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Your Best Defense Against Catching a Viral Infection

On December 14, 2023 the CDC announced that Flu and Covid cases had not yet reached their peaks this season. And sure enough, virus activity was on the rise during the last week of December. So we can expect to see this trend continue into January, maybe even February.

Your best defense against these types of viral infections is to ramp up your immune response, increase antiviral activity in your body for the duration, avoid sick people in general and, more specifically, steer clear of crowded and closed indoor spaces.

I like to ramp up my immune system with the foods I eat. In fact, years and years ago I created a great recipe for my own, natural, immune booster.

Whenever I had a tickle in my throat or felt like I was coming down with a cold or flu, I would pull out these large jars I had. I’d put sliced organic lemons inside. Then I would add huge chunks of sliced ginger and garlic. Finally, I would fill it with raw, organic honey (not the filtered or pastured kind).

I would mix it all together and let it sit for a while until it liquified. Then, I would stir it around and take some of it. When you taste it, it’s like “Oh my! It’s a gingery, lemony, garlicky ambrosia-like sweetness!” It’s delicious!

This turned out to be a tonic that did its job every time. I even used it on my daughter while she was growing up, and she never really got sick.

As an immune booster, it’s one of those things where I could see parents giving a big old tablespoon of it to their kids before they go to school. That’s what I did for my daughter, and she generally avoided catching colds and flus.

In particular ginger is a potent fighter for your immune system. It’s an antiviral that’s high in antioxidants. So it doesn’t just work against viral infections. It also helps to protect you from all kinds of serious health issues. I’m talking about the big three. Cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Plus it’s showing great promise when it comes to treating inflammatory diseases like lupus.

Garlic, just like onions and chives, contains the enzyme allinase, which turns into allicin when it’s chopped or crushed. This immune boosting compound has antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties.

Lemon is high in vitamin C, limonene and terpenes. And honey, which is rich in antioxidants, helps activate the immune system response. So when you add ginger, garlic, honey and lemon together, it’s like magic!

It’s remedies like this that are important to protect you against viral infections as we enter the peak season for respiratory infections.

The Medicine Chest in Your Pantry

If you have herbs and spices in your home, you have a natural medicine chest at your disposal.

Curry is a great one. Turmeric, the spice used to make it, is loaded with a powerful antioxidant called curcumin. It’s a potent anti-inflammatory that has protective properties against all sorts of viruses; HIV, zika, dengue, norovirus, herpes, influenza and even Covid.

If you like your food even hotter and spicier, add more chili pepper to your dishes. These peppers contain the antioxidant capsaicin, which is anti-inflammatory. It’s also chemoprotective and helps regulate blood sugar. You can use red pepper flakes or fresh chiles. The hotter the better.

And what about cinnamon? It’s another spicy anti-inflammatory found in spice racks across the world. It has antifungal, antibacterial and antivirus activity.

Plus, it’s good for your brain. It’s good for your blood sugar. It protects against neurological disorders. There’s no reason not to get more of it. It’s especially tasty when you blend it with your green teas.

And don’t forget the herbs! They are a great source of polyphenols that are rich in antioxidants. Polyphenols help regulate the immune system. They are anti-inflammatory and antiviral.

We should all be eating more of them. Think parsley, mint, dill, basil, cloves, chives and scallions!

Other foods with antiviral properties include fruits, vegetables, fermented foods and probiotics, olive oil, fish, nuts and seeds.

What To Do if You Catch the Flu

In the meantime, if you do happen to fall victim to the flu this year, you know as well as I do that it never goes away nearly as quickly as you wish it would.

You could go to the clinic for an antiviral like Tamiflu, Relenza or Rapivab. But these meds only relieve your symptoms by one day, at most. And that’s only if you start taking it within 48 hours of symptoms.

I’d much rather stay in the comfort of my home than running to the doctor, sitting in the waiting room filled with other sick people and hanging around at the pharmacy getting a prescription filled while I feel like crap. Not just so I might – maybe – feel better one day sooner.

I can get results that are the same or better – and so can you – by using some tried and true flu remedies.

Elderberry is one of your best bets. This herb practically stops flu dead in its tracks by blocking viral growth. And it’s been shown to reduce fever and other symptoms about four days quicker than if you don’t take it. All it takes is a tablespoonful four times a day for 5-7 days. And don’t be fooled by lozenges and other “Elderberry remedies”. Only the liquid extract works at the level you want.

Chicken soup is another tried and true home remedy. It reduces the inflammatory response that triggers the release of mucus. And that’s really where a lot of cold and flu misery comes from. All that excess mucus leads to hacking and coughing, which generally adds to the achy feeling in your neck and back muscles.

When making your soup, use plenty of organic chicken, onions, sweet potatoes, turnips carrots, celery, parsnips and other veggies for maximum power. Near the end of cooking the soup, add five or six big sprigs of dill.

Get plenty of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. It’s no secret that omega-3 fatty acids improve immune function. And they may have a special role when it comes to the flu. Omega 3s increase the activity of white blood cells (phagocytes) that eat the virus up.

You can get your omega 3s by eating fresh, wild-caught fish like mackerel, salmon, herring and trout or supplementing with cold-water fish oil that contains at least 360 mg of DHA and 540 mg of EPA.

Sleep, hydration, warm liquids, nasal flushes and hot showers can also help ease your misery and put you on a quicker road to recovery.


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