Originally published December 19 2008
Reduction in Stress Can Save You from the Flu
by Deanna Dean
(NaturalNews) There is a host of conclusive studies indicating something as simple as reducing stress could save you from a nasty cold or debilitating flu this season. We all know about recommendations to wash our hands often, get enough sleep and drink fluids, but, Dr.Sheldon Cohen, PhD, a leading expert on stress related illnesses, has concluded from studies that the singular strategy to keep your immune system and general health strong and avoid catching a cold or the flu, is to reduce stress.
He says 25 years of research in this area shows conclusively that there is a distinct connection between stress and infection. Biologically, stress raises blood levels of cortisol, an important hormone secreted by the adrenal glands. Cortisol is involved in many important bodily functions, but when high blood levels of cortisol are maintained from chronic stress for prolonged periods of time, the negative consequences are dire on many fronts- cognitive impairment, high blood pressure, thyroid suppression, decreased bone density and muscle tissue, increase in abdominal fat, and, a compromised immune system. Stress makes it harder for your body to naturally fight off infections. One of the best strategies to stay healthy and flu-free this holiday season is to lower stress and engage in activities that have proven to lower stress levels like meditation, yoga, exercise, deep breathing exercises and spending time outside enjoying nature.
No one doubts that we live in a stress laden world, which may explain why Prozac and Valium are two of the most prescribed drugs today that can leave the user with unsavory side effects. Alternative physicians encourage a natural approach suggesting the addition of herbs and dietary supplements to help lower your body's response to stress and keep your immune system strong.
Proven to boost immune response to invading viruses are herbs called nervines which act as nerve tonics to feed, strengthen, regulate and rehabilitate frazzled nerves. Holy Basil is one recommended by Dr.James LaValle PhD, ND, CCN, author and founding director of the LaValle Metabolic Institute. He says it's important to get products that are standardized because they will have consistent amounts of the active ingredients. He mentions that Holy Basil should have a standardization of 1-2.5% ursolic acid.
There are many herbs known to have calming effects. Among them are: Blue Vervain- allays fevers in virus colds, Damania- serves as a tonic for the nervous system, Spearmint- used to soothe nerves, Valerian-can serve as a substitute for Valium, and Scullcap-considered one of the best nerve tonics.
Garlic has been used throughout recorded history as a medicinal aid. It's an excellent herb for maintaining health. According to recently published summaries from Oxford, one of its most potent health benefits includes its ability to enhance the body's immune cell activity.
Vitamins are important as well. When distress attacks our adrenal glands the main nutrient, pantothenic acid, is burned away. Pantothenic acid, vitamin B-5, is known as an anti-stress vitamin. However, when we're under stress there is an increased need for the full spectrum of B-complex vitamins. They work best synergistically, meaning they work best when taken together rather than isolating one particular B vitamin. Also, they are water soluble and any excess is excreted and not stored in the body, so they have to be replaced daily. One thing to keep in mind during the holidays when a few of us might over indulge, is over consumption of alcohol and sugar destroys vitamin B.
Vitamin C and Zinc have long been touted as essential supplements when you experience the first sniffles, but there are controversies still surrounding their effectiveness in fighting the common cold. Nevertheless, Dr. Cohen says, "These nutrients do work better when we're not fighting uphill against stress-induced immunity suppression."
Diet of course plays a key role in diminishing stress and boosting the immune system. Eat a natural, unprocessed, balanced diet to avoid deficiencies that add undue stress to the body systems. If you exercise strenuously, eat healthy, unrefined carbohydrates in order to reduce a blood level increase in the stress hormone mentioned earlier, cortisol, and to limit the degree of exercise induced immune depression.
There are many strategies we can adopt to avoid the flu this season, but the one act of reducing stress can be the simple approach that will keep your immune system strong and protect your health.
Your health mate,
Good Nutrition:How to Combat Stress With Good Nutrition/Elizabeth Scott, M.S., November 7, 2007
Total Health Breakthroughs
Lower Your Stress:Reduce Your Risk of Colds and Flu
James LaValle R.Ph, ND, CCN
Ultimate Healing System
Donald Lepore, N.D.
About the authorDeanna Dean is the Wellness Director for Your Health Coach, a company dedicated to health and wellness education.
Dee is a Wellness & Weight Loss Coach, a Certified Natural Health Professional, is pursuing an ND degree-Naturopathic Doctor, is a certified Raw Chef, certified in Dietary Guidelines from the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research, former Personal Trainer, Yoga and Fitness Studio Owner, TV and Radio Guest, Health Columnist.
Deanna develops customized programs to enhance the health of her clients, educates, and coaches dieters for safe weight loss.
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