Tuesday, September 27, 2016

How to avoid colds and flu....

Today's Post:  Tuesday, 9-27-2015

(This is an adapted re-run of the post I did last year, 9-29-2015)

*This is an important topic at this time of year because school aged kids go back to school where they are quite often exposed to cold and flu viruses that they then give their teachers and bring home.

*Secondly, it’s at this time of year that in the Northern Hemisphere, particularly in Canada, the Northern US, and Europe, begin to have too little sunlight to enable people to have enough vitamin D3.

(Because, vitamin D3 powers the immune system to recognize and kill cold and flu viruses, having low levels can cause you to get colds and flu your immune system would have killed with more robust vitamin D3 levels.)

*Third, in the Northern Hemisphere, air temperatures begin to fall to levels where cold and flu viruses tend to survive better in the air and on surfaces than they do at warmer temperatures.

*And, fourth, it is at this time of year, literally this week, that this year’s flu shots become available.

1.  Cold and flu viruses can’t make you sick without getting inside you.

So, wash your hands before eating and on first arriving home for the day; more than the rest of the year, when you can, avoid being in public places where you are close to large groups of people where you might get sneezed on or coughed on; and touch your eyes and nose ONLY with a tissue or paper towel between your finger and your mucous membranes.

Those things do help.  I’ve read that the handwashing alone can cut the number of colds and flu episodes you get in half.

2.  But since some of this advice limits your freedom of action or is impossible to follow, the best way is to set up your immune system to kill off any cold or flu viruses that attack you before they make you sick.

The two most important things are to take enough vitamin D3 and get your flu shot each year.

a) Recently, an article was published that the real optimum intake of vitamin D3 is 7,000 iu a day or a bit more, which is comparable to what you’d get working outside all day from sun exposure in the summertime.

From this level, 7,000 iu a day of vitamin D3 from supplements to two or three times that much is clearly safe because people do routinely get that much D3 from summer sun exposure if they are outside with no bad effects whatever.

(Vitamin D2, a synthetic partial copy, is neither as effective nor as safe to take in these higher amounts.  D3 however IS safe at these levels.)

Why does this intake of vitamin D3 protect you from colds and flu?

When you get enough vitamin D3, your virus killing T cells become much better at identifying cold and flu viruses accurately and immediately.  Your body makes more T cells; AND they become much more effective at killing viruses.

Compared with no intake of vitamin D3 at all, it’s as if your body had 100 times more trained  scouts watching out for cold or flu viruses. AND your blood stream had a 100 times more Navy Seals with rapid fire big magazine weapons optimized to kill viruses.

As a result, it’s quite common for people who take 10,000 iu a day of vitamin D3 or more to not get colds or episodes of the flu at all in many if not most cases.

The reverse is also true.  In one flu epidemic of a virulent flu, the people who died were those severely deficient in vitamin D3.

The really good news is that 5,000 iu capsules of vitamin D3 from Jarrow and 10,000 iu capsules of vitamin D3 from Solgar are quite moderately priced as supplements go.  Many health food stores carry the Jarrow D3; and if they don’t carry the Solgar D3, they can get it for you with two or three weeks advanced notice.

(For something like $20 a month, I take one of each.)

b)  Flu shots do work by training your T cells to ID flu viruses so quickly, your body’s immune system routinely kills them before they can make you sick.

There is some variation in how well flu shots work as you may already know.

In 2014 for example, the main flu that showed up wasn’t a strain covered by the flu shot or covered at all well from what I’ve read.

And, in some people over 65 a flu shot that prevents 80% of flu cases in younger people may only prevent 40%.

But they are well worth getting each year for three reasons.

*If you get them every year for 10 years, you WILL have fewer cases of the flu and suffer less and have your activities restricted less during that 10 years than people who don’t.

*For the same reason, if you get flu shots every year for 10 years less people will get the flu from exposure to you!  That’s why teachers and medical people are asked to get the flu shots.

*Immunity wears off  a bit over time. BUT, if you get flu shots every year after a few years you are immune or partially immune to more varieties of the flu and less likely to get the flu than people who don’t from varieties of the flu not well covered in the current shot.

Lastly, did you know that there is a way to make getting the flu shot much more likely to work?

Actually there are two ways!

Get the flu shot now, early in the season, if you possibly can.  The shot can only protect you if you get it something like a couple of weeks before the flu shows up.  Why wait until after you already caught the flu?  Get your flu shot in the next few days!

And, here is the really good news!  Remember when we said that getting enough vitamin D3 made your T cells much better at identifying and killing flu viruses?  That effect works with flu shots too!

That means that taking 7,000 to 15,000 iu a day of vitamin D3 can enable a flu shot to prevent you from getting the flu even if it would not have without the D3!

So, in summary, taking enough vitamin D3 can keep you from getting the flu. (This includes types of flu NOT covered by this year's shot.)

Getting your flu shot each year can keep you from getting the flu.

Doing both is even more likely to keep you from getting the flu than either part by itself!
(The vitamin D3 also makes the flu shot more likely to work!)

How about getting colds?

Washing your hands and similar efforts also work to prevent colds.  (In fact, having warmer water for washing your hands may be even more effective at killing cold viruses than flu viruses.)

Even better, taking enough vitamin D3 is effective in preventing colds too!

And, if you don’t get slammed and your immune system weakened by getting the flu, that also will help you prevent colds.  So, indirectly, getting your flu shot each year will prevent some colds!

***What can you do if you get a cold or get the flu anyway to minimize the hassle and damage and enable you to recover sooner?

We cover that next week.  Drinking quite a bit more water works relatively well.  But you may not do it if you don’t know why!

Next week we cover that, a surprising strategy few people know to minimize the impact on you and recover faster, and a way to stop colds in 24 hours that was recently discovered! Another different method works to get over both colds and cases of the flu faster.

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