Summer Flu Season hits Hong Kong this July with surging emergency visits and hospital bed demands. Close to 41% of respiratory specimen taken by the Hospital Authority last week tested positive for flu viruses, reaching a new high this year. There are natural ways for you to stay away from adding to these statistics with these tips.
Stop Overdoing Antibiotics
In a previous blog [Click Here to Read the Previous Blog], I talked about the link between Digestion System and Immune System that your digestive tract holds the answer to 80% of your immune system. Antibiotics kill bacteria and kill them indifferently, so every time you come off from antibiotic dose, your healthy gut flora is impaired and it takes time to rebuild the flora. And antibiotics do not kill viruses so ask before starting your antibiotics if you contract a virus as opposed to bacteria first. And when you complete any antibiotics, you may want to consider prebiotics, probiotics or synbiotic (combining prebiotics and probiotics).
Immune System in the Traditional medicine principles
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), when healthy energy is abundant, evil forces cannot prevail. This healthy energy can be a combination of ancestral energy and post-ancestral energy which you derive from your food, activity, and sleep (let your body focus on detoxifying and regeneration of energy).
Ayurveda focuses on Rasayana (nourishing) on a daily basis to strengthen the immune system. Rasayana is not limited to food and herbs only. It incorporates the spiritual nourishing (taking 10-15 minutes daily for meditation can be very helpful in toxin clearing), simple breathing exercise and good sleep all contribute to a healthy immune system. I find it very comparable to TCM principles.
Killing 2 Birds in One Go – Foods for Immune System (and Digestion System)
Food and food grade herbs in both TCM and Ayurveda offer good options in strengthening Immune System and interestingly, quite a number of them are good for the Digestion System:
- Astragalus – Astragalus tonifies the defensive qi “wei qi” which sits just below the skin. It contracts the pores and regulates perspiration. So, it can keep evil from entering your defensive layer. At the same time, Astragalus supports the transformation and transportation of digested nutrients “grain qi” throughout the body. In my view, this is one of the classic examples of how digestion and immune system are related in TCM. Astragalus is perfect for your soup in the morning – yes! Get your nutrition all filled up in the morning is the best way to get your system ready!
- Shiitake / Maitake / Reishi / Fu Ling – Mushroom and fungi is a category of food that contains polysaccharides that help to modulate the immune response. Fu Ling, in particular, drains dampness from spleen which relieves you from gas, low-grade diarrhea, and borborygmus. Others like Reishi (Ling Zhi), Shiitake and Maitake all are great for the immune system and have also extensively researched in immune disease treatment.
- Amla and Triphala also chyawanprash – Amla (or Indian Gooseberry) is a rich source of Vitamin C (1,100-1,700mg per 100g of fruit. Amla is one of my go to suggestion for pregnancy woman developing colds too. It is highly nutritive and is a major ingredient in Indian chyawanprash as an immune booster. It is also one of the three berries in Triphala, which is a super bowel tonic as well as an immune tonic. This is mother’s nature answer for if your digestion is congested, your immune function will remain at suboptimal state as there are still lots of wastes in your body. Taking Triphala at night time helps to support a healthy bowel movement first thing in the morning.
- Garlic – Fresh Garlic is very good for lung infections, especially antibiotic resistant. Next time when you get a sore throat, cough, try chopping a clove of garlic and let it sit steep in raw honey for 10 minutes and then take it slowly and you can repeat this as often as you like.
- Orange peel – Orange peel is an effective remedy for low stomach acid (which is very common especially as you age and it can be one of the reasons for your GERD) so it enhances digestion and absorption. At the same time, it is also helpful in expectorating phlegm and dispelling coldness for bacterial infection conditions.
- Turmeric – Turmeric is a warming bitter enhancing normal bowel motility. At the same time, it has demonstrated clinically that it modulates the immune system and has been extensively researched in the tumor treatments.
- Water – It might appear obvious but many people overlook the importance of water, especially during flu season. You can overload your system with warm water in flushing toxins and helping your body to heal! Get your water kettle ready!
All the above are foods that you can incorporate into your daily diet to keep your healthy energy balanced to keep you away from this flu season so start today!
- Chinese Traditional Medicine Vol 2 – Dr. Michael Tierra & Lesley Tierra
- Polysaccharide Immunomodulators as Therapeutic Agents, ASM Journal 2000, http://cmr.asm.org/content/13/4/523.full