Have you been hit with the flu?
University of Arizona scientists have found that when someone is sick in an office, it takes only four hours (!) for surfaces like coffeepot handles, copy-machine buttons and the fridge door to show traces of infectious virus. The CDC reports that all ll U.S. states but Hawaii are reporting widespread flu activity. Indicators used to track influenza-like-activity (ILI) are similar to what was seen during the peak of the 2014-2015 season, a season of high severity. So how can we protect ourselves?
Our immune system, so very complex, has been referred to as literally a military network that is set up to defend against foreign invaders. Our “soldiers” are the white blood cells, (leukocytes), all with their own mission, just as our navy army, air force and marines. And who are these invaders? Those protein molecules called antigens which can be a bacterium or a virus simply looking to invade and corrupt our body. Of course, when our immune system notices these foreign cells, or antigens, it destroys them. Our immune system literally creates a mirror image protein for each attacker and creates a mold for each “face” it encounters. After that it is able to use that custom-made mold to literally “capture” the invader and destroy it. It is pretty amazing.
Unfortunately, while this amazing system is helping defend against foreign invaders it is also capable of attacking the same tissues that it is designed to protect which we all know to be common to all autoimmune diseases. Some of those foreign invaders that our “soldier” cells are seeking out and destroying look the same as our own cells, and our immune system destroys everything simply because it is unable to distinguish “foreign” invader proteins from the proteins of our own body.
So what causes this confusion? Sometimes it has to do with what we eat. Go here for some great flu-fighting foods to support your immune system during the flu season. Those antigens that trick our bodies into attacking our own cells are to blame simply by proteins slipping into our bloodstream from the intestine without being fully broken down into their amino acid parts, and thus are treated as foreign invaders which in turn, results in the autoimmune process. Our bodies do have safeguards to protect against this; however, our immune system must be working properly so it does not lose its ability to differentiate between the body’s cells and the invading antigen, and literally destroying both. So how can we build up our immune system?
Vitamin D3 is a valid supplement, particularly in the winter months when the flu season is so prevalent. An article regarding Vitamin D3 and the flu emphasized this very fact. To determine if you are deficient in this important nutrient ask your doctor to check your Vitamin D levels with a simple test.
Improving our health and well-being is a daily choice in what we decide to eat, toxins we expose ourselves to, even how we deal with the daily stresses of our lives. Here are some tips to remember to do each day:
- Get a good night’s sleep
- Sip hot black or green tea with lemon and honey
- Get plenty of protein daily – diets low in protein can deplete the immune system
- Of course, remember to always wash your hands often
- Keep your hands from touching your face (can transfer bacteria, viruses from contaminated surfaces to you)
- Remember to wipe down your cell phone
- Exercise daily
For those with strong, healthy immune systems, I do believe prevention plays a major role…..choose diet, exercise, stress reduction and supplementation to your daily routine.
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