Recovering From the Flu

The flu hit me hard about a day after my Feeling Destructive post. My guess is the poor mood I exhibited in that post was probably because I was already coming down with something, but didn’t realize it yet. The fever went away in a few days, but I still have a lingering cough and lack of energy.


Photo by wallsdontlie

One of the common topics on this site going back to 2007 is how to build super immunity to fight off illness. Although I’d love to think I’ve learned a lot and that my immune system is so much stronger, I may have been deluding myself. There are so many confident posts in the archive where I wrote about how invincible I had become.

I followed my own advice in this 2011 post and yet here I am sick.

There is probably no way to quantify how much better my immune system today is than it was in 2007. And maybe it isn’t. When I revisited health and nutrition, I was inspired by Art De Vany who claimed to never sick and that was because of the health choices he had made. For a while, I thought I too had found the enlightened path of never getting sick, but with enough time and data, that turned out not to be true.

Is it genetics, the food we eat, luck or some combination? How much is even in our control?


Add yours

  1. I wouldn’t give up – could be you just found a really good (or is that bad?) bug!

    I think the key is keeping your core temp up at 98.6F… which means doing everything you said in your 2011 post – plus eating ENOUGH good food, and not overdoing the exercise. There have been a few studies that show certain viruses multiply at temps under 98.5, but not at higher temps… thus the benefits of a fever!

    Since I upped my core to 98.6F, I haven’t been sick (not even allergies!) – but we’re only on month 11 of that journey… after the bad eating around the holidays and now trying to lose weight… my temps are starting to drop… which is a very bad sign…

    Hope you feel better soon!!

  2. “Rarely” getting sick is impressive enough.

    Thinking that one “never” gets sick is expecting too much, and sets you up for failure.

    Heal up!

  3. I watched a PBS documentary years ago that was filmed in U.K.. Volunteers were having various viruses (common cold and flu) introduced into their system via nasal spray and were then monitored for twelve weeks to find out how long each person took to overcome the virus, which symptoms were worse in which patients, and other markers. One woman volunteered and no matter which variety of virus they introduced to her, she never got sick. After three weeks it was decided that rather than dismiss her from the study, they would (with her permission) study her lifestyle, (work, eating habits, etc.). She was in her mid thirties, maybe carrying an extra ten pounds, worked part time, married and had two kids. She ate basic foods in England, was constantly running her kids to and from school and soccer practices. Preparing the meals for the family, doing her own job as well. She was always laughing and smiling and she told the doctors in the study that she rarely is sick and really doesn’t have time to be sick with all she is responsible for. She said she really loves her life, and though at times she feels a bit overwhelmed, she is always thankful for what she has. Watching this woman made me smile. She had such a positive perspective on even the most dreary of duties. At the end of the study, no appreciable pre study differences (blood work, age, sex, health, etc.) could be noted between the woman who couldn’t get sick and the other volunteers. The doctors could only assume that her always positive mental attitude had a major part in her being immune.

  4. My own experience with colds/infections in 2014, after getting sick for the second time I started researching how to prevent the cold/sinus infection from getting worse. I read about Lugol’s iodine 5% is effective in building immune system and also able to curb a cold once its started. Our extended family has young children and there are always runny noses, etc. As an experiment I put myself on a drop of Lugols in glass of water, twice a day for 5 days (I felt the cold/sinus infection improve within 24 hours). I then stopped for a few days then cut back to once a day or every second day as a maintenance dose. Now whoever I feel a cold or sore throat coming on, I give myself and partner a drop of Lugols iodine in glass of water, it definitely builds one’s immune system. The other thing I find helps is echinacea tincture (15-20 drops) in a little water when sick and (10-15 drops) in water every other day if you have been out an exposed to people who are sick. I think its easy to catch colds when the seasons change so that’s the time to give your body extra support. The other supplements which I find can help Vitamin C and zinc, for both prevention or recovery. Hot water, lemon and honey (and shot of brandy) or hot water, honey and apple cider vinegar, all good for sore throats and infections. Good luck in a speedy recovery, being ill is not fun.

  5. Part of the health & fitness continuum is about your ability to bounce back.

  6. I think next to nutrition and exercise, strong social relationships is really important. But I guess thanks to modernity the latter is not always under our control. What do you think? It make sense to me because in a tribe setting you would need strong social relationships to survive. I’m reminded of some movie they made about a guy who went off into nature, after years of adventures on his own he said something like its not worth anything if you don’t have somebody to share it with.

  7. I know this is tedious to hear from me, but mindfulness practice boosts the immune system. More info. in the popular media:

  8. I had been complitely immune to seasonal flues and general infections since 2007, when I adapted a low-carbohydrate diet. However, this current flu took me down. I have to add it happened in two days after I ate a sugary desert at a restaurant which I normally don’t do, ans I was overexercising during previous month.

  9. @Tina – part of the frustration this time is my temps are up, sleep is good and I wasn’t over-exercising.

    @JM – My ability to bounce back seemed greater until this time.

    @James + @Gokham + @Glenn – I think you are onto something. This hit me after coming down from my 2 week trip to Seattle. This *might* be the topic of my next post.

    @Galina – My guess is the combination of over exercising and low carb is more stressful than any sugary desert.

  10. Another thought, my partner always gets sick when the pressure is off after a busy season at work. It seems as soon as he takes a few days off and really relaxes and lets go, his body kinda catches up with him and he comes down with something. I wonder if the timing of getting colds and infections has anything to do with this. Ie when the pressure is on you and you have to be more resilient mentally you refuse to get sick, but when you take time out and can afford to, your body buckles and its an ok time for being sick, which is also a way of getting total rest and letting go.

  11. Well, if you were still quantifying yourself, you could have compared:

    1) frequency of illnesses
    2) length of illnesses
    3) severity of illnesses

    and seen whether your immune system was doing a better job or not after your interventions.

    Of course, that way lies madness, which you’ve already discovered!

  12. testing — every time this post comes up, it shows 0 comments. Then when I click on the comments, it shows that 10 comments have already been posted. Plus, it ate my last comment. Wonder if this one will get thru.

  13. @Pauline – That sounds like what happened to me.

    @Garymar – I see your 5:17 AM comment. The 0 comments sounds like a caching issue. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I will investigate.

  14. Nobody has mentioned the basics: wash your hands frequently; especially after shaking other people’s hands, or being out in public. And don’t put your possibly infected fingers in your eyes, nose, mouth….something a lot of people do unthinkingly.

  15. Yes, I agree about washing hands, I read a doctor’s comment on a webpage last year saying after seeing people every day she washed her hands after each meeting, and if I go out and mingle with people, when I come back I wash my hands. I then take that dose of echinacea if I need to. I am sure that has helped to keep colds/flu at bay too.

  16. Great post MAS:
    Now that my schedule is more relaxed (I work from home), I can take the time to monitor my health and “catch” very early warning signs, such as a very minor sore throat. I then nip it in the bud with extra rest, broth, gargling with salt and lemon, etc. Previously, with a hectic schedule, I never noticed anything until I was full on sick.

    Also, FYI, I’ve noticed some caching issues also. (I need to refresh to get the latest post, comments number not accurate)(Not happening with other sites)(Using Chrome).

  17. @All – I have been thinking about where I could have picked up the sickness and came to the conclusion it was from the steam room at a Glitter Gym. Those were the only people I was in contact with the day before the sickness ht.

    This sickness came on fast.

    I still have a lingering cough and tiredness (2 weeks later).

  18. Hi MAS, sounds like we are in the same boat. I’ve been sick since the new year with a cold and am down to a lingering cough that refuses to go away. I have a question: the common advice given when we have a flu is to “drink lots of water”. But wouldn’t that contradict with the idea of keeping body temp high? I have to confess though I did up my water intake during the flu and I think it helped somewhat to flush out toxins from my body.

    I have always taken some pride in my immune system and am only down with colds/flu once a year on average. So it kinda sucks when 2015 begins on such a note!

    Hope your cough goes away soon!

  19. @RetailTrader – Yes, I doubt the “drink lots of water” advice. The one day I did that I had terrible sleep, as I kept waking up to pee. Perhaps the best approach is to front load the water intake early in the day.

  20. HAND 2 MOUTH. My guess is that the reason you got sick wasn’t the not washing as much as eating with unclean hands. All to easy to forget to wash your hands before eating snacks and such.

  21. Hi MAS, thought I’d let you know, that this “Recovering” post is the latest one showing whenever I open up on this desktop running Firefox. Plus, “leave a comment” shows, and when I click on it, the actual 20+ comments finally appear.

    On my Android, dont have this problem, all the posts after the Recovery post show with the proper number of comments listed.

  22. @garymar – Thank you. I just submitted a support ticket. I am using a custom cache tool provided by my host.

  23. For some reason this is the first visit where I can see posts more recent than “feeling destructive”. This happened once before, too. Confused.

    Anyways, there’s a theory that getting sick now and again is a sign of a healthy immune system. People in the throes of an eating disorder rarely get sick, then start to get sick quite often during and after recovery. Your immune system needs to pick up bugs now and again to stay current – like updating an operating system, perhaps. Better a little sick now and again than getting hit hard by something down the road and being totally unprepared.

  24. @Anemone – It was a caching problem. In my eagerness to make the page draws faster, I went too far. All should be well now.

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