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Last spring I did a post on how to boost your immune system to fight the swine flu. That was before U.S. public health officials stepped in to market the flu under less pork-slandering terminology. Worried that the name swine flu would harm pork sales, trade industry officials and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack switched to the more clinical and euphemistically appropriate term – H1N1.

H1N1 sounds so ambiguous, so detached. I suppose that was the whole idea – the branding plan behind the name switch. Swine flu just plain sounds icky. Hmmm, but on the other hand, the name avian flu doesn’t make you want to quit eating chicken, does it? I wonder if the administration and the pork guys considered calling this strain the artiodactyl flu. I kind of like that. Pigs are in the artiodactyl family, in case you didn’t know.

And no, you can’t get the swine flu from eating pork.

A science friend of mine sent me this video, knowing full well how much I love geeky stuff like virus instruction coding. Please watch this short video. It’s informative, amazing, humorous and easy to understand. Then read my tips for boosting your immune system so you keep the funky swine/H1N1/artiodactyl cells in check (along with all the other cooties we encounter on a daily basis).

Eewww, it’s a dirty world out there. Help your body protect you from it.

Immune boosters

• High-quality, uninterrupted sleep (I know, I know – this is a tough one)
• Exercise, including yoga
• Eat lots of antioxidant-rich foods (vitamin C: citrus fruits, peppers, broccoli, green leafy veggies, berries, tomatoes; vitamin A: sweet potatoes, squash, broccoli, carrots, kale, collard greens, apricots, cantalope, peaches; vitamin E: nuts, seeds, GF whole grains, extra virgin olive oil, green leafy veggies; selenium: pastured eggs, chicken, garlic, 100% grass fed beef or bison, GF whole grains, fish)
• Fresh, whole foods – any brightly colored veggies and fruits as they are full of immune boosting phytochemicals (good plant chemicals)
• Green tea, ginger root tea
• Mushrooms, garlic, pineapple, coconut (other good stuff)

Immune zappers

• Poor quality sleep (restful sleep is SO important for a strong immune system)
• Couch potato lifestyle
• Consuming junk food, fast food, processed food, sugar, caffeine, trans-fats
• Soda pop and sugary drinks (no, no, no)
• Too much alcohol

I’m going to skip the vaccine, wash my hands frequently, eat healthy foods, practice yoga, sleep 8 hours a night, think good thoughts (most of the time, anyway) and knock on wood.

Go forth, boost your immune system and avoid the artiodactyl flu.
Melissa

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19 Responses to “How virus cooties invade the body (H1N1)”

  1. Alta says:

    Informative post! Interesting video too.

  2. Ari says:

    The best thing you can do for your immune system is to get the vaccine. Perhaps you should put a video up about that as well.

  3. renee says:

    This is brilliant, Melissa.! Thanks so much for sharing the video & your tips. I’m with you…frequent handwashing, yoga galore & well, maybe still an occasional Belgian beer…

  4. Melissa says:

    Alta,

    Yes, that was a great job from the video guys. I loved it. Thanks for your comment!

  5. Melissa says:

    Ari,

    Thanks for your comment. I appreciate your opinion. There are lots of different ways to approach health and disease. I choose to skip the vaccine and focus on ways to boost strength and immunity. I’m not suggesting others do the same or that vaccines are bad, I’m simply offering some basic tips on how to maintain good health during flu season (along with sharing a great video).

  6. Melissa says:

    Renée,

    I loved the video as well and agree with you on everything but the Belgian beer. I’ll have to switch that out for a gluten-free version. Or maybe I’ll just go with a nice Pinot Noir.

    :-)

    “See” you tonight!

    ** Reneé is my favorite recipe-writing guru. I’m taking a class from her tonight (http://leitesculinaria.com/11423/classes-online-food-writing-class-pitch-letter.html). She teaches the most wonderful lessons at Leite’s Culinaria (David Leite is another one of my favorite food people). I’ve taken classes from her before, so I know!

    Check her out at:
    http://www.reneeschettler.com/

  7. OMG! AHHHHHHH! Attack of the viruses… How creepy is that? Space aliens is what I say.

    Melissa, great tips & I love your writing & sense of humor. You’re the best.
    xo diana

  8. renee says:

    Many thanks for the kind words, Melissa.
    I for one am giving the old onion trick a go this year. Some theories hold that when placed in a room, an onion—long heralded by many cultures as disease-fighting—will absorb the flu virus. Many have debunked this for obvious reasons, although I figure it’s worth a whirl…

  9. Cid says:

    Melissa,

    I’m with you on this one…. I’d much rather try to keep as healthy as possible and then if flu hits, take some paracetamol, drink plenty of water and rest. My family and many others around here have all had flu during the summer and indeed we suffered all the usual symptoms but after a few days we felt much better. In this day and age people seem to expect to keep going during debilitating illness, sadly though there will be times when you just have to take to your bed and recover properly. I’m a great believer in not stuffing my face with antibiotics unless they are absolutely essential and that goes for all medicine. Where has common sense gone…. know your body and you’ll know exactly when some intervention might be necessary. Currently I’m drinking nettle tea and despite all the washing up, I’ve gone back to my fruit and veg juicing machine. Hot rose hip syrup drinks are soothing too I find. Here’s wishing everyone good health especially now that some of us are approaching the winter chills. Add to that a hearty laugh every day and some positive thinking.

    Cid

    p.s. love that hemp seed smoothie Melissa, excellent recipe.

  10. greedydave says:

    Melissa,

    Quite frankly it just goes to show that the immune-boosting gospel that you’ve been preaching for years isn’t something to be taken at all lightly.

    I would go on to say, though, that the information that we’re getting over here is that the very, VERY tragic fatalities related to swine flu have all involved a conjunction with other underlying medical issues. That’s no solace to any anyone susceptible, but it’s just not something that should keep others awake at night, especially given your 1st point.

    My own stance, I’m skipping the vaccine too, but I’m not in an “at-risk” group. Those who are should get themselves stoned-the-hell-up on the H1N1 vaccine. *personal opinion only*

    Melissa, love that you do not skirt the contentious health issues!!!

    GDave

    PS. Belgian beer??? You might as well just drink a glass of syrup. Get an English bitter or an IPA down your neck, you’ll live forever!

  11. Melissa says:

    Diana,

    Thank you; very sweet comments! I miss you at the celiac/gluten conferences! Just went to Erie, PA for the CSA conference. There were some interesting speakers, interesting products, but no vitamin or supplement people this time.

    You’re so right, viruses do seem very alien-like and they are. Our bodies respond to the invading aliens; hopefully our immune systems are up to the challenge when it comes to the major ones.

    Loved your recent pics on Facebook.

    :-)

  12. Melissa says:

    Cid,

    I agree and although I try to take care of myself in a “natural” way, meaning just what you’ve mentioned above, I do appreciate having some of the pharmaceutical safety nets we have. I don’t take antibiotics either, but definitely would if I thought it was absolutely necessary. When I rant and rave, I’m not dissing mainstream medicine (not too much, anyway), I’m just saying we need to be on top of our own health. Exactly as you so eloquently express.

    I’m so intrigued by your hot rose hip syrup. Hmmm, I’m going to do some research and maybe a little botanical experimentation.

    I’ll keep you posted.

    :-)

  13. Melissa says:

    GDave,

    I always (ALWAYS) love your unique take on things. Stoned-the-hell-up? You don’t say?! I always love your enthusiasm, whether it’s for your “straight from malted grains” homemade beer, Marmite, Indian food, or life in general. You definitely have a “buzz” that is “infectious” (non-virally speaking).

    You’ll have to debate Renée regarding the Belgian beer since I’m not a beer drinker. I’m guessing Renée is a Stella Artois girl.

    :-)

    P.S. You know, I really can’t stand these little smiley faces, but they serve such a purpose!

    :-)

  14. Melissa says:

    Renée,

    Thank you for that interesting tid-bit. I’ve never heard about the onion trick before, although I’m not as worried about what’s in my house as I am with the icky things on handrails, subways, taxi cabs, airplanes, shopping carts, etc. Can we wear an onion hanging around our necks when we go out and about? Or would that be too vampireishly stinky? And weird, I suppose.

    Hmm? I do like hearing about these old “folk remedies” as some are definitely worth adding to your bag of tricks. You’ve got me thinking…

  15. Alyson says:

    Get the vaccine if you can. I did all of the above (except the vaccine–it wasn’t available) and got the flu for two weeks.

  16. Melissa says:

    Alyson,

    There are no available flu vaccines around here. I just brought my mom in for one because her doc says she’s high risk, but I’m not, so I probably wouldn’t be able to get one even if I wanted to. I know healthy and vibrant people are getting this flu. You’re a good example of that, but I’m going to do what I can to stay healthy and hope for the best.

    Thanks for your input. I do appreciate it and hope you are now immune to any replay of it!

    In good health,
    Melissa

  17. Thanks for this post, Melissa! Love all the reminders. I watched the video … sort of. Law of attraction and all you know. I also turn off the news reports on H1N1. But, I’m following Renee’s advice and setting the onion that I partially used out on the counter. ;-)

    Let’s see if this post makes it. Twice before, my connection has crashed when I’ve tried to post one. :-(

    Shirley

  18. lo says:

    At this point in time, we can all use all the health-giving tips we can get! (she says as she coughs into her Kleenex) Just a simple cold here, but I’m annoyed that I let my guard down long enough for the bugs to infiltrate! :)

  19. Fascinating video!

    I agree with all your points and would just like to emphasise that fruit and vegetables in particular should be consumed as soon after picking as possible as their nutritional content deteriorates very rapidly.

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