Healthy Beginnings

Flu fighters: Embrace the power of plant-based foods to keep your body infection-free

According to research, green tea has demonstrated that it can reduce occurrence of the flu.

As winter approaches, we are threatened once again by the notorious influenza infection — or, as we call it, “the flu.”

It is a contagious viral infection that sets up camp in our nose, throat or lungs and spreads via respiratory secretions. This can cause a wide range of “flu-like” symptoms, some of them mild to moderate in nature.

For those who have a low immune system, however, the flu can become very serious indeed and can even lead to death.

Since 2010, in relation to the nationwide trend of affectation, the population has been increasing in terms of cases (2 million to 35.6 million), hospitalizations (140,000 to 710,000), and deaths (12,000 to 56,000), all related to influenza. It usually occurs from the months of October to May.

The usual recommended prevention, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is in the form of the flu vaccine.

As we all know, it does not assure complete protection, for the contents of this vaccine only cover the most common strains for the season.

It also does not protect from the other deadly viruses that we can acquire during this timeframe, such as rhinoviruses and respiratory syncytial viruses, which can lead to severe respiratory illness.

To top it all off, common side effects once a flu shot is administered are fever, muscle aches, nausea, headaches and sometimes-severe complications such as Guillain–Barré syndrome (ascending paralysis) and severe allergic reactions.

Oftentimes, antibiotics are misused by practitioners, who think a bacterial infection might be at work. This can lead to drug resistance and the damaging of our normal gut flora.

So, what can we do if these so-called “treatments” might demand such a high price from our health in the end? It is time we now go to the power of plant-based food!

Why look to drugs and “guesswork” vaccines for keeping the body infection free? Let us utilize the natural tools in our food to pave the way to excellent health. Let me further illustrate:

  1. In general, increased consumption of fruits and vegetables will minimize the complications from influenza, as well as lower the incidence of flu-related hospitalizations, according to a 2012 article in the journal “Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses.”
  2. Green tea has demonstrated that it reduces the occurrence of the flu by three times in studies done on health care workers. Gargling green tea lowers the incidence of the flu 7 to 8 times, versus using only water in nursing home residents. Matching it head to head with coffee, green tea offers a 15-time increase in boosting the immune system with the intake of at least 6 cups a day, compared to coffee which has no effect (per the “BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine” journal, 2010).
  3. The power of the gold kiwi fruit lowers the severity and duration of congestion and sore throat down to one day for the elderly. For preschoolers, the chance of getting the flu is reduced by 50 percent, and will improve symptoms if they already have it, according to a 2011 article in “The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society.”
  4. Wakame seaweed, the one used in seaweed salads, boosts antibody and immune cell production for better virus protection. It even enhances the production of antibodies after receiving the flu vaccine (if you choose to get it), if taken one month prior to vaccination (“The Journal of Nutrition,” 2013).
  5. Bakers’, brewers’ or nutritional yeast has beta glucans that stimulate the immune system. Once ingested, it is actually recognized as a foreign invader, which in turn revs up and primes the immune system to kill incoming infections (including the flu). It has been noted that the chance of catching a cold or infection is lowered by 25 percent. A teaspoon a day is enough to achieve this effect. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect as an extra bonus (per a 2013 study).

At Bio Integrative Health Center International, we encourage natural ways of treating and preventing infections this coming flu season.

By not using antibiotics as our first line of defense, we are steering clear from the adverse effects that they bring. Instead, turn to natural approaches such as herbal remedies, vitamin/mineral supplementation, homeopathy, dietary assistance and IV treatments such as bio oxidative therapies to stun any infection on its feet.

Don’t let “the flu” ruin the holiday season and debilitate us as we lay in bed. Instead, beat it the natural way, or even prevent it altogether, so we can cherish more precious moments with our families and friends during the coming holiday season.

Melvin Ibarra Nario, M.D., H.M.D., is among the physicians who work at Bio Integrative Health Center International in Reno. Visit or call 775-827-6696 to learn more.