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Flu/ Influenza/ Viruses



DEFINITION

The influenza virus is a spherical capsule, consisting of eight single-stranded RNA segments, causing the common illness known as the flu when they infect the respiratory tract. There are three main types of influenza: Types A, B, and C, with Type A being the deadliest, causing pandemics. Although there are flu vaccines that help boost your immune system and create fighting antibodies against the influenza, there is no cure since there are thousands of influenza subtypes requiring different types of antigens. Different influenza viruses emerge each season and have the capability to infect people and spread efficiently between them.


DISEASE MECHANISM

An influenza pandemic is caused when a new and very different influenza A virus emerges that both infects people and has the ability to spread efficiently between people. Influenza type C infections generally cause mild illness and are not thought to cause human flu epidemics. Influenza D viruses primarily affect cattle and are not known to infect or cause illness in people. Type A Influenza infects people, pigs, birds, horses, seals, whales and other animals. Type B only occurs in humans, and can cause epidemics but not pandemics. The virus is most commonly spread in liquid droplets made airborne by coughing or sneezing. Viruses invade the respiratory tract through nose, throat, and lungs, and can spread to other parts of the body such as the stomach and other muscles. Types A and B are further characterized into genetic variants called “strains.” The most common strains in circulation are the H1N1, H1N2, and H3N2 subtypes, and new strains are constantly evolving and take the place of older ones. While your body may have built up resistance against one strain, it may not be able to fend off its replacement. People with increased risk (factors): old age, weakened immune system, chronic illnesses, obesity, pregnancy. Flu vaccines have the ability to protect patients from Influenza types A and B. The flu season is typically during the colder seasons since viruses are able to survive longer outside due to the less humid environment.


NUTRACEUTICAL CURING MECHANISM

  • Since good nutrition helps your body fight the virus due to supporting the immune system, a lot of foods that you intake can help cure the flu. 

  • Eating lots of foods containing Vitamins B6 (such as lean turkey and beans) and B12 strengthen the immune system. For Vitamin B6, any level greater than 100 mg is considered toxic, and with Vitamin B12, high levels are over 900 ng/mL. If any of these vitamins are taken past the toxic level, drinking liters of water to bring the concentration down to the recommended concentration is necessary.

  • Broths such as chicken soup help combat inflammation, reducing inflammatory responses in the body (add ginger to relieve digestive problems) , and protein-rich foods such as beans, nuts, meats, and poultry contain B6. 

  • Flavonoids, which contain 4000 compounds responsible for colors in fruits and flowers,  are found in the soft white skin of citrus fruits  like grapefruit, oranges, lemons, and limes may boost your immune system. Many other fruits have anti-inflammatory properties too. 

  • Antioxidants such as glutathione (found in kale, collard greens, and watermelon) help fight off infections. In addition, when intaking antioxidants, it is important to not go over the recommended limit, since it could put the patient at an increased risk of cancer. Cancer cells’ survival can be aided by antioxidants that protect these cells from free radicals. (Diets should be consulted with a doctor since levels vary for everyone.) 

  • Bland foods are a large part of the recommended diet, and eating yogurt (although a lactaid product) can also be beneficial since they contain protein and live bacteria that can help your body fight off the flu. 

  • Foods containing Vitamin C and folic acid support the immune system, such as sweet or hot peppers of any color, oranges, grapefruit, kiwi, and their respective juices. However, it is important that high levels of Vitamin C could be considered toxic and lead to adverse side effects such as bloating, mouth ulcers, diarrhea, and gas. The recommended daily intake of Vitamin C is 65-90 mg, with a high upper limit of 2000 mg. 

  • It has been researched that the special mineral zinc, contained in high amounts in foods such as oysters, beef, pork chops, and pumpkin seeds, since zinc helps keep viruses from attaching to cells and helps prevent them from replicating. 

  • Paired with foods high in Vitamin A such as sweet potatoes would eradicate the flu virus since it contains immune chemicals that are part of the response to fighting an infection.  

  • Additionally, foods such as raw garlic and onions are potent viral and bacterial agents that can destroy the flu virus before it can transform into a full-blown virus in the body.

  • Drinking warm or hot honey green tea would inhibit viral infections. 

  • Using steam and humidifiers also help in killing the flu virus, since it artificially raises the body temperature, helping germ-killing proteins in your body get to where they are most needed quickly, activating your immune system. 

  • Intaking fluids and drinking a lot of water also helps the flu, since it can relieve congestion; if your sinuses drain faster, you won’t get all dried out and an infection is less likely to occur.

  • Saline sprays or gargling with salt water can also help remove parts of the virus from your nasal cavity (salt can neutralize or inactivate different strains of the flu) since it boosts cells’ antiviral defense. 


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