H1N1 (Swine Flu): Tracking The Flu With Google & Will A Good Diet Keep You From Getting H1N1?
TRACKING H1N1: GOOGLE FLU TRENDS GO GLOBAL
Google has announced that it was expanding its flu trends program to 16 more countries, bringing the total to 20. Google first released the program last November after noticing a geographical correlation between online flu searches and disease hotspots. The program was said to be especially helpful in Mexico following the emergence of the new H1N1 swine flu there last spring.
The first shipments of H1N1 vaccines are arriving in the U.S. and other nations, too, but whether enough people will get vaccinated is anybody’s guess–even Google analytics aren’t equipped to tackle that one.
A GOOD DIET HELPS BUT IT WON’T MAKE YOU IMMUNE TO THE FLU
As we hear of increasing cases and outbreaks of H1N1 we are all looking for ways to stay healthy…our most popular blog topics are on family health and topics such as Vitamin D. So can your diet help? Good question! Wouldn’t it be great if consuming certain foods or particular nutrients helps your body protect itself from getting sick, no matter what nasty bugs come by? Alas it is not so simple. If fending off infections were as easy as gorging on blueberries (for the antioxidants) or gobbling yogurt (for its helpful bacteria), many of us would totally avoid this H1N1 thing!
Science has proven that when the body is deficient, you’re susceptible to infection. Unfortunately science hasn’t done a good job of identifying nutrients that boost immunity. Some dieticians believe that rather than eating certain foods, you should eat on a regular basis or schedule. Every time you eat something, you’re asking the immune system to respond to what you put in your mouth. The idea is to “keep the immune system busy” so it’s ready to leap into action when you need it most. One thing that seems to help is eating protein which encourages the body to “generate antibodies used by the immune system.” So perhaps people who are grazers do better in the immune race?
And of course, good hygiene is far more important to fending off a virus than eating certain foods. In other words, you can’t drink a glass of orange juice before school and say, ‘Now I don’t have to wash my hands!”
Suggestions on the types of foods to have in your diet include:
- “Quick, small combinations” of a variety of useful foods: “Have some whole-grain bread with vegetables and low-fat cheese, add some cucumbers, tomatoes, mushrooms, cabbage or red pepper, and it’s easy to get all the building blocks.”
- Be leery of immunity-boosting claims of the latest super-foods, be they almonds or blueberries, pomegranates or strawberries. They’re generally backed by trade groups, she says, whose focus is narrow — and self-serving.
- Contrary to the grazing theory, some research has shown that a severely restricted diet improves immune function in obese rats. In another, mice that consumed a high-fat, high-sugar diet saw that function reduced. Those findings, if replicated in humans, could provide yet another reason to lose weight and eat less junk food.
There are many nutrients that play a role in good health such as antioxidants Vitamin E and Vitamin C, the minerals selenium and zinc, Vitamin D and fish oils containing omega-3 fatty acids. However there is no clear research that says that eating lots of them will necessarily boost your immune system. Look at areas where you might be already deficient such as omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish oils, they help protect against inflammation, which is closely linked to immune response) or Vitamin D (in which recent research has shown most people are deficient) and add foods (or supplements) to your life that deal with those deficiencies.
Lastly, remember what your mom said about rest…getting a good nights rest is essential for a strong immune response. Bon Appetit and nite-nite!