Saturday, February 4, 2012

Defeating the Flu

If you have been following the nutritarian lifestyle for a while, you're probably not catching viruses like everyone else, in spite flu season being at its peak. A plant-strong diet full of anti-oxidants and fiber is a good shield against acute illness. But if you'd like to strengthen your immunity further, read on:

Our bodies are designed to be self-healing. To that end, we have five systems for eliminating toxins. These systems are the colon, the skin, the lungs, the kidneys and the lymph nodes.

The body's first recourse when it is invaded is actually the colon. By eating a high-fiber diet of raw fruits and vegetables, legumes and whole grains, we not only keep indigestible food from stagnating, but we sweep out harmful micro-organisms, as well. But in case you do feel some chills and fever coming on, here are some things you can do to "activate" your colon:
1. Fast - Abstaining from food or drink allows the colon to clear itself. A water fast helps the body to cleanse itself further the way rinsing the laundry helps to wash away built-up dirt, scum and debris.
2. Use laxative herbs such as senna or cascara sagrada to further purge the colon.
3. Eliminate refined sugar but eat bitter foods like cruciferous vegetables, and bitter herbs such as fenugreek,  burdock and goldenseal. Sweet foods turn off digestion but bitter foods stimulate digestion and help move material through the colon.

Unfortunately, when the colon becomes overworked and overburdened, the skin must then work harder to keep the body clear. Rashes, acne, hives, itchiness, body odor, and even eczema can be signs that the skin is being taxed with more toxins that it can release. Have you ever had your skin break out just as you begin to feel sick? Opening the pores of the skin is a great way to bolster yourself against an impending illness. Try these tips to help your skin release toxins:
1. Cardiovascular exercise -  Sweat carries "nasties" out of the body. Some native Americans had a practice of going into a sweat lodge (like a sauna) to rid themselves of a fever. They knew that the body would carry the harmful organisms away through perspiration.
2. Reduce salt intake - Excess salt exacerbates skin conditions by decreasing perspiration.
3. Try skin brushing - Rubbing the skin with a dry brush carries away. dead skin cells, toxic wastes and dirt.
4. Open the pores with "diaphoretics" (perspiration-inducing herbal teas) such as ginger or yarrow. Or you can take a bath with 1 tablespoon ground ginger and 2 cups epsom salt added to the bath water.

It should be easy to understand that if the colon and skin are flooded with toxins, then an illness can settle in the lungs. How many times does a simple cold turn into bronchitis, or worse yet, pneumonia? But following the steps above can keep the lungs from being over-taxed. Additionally, we can open the lungs by:
1. Deep breathing - especially through a 30-60 minute session of cardiovascular exercise.
2. Drinking adequate water. Proper hydration helps break up phlegm.
3. Using "anti-catarrhal" or phlegm-reducing herbs, such as plantain or red clover.
4. Avoiding mucus-producing dairy and soy products.

Keeping the kidneys from bogging down is also important for beating winter illnesses.  This  requires the same strategies that have been mentioned above:
1. Proper hydration
2. Reduction of salt
3. Limiting sugar
We can also eat anti-oxidant rich fruit for energy and regeneration.
Activating the lymph system (which includes the spleen and tonsils) is quite dependent on diet. Foods that clog that lymphs include "chemical foods” (those with artificial preservatives, flavors, colors and stabilizers), fatty foods, and excessive animal proteins. Keep your lymphs healthy by eating:
1. Foods full of enzymes and acids, such as raw fruits.
2. Cranberries to help emulsify fat deposits in the lymph system.
3. Green vegetables because the chlorophyll boosts lymph health
4. Proper fats, like seeds, avocados, and nuts to ensure proper lymph functioning.
5. Immune-boosting herbs like echinacea, which is a lymph tonic.

Removing obstacles to good health helps the body become its own best physician.
To a flu-free and happy Spring,

1 comment:

  1. Really enjoyed this post! It's nice to know some of the cause and effect symptoms. And I can personally attest- Dairy does cause acne! Almost instantly for me! I enjoy life so much more without dairy now! :-)