No one likes to get the flu, so finding simple ways to fight off the illness is welcome news, especially for those at higher risk for infection. A study in the BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine suggests that green tea extracts may help prevent influenza in healthcare workers.
Certain people, such as healthcare workers, the young and the elderly, and people with chronic health conditions such as diabetes or lung disease, are at greater risk of getting the flu than others. This study looked at the effect of green tea extracts in helping prevent flu in Japanese healthcare professionals who care for the elderly.
In this study, 200 healthcare workers were randomly assigned to receive capsules of a green tea extract that contained compounds known as catechins (378 mg per day) and theanine (210 mg per day) or placebo for five months. The majority of participants had also been vaccinated against the flu.
Results showed that the incidence of influenza in the green tea group was significantly lower compared with the placebo group (4 versus 13 people were diagnosed with the flu).
Prior studies have also shown that green tea may help prevent influenza, and the authors of this study comment, “The consumption of tea extracts including catechins and theanine has also been reported to enhance systemic immunity and prevent the occurrence of upper respiratory tract infection and influenza symptoms in healthy adults.” Larger research trials are needed to confirm these study findings.
Things you can do to prevent the flu
The influenza virus is a cause of serious illness and even death, so it is important to take preventive measures to stay well:
■ Keep it clean. To help prevent contracting or spreading the flu, be sure to wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and get a flu jab. When possible, avoid people who have the flu or going to work if you are sick. While these measures aren’t 100% guaranteed, they go a long way toward lowering the risk of respiratory illness and flu.
■ Choose a healthy lifestyle. Living a balanced life that includes a healthy diet, regular exercise, not smoking, and stress-reducing activities can also boost your immunity and help you stay healthy. Commit to these activities to improve and maintain your health.
■ Talk with a doctor. Visit your doctor to discuss ways to prevent the flu and whether or not a flu jab is appropriate for you.
Did you know that probiotics are thought to boost the effectiveness of flu vaccines?
A study (see the British Journal of Nutrition) found that probiotic supplements may boost the effectiveness of the flu vaccine.
Probiotics increase immunity, but health experts don’t know exactly how the friendly bacteria help or why. However, the study found that probiotic supplements can improve a person’s immunity as a result of a flu vaccination. That means that you’re more likely to be protected from flu when it comes knocking.
But, when it comes to probiotics, if you need a flu vaccine, it’s still best to talk to your doctor about the safety of probiotics for you. Then, if you plan to take a probiotic supplement with a flu vaccine, it is suggested you take it daily for several days beforehand, and use it for a few weeks as well after the vaccination.
(Please note that the probiotics strains Bifidobacterium animalis subspecies lactis (BB-12) and Lactobacillus paracasei (L. casei 431) were the probiotics found to be effective in the study.)
Of course, as always in flu prevention, pay attention to basic hygiene as well. Wash hands, sleep well, include lots of fruit and veg in your diet, and keep drinking water or other fluids.
We’re learning more and more about how Vitamin D protects the body. But in the light of this comes a new theory about Mozart’s death.
The musical genius died at the tender age of 35, and while he suffered many illnesses, the question of what he died from is still a mystery.
Now however, two scientists believe that Mozart’s habit of composing at night and sleeping during the day helped lead to his departure.
Mozart on his deathbed
A vitamin D deficiency places a person at mortal risk from many of the illnesses Mozart suffered from. It’s difficult not to ponder that if only Mozart had had access to Vitamin D supplements he might have doubled his lifetime’s output of masterpieces.
Mozart noted that most of his infections occurred between October and May. This also happens to be the time when people living in the higher altitude far north of Austria (as Mozart did) can’t make enough vitamin D from the sun.
Studies link having adequate vitamin D with a lower risks of flu, pneumonia, heart disease, autoimmune diseases and more. It may just be that vitamin D supplements may help your health hit the right note.
Posted in Colds, General, Health, Heart and Blood, Insomnia, Uncategorized
Tagged autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular disease, flu, influenza, mozart, pneumonia, Vitamin D
“It is the worst winter outbreak for influenza and viruses for 10 years.” Dr Philip Monk, a communicable diseases consultant has said. “There are a lot of illnesses out there.”
Boost your immunity to avoid flu
One of the big three flu strains affecting people at the moment is the H1 N1 Swine Flu virus, from which a surprising number have died this year.
If you are vulnerable (that means you are elderly, have a major illness or you’re pregnant) go and get a flu jab from your doctor to avoid needless harm – it only takes a couple of minutes.
What can anyone do to increase their immunity?
You should follow the basic rules of hygiene. Also, eat plenty of healthy food and take supplements to improve your immunity. Stay active but rest as well, and avoid going on a detox diet that might flush out your nutrients.
One example of a helpful immunity supplement is Sambucol, an extract from the powerful black elderberry, which now comes in tablet form. The antioxidants in black elderberries are noted to protect your cells and it has been found to help 90% of people recover from flu within 3 days. (Dr Madeleine Mumcuoglu, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 1995;4:361-369) It is apparantly also the only live shop bought product suitable for people with diabetes.
Posted in Antioxidants, Colds
Tagged Cold, colds, cough, Disease, flu, flu jab, h1n1, hygiene, Immune System, Immunity, influenza, runny nose, sick, sneezing, swine flu, virus