Eight things to do instead of getting a flu-shot
You can say that I am a believer in building natural immunity. I have learned first-hand how our immune systems can become stronger through the interaction with bugs, viruses and bacteria. An increasing body of research is showing this is true.
CAUTION: I am NOT telling you to not get the flu shot and then do nothing. What I am suggesting that you do is to build an immune system that can actually face the challenges of the “flu season” and come out stronger.
Implementing these over the years has meant that my allergies have gotten better; I almost never get colds, and when I do catch the flu (only a couple of times in the past 7 years), it’s short lived and I bounce back quickly.
The 8 essential immune boosters:
1. Fermented foods and probiotics.
Sauer kraut, yogurt (not pasteurized) and kefir (not pasteurized) are great sources of probiotics. I eat these regularly and I’ve added the fermented apple sauce that I shared with you last week. The bacteria in your gut is your first line of defense. They prevent pathogens from being absorbed and they educate your immune system about what is coming into your body so you can be ready.
2. Fiber (aka. Prebiotics) instead of sugar (bad bacteria food)
Foods with fiber (i.e. green leafy vegetables and fresh fruit) are the best food to boost your healthy intestinal flora; this is what we call “prebiotics.” When you eat a diet with lots of low-Sugar, high-fiber foods, you boost the good guys and starve the bad guys. This increases your overall immune strength and your chances of not getting sick during the winter.
3. Vitamin D
The absence of the sun is the reason why we have a flu season to begin with. Vitamin D is absolutely essential for a strong immune system but it is only naturally produced by our skin as a result of sun exposure.
In the northern hemisphere we are ALL vitamin D deficient if we don’t supplement adequately. And no, your vitamin-D fortified milk is not enough. The best thing to do is to get your vitamin D levels tested. On average adults living in the northern hemisphere, need about 35 IU per lb of body weight per day, especially during the winter months.
NOTE: Vitamin D deficiency is such a problem for immune system strength, that some natural health practitioners are going so far as to say that when it comes to cancer treatment it should be considered medical negligence (and even malpractice) to not test cancer patients’ vitamin D levels. Sadly, few oncologists do test their patients’ vitamin D.
Now you know just how vital optimal vitamin D levels are.
4. Minimizing dairy and sugar (to reduce the body’s creation of a hospitable environment for viruses to thrive)
Dairy and sugar contribute to develop congestion and raise inflammation. These are prime conditions for viruses and bacteria to set up shop in your sinuses, throat, lungs, etc. Needless to say, these are the worst foods to eat while you are sick. As a matter of prevention and treatment, you should minimize these especially during the winter months.
5. Cultivating good sleep
Your body cannot heal if you are sleep deprived and if your adrenals are fatigued from chronic stress. Getting 6-8 hours (each person has different needs) of good-quality sleep in a dark room, with a temperature under 70 degrees, without the stimulation of TV, computer or handheld devices is an absolute must for overall health.
There’s a reason why I choose the word “cultivate” when it applies to sleep. Many people go to sleep when there’s nothing else to do, or when they’re collapsing form exhaustion. Sleep is something valuable to cultivate.
Something as simple as a 30 minute walk can have a great impact on your immune system. Movement reduces inflammation and boosts endorphins. The increased circulation and lymphatic system drainage that exercise generates helps to speed up any detection and neutralization of pathogens.
7. Eat foods with lots of color: dark leafy greens, turmeric and winter squashes.
Your body needs nutrients for every single process and every single healing activity. The deep colors in nature are generally the richest in vitamins and minerals. The classic nutrients you associate with your immune system: vitamin C, vitamin A, Vitamin E, zync, etc. are all present in colorful foods. Turmeric is also a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, which will help to keep you healthy.
8. Stay hydrated
Everything in your body works better when you’re hydrated. Water and herbal teas are the first thing to increase the minute you start to suspect that you’re coming down with something. 100% of all cell communication in your body happens through the presence of water. If you want to be a powerful bug-fighting machine and heal quicker, you must be hydrated.
The importance of regular hygiene:
Practicing simple hygiene habits helps reduce transmission of viruses and bacteria. The basic principles are all you need:
- Wash hands with soap and water regularly
- Sneeze and cough into your elbow or into tissues and toss them
- Use soap and water to clean surfaces, or add alcohol for disinfecting if you are concerned about pathogens.
Do not use regular antibacterial cleaners or hand-sanitizers that contain triclosan (most do). This is a toxic chemical. It’s linked with liver inflammation, it may encourage antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and it also kills good bacteria on your skin and digestive tract that actually help to keep you healthy. Many forward-thinking health practitioners are now advising against antibacterial products.