As the ongoing outbreak of H1N1 swine flu continues to spread in the US, most recently taking the life of a new mom and young boy in Texas, the number of confirmed cases and fatalities worldwide is also growing. In addition to the preventative steps experts recommend, such as hand washing and getting your annual influenza shot, boosting your immune system is another key defense against this contagious respiratory illness. According to Dr Murray Grossan, a sinus infection expert, following the same immune-system boosting methods that prevent sinus infections and the cold can also help to prevent H1N1 swine flu. Here are Dr Grossan's top tips for boosting your immune system.
You can catch H1N1 swine flu anywhere
Don't you dread airline travel because you always seem to catch a bug? Most of the time, you get a harmless cold and deal with sniffles and cough for a few days. However, with the increasing threat of the H1N1 swine flu, you have much more to dread. And not just on airlines – you can catch H1N1 swine flu anywhere.
Who is most at risk for H1N1 swine flu?
According to Dr Grossan
, author of Free Yourself from Sinus and Allergy Problems – Permanently
, people most at risk for contracting the H1N1 swine flu are young children and older individuals who are in poor health, but people of any age with a compromised immune system can get it. He says, "Children under age nine and seniors in poor health, especially those with respiratory or sinus problems [are most at risk]," he explains. "[Also], if you have a sinus problem, then your cilia don't work well and infection can enter."
Healthy sinuses can ward off illness
Dr Grossan says that you can help ward off any illness, H1N1 swine flu included, with a strong immune system and by taking the proper steps to keep your sinuses healthy.
He says, "In your nose you have millions of tiny oars called cilia. Their sole purpose is to move bacteria, pollen, dust, etc. out of the nose. If they fail, that allows bacteria to multiply and enter the body. This is why so many people get sick on airplane flights – the dry air slows the cilia and without moisture they don't do their job."
These tiny cold- and flu-fighters also extend down into the chest. "In the chest there are cilia that also move the crud out of the chest. When the cilia in the chest fail, they you get coughing," the doctor adds.
6 Tips to boost your immune system
Dr Grossan is a strong believer in using natural means to improve immunity. The doctor says too many over the counter products can be counterproductive and possibly even harmful. "My method is to enhance cilia health so that the organ can do the job it was intended to do – keep us healthy."
1. Drink green tea
"Tea can boost the body's defense fivefold," says Dr. Grossan. "The chemical in tea, L-theanine, transforms into ethylamine in the liver. Ethylamine is a molecule that primes the response of an immune blood cell, one of the T cells. These T cells prompt the secretion of interferon, a key defense against infection. Tea is also high in antioxidants and actually stimulates cilia action." (Learn more about high-antioxidant teas
2. Eat yogurt
Extolled for the probiotic cultures it contains, yogurt can improve your digestive health as well as your overall health. According to the World Health Organization, eating or drinking this "good" bacteria can boost your immune system, provide extra calcium and lead to a longer, healthier life. (How to get more probiotics
3. Have a bowl of chicken soup
Dr Grossan says chicken soup contains properties that are critical to cilia health, and can actually help keep them strong. Further, supporting research in the medical journal Chest
indicates that chicken soup is beneficial to ward off illnesses by promoting airway secretions (which promotes healthy cilia), helping with hydration because of the soup's high liquid content, and nourishing the immune system with protein from the chicken and the nutrients from the vegetables. (More on grandma's favorite remedies for cold and flu
4. Prioritize sleep
Research indicates that people reporting insomnia are more likely to also report being diagnosed with other medical conditions. The reason? A sleep deficit can lead to a compromised immune system, putting you at risk for H1N1 swine flu and many other illnesses. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep a night. (Strategies to get more sleep
There is a wide range of negative effects that stress can have on your health. One of the most harmful is compromising your immune system and putting you at greater risk for respiratory illnesses and other diseases. Find ways to best manage your daily stressors and take time to relax. Dr Grossan suggests deep breathing. "Breathe in for a count of four and out for a count of six," he suggests. Longer exhalations naturally promote relaxation. "You cannot have anxiety if your muscles are relaxed," he adds. (52 more relaxing, stress-free ideas
6. Get your cilia in synch
Dr Grossan suggests stimulating your cilia by humming "ooooommmm" in a low tone. "That vibration is in synch with the normal cilia vibration and will speed cilia," he says. Think of it as meditation for your health – not only will humming "om" synchronize your body's first line of defense against respiratory illnesses, including H1N1 swine flu, it will also boost your immune system by helping you decrease your levels of stress and anxiety. (Learn how to meditate in a busy world)
In addition to a maintaining a strong immune system, be sure to take preventative steps to reduce your risk of getting H1N1 swine flu.
Preventative ways to avoid H1N1 swine flu
Avoiding H1N1 swine flu
How to avoid the H1N1 swine flu