We’re almost into the Winter months now, at least for those of us in the Northern hemisphere, and that means one thing that no-one’s been looking forward to – flu season! In fact, the better organized among us will soon be thinking about a trip to the pharmacy, to stock up on the various decongestants and pain relievers that we’ll need at some point over the next few months.
The thing is that no matter how much we spend on the latest over-the-counter medicines, we know that all they are really doing is papering over the cracks. Treating the flu is extremely difficult, and even the antiviral drugs prescribed by doctors tend to have lots of side effects. In all but the most severe cases, the traditional remedy for the flu is lots of fluid, rest, and good nutrition.
However, there are a couple of simple tips that may reduce the likelihood of you catching the flu, and perhaps even reduce the duration and severity of your illness if you do catch it. And you should start following these tips well in advance of flu season to get the full benefit.
If you follow this blog you will have read many articles about the numerous health benefits of probiotics and maintaining a healthy gut flora. Probiotics give us much more than just a healthy digestive system. Good probiotics can bolster our immune system, reduce our stress levels, and protect us from disease.
Taking probiotics is one of the three key elements of a Candida treatment program, but we should really all be taking them. Whether you are suffering from Candida or not, probiotics can improve your health. And scientific studies have shown that they can reduce your flu symptoms too.
A study by Spanish researchers in 2012 looked at whether probiotics could improve the efficacy of the flu vaccine for elderly patients. Volunteers were given Lactobacillus plantarum for three months after they received the flu vaccine, and their flu antibodies were measured after this time. The researchers found that these probiotics “increased the levels of influenza-specific IgA and IgG antibodies. Moreover, a trend towards an increase in influenza-specific IgM antibodies was also observed.” In other words, probiotics can increase the effectiveness of our own immune systems against flu.
Another study, this time by an Australian research team in 2011, examined the effect of Lactobacillus fermentum on the severity of flu symptoms among athletes. In this case, the benefits were most significant for the male subjects, who saw large reductions in the severity of gastrointestinal and respiratory flu symptoms. As a consequence, they also needed to use fewer cold/flu medications. On the other hand, female patients saw less of an improvement, but did note a reduction in respiratory symptoms. This highlights the importance of taking a good brand of probiotics that contains lots of different strains. The research studies on probiotics have been conducted on a large group of individual strains, so your best chance of getting their health benefits is to take as many different strains as you can.
If you’re struggling to choose a good probiotic, there are some simple tips that I would recommend you follow. Choose a probiotic with at least 5 individual strains, and at least 10 billion CFUs (Colony Forming Units) per capsule. Also check for the various ‘fillers’ and toxic additives that some manufacturers add to their supplements. We have an updated list of high quality supplements on our recommended products page.
OK, you’ve probably heard of this one before! It has long been known that vitamin C can help to ward off cold and flu viruses, but recent research has shown us the best way to get the full benefits from this powerful antioxidant.
Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory properties, strengthens your adrenal glands, and supports your immune system – all really important benefits for anyone suffering from a gut imbalance like Candida Related Complex. The added bonus for Candida sufferers is that, along with these helpful properties, vitamin C also helps to remove Candida toxins like acetaldehyde and ethanol from your body.
The received wisdom is that you should start taking vitamin C as soon as you catch a cold or flu virus. However, this is not quite right. Studies have shown that, to get the most benefit from vitamin C, you need to have been taking it for some time before you catch the virus.
The Cochrane Group released a comprehensive review of the use of vitamin C for the common cold. Their conclusions? Taking Vitamin C consistently can reduce the duration of colds (by an average of 8% in adults and 14% in children). They also found that vitamin C benefited those exposed to extreme physical stress (marathoners, soldiers etc) with a 50% reduction in the number of colds they caught. It seems likely that those under significant emotional stress would see similar benefits.
An important point to note is that taking vitamin C after the cold had started had little or no effect. To enjoy the full benefits of vitamin C, you need to be taking it consistently and for some time before your exposure to a cold or flu virus.
Probiotics and vitamin C are two easy ways to maintain your health this Winter. If you suspect you might be suffering from Candida (and you’re worried about flu season), it’s a great idea to take both of these healthful supplements. For more tips on beating Candida and improving your health, take a look at our Ultimate Candida Diet program.