Flu season is in full swing, as are TV commercials & news shows about it. I generally don't tune into mainstream news, but occasionally I'm somewhere, the TV's on, and I'm paying attention. Recently I found myself listening to an interview with a hospital ER doctor, discussing the flu. Apparently it's much worse this year than it's ever been. Officials are even admitting that the flu shot is less effective this year, but may provide added protection. In any case, as I understand from those who got the flu, it was, without a doubt, the nastiest sickness they'd ever had. Like, they couldn't eat for days, couldn't get out of bed, couldn't even look at their phones. I get it, this virus is heinous, and we want to be protected from it!
But regarding prevention, all the doctor on the news had to offer was to get the flu shot (which he earlier said may not work). And if you do get sick, be sure not to go out and spread your plague around.
Really? That's it?
There's just so much missing! Why would they get an ER doctor to talk about prevention anyway? Their specialty is emergency care.
There are many ways you can prevent getting the flu, and they all have to do with supporting your body's immune system and overall health.
In the modern, amazing time we live in, we have access to a variety of proven health-enhancing practices and substances. Even if you live in the middle of nowhere, hundreds of miles from any "health-food" stores, you can order pretty much anything on Amazon these days.
So no excuses. This is your body we're talking about, you only get one.
"It's not the seed, it's the soil." - Dr. Wendel, my first chiropractor.
Basic body care
is essential for a fully functioning immune system. It is the quality of your "soil," or inner terrain, that determines if a "bad seed" will take root. I could (and will) write an entire article on this topic alone, but I'll keep it simple for now. If we neglect foundational needs, such as adequate sleep (7-8 hours), hydration (1/2 your body weight in ounces), exercise (daily movement that promotes circulation, not necessarily a gym routine), and a nutritious diet (eating real, nutrient-dense foods to feed our cells and gut flora, not just our taste buds), then we make our bodies vulnerable to getting sick. When it comes to your health, pick "the low hanging fruit." In other words, work on the basics...and eat fruit.
Under this heading, I also must mention an interesting perspective I once heard at a Tony Robbins seminar. He asserts that "flu season" should really be called "decreased immunity season." Ever think about what everyone is doing prior to this season of sickness? Remember those warm, fuzzy holidays? Yeah... generally speaking, around the world at holiday time, we are overeating sugary, processed foods, overdrinking alcohol, stressed out over presents and family members, getting less sunshine (Vitamin D), and likely not exercising or eating as well as we normally would.
Maybe one day it'll be called the "falling off the wagon" season.
Well, as that great Zen saying goes, "Fall off 7 times, get up 8."
As you get your self-care in place, it is certainly also beneficial, and sometimes necessary, to add supplements to your regime. Unless you are super on-point about being the best eater in the world (and you live in a place where local, organic foods are always available), you are likely deficient in certain vitamins & minerals. Due to modern conventional farming practices, soil often becomes nutrient-depleted, and so does our food supply. But before you run out to the store to stock up, know that all supplements are not equal. While it may be tempting to buy what's on sale at GNC or your local pharmacy, it is vital that you take high-quality, whole-food based supplements. They may be more pricey, but you will actually be absorbing what you take. Your brilliant body knows how to utilize the raw materials from food-based products, and it also knows to expel synthetic vitamins in urine. Ever wonder why your pee is neon yellow when you take certain multi-vitamins or a B-complex?
Yeah. We call that "expensive urine."
I personally take "nutraceuticals," which essentially are supplements that have more research and testing behind their use. Nutraceuticals can only be purchased from a licensed healthcare provider, so if you would like them, you'll have to find a practitioner in your area. Many chiropractors, naturopaths and acupuncturists carry these products. The brands that I particularly use are: Standard Process and Metagenics. If you'd like me to hook you up with any of their products, please contact me to discuss.
Immune-boosting supplements include: Vitamins C & D, Fish oil, Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc & Probiotics.
This time of year, it's wise not to take a chance that your bases are covered, particularly for Vitamin D. This substance is crucial for immune function (among many other things), and we humans mainly get it from sunlight. Sadly, most of us do not get enough sunlight even in the warm months, let alone winter! To be thorough, you could get bloodwork and other testing done to check your various levels of these essential compounds. We need to be particularly careful with Vitamin D, because it is fat-soluble (can be stored in body tissues), and too much can be toxic. For a deeper understanding of this nutrient, check out this article by Chris Kresser, one of my health gurus: https://chriskresser.com/vitamin-d-more-is-not-better/
The best supplemental form of Vitamin D is from Cod Liver Oil. The best of the best is made by Rosita Real Foods: https://www.corganic.com/products/evclo-capsules
A more affordable option that is also very effective is Green Pasture's Fermented Cod Liver Oil.
While many people know the importance of fish oil, calcium and Vitamins C & D, we also need to start equating gut health with a strong immune system. It is now well-established in research that about 80% of our immune system is in the gut. Probiotics help reinoculate the intestines with the beneficial bacteria we may have lost in our lifetime due to antibiotic use or simply by not eating enough fermented, fibrous foods to feed the flora (prebiotics). Before you buy this supplement, ensure that the probiotic is well-tested and reviewed. From my research, the best brand out there is BlueBiotics. You can order their products here: http://bluebiotics.com/order.html
If you would like to buy in stores, my favorite store brands are Garden of Life and New Chapter.
are another excellent immune strengthener. Herbs that have stood the test of time include: Echinacea, Elderberry, Turmeric, Oregano, Garlic, Ginger & Gingseng. All of these herbs have specific anti-bacterial, anti-viral & anti-inflammatory properties that pump up the immune power.
Dr. Josh Axe elaborates on each of these herbs, and provides research to back it up in this article: https://draxe.com/how-to-boost-your-immune-system/ .
My personal favorite is oregano oil. In the past 4 years that I've been using it, it has nipped the buds of many impending colds. I've used it in various forms, and I will be honest.. it is incredibly potent and can hurt. It must be taken with caution. If you get pure oregano essential oil, I recommend diluting 3-4 drops in a shot glass of water and then chasing it with juice or water. I would do that 2-3 times/day when I feel the warning signs of getting sick. Recently, I've used this product below, which is mixed with extra virgin olive oil. While it's still strong, I can tolerate dropping several drops under the tongue a few times a day.
which is essentially water containing tiny particles of silver, is known to have anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. Thus it is very pro-health! Its main protective mechanism is that silver naturally binds to oxygen molecules. This in turn blocks oxygen from binding to the bacteria or virus, which needs the oxygen for "cellular respiration," a very important process to survive. Dr. Josh Axe dives into depth on this substance in his article here: https://draxe.com/colloidal-silver-benefits/
Other Immunity Warriors:
- Chaga mushrooms have been used for centuries for their health-enhancing benefits. In modern days, we can study why. This fungus, native to cold climates, like Siberia, northern Canada and Alaska, has one of the highest ORAC scores of any food. This means it is one of the best sources of antioxidants. In lab studies they have found that chaga boosts the immune system by stimulating spleen lymphcytes, increasing the production of certain immune cells. This magical mushroom has also been shown to fight viruses and reduce inflammation.
- Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, or ACV, is one of those well-known elixers that's good for just about everything. It regulates blood-sugar levels, improves skin health, reduces blood pressure & acid reflux and boosts gut health (where most of the immune system lives.) Just don't forget "the Mother!" Once again, Dr. Axe thoroughly elaborates on the benefits of ACV.. https://draxe.com/apple-cider-vinegar-uses/
- Coconut Oil has become a staple in my life. One of my go-to phrases is "put some coconut oil on it."
While it is good for so many things, its specific benefit to the immune system is in its components, lauric acid & monolaurin, which have been shown to kill harmful bacteria, viruses and fungi, such as Staph. aureus and Candida albicans.
Body work - Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the health-enhancing effects of bodywork. When needed, a chiropractic spinal adjustment can significantly improve your overall body function. It's core benefit is optimizing nervous system function, which then helps regulate every other body system better. Increasing mobility throughout the spine also promotes better circulation and lymphatic drainage.
Other effective practices include cranial work, acupuncture & massage therapy.
Okay! Well that's all I'll throw at you for now!
Clearly, there are many things you can do to protect yourself & loved ones from getting sick, and none of them involve injecting a dead virus into your bloodstream.