What You Can Do About the Flu

With the stock market in a strong, counter-trend rally, fear of the flu has replaced concern over financial matters as the top worry of many people. Short-term forecasts about the severity and virulence of the flu are about as likely to be accurate as are short-term forecasts of the direction the stock market will take. Yet, I would not bet against either a dramatic fall in the stock market later this year or a dramatic resurgence of the swine flu this fall or winter. Both are manifestations of the same underlying cause—namely, a shift in the collective social mood.

In his book The Wave Principle of Human Social Behavior, Robert Prechter writes:

The fact is that epidemics and pandemics seem to hit populations during major negative social mood trends. …When we study pandemics of the Dark Ages or the Spanish influenza epidemic that broke out during the bear market of 1917 (which year also saw intense fighting in World War I and the Communist coup in Russia), there always appears to be a bear market in force, and the extent of the epidemic tends to correlate with the size of the setback in mood.

A negative collective social mood—characterized by such feeling as depression, anger, and fear creates the conditions for both falling stock prices and the spread of disease. “But wait,” you might say. “Isn’t disease caused by viruses and bacteria?”  Although there are complex reasons—which no human being can ever fully understand—as to why one individual succumbs to a virus and another individual doesn’t, it would be a mistake to overlook the underlying psychological and spiritual state of the individual. Thus, we come to my first recommendation for protecting yourself from a flu epidemic:

Cultivate feelings of love, gratitude, happiness, and forgiveness. Tragically, most human beings hold the mistaken belief that these feelings are generated from sources outside of themselves—people, places and circumstances. Instead, these feelings are generated from a choice we make deep inside ourselves. During periods of negative social mood, our egos give us plenty of reasons why we should be angry, ungrateful, unhappy, and unforgiving. If we choose to follow the advice of our ego, bad feelings will drown out good feelings. It is up to each of us to turn away from our egocentric thinking and make a different choice.

Expose yourself to the Sun in order to increase your intake of Vitamin D. I am not recommending sunbathing on the beach, but I am recommending activities such as walking, hiking, running, and gardening. During these activities you can expose your skin to moderate amounts of sunlight without the use of sunscreen. Many Americans living in northern climates are deficient in Vitamin D, and Vitamin D is an important component of a healthy immunological system. See for instance Epidemic Influenza and Vitamin D

This summer, stop yourself from guzzling soft drinks and eating copious amount of ice cream. The summer months bring huge increases in the consumption of soft drinks and ice cream, both of which contain huge amounts of sugar and corn sweeteners. Sugar weakens the immunological system and will make you more vulnerable to illness in the colder months. See here for instance. Do not underestimate how much sugar you are consuming. For instance, there are over 16 teaspoons of sugar in one 20 oz bottle of Coke. Learn to enjoy water instead of sweetened drinks.

Incorporate into your diet common, culinary herbs and roots, such as ginger, garlic, turmeric, sage, thyme, that have medicinal properties. These ingredients have important antiviral and antibacterial compounds. Buy organic when possible. Much of the non-organic garlic and ginger is from China and is contaminated. See here.

In matters of health, bailouts—in this case, flu vaccines and Tamiflu—may have their place for some. But, prevention is cheaper, safer, and far more reliable. It is far better to be proactive today then to panic about the flu at some future date. Americans who don’t take their own measures now will be forced to rely upon whatever dubious measures the government recommends down the road.

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4 Responses to What You Can Do About the Flu

  1. PT says:

    Great advice Barry. Ice cream is a tough one. Funny how we spend so much money to subsiize crops like corn for HFCS, sugar cane, and many others when it’s so bad for us. Finding a way internally to keep a positive outlook is also an important but hard one at least for me. I took heart watching Michael J. Fox’s show last night (Adventures of an Incurable Optimist) especially in the research he featured about genetics and positive attitude. Bottom line seems to be that some of us have a head start in staying positive but that we can all learn how to do so if we keep at it.

  2. PT,

    The corn lobby is very powerful and its effects on our health are up and down the food chain. Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma is excellent.

    The spiritual journey is work for us all. Everyone has an ego that is quite convincing in its guidance. Our work is really one of subtraction–as we learn to ignore the ego’s bad advice–what we really are naturally bubbles up.

  3. Heather says:

    Barry,

    Great advice on using prevention to keep everyone healthy. Many do not regard flu (influenza) as a serious health risk however it should be noted that 36,000 individuals a year die from complications from flu which include pneumonia and dehydration. http://cdc.gov/flu/

    And while many of our population 18 to 50 are healthy and do not consider themselves at risk for the flu what they fail to realize is that they could potentially carry the virus and infect those that are vulnerable ~ the very young (like a sibling, child or student) and the very old (like a grandparent, aging relative or neighbor).

    As you suggest that “collective social mood… creates the conditions” for what is experienced in society, I would have to agree in order to prevent a flu pandemic/epidemic individuals must cultivate feelings of love, gratitude, happiness, and forgiveness.
    It is through the feelings of mutual respect and adoration that individuals will be able to protect their friends and families because they will take proactive measures to reduce the threat of illness whether it is the seasonal flu or fighting the current H1N1 virus for out of sheer love for mankind.

    It is out of love that individuals will be willing to do the following:

    1. Get the flu (influenza) shot (immunization), you can begin finding clinics as early as September. Be the first in line to keep our babies healthy ~ give them a chance for the future while keeping our elders safe ~ allow them to continue to provide the wisdom we need to function as a whole and move society forward.

    2. Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands. 20 seconds to the tune of Happy Birthday twice is all that it takes. If soap and water is unavailable please use alcohol based hand sanitizer.

    3. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough with a tissue and throw the tissue away after use. If a tissue is unavailable then use the inside of your elbow to cough into rather than into your hands.

    4. Stay home from work/school/church or other public places when you are sick and seek treatment from a healthcare professional as soon as possible. The flu usually includes a high temperature fever with chills, with aches, pains, dry cough and extreme tiredness. There are medications that can help treat the flu called Anti-virals. Can’t tell if it is the cold or flu then use this resource to help tell the difference at http://www3.niaid.nih.gov/topics/Flu/PDF/sick.pdf.

    5. Avoid close contact with others that are sick. If you cannot avoid contact due to caretaking please ensure hands are washed after every encounter and do your part to stay healthy.

    6. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth as this is how the flu is transmitted (through respiratory droplets).

    7. Practice health habits – get plenty of sleep, eat nutritious meals, exercise and be accountable for your medical care.

  4. Heather,

    I appreciate your helpful comments. I would though disagree with your blanket recommendation to get a flu shot. It is important to realize that there are medical professionals who disagree with that recommendation. See for instance: http://www.lewrockwell.com/miller/miller27.html. There is no substitute for an individual assessing their own risks/rewards. This fall it will take a strong individual to do just that for the media will warn of us dire consequences if we don’t take our shot.

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