Avoiding a serious case of influenza is not about vaccination but more about maintaining a healthy, well functioning immune system. The flu shot is not something I recommend. They are typically geared toward only a couple of flu virus strains when there are about 200 out there. Statistically, they are not proven to be effective AND can have side effects, some of which are quite serious. By following the simple guidelines below, you can help keep your immune system in optimal working order so that you’re far less likely to acquire the infection to begin with or, if you do get sick with the flu, you are better prepared to move through it without complications and soon return to good health.
- Avoid Sugar and Processed Foods. Sugar impairs your immune response and harms your beneficial intestinal bacteria, feeding the pathogenic yeast and viruses. Be aware that sugar is present in foods you may not suspect, like ketchup and fruit juice, and in forms you typically might dismiss, like high fructose corn syrup and cane juice. If you are healthy then small amounts of sugar might be fine, but absolutely avoid it while you are sick.
- Optimize your vitamin D levels. This is one of the absolute best strategies for avoiding infections of ALL kinds. Due to less sun exposure in Winter, vitamin D deficiency may actually be the true culprit behind the seasonality of the flu – not the flu virus itself. If you are not getting good sun exposure then take an oral vitamin D3 supplement. We have excellent vitamin D supplements here at Live Well Holistic Health Center, both capsule and liquid drops.
- Boost your immune system. Other supplements from our health center that do an excellent job of prevention are our colostrum formula, astragalus with vitamin C formula and camu powder. If you do get the flu, we have excellent supplements for clearing the condition in any of its varied forms.
- Optimize Your Gut Flora. With 75% of your immune system residing in your intestines, this may be the single most important strategy you can implement. The bacteria in your gut have enormous control of your immune response. The best way to improve your beneficial bacteria ratio is to do a mini-candida cleanse pre-season, take a high quality probiotic, avoid sugar and processed foods, and eat a whole foods diet (rich in nutrient-dense foods) such as green leafy vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, avocados, coconut oil and fruits, as well as probiotic rich foods such as sauerkraut. Meats and eggs are fine, but limit milk-based foods.
- Get Plenty of Rest. Just like it becomes harder for you to get your daily tasks done if you’re tired, if your body is overly fatigued it will be harder for it to fight the flu. My advice is to get an extra half-hour of sleep in Autumn and Spring, and an extra hour in Winter.
- Have Effective Tools to Address Stress. We all have some stress every day, but if stress becomes overwhelming then your body will be less able to fight off the flu and other illness. If you feel that stress is taking a toll on your health, consider using our energy psychology tool called ‘NeuroEmotional Technique’ which is remarkably effective in relieving stress associated with all kinds of events, from work to family to trauma. Regular meditation/yoga can be very helpful. I incorporate this technique into new patient visits and also regular/full visits whenever it would be helpful for my patients. Also consider taking ‘adaptagenic’ herbs such as our rhodiola, ashwagandha or Stress Manager formula, all of which we carry in our health center.
- Get Regular Moderate Exercise. When you exercise you increase your circulation and the components of your immune system are better circulated and have a better chance of finding an illness before it spreads. However, it would be wise to reduce the intensity of your workouts as it may deplete you. And be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
- Wash Your Hands Often. Washing your hands will decrease your likelihood of spreading a virus to your nose, mouth or other people. I do not recommend chemical-based sanitizers such as Purell which do far more harm than good. Instead, use a chemical-free sanitizer such as ‘Clean Well’ that utilizes thyme oil to disinfect. In addition to washing your hands regularly, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. If possible, avoid close contact with those who are sick and, if you are sick, avoid close contact with those who are well. And avoid hospitals unless you’re having an emergency and need expert medical care, as hospitals are prime breeding grounds for infections of all kinds. The best place to get plenty of rest and recover from illness that is not life-threatening is usually in the comfort of your own home. Lastly, wear scarves to protect your neck from cold winds.