Monday, November 17, 2008

Killing the flu with soup-ok why?

Well, you know it is that time of year again when the lines at the local market are filled with patrons with watery eyes and hacking coughs. They fill their baskets with various cold and flu medicines and tonics in hopes to shorten the life span of their newest infection. As well the bulletin boards of nearly every place I have visited lately has posters asking me to attend their "FLU CLINIC" which free flu shots for all! They decorate the signs with excited phrases implying we will die without the vaccine and the clinic setting will be a party of sorts. Wooohoo let's go prevent the flu!

Now I know a lot of people do find the flu vaccine important and make sure each and every season they obtain the newly released demon fighter to the even newer strain of the virus which is sifting through the country, city by city claiming victims behind every shadowed doorway. As for me, I do not get the flu vaccine and actually do buy into the fact is it a lot of propaganda and hysteria fueled by the large drug corporations which get government funding to hand out this magic vile of chemicals. I could go on about the conspiracy theory but I am saving the delicious details for my insane memoir when I am the ripened age of 75 and have nothing better to do with my time than explain the evils of large companies and the government set to protect us work hand and hand to .....oops ok I said i would not get into it, sorry.

So, if you are like me and do NOT receive the flu vaccine OR you have received the golden elixir yet somehow come down with the flu anyway, what do you do? Well, we all know the right steps to prevent it but in case you need a refresher of the top 3. Go over these again before you are in demand of lotion coated tissues and decongestant sleep.
1) WASH YOUR HANDS OFTEN! Yes, it is simple. WASH YOUR HANDS. Always. Not in an OCD way but come on, do you really know what you have touched today when you pet the cat or picked up the local newspaper at the corner store? Germs, that is what you picked up. So wash them off. Good rule of thumb is softly hum the royalty free tune of "Happy Birthday" while you scrub away the evil mongers which cling to the crevices of your fingers and hands.
2) SLEEP! Sleep 6-8 hours at night, Reset that immune system and give your body the tools it needs to fight germs. You are ill equipped for flu battle if your body is trying to repair the normal daily break down of the body. Sleep it off!
3)Vitamin C. Seriously, the orange juice industry has been selling this delight to us for decades. Vitamin C helps boost the immune system and prevent colds. I touched on this previously from the vitamin article. So, if the flu season is upon you stock up your body with vitamin C.

So, let's say you did all of those things but that crafty virus STILL managed to infect your body. What now? What do you do to speed the flu along and regain your composure before all the skin on your nose wears off and your lungs ache from the coughing.

Zinc supplements are a good first choice. Zinc deficiency has been shown to lower ordinary immune system function in healthy individuals. Conversely zinc supplementation has been shown to increase natural killer cells in our body. (did you know we have killer cells? The come out when we are cells!) According to the American Journal of Nutrition zinc works as an antioxidant, increasing antibody production. Heck zinc even helps increase the skin barrier so germs have a harder time getting in. Good choice for when you are already down for the count and other germs are sent out invites to come to your immune system is down party. Protein rich foods contain high levels of zinc. So make sure your chicken soup is more chicken than soup!

Garlic contains allicin which has been shown in studies to shorten the duration of a cold as well as prevent colds in healthy individuals vs a placebo. However, keep in mind cooking kills a lot of this power so look for a supplement with garlic or you can use raw garlic in your diet. I love to chop raw garlic up finely and toss it in my cottage cheese along with other raw veggies like peppers and onions. It is a wonderful dip and prevents the unwanted affection of strangers if you happen to exhale near them. You can also dice the raw garlic and use it as a topper for that chicken soup!

Capsicum peppers have been shown time after time to increase immune function as well as warm the body. Adding a dash of hot pepper to that soup will really add a nice warming affect to the body and each bite will clear those nasal passages and for a brief moment make you forget that you are sick.

Catnip is also reported to treat the common cold as well as influenza and anxiety. If you are like me anxiety sets in when you become ill because you know all the details of your job will not be done while you are down for the count and all that work will be there...waiting. So sipping catnip tea while watching those old movies on AMC will relax you and work to fight all the internal demons. It also helps induce sleep which can only help you at a time like this.

So , if you can't prevent it then you can help the body to fight it. Arm yourself with some spicy chicken soup (click for recipe) and some relaxing catnip tea. When it has run it's course and you are finally back on your feet...remember to wash your hands!

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