Colds & flu

Whether you’ve al­ready got­ten your flu shot or opted to boost your de­fenses nat­u­rally, these strate­gies will give you the added pro­tec­tion you need to stay well all sea­son

First For Women - - Contents -

Last year’s flu sea­son was a doozy: It was dom­i­nated by a par­tic­u­larly ag­gres­sive strain called H3N2— and twice as many peo­ple fell ill than usual, lead­ing the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion to deem 2017/2018 the most se­vere sea­son in 15 years. In re­sponse, sci­en­tists amped up their ef­forts to for­mu­late a flu vac­cine that can fell H3N2 more ef­fec­tively. “But given the fact that viruses mu­tate rapidly, they’re no­to­ri­ously dif­fi­cult to pre­dict from year to year,” points out Fred Pesca­tore, M.D., an in­te­gra­tive physi­cian based in New York City. “That makes it more im­por­tant than ever to take steps that en­hance the body’s nat­u­ral abil­ity to fight in­fec­tion.”

For­tu­nately, sev­eral nat­u­ral strate­gies have the studyproven abil­ity to rally the im­mune sys­tem to am­plify the body’s vi­ral pro­tec­tion—and to lessen sever­ity and re­cov­ery time if you do get sick. And since this sea­son’s nasty viruses have al­ready started mak­ing the rounds, experts sug­gest the fol­low­ing steps to help com­bat the flu (and the com­mon cold too!) at any stage.


Up­ping your in­take of mush­rooms bol­sters your lev­els of lym­pho­cytes, white blood cells that de­fend against viruses. “Polysac­cha­rides in mush­rooms stim­u­late the ac­tiv­ity of these spe­cial­ized lym­pho­cytes that pro­tect against vi­ral in­vaders,” Dr. Pesca­tore ex­plains. To fend off in­fec­tion, he ad­vises toss­ing two serv­ings of white but­ton, por­to­bello or shi­itake mush­rooms into soups and sal­ads and sup­ple­ment­ing with 1,000 mg. of a mushroom ex­tract called AHCC each day through­out cold and flu sea­son (which typ­i­cally ends in late April). In one study, AHCC dou­bled white blood cell counts within one day—and Dr. Pesca­tore says this cuts flu in­ci­dence among his pa­tients by as much as 50%. A sup­ple­ment to try: Vi­ta­cost Syn­ergy AHCC + with Vi­ta­min C (Vi­ta­


El­der­berry syrup can lessen the sever­ity of cold and flu symp­toms and help you re­cover faster. “The an­tho­cyanins in el­der­berry syrup keep vi­ral cells from re­pro­duc­ing,” ex­plains Tas­neem Bha­tia, M.D., au­thor of Su­per Woman Rx. “And it’s been shown to in­crease the pro­duc­tion of pro­teins that help lym­pho­cytes co­or­di­nate their at­tack against in­fec­tion.” To get the ben­e­fits, she sug­gests tak­ing 1 Tbs. of the sweet syrup (avail­able in drug­stores) four times a day—a strat­egy that short­ened the course of illness by four days in one study. And for an added as­sist, cook with gar­lic. Re­search sug­gests this di­als down in­fec­tion by 58% be­cause com­pounds in the herb have an­tivi­ral prop­er­ties.


To reen­er­gize your im­mune sys­tem af­ter a bout of flu, Dr. Bha­tia rec­om­mends en­joy­ing fer­mented fare (such as 1⁄2 cup of sauer­kraut, ke­fir or kom­bucha) daily. “More than 70% of your im­mune sys­tem is found in the gut, and these foods sup­ply the pro­bi­otic bac­te­ria that recharge that sys­tem af­ter it’s done the tax­ing work of fight­ing an in­fec­tion,” she ex­plains. In­deed, re­searchers re­port­ing in the Bri­tish Jour­nal of Nu­tri­tion found that boost­ing lev­els of pro­bi­otic bac­te­ria re­duced sub­jects’ an­nual sick days by 31%. Also smart: See your friends. Re­searchers at Carnegie Mel­lon Uni­ver­sity in Pitts­burgh re­port that spend­ing just 30 min­utes of fun­filled time with peo­ple you care about each week re­duces your odds of catch­ing another vi­ral illness by 67%.

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