Influenza or ‘the flu’ is caused by a virus and includes symptoms of chills, fever, sore throat, muscle aches, headache, fatigue or weakness and  coughing. Do some of those symptoms ring true for your latest cold? Colds and ‘flus are similar, but colds tend to hit you from the head up. The flu tends to be felt all over and usually involve a fever.

The flu spreads like wave at a baseball game. Coughs and sneezes send the virus particles into the air, ready for you or your kids to catch it and in turn cough and splutter on the next unassuming victim. The copious nasal secretions that have you bankrolling a facial tissue company are easily transmitted, even via shared surfaces.  Be vigilant washing your hands and work areas, as this is the first line of defense of flu fighting.

Fight the Flu

Especially with sick kids around, all the hand washing in the world won’t save you you from exposure to the virus. But following these tips below might help:

Take vitamin D. Many studies tout the importance of vitamin D with flu busting. It first became apparent during H1N1, and still ranks up there when it comes to preventing the flu. Safe for both adults and children, I suggest at least 2000 iu of vitamin D for adults and 800 iu per day for children over the age of 2 yrs. Babies and toddlers need 400 iu per day.

Eat Garlic and Ginger. As the cold weather sets in, I start adding extra garlic and ginger to everything I cook. These flavorful herbs have potent anti-inflammatory properties and garlic has strong antiviral properties. Both garlic and ginger work well in soups, stir-fries, vegetable sautés and stews. I also use both in the Cold and Sore Throat Soother that staves off the first signs of anything. (LINK TO LAST WEEKS POST)

Take and Eat Vitamin C. Ramp up the vitamin C, not only from foods (citrus fruits, kiwi, red peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.) but also in supplement form. I find that a powder like Genestra’s Ascorbate C that dissolves in water is perfect for the whole family for boosting defenses.

Supplement with Probiotics. Our gut, not our respiratory tract, is actually the point of entry for many pathogens that come aboard food, fingers and toys that go into little mouths. Supplementing with at least 6 billion CFUs (colony forming units) of Acidophilus or Bifidum species support the immune system, as a huge component of it lives here.
Elderberry Extract: Very potent antioxidant and is antiviral to take for 3 to 5 days at the start of symptoms.
Oil of Oregano: One drop on the feet of children, or one to two drops in juice for older people, is very effective at killing viruses. (Also only recommended for short-term use.)

Consume Chicken Stock:  An age-old remedy that really works. It has been proven to thin mucus secretions and when used in a chicken noodle and vegetable soup, it offers carbohydrate for energy, protein from chicken to fuel the immune system and vitamins and phytochemicals from the veggies. Many years ago, I saw a presentation by the founder and chemist who created Cold-FX. If she could have found a way to get chicken soup into a capsule, that would have been her first choice for the product (instead it contains ginseng as an immune and adrenal stimulant).

To Flu Shot or Not?
The flu shot is one of two vaccines in Canada to contain thimerosal - a mercury containing preservative. I was first made aware of this from my pediatrician when my nine year old daughter was three months. He advised me not to give it to her and said because it contained mercury. I would suggest that with the links here, you take some time to research what’s best for your family, talk to your doctor, and understand the risks of this toxic mineral.

Public Health’s Q&A about Thimerosal in Vaccines

Vaccination Risk Awareness Network comments about Thimerosal and Neurodevelopment Risks

Dr Mercola discuses the swine flu vaccine and concerns that it did contain the same ethyl mercury as all other flu vaccines.

Whenever I roast a chicken, I make stock. I sometimes make a point of roasting a chicken for dinner so I can make stock and use the leftovers for chicken noodle soup. If you’re usually pressed for time, start collecting bones and scraps of vegetables in a bag or container in your freezer. Use the scraps and bones when you have time to prepare the recipe below.

Homemade Chicken Stock
Servings: 8 cups (2 L)
2 lb (1 kg) chicken bones, necks and wing tips (for best flavour, roast bones in oven before making stock)
2 onions (unpeeled), roughly chopped with skins on
2 large stalks celery (with leaves), chopped
1 carrot, chopped
3 cloves garlic smashed
6 sprigs fresh parsley
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp whole peppercorns

In stockpot, combine chicken, onions, celery, carrot, and garlic, parsley, thyme, bay leaves and peppercorns. Pour in 14 cups (3.5 L) water; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, skimming occasionally, for about 4 hours.

Discard chicken bones. Strain stock with a sieve into large bowl, pressing vegetables to extract liquid. Cool and refrigerate overnight to set the fat on the surface. Skim off and discard. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

Read More by Lianne Phillipson-Webb:
Honey, Lemon, Garlic and Ginger: Natural Ways to Ease Cold Symptoms

Cutting Back on Sugar for a Healthier Family

Avoiding Artificial Flavour and Colour For a Healthier Family

How to Serve the Right Kinds of Fat for a Healthier Family

How to Cut Back on Salt for a Healthier Family