Swine Flu – Don’t Panic Mr Mainwaring!

I have been watching the media hype about the supposed pandemic the last few days. It seems like, hopefully, it will be a storm in a teacup, although not for those who have already got it, of course. It did make me think about how we make sure our immune system’s are healthy, though, to avoid being ‘at risk’. First, here is a reassuring quote from New Scientist:

“The chances of dying from this pandemic are smaller than being killed by lightning, a shark attack, moose attack, hippopotamus attack, an earthquake, tornado, hurricane, or something as mundane as taking a bath or shower.” Joe Sheehy, New Scientist Magazine

And now a quick bit from the Ecologist which puts it into context a bit:

“A healthy, well-fed middle class individual is unlikely to succumb. A poverty stricken individual, perhaps working on an industrial hog farm, or who may be undernourished and living in conditions which put them at a greater disadvantage, immunologically speaking, may well be at greater risk of complications such as pneumonia and therefore of death.

While it is believed that the H1N1 strain responds well to anti-virals like Tamiflu and Relenza, the catch is you need to start taking these drugs within two days of the start of the illness, when many people may not necessarily be able to tell if they have a cold or the flu.

There are many unknowns about this current outbreak. Should the virus travel around the world it may well mutate. But how it will mutate is completely unpredictable. It may, for instance, become easier to pass on from human to human, but milder. It may become harder to pass on from human to human, but more virulent. It may vanish altogether over the summer.

What a public already stressed by economic and environmental gloom don’t need is to have the flame of a collective panic and anxiety about life in general fanned by out-of-proportion reports about a pandemic, when all we appear to have so far is a mild self-limiting outbreak that may disappear by itself.

The most productive thing the great British ‘worried well’ can do right now – apart, perhaps, from not travelling to Mexico or taking any day trips to industrial pig farms – is to remember to wash their hands, eat sensibly, sleep well. Given the well documented deleterious effects of stress and anxiety on human immune function it may also be wise to, if not cut out, then at least cut back on their daily diet of shock-horror news reports. Pat Thomas, Editor of the Ecologist

It did get me thinking though about what I would do top-up my immunity. So, I thought I would share my ideas with you. As it says above, avoid stress, get enough sleep and wash your hands well. In addition, I would get a walk in the daylight every day to top up my Vitamin D levels and take a good multivitamin and mineral that contains Vitamin D as it is antiviral. (Some experts reckon that we get more flu and other viruses in the Winter because of the lack of daylight and consequently the lack of vitamin D – makes you think!).

I would also start taking beta glucans. These are relatively new to the nutrition scene and come from a yeast called Saccharomyces Boulardii. There is a lot of exciting research coming out about the immunity potential of the beta glucans – enough to convince me they are worth taking if you have poor immunity or you need to protect yourself from viral attack. I have used them successfully already in people that have tested with low SIgA gut levels, which shows a poor immunity. Secretory Immunoglobulin A (SIgA) is the main immune marker in the mucus of the body and helps to prevent viruses and bacteria from taking hold and protects us from food residue and therefore allergy problems. Low SIgA levels are surprisingly common and reflect a poor level of immunity. In fact, it may be a good idea to have this test done to check your own immunity. It’s a simple home stool test and costs just £44. Beta glucans are known to help raise the SIgA levels again and therefore enhance your immunity against viruses in particular. There is some debate about the best type to take so I’m looking at it and will advise which products I think are best.

Other steps would be to eat plenty of garlic, get plenty of vitamin C and zinc in fruit, seeds or supplements, and take a natural antiviral product like lauric acid or olive leaf. I shall have my stocks at the ready…please ask if you need more help.

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