photo by lepiaf.geo
Your health is the most valuable thing you possess. It affects your ability to work, play, and generally enjoy life. You’ve all heard the admonitions for vaccination, but this post is addressing alternative, natural things that you can do to help prevent colds and viruses in general, and H1N1 specifically. We’re not getting vaccinated, but doing everything you see on this list instead. Before you go off on a rant about how irresponsible that choice is, take a moment to read this post on our vaccination stance in general. I’m hoping to do another post soon on the H1N1 vaccine, specifically. Until then, I hope that some of this information can help you in your own prevention efforts.
Here’s most of the stuff you’ve probably heard already:
Hand Washing: Probably the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and others is frequent and thorough hand washing. Wash with both soap and warm water, and vigorously scrub hands for at least 30 seconds. You should be able to sing “Happy Birthday” two times. See this post on soap that’s naturally antibacterial and does not contain triclosan.
Use Hand Sanitizer: If hand washing is not a possibility, hand sanitizers can help, but be sure to use enough and rub hands together thoroughly. The effectiveness of hand sanitizer diminishes if your hands are dirty. Two squirts and 30 seconds of rubbing are a good rule of thumb. See this post on natural hand sanitizer.
Cover Your Mouth & Nose: Always cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. If possible, use a tissue and immediately throw it away. If a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow. This limits the spread of germs via hand contact.
Hands Off The Face: Avoid touching any part of the face, especially the eyes nose and mouth where germs enter the body. If you need to touch your face (and anytime before you eat) make sure you thoroughly wash your hands first.
Limit Contact: As much as possible, limit contact with those you know are sick.
And, MOST IMPORTANTLY:
If you have a fever, stay home!!! If your children have a fever, keep them home!!!
When you have a fever, you are especially contagious and can quickly spread illness to others. Please stay home, get lots of rest, follow the other guidelines listed here, and re-enter the world as soon as you’re feeling well enough. You should stay home at least 24 hours AFTER a fever ends, without the use of medications like aspirin or ibuprofen.
The following is information that you may not have heard or thought about:
Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (or Listerine). H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat & nasal cavity to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents proliferation. Don’t underestimate this simple, inexpensive and powerful preventative method.
Clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water or nasal saline. You can use a saline spray or neti pot. If you can’t, or don’t want to do this, blowing the nose hard once a day and swabbing both nostrils with Q-tips® dipped in warm salt water is very effective in bringing down viral population. I have a lot of sinus troubles and have always used saline spray when I had problems. This year, I committed to using this preventive measure daily, and bought a neti pot to avoid wasting all that plastic. I am in love with my neti pot. Seriously. It’s so much easier than saline spray, and I can really tell a difference. Here’s a video for how to use a neti, if you’re not familiar with it. I know it looks weird. That’s why I didn’t try it for so long. Now, I wish I hadn’t waited. It really is easy and not at all uncomfortable.
Drink as many hot or warm liquids as you can. Drinking hot or warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse direction. They wash off proliferating viruses in the throat before they can proliferate or do any harm.
Stop smoking and stay away from second hand smoke. Smoke severely damages and irritates your lungs, making them more susceptible to bacteria and viruses. Smokers are much more likely to suffer complications or die from respiratory illnesses such as a cold or flu.
Supplement with Vitamin D3 & Vitamin C. The sun is the best source of natural Vitamin D, but we don’t get enough in the Midwest US. Only supplement with vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), which is the type of vitamin D found in foods like eggs, organ meats, animal fat, cod liver oil, & fish, or a good supplement. Do NOT use the synthetic & highly inferior Vitamin D2. Recommended dosage is 2,000 IU/day (adult), although more may be necessary in winter months. Most people in the US are deficient in Vitamin D, especially in the winter (i.e., cold and flu season) when we need it most. If you have any questions about the level that’s right for you, ask your doctor. Vitamin C recommendations vary from 90-500 mg/day (adult) and should not exceed 2,000 mg/day.
Drink plenty of water. This will help your body continually flush out contaminants and allow it to function at its optimal level.
Eat as many fresh fruits and vegetable as possible. The more colorful and bright the fruits and vegetables are, the more vitamins and minerals they contain to help boost immune function and keep you healthy. Especially include those that are high in Vitamin C.
Excellent food sources of Vitamin C include papaya, broccoli, bell peppers, kale, cauliflower, strawberries, lemons, mustard & turnip greens, brussel sprouts, chard, cabbage, spinach, kiwi, snow peas, cantaloupe, oranges, grapefruit, limes, tomatoes, zucchini, raspberries, asparagus, celery, pineapple, leaf lettuce, watermelon, fennel, peppermint and parsley.
Frequently wipe down common surfaces like door handles, counter tops, drawer pulls & cupboard doors, faucets (especially handles), sinks, and kitchen handles like the dishwasher, microwave, oven, and refrigerator. Do this more often when you know someone in your house is ill.
Get Enough Sleep. Something that seems elusive if not extinct for most parents of small children. Make it a priority. It really makes a difference.
Eat Chocolate. OK – I made that one up. But, why not?? Happy = healthy, right? Uhhhh…..OK, maybe not so much, BUT, dark chocolate (in moderation) does have some great antioxidant qualities!
The more of these simple, healthful tips you follow, the less likely you will be to suffer from illness this cold and flu season. That means fewer days of work missed, less cost for medical bills, and, most importantly, a happier, healthier family!
P.S. Churches, movies, and sporting events are among the worst activities for germ-spreading due to the seating in such close proximity (e.g., if someone behind you sneezes, there’s just no way to avoid the germs headed your way). Just sayin’.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to replace the advice of any medical professional. If you have any questions about your health, or whether or not the recommendations in this post are appropriate for you and your family, please contact a doctor.