Tips for Avoiding the Stomach Flu (Norovirus)

It seems almost everyone has been hit with the nasty stomach bug that is spreading rapidly. As I’ve said many times before, we don’t get sick because we’re exposed to a virus, we get sick because our body’s immune system is too weak to fight the invader. Maintaining a strong immune system is not as difficult as it sounds. 

Here are my tips for avoiding stomach viruses:

  • Take a strong probiotic (or eat a lot of probiotic foods) daily:  In my experience, people who are taking a Lady on floor with stomach flustrong probiotic are often the only ones untouched by nasty stomach bugs. Why? Because the probiotics support the Peyer’s patches in the digestive tract. Peyer’s patches are responsible for 70% of your overall immunity. Keeping them healthy makes a big difference in how vulnerable you are. I recommend taking a probiotic with at least 30 billion active cultures. There are many conflicting opinions about what makes a “good” probiotic. In reality, there are no “bad” probiotics, some are simply better suited for specific needs. A general probiotic is known to be a powerful immunity booster. I like those made by Now Foods, Renew Life and Trace Minerals.
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  • Take 2000 or more IU of Vitamin D3 daily:  Vitamin D is actually not a vitamin. It is a hormone that is known to have a huge effect on boosting immunity. Some studies found taking 2000 IU of Vitamin D on a daily basis was actually more effective against fighting the flu than a flu shot. For more info on Vitamin D, read 20 Surprising Facts About Vitamin D.
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  • Don’t eat or drink after others:  This seems very logical, but I find many families eat and drink from the same containers without even thinking about it. If someone you love has been affected by the stomach flu, be careful to not eat or drink using the same containers or utensils. Keeping kisses limited to the forehead is also wise.
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  • Wash bedding more frequently:  Studies found that pillows, pillow cases and bedding often harbor fungus that might interfere with the body’s ability to kill off viruses. Washing these items more frequently (at least once a week) may help improve immunity.
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  • Use Hot Water:  The virus responsible for the stomach flu, the norovirus, is not easily killed. Using very hot water when washing clothing can help. It may also help to use your dishwasher set to the highest heat and sanitation level possible. Be aware that the norovirus can live on carpets for several weeks. If someone vomits on the carpet, take time to clean the area well using a very strong cleanser. Many people believe using chlorine bleach is the only way to disinfect surfaces. Using hydrogen peroxide is equally effective without exposing yourself to the poisons in bleach.
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  • Buy a new toothbrush:  Viruses can live on toothbrushes for a very long time. This is why some people find it wise to soak their toothbrushes in a solution of 50% hydrygen peroxide and 50% purified water between uses. If someone in your home becomes ill, it may be time to throw away your old toothbrush and start fresh.
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  • The basics:  Get enough sleep, drink plenty of water, wash your hands frequently, etc. We all know these are important, but the simple things often get ignored. Keep all of your systems functioning at peak performance by taking good care of yourself.
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  • Eliminate sugar and chemical additives from your food:  A single teaspoon of sugar is known to depress immunity for 8-12 hours. Eliminating sugar and eating a clean diet void of chemical additives is a simple way to help your body maintain strong immunity.
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  • Exercise:  There’s no escaping the fact that exercise boosts immunity. You should not exercise while ill, but exercising while you’re healthy may help keep you that way.
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  • Don’t take risks with food:  Food poisoning is obviously not viral, but this time of year many people fall prey to errors in judgment that result in a very upset tummy. Play it safe and don’t take risks. Do not eat foods that are questionable for any reason.
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  • If you get sick, stay home:  This is another factor that seems like a “no brainer,” yet we all know that one co-worker who comes to work when they shouldn’t, or parents who send their kids to school when they shouldn’t. Quarantine yourself from the outside world so that you do not expose your already weakened immune system to other illnesses and to protect others from getting what you have.
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  • Seek medical attention when needed:  If you catch the stomach flu, sip water as much as possible to avoid becoming dehydrated. Sipping on coconut water blended with a bit of sugar is a great way of replenishing electrolytes and maintaining hydration. If you or a person you are caring for becomes extremely lethargic or weak, does not improve after 24 hours, or develops other symptoms, please seek medical attention immediately. Dehydration is a serious issue that may require medical intervention to reverse.

What’s your favorite way to beat winter digestive illnesses?

Photograph courtesy of Evil Erin

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Dr. Pamela Reilly is a Naturopathic Physician dedicated to helping people improve their health and eliminate symptoms using natural, integrative methods. She has over 25 years of experience and has helped men, women and children improve their health using a holistic, client-centered focus. She sees clients in Indianapolis, does house calls, and also conducts consultations via Skype or telephone. Please feel free to contact her or visit her Consultations page for more information. Dr. Pamela speaks nationwide on a wide variety of health topics and welcomes speaking invitations.

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One Response to Tips for Avoiding the Stomach Flu (Norovirus)

  1. Tania says:

    I usually get cold very rarely (lucky I am!), but when it happens, I drink a lot of hot milk with honey. This folk method really works! ALso I stay in bed as long as possible, watch my favourite movies, that make me feel laugh, so that it also helps to cope with the illness.

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