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Avian influenza, or the bird flu, was discovered in China in 1996. It is currently spreading like wildfire across Europe, Africa, and Asia leaving tens of millions of slaughtered poultry behind. Though rare in humans at this time, those contracting the bird flu have a survival rate of only about 50%. Experts fear that this virulent avian influenza strain will eventually mutate and acquire the ability to pass easily between people. When this happens, an influenza pandemic could annihilate millions of people as happened in the past.
The Spanish Flu Pandemic, of 1918, was an unusually deadly strain of avian influenza that killed millions of people (estimates range from 20 to 100 million worldwide). It is believed to have been one of the most deadly pandemics in human history, possibly even surpassing the Black Plague. The bird flu is expected to reach America before the end of the year. Are we prepared? There is no vaccine available at this time.
The good news is that any virus must first get past our body's homeland security- - the immune system. The immune system is our body's first line of defense against viral invaders, but it can't do its job without the proper military hardware.
Here is what your immune system needs:
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables contain more of what your immune system needs than any other food. You should be getting 9+ servings a day (a serving is about half a cup). Go for a wide variety, in a rainbow of colors. Fresh? Frozen? Canned? Raw? Cooked? The best choice is to eat what you enjoy.
Vitamins and minerals are important to the immune system, particularly the antioxidants. Taking supplements might help, but can also be risky business. Some vitamins can attain toxic levels in the body if taken in excess or for a prolonged period of time. Iron supplements can actually depress the immune system. This is a subject to discuss with your doctor.
Now is the time to avoid the things you know are bad for your health. Alcohol, drugs, and tobacco smoke are obvious villains to avoid. Sugar is one of the worst enemies of the immune system so pass up pop, candy, and other junk or processed foods. You need a high fiber diet, so stay away from products made with white flour or soy.
Good nutrition is important, but the immune system also needs a healthy mind and body. You need moderate, though not stressful, exercise. Mental exercise is helpful too. Social activity is good for the immune system, so learn how to enjoy family and friends. Rest is essential; get 7-9 hours sleep nightly. Water is vital, so drink at least 8-12 cups daily. Love, laugh, and live.
John Ritter has written a free online encyclopedia concerning herbs and other healing foods used in nutritional healing and disease prevention.