Flu Season 101: Tips to Naturally Treat the Flu

It was 9:30 PM this past Monday night when my heart began to race.

Just two hours earlier, Kyle refused dinner. Something that RARELY happens. Twenty minutes later, his stomach started to feel “off,” and I knew in my heart of hearts that this was going to be a long night.

Around 9 PM, I quarantined him to the guest bedroom, nervously checking up on him every-so-often. It’s certainly a miserable sight to see my normally jolly 7′ giant feeling terrible. And as a stomach flu phobic for most of my life, it seems marriage (er – Kyle) has certainly been testing my commitment more “in sickness” than in health lately!

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As I laid in bed, enduring the calm before the storm, I had a flashback to two months prior.

Just 15 minutes after attending a family memorial service in early July, Kyle had a very rapid onset of food poisoning. I’ll spare you the details, but it took every kind of mental training, prayer, deep breathing, whatever to deal with it… especially because this was right in the thick of my chronic pregnancy nausea.

I thought we were done with this!? 

I remembered our grocery shopping trip earlier that day. Kyle bought 3 cooked lamb meatballs around lunchtime. He asked the meat lady when they were cooked, and she told him 5 days ago, but that if he ate them today, it should be fine.

That HAS to be it

I happened to take a small bite from one of them, but stopped eating it because lamb just hasn’t been appetizing to me since being pregnant. Maybe, just maybe, I could escape this same fate… this fate that absolutely wrecked Kyle for the next 5 hours in the bathroom.

My stress hormones? Through the ROOF. Our poor little fetus must have thought I was running from a mass murderer!

Come 2:30 AM, Kyle was completely deflated, defeated, and dehydrated. Food poisoning = 30, Kyle = 0.

My only thought: I’ve got to get him to the hospital. That, or have him worse off tomorrow from extreme dehydration! 

We all know that no man wants to go to the hospital, but my sales pitch got the better of him. Just like it did when he had appendicitis (thank goodness). So, I got the giant into the car, and drove like batman. I may or may not have run a few red lights, but hey, it was good practice for when I go into labor.

7 hours, 4 IV drips, and a bit of sleep later, Kyle felt slightly better. His team doctor came in the room and told us that Kyle probably got the infectious diarrhea that some of his teammates also had in the past 1 – 2 days.

Great. Really?? Does this mean I’m going to get it? 

“Probably,” Doc said in his German accent, “It’s very often that those in the same household get the same thing within 1 – 3 days.”

And… will it affect the baby? 

“Yes, because when the mother gets sick, the baby also gets sick. But, it’s not a serious threat to the baby.”

Cue the song, “Eye of the Tiger.” There was no way I was going down without a fight!

As soon as we got back from the hospital, I loaded up on these 5 fast-acting, natural immunity boosters, and baby and I are still winning five days later and counting (knock on wood)…

As for Kyle, who was already sick, these are some natural things we did to get him feeling better sooner than later. After all, it happens, and antibiotics for viral infections not only don’t work, but they suppress the immune system even more.

Oh, and eating the chocolate, pretzels, and Coke (“Regular, not diet”) that, ahem – a healthcare practitioner recommended – is most definitely not what Kyle or anyone needs when their immune system is depressed! P.S. Kyle did end up getting the infectious team thing going around just one day after having his bout of food poisoning. How’s that for kicking a man while he’s down? :)

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1. Eat the “BRAB Diet.” Not the “BRAT Diet.” 

The typical BRAT prescribed =
Bananas
Rice
Applesauce
Toast.

Toast is not a food that is going to help with healing, and may increase further inflammation.

Instead, stick to the BRAB diet =
Bananas
Rice (Choose organic rice when possible to eliminate exposure to arsenic. Ick.)
Applesauce (unsweetened & organic like this, if possible)
BONE STOCK.

Ah, behold the magical bone stock, amazing for SO many reasons!

Homemade chicken soup using homemade chicken stock!

Homemade chicken soup using homemade chicken stock!

A) It’s hydrating. Fluids are crucial for the immune system during sickness, as they aid in detoxification and elimination of the bad guys.

B) It’s loaded with glycosaminoglycansbiomolecules of collagen. As Dr. Cate in Deep Nutrition writes,

“Even more amazing, glucosamine [a member of the glycosaminoglycans] can actually stimulate the growth of new, healthy collagen and help repair damaged joints. And collagen isn’t just in your joints; it’s in bone, and skin, and arteries, and hair, and just about everywhere in between” (Shanahan, 2009).

And when sick, the body needs all the help it can with repairs and healing.

C) It’s healing for the gut. Not only that, but bone stock helps heal the gut because it’s loaded with minerals and gelatin! See my recent post here about gelatin and its gut healing properties!

D) It’s muscle protein-sparing. With amino acids arginine and glycine, “…it acts as a protein sparer, allowing the body to more fully utilize the complete proteins that are taken in” (Fallon & Enig, 2001). Therefore, drinking bone broth can help mitigate the effects of not eating much while sick, and the resulting muscle protein breakdown.

For homemade bone stock recipes, check here and here.

2. Hydrate. 

Though an obvious one, it’s crucial to stay on top of replacing lost fluids. One of the first things the doctor told Kyle was:

“It’s very good that you got IV fluids right away, because it will speed the healing process. Dehydration causes the body to have to work harder to repair itself.”

When his stomach was especially sensitive, Kyle drank this ginger tea that we had leftover from our travels to Germany, too. Peppermint tea is also soothing for stomach and digestive distress.

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3.  A good multivitamin. 

Now is the time for bringing in the vitamin and mineral reserves, especially powerful antioxidants like selenium and zinc, which are crucial for immune support. Most conventional multivitamins are derived in a lab and unrecognizable by the body. Choose a supplement derived from natural ingredients; for example, this one.

4. These 5 things from my post HERE

Just as these things help boost immunity to prevent sickness, they aid in a quicker recovery. These were very helpful to Kyle – especially #4 (and #5). After all, the gut comprises 70% of the immune system, so populating it with good bugs helps immensely!

Hopefully, you – and we – are much better off the rest of this flu season! I can tell you one thing we’ve learned: “When in doubt, throw it out”… In fact, just this morning, we regrettably had to throw away some salmon and beef that we had purchased because our fridge wasn’t shut properly the whole night. Hey, it’s better than the outcome of the story I just told you, right!?

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Your turn! What other natural ways do you boost your immune system when sick?

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References

Fallon, Sally & Enig, Mary. (2001). Nourishing Traditions. Washington, DC: NewTrends Publishing, Inc.

Shanahan, Cate & Shanahan, Luke. (2009). Deep Nutrition: Why your genes need traditional food. Big Box Books: Lawai, HI.

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5 responses on “Flu Season 101: Tips to Naturally Treat the Flu

  1. All great tips – another good antiviral is monolaurin which is derived from coconut. The most well known brand is Lauricidin. But you can’t beat chicken soup!

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