The fright of the flu is running rampant these days. People are scared! When I see fear I think of the two ways we can approach any situation in life: fear or love. I want to choose the latter so that makes me think about what I can control and what I can’t. As a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) I know there are two things to consider when talking about getting sick: (1) exposure and (2) the immune system. It’s my hope that focusing on these strategies will inspire action toward self care and help enhance our immune systems during cold and flu season and beyond.
With exposure, there’s a few common recommendations that we have heard before such as: wash your hands, cover your mouth with your elbow when coughing or sneezing (to avoid contaminating hands) and stay home from work/school if you are sick. These common recommendations serve as helpful reminders. Beyond this, being exposed to a virus is mostly out of our control. We do what we can to stay clean and avoid contact but we can’t control people around you and who knows who might sneeze in line at the bank or the grocery store. Furthermore, another good reminder is the flu is a virus, not a bacterial infection so you can’t treat the flu with antibiotics.
That leaves us looking at the immune system. It’s the area where we have the most control and can make the biggest impact. How do we keep a strong and healthy immune system? Here are a few tips to practice year round and to especially remember during cold and flu season.
* Balance Digestion — Look out for imbalances like gas, bloating or heart burn. These are a sign that something is out of whack and the body needs support. Since some 80% of the immune system is in the gut, support strong gut health (especially during sick season). Strengthen your gut health by taking a quality probiotic and eating green veggies (prebiotics). Even if you purify them and add them into other foods — just get them in there — your immune system is counting on you! If you’re already on probiotics, then you may want to consider fermented foods like homemade sauerkraut, here’s a recipe.
* Strengthen Defenses — Get rested and manage stress. Don’t let “lack of time” be your excuse for lack of sleep. Sleep is one of the most undervalued necessities for health in our society. It’s restorative, detoxifying and a critical part of a strong immune system. Do what you can to prioritize your rest and ask your family and friends to support you in your goals around getting a good night’s sleep. You have an alarm to wake up, consider an alarm for getting in bed at night. As for stress, it’s unavoidable. Stress happens! That should be on a t-shirt… maybe it is. Regardless, the only thing we can do is to learn coping skills for how to manage it. Take deep breaths, take a walk, write, count to 10, find a strategy that works for you and use it. Stress can be an absolute killer so find or fine tune your stress-coping strategies.
* Remove Stressors — That means cutting the sugar out, folks! Sugar is an inflammatory food. You don’t want to be inflaming your body so the immune system is working on anti-inflaming when it should be focused on invaders! As Dr. Mercola states, “Sugar is “fertilizer” for pathogenic bacteria, yeast, and fungi that can set your immune system up for an easy assault…” (Mercola, 2014). Cut out all the sugar and give your body a break once in awhile. And when I say “sugar” I don’t just mean the white stuff. The body reacts in the same way to all 257 (at last count) types of sugar out on the market today. That spike in insulin isn’t doing your body good. To stay well, monitor your sugar intake. Unsure how to cut sugar? Just ask me, I’m here to help!
* Quality Supplementation — Supplements are just that, they supplement what we aren’t getting in our bodies through our food or body processes anymore. The conditions of our food and environment just aren’t what they used to be so we have supplements to help us get what our bodies are missing and bring us back into balance. The trick is, to ensure they are high-quality brands. Do your research and feel good about the investment in your health! If I do get a bug, there are a few supplements I make sure I always have on hand. This is a list of ingredients I look for rather than product list: emulsified oregano oil, probiotics, colloidal silver, Vitamin C, NAC, Zinc and some homeopathic mixes that include black cherry bark, garlic bulb and echinacea to name a few. If you’re interested in checking to see if you are taking good, quality supplements let’s chat! I can do a review for you and recommend some quality brands to consider.
* Supportive Foods — When I’m sick my body craves oranges. No, I’m not talking about orange juice. I’m talking about real, whole oranges with antioxidant-filled bioflavonoids in the pith (white part). I also have a remedy I loosely refer to as “tea.” The ingredients here work together to pack a powerful punch, helping to knock out a cold or sore throat. I usually improvise on the portions but basically I heat up a cup of warm water, add a tablespoon or so of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar (it’s got to be Bragg’s), a fresh squeeze of lemon, a pinch of cayenne pepper and a teaspoon of honey. This more like a homeopathic remedy but sip on it and get it down the hatch!
When I’m well and I cook a whole chicken, I almost always make bone broth the next day. This means I typically have some in the freezer. This healing broth is more than an old wives tale — it is rich in minerals to support the immune system and it supports the gut to reduce inflammation. Finally, we know hydration is important. Drinking a lot of water or non-caffeinated teas in between meals can help flush out toxins. Ginger root is also a great support to add to hot tea as it helps soothe a stomach and has antibacterial properties.
There’s no two ways about it, building healthy habits serve your overall wellness but they also serve you well during sick season. Here’s to staying well year round! If you’re having trouble starting or maintaining healthy habits we should talk! You’ve got NOTHING to LOSE because you get a FREE 20-minute health coaching phone session with yours truly so email me or call today!
A Few Resources:
Flu Attack! How a Virus Invades Your Body. (Jan. 2014) Retrieved from: https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/01/06/flu-attack.aspx
How to Boost Your Immune System — Top 10 Boosters. (N.d.) Retrieved from: https://draxe.com/how-to-boost-your-immune-system/
5 Foods That Boost Your Immune System. (N.d.) Retrieved from: https://www.healthydirections.com/5-Foods-That-Boost-Your-Immune-System
Sugar, Soy and the Flu. (N.d.) Retrieved from: http://drhyman.com/blog/2017/03/31/sugar-soy-flu/