the meat for the later or the scavengers. In a busy modern life, cod liver oil comes close to organ meat regarding nutrition. Cod liver oil contains a high dose of vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin K2, and omega 3 acids. Other good sources are shark, krill or skate liver oil or desiccated beef liver capsules.  I have been drinking fermented cod liver oil and skate liver oil from the Green Pastures company for the last six years.
  • Saturated Fat– During the cold weather, the body burns fat to keep warm. In the process, the body can become depleted in fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K. Taking food rich in saturated fat will boost up the levels of fat-soluble vitamins. Besides, cholesterol is a powerful antioxidant and helps fight infection and cancer. High blood cholesterol increases the risk of heart diseases. Similarly, low blood cholesterol increases the risk of cancer and infection. Healthy fat to include are coconut, avocados, palm oil, organic grass-fed meat, egg, and dairy. 
  • Honey: Honey is rich in antioxidants and nutrients which help in immunity. The bees produce honey from the nectar of the flowers. Germs are always evolving in the wild and plants are the first to encounter them. Local raw honey is especially crucial as it can boost immunity against the local germs in your area. Honey has been used since biblical times as a healing remedy. The world health organization, as well as the British and Canadian health bodies,  have recommended the use of honey to treat cold and cough for young children. Be aware, and do not to give raw honey to infants under one year of age. We have been providing our son honey in warm water with lemon juice for the last two years, and he rarely gets cold.
  • Onion & Garlic: Onion and garlic belong to the family Allium. Many traditional medicines employ garlic to fight infections. Garlic and onions have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. They boost your immunity and generate heat in the body especially useful for the winter months. Also, garlic can help lower blood pressure, cholesterol, atherosclerosis, and helps prevent a heart attack. Unfortunately, many Hindu vegetarians avoid onion and garlic for religious beliefs, which may be okay for warm Indian climate, but put them at health risk in the United States especially during the winter months. Whenever I feel cold and feverish, I increase my intake of onion and garlic in the form of pickles, fries or eat them raw in the salad. 
  • Exercise: Aerobic exercise increases the blood flow to the body and the brain. The rapid breathing associated with vigorous training helps clear the airways and detoxifies the body. During exercise, the body makes free radicals. These free radicals kill the germs and cancer cells. Exercise also makes our lungs, heart, bones, and muscles stronger, and make the body resilient against all diseases. In addition, during exercise, the body secretes the endorphins which elevates mood, relieves stress, and serves the perfect antidote for the winter blues.
  • Outdoor time: Spending time outdoors build up our immunity. We get exposure to the sun which increases our vitamin D levels. We also breathe fresh air rich in oxygen which boosts immunity. When outdoors in nature, we breathe in bacteria present in the soil and air which boosts our immunity. In winter it is especially important to have some outdoor time, preferably during the day time. However, if you are already having a cold, stay indoors till you fully recover. Besides, make it a habit to keep the door and windows open for five to ten minutes a few times a day to let the fresh air inside. Stale air recirculated by the indoor heating system can become a breeding ground for pathogenic germs.
  1. Sleep: The body is continuously exposed to germs from the things we touch with our skin, the air we breathe in, and the food we eat. When we sleep, the body gets freed up from the daily chores and can focus all its resources to fight the germs detoxification. Sleep is especially crucial during winters. Humans historically have slept more extended hours during the cold dark long winters. Most wild animals do the same, and some sleep for days and weeks in a process called hibernation. We need to sleep more hours during the winter months as the body has to fight extra hard to resist the germs. Any loss of sleep or periods of sleep deprivation lowers our immunity and makes us susceptible to more attack from germs.

Dr. Panchajanya ‘Panch’ Paul, MD, ABIHM, ABPN, FAPA – is an American Board certified – Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatrist. He is a diplomat of the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine, and a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He holds an adjunct faculty position at Emory University School of Medicine; University of Georgia, and University of Central Florida School of Medicine. Call 7704541252 or email georgiapsychiatry@gmail.com to schedule an appointment with Dr.Paul at Georgia Behavioral Health Professionals. He is also the author of 2 books- Stress Rescue and Sleep Coaching available at Amazon.

READ THE FEATURE IN OUR FEB 2019 EPAPER

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