This Year’s Flu Peak

January 20, 2017

While you might imagine flu season as an end of the year event (when the flu vaccine is being heavily advertised) it usually goes through March, and in a cold year it can dip into June! This year, peak flu season is happening right now, so gear up and get ready.

“Flu” is colloquially used to refer to stomach flu, and a few days of being tied to the toilet in one way or the other. But true influenza is a knock-you-down sort of illness. The type of stomach flu more commonly talked about about also peaks in winter when viruses (like Norovirus) are more active (summer spreads bacterial food poisoning, like Listeria).

Influenza is a respiratory illness. While a young, healthy adult might show minimal symptoms, it’s pretty easy to distinguish flu symptoms from cold symptoms (it’s much easier to march forward with a cold)—colds are more likely to bring congestion and a runny nose, while flu is more strongly associated with that deep chest cough and aching. Influenza is airborne, and tends to explode after the travel season (AKA holidays, or right now!).

To help slow airborne transmission, you can use a humidifier (or boil some water, as long as it’s attended!). You can also dramatically slow cold and flu transmission with frequent hand washing.

If you’re feeling tired, listen to your body. Sleep is often a huge clue our immune system needs to do some extra work, and getting it can help prevent or shorten illness. (Sometimes bulking up your diet a bit can help too, since you need extra energy/nutritional support, and might not want to eat once you’re sick!).

For an extra daily boost, try colloidal silver. It supports the immune system as it battles all sorts of pathogens.

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A new study has found that just a little bit more zinc can go a long way—getting more than the minimum may help improve cellular health and boost immunity.

If you read the study, you’ll see that it’s being used to push fortified foods and crops (AKA GMO crops, may be safe, but it changes the taste and more). Fortified crops and foods are there to support people who aren’t actively participating in their health, whether it’s not a priority or beyond their ability to do so. They aren’t ideal, it’s better to eat a naturally healthy diet rather than one that’s modified in such a radical way (the Netherlands even banned fortified food).

The trick to a healthy diet is making sure all your bases are covered, like with a daily multivitamin. Not everyday is going to be perfect, include every superfood, and be a nutritionist’s ideal plan. Price, seasons, and a limit on how much we can cram in our stomachs prohibits that. But a multivitamin can be there to make sure that you get enough of each nutrient every day. Read more about multivitamins…

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Last September, a woman in her 70s died of a bad case of CRE, or carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae. It wasn’t just antibiotic resistant, it was resistant to ALL antibiotics.

You probably haven’t heard much about it. The future where antibiotics no longer work is now—at the earliest part of the window experts gave—but it’s being drowned out and ignored. Part of that problem is that while an older person dying is sad, it’s no longer considered tragedy—it’s not a headline that gets attention. Plus, most people understand, to some degree, that the elderly are a vulnerable population (and the antibiotics we shove at them is making it worse, not better) so they can think “it won’t happen to me”. But we should be prepared, because it’s here, in America, in our hospitals, the antibiotic resistant genes pass very easily to other bacteria, and it’s not going away without global change.

Don’t panic yet—there’s a lot you can do to keep yourself safe. Read more about antibiotic resistance…

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Figuring out if you need more iron in your diet can be tricky. It’s commonly recommended by the older generation, because red meat was relatively expensive during parts of the twentieth century. While food is cheaper than ever (for the quality, availability, and more), we can still take a bit of grandma’s wisdom, because we don’t always eat the balanced diet we should. If you’re looking a little pale, feeling a little tired, or even feeling a little dizzy or short of breath, there might be a really simple solution: more iron.

Don’t fear if those look like vague problems. Have you ever noticed how many illnesses start with flu like symptoms? This is one of the places self-care becomes important: there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit, like diet changes or some mild exercise, that can change things and rule out more serious problems with more complicated treatments.

Dietary iron can be found in red meat, or the vegan source spirulina. Spirulina is a high protein algae that also has iron, amino acids, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Spirulina is such a good source of things like iron it’s used in things like space diets for astronauts. You don’t have to go to a specialty store and drive all around for spirulina, though, you can get it in the high-quality supplement Blu-Lina Organic Spirulina. Read more about spirulina…

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The Western Hemisphere has a whole host of tropical illnesses cycling through countries and seasons—and yellow fever is starting another round. Right now it’s in Brazil, but the past few winters have shown a pattern where it will be pushing into the US by summer.

Yellow fever, Zika, Dengue Fever, and CHIK-V are all tropical viruses with a lot of similarities. Once they travel somewhere, they survive in pockets of mosquitoes until they come in contact with a human. The pockets might be remote, as was the case in Hawaii when a group of hiking tourists brought illness back out of the less-visited parts of nature and reignited a hard to beat battle against illnesses that thrive in warm, humid climates.

Once a human is bit and brings illness home, things can get worse a whole lot more quickly. Aedes aegypti, which has become famous for spreading Zika, can carry any tropical illness. But unlike those pockets of mosquitoes hanging out with birds and other wildlife in wet areas, Aedes aegypti has evolved to be “the dog of insects”, living in close contact with humans (right inside your home, in fact, rather than in your yard like the mosquitoes that carry West Nile Virus). That means that any illness, like yellow fever, can spread quickly, not just within a city, but to other cities as infected travelers (and stowaway Aedes aegypti in their luggage) travel back to hospitable climates.

And that’s what’s happening in Brazil right now. Yellow fever has moved into populated areas from nature and is spreading quickly, leading to suspicion that Aedes aegypti is carrying/spreading it. It will be a hard to win battle for Brazil. Read more about Yellow Fever…

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