Don’t Let the Flu Catch You

You are coughing, you can’t breathe, every part of your body hurts.  You roll over and look at the clock, it’s 3 a.m.  You have to get up in a couple of hours to go to class and you realize you have the flu.  What do you do?  What could you have done to avoid this conundrum?

Unfortunately, not everyone knows what to do when they are sick.  They feel they must go to school or work, despite running fever and feeling ill.  This is how the flu spreads.  Here are a few tips to avoid spreading or catching the flu.

  1. If you feel ill, and especially if you are running fever, stay home.
  2. Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  3. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough.
  4. Wash your hands often.  If soap is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  5. Don’t touch your eyes, mouth, or nose.  Germs are often spread by touching something contaminated and then touching your face.
  6. Keep your home and workspace clean and disinfected.
  7. Get plenty of sleep.  Your immune system has to work overtime when you are tired.
  8. Exercise.  A healthy exercise routine keeps your body healthy.
  9. Avoid stress as much as possible.  Oftentimes, stress can weaken your immune system and cause physical symptoms.
  10. Drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious foods.  Keeping yourself hydrated and eating a healthy diet is a good way to support immune system function.
  11. Take a quality multivitamin.  Keeping your macro nutrient levels up can help support a healthy immune system.
  12. Above all, get your flu shot.  Pharmacies give the flu shot and it is covered by most insurances.  This preventative measure can save you tons of money on cold and flu medications and loss of work.

If you begin to feel ill, there are other things you can do to shorten the virus.  The over the counter, non-drowsy remedy Oscillococcinum is a great way to feel better fast.  You could also try taking Zinc, Vitamin D3, and Vitamin C to boost your immune response.

With the cold and flu season in full swing, it’s important to be vigilant.  Stay healthy!


Small Steps to a Stronger Immune System

cold remdies
Ashley Morrow

As a college student, balancing work, school, and free time can become overwhelmingly busy and getting sick doesn’t help make it easier. Try using these tips as preventatives before full-blown cold or flu symptoms occur. Follow nature’s way to health!

Sips of Citrus- Adding a lemon or a lime wedge to water or tea allows the body to detox and rid itself of any impurities. Both fruits are a great source of Vitamin C, and they are an inexpensive alternative to orange juice or Vitamin C tablets. Lemon and lime both contain anti-microbial properties that assist in fighting bacterial or viral infections.

Tea Time- Herbal tea with Echinacea root can be found in most health food stores or grocery stores. Echinacea is a powerful herb that stimulates white blood cells, which help attack foreign bodies. This herb is also an anti-septic which is used to alleviate sore throats, allergies, colds, or the flu. Fair warning: tea with Echinacea does not taste great, but it beats a trip to the doctor.

Diet and Exercise- Compared to supplements and pills, eating your way to health is much more satisfying. Fruits and veggies containing Vitamin A, B-6, C, and E are the best immune boosters. Vitamin C can be found in many foods including broccoli, oranges, kiwi, and strawberries. Blueberries provide several B vitamins. Sweet potatoes and carrots are a good source of Vitamin A, and green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale contain Vitamin E.

Exercise increases and strengthens blood and lymph flow. The lymphatic system protects the body from infections by tracking down and killing any invading germs that have already entered the body. It takes only 20-30 minutes of exercise a day, but activity must be moderate and consistent to be effective.

Essential Oil Massages- Again, the lymphatic system is responsible for cleansing the body of waste by moving cellular fluid through the system. Lymph nodes are filtering centers for the blood and can be found all over the body including the throat and underarms. Massaging lymph nodes with essential oils such as rosemary, lemon, and grapefruit may aid in boosting the effectiveness of the immune system. Essential oils are all natural and may be found in health food stores, selected grocery stores, or online. If you are interested in essential oils, popular brands are Now and Young Living.

Cold Water Blasts- Some may not be eager to jump on this tip, especially during the cold months. Scientific studies from Canada and the Czech Republic show that exposure to cold water temperatures is a mild stressor that activates the immune system. This does not mean the entire shower must be a cold one. Take a regular warm shower and only use cold water the last 30-60 seconds of the shower time.

Drinking enough water, lowering stress levels, and getting enough sleep are also necessary for a healthy immune system.

Seeds for Life

Spring is here and there is no better time than now to start your first fruit and vegetable garden. Having a home garden is beneficial for many reasons, the primary reasons are it being cost effective and your harvest is usually more nutrient dense than store bought produce. Growing your own garden can be very rewarding for you and the environment. If this is a task you are willing to tackle, there are several things you should know in order to ensure success of your first gardening attempts.

Having the proper gear is essential to growing a home garden; it makes gardening easier so that it feels more like a hobby rather than a task. Here are the basic but necessary tools every gardener should equip their self with.

Trowel-this small but mighty tool aids in digging holes for seeds and transplants.

Gloves-Blisters are inevitable, however, wearing gloves will help minimize harm to your hands and protect them from bugs and foreign objects found in the soil.

Sun hat/ cap-Protection from the sun is very important; use sunscreen as additional protection.

Water hose & Sprinkler- This will help minimize the hassle of watering plants. Simply turn the sprinkler system on for 15 minutes upon waking up in the morning, this will protect the vegetation from full sun radiation damage.

Hoe-This will assist in controlling weeds in your garden beds.

Wheel Barrow-For transportation of soil and compost.

Rake-For spreading soil and compost as well as mulch, hay and straw.

Shears- Will help maintain and prune plants.

After the necessary tools have been bought it is important to determine where exactly the garden will be and which type of garden will be used. It is recommend that it lie in a area where plants will see full sun, this means at minimum 6-8 hours. The garden should be isolated and free from other plants, trees and invasive species.

Traditional in ground gardens are more difficult to maintain but allow for larger garden beds. Plants should be at least 8 inches deep with varying distances apart.

Raised-bed increase the drainage and prevent your soil from holding too much water.

Container- the easiest and simplest of all garden beds, allow for the gardener to focus on one plant at a time and can be located anywhere within full sun’s reach.

Once the location has been decided, whether its in ground or in a raised bed, it is time to prep the soil. Soil is the most important aspect of a garden, it must be of good quality and free from sand, clay, glass and other contaminants and most importantly well aerated and dry for preparation of seeds and transplants. Clay tends to hold water, so strongly consider adding compost to alleviate standing water, which will attract mold, mosquitoes and other problems. Compost will make the soil more nutrient dense as an added bonus. Make sure to test the PH of the soil; most plants tend to prefer a more acidic environment. This can be achieved by adding sawdust or easily accessible pine needles.

Choose fruits and vegetables that grow well in your geographical zone, here in Texas these plants thrive in our environment.

Leafy greens such as Kale, spinach and lettuce that can even survive mild winters.

Squash/Zucchini-These crops will have a high yield; just a few plants can feed a large family.

Radishes-plant these in late spring or early fall, they are easy to grow and don’t require special soil.

Green Beans-plant right after the last winter freeze.

Peppers-Whether its Bell, Jalapeno, or habanera, they are sure to add spice to your life. Let ripen and watch the color change.

Tomatoes-produce large crops.

Herbs, Herbs, Herbs-even those without a green thumb can grow herbs.

Fertilize with sea minerals or fish fertilizer and ensure your plants get around 1 inch of water a week. If leaves are drooping and brown, they aren’t receiving enough, on the other hand if the stems are light green, or there is standing water by days end, you may be overwatering.

Most importantly, remember to start small, gardening should be an art, don’t overwhelm yourself and get frustrated. 100 sq. ft per person should provide an adequate yield to last through the year. As your plants grow, so will you.

Photo Some rights reserved by The Forum News

Health Benefits of Green Tea

Originally cultivated in East Asia, Green tea has played a role in traditional medicine for more than 4,000 years in Indian and Chinese cultures. Due to scientific and population based studies, the importance of drinking Green tea is making a popular appearance in the Western world.

Green tea is made from the same plant as black tea, camellia sinesis, but what makes green tea different is that it undergoes less processing compared to black tea. Green tea leaves are plucked and briefly steamed making the leaves soft and pliable; the leaves are then set out and dried with hot air. Steaming the green leaves prevents oxidation that happens during the processing of black tea. Oxidation refers to the fermenting or browning of the leaves, just like a cut apple that begins to turn brown after it sits for a while.  The oxidation process in black tea takes up to three hours, but for green tea, the short method of steaming or pan frying prevents the leaves from fermenting and changing color. Naturally, since green tea does not oxidize, it contains beneficial health components and a higher concentration of antioxidants. The antioxidants in green tea help fight free radicals, which are compounds that change, damage, or even kill the cell structure. Free radicals can cause early aging, illness, or disease.

Listed below are some of the many health benefits of green tea found in The Natural Medicine Comprehensive Database:

  • Keeps arteries healthy and helps fight high cholesterol and helps in preventing heart attacks
  • Holds antibacterial properties to fight foreign intruders of the body
  • Reduces redness and inflammations of the skin associated with acne
  • Found to improve bone health and prevents tooth decay
  • High in Vitamin C and boosts the immune system
  • Known to reduce the risks for skin, lung, ovarian, prostate, and colon cancer
  • Used topically to soothe sunburned skin
  • Works as an appetite suppressant
  • Boosts metabolic rate resulting in weight loss
  • Contains anti-aging properties by reactivating skin cells that were almost at the end of their life cycle

Green tea is not a miracle drink, but numerous studies have given evidence of the many benefits of drinking green tea. Teaming this drink with a healthy diet and regular exercise routine may produce greater results. In tea drinking cultures, the recommended amount is 3 or 4 small cups a day.

Compared to black tea, some claim green tea has a bitter flavor; however, adding lemon, raw honey, pure maple syrup, or stevia can naturally sweeten and give a better taste.

Freshly brewed tea is best; tea in a can or a bottle has less antioxidants and usually contains high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. Loose tea leaves are ideal, but if buying by the box, check that the ingredients read “100% natural green tea leaves.” Many popular brands of herbal teas have additives such as food coloring, preservatives, and artificial flavors.

photo Some rights reserved by IsabelFeistPhotography