My name is Lisa Tsakos, Registered Holistic Nutritional Consultant, corporate speaker and author. This blog provides professional advice from a nutrition and weight loss expert (me!) about corporate and family health. Here you'll find recipes and articles that address work-related challenges like eating on-the-go and maximizing your productivity with the right foods. You'll also find out about how you can help your children develop strong immune systems and healthy bodies. As a nutrition instructor, I often found myself thinking, "When I have kids, this is how I will feed them." With two toddlers, I have the opportunity to practice what I have been preaching and to try out my theories. So far, they seem to be working! Follow me on my journey and also on Twitter @NuVitalityHW.

15 Oct 2011

A Few Not-So-Typical Tips for Boosting Immunity (Article)

Everyone is talking about cold and flu season this year, thanks to the H1N1 media frenzy. While those of us who aren’t giving in to the panic may suggest that it isn’t that different from any other flu, the fact is, H1N1 is affecting age groups and populations that aren’t typically affected by other flu strains. 
Tune into any news program or website nowadays and you’ll learn the standard flu prevention strategies:  wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your face (especially nose, mouth and eyes), use a tissue when you cough or sneeze, get enough sleep, take vitamin C, drink plenty of fluids, and of course, stay home (and away from others) at the first sign of symptoms.

There are many other ways to avoid germs and boost immunity, however, and to protect yourself from influenza, including H1N1. Here are a few supplementary recommendations to apply:

Take probiotics. It is said that 80% of our immune system stems from the gastrointestinal tract. Probiotics, healthy microorganisms critical to intestinal (and overall) health, boost immunity by optimizing the ratio of ‘healthy’ to ‘unhealthy’ bacteria in your large intestine. To prevent the flu, take a probiotic supplement several times a day.

Alkalizing foods adjust your blood pH to help combat viruses. The fastest way to change pH is to introduce alkalizing foods in an 80:20 ratio (alkalizing to acid-forming). Alkalizing foods include most raw vegetables and fruit, raw almonds, sea salt or Himalayan salt, buckwheat, sprouted beans and seeds, as well as supplements like spirulina, ‘green drinks’ and liquid chlorophyll. Avoid all sources of refined sugar and wheat, and limit meat and other animal proteins.

Many medicinal herbs stimulate immunity, including Echinacea, garlic, oil of oregano, and Astragalus. Research any contraindications associated with these herbs before using, particularly if you’re pregnant or taking medication. 

Herbal baths help relax aching muscles and alleviate nasal congestion. Olbas Therapeutic makes a wonderful therapeutic and soothing herbal bubble bath product that includes a blend of peppermint, eucalyptus, juniper and clove oils. Epsom salt baths are inexpensive, relaxing, and provide the vital and alkalizing mineral magnesium.

Wash or store your toothbrush in tea tree oil, oil of oregano, or other antibacterial or antiviral oil. You can also use a natural mouthwash or hydrogen peroxide.

Wash towels and sheets more often (if not daily). Though it isn’t eco-friendly, the best way to kill germs on linens is to wash them in hot water. Viruses and bacteria can survive a cold-water wash. Add half a teaspoon of a natural antiseptic like tea tree oil for added germ control.

Keep your house clean, especially areas prone to germs like the kitchen, bathroom, and the front entrance of your home. Avoid using chemical cleaners – many contain toxins which can irritate respiratory conditions and weaken immunity. Instead, use vinegar and baking soda, and wipe down counters with tea tree oil.

Clean your computer keyboard! While you may be the only one using your computer, throughout the day your hands touch items that many other potentially-infected people have handled (doorknobs, money, etc.). Viruses and bacteria can live on your keyboard for up to 24 hours. Dip or spray a cotton swab with tea tree oil or other antibacterial herb (or in a pinch, rubbing alcohol) and gently clean across each row of your keyboard. Don’t forget to clean your mouse (and your cell phone and telephone while you’re at it!).