You may have heard that this year’s flu is exceptionally serious. Time magazine reports that for the first time since the CDC began monitoring the flu, every area across the U.S. is affected all at the same time. And for those who get the flu vaccine, the CDC estimates that it is just 30 percent effective this year. In addition, many people are suffering from post-flu illnesses; according to health practitioners, if your immune system is weakened by the flu, you can be more susceptible to pneumonia and other infections that can be even more serious.
So what can you do to reduce your risk of getting the flu? First and foremost, keep your immune system in top shape by following the suggestions below. Also, consider incorporating more immune-boosting foods like the ones below in your everyday meals.
Your immune system is your body’s first line of defense against infections and disease so I'll show you some easy ways to help your immune system function at its peak performance and stay healthy this season.
Top Tips for a Healthy Immune System
Lots of things can affect your immune system– the type of foods we eat (or don’t eat); how much water we drink, sleep we get, stress we’re under – these are just a few of the areas that we can address to boost immune function. If you pick just three of the suggestions from the immune-boosting tips below and stick with them, you can strengthen your immune system and increase your ability to stay healthy through the dreaded cold and flu season.
If you are overly fatigued or constantly sleep-deprived, it will be harder for your immune system to fight off disease. On the other hand, regular rest and restorative sleep will support your immune system, so your body has the strength to fight off any potential invaders. (By the way, did you know my programs include helping people who have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? Contact me if you’re tired of being tired!)
If you do just ONE thing to boost your immune system, reduce the amount of sugar you consume – especially if you are already feeling under the weather. Sugar (which comes in many forms and has many different names) contributes to inflammation and runs down the immune system. Leaders in the health, wellness and nutrition fields, such as Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. Joel Furhman, also suggest eating organic whenever possible and reducing processed foods (food that comes in a package with a lot of ingredients that you can’t pronounce etc.).
3. ALKALINE VS. ACIDIC
Did you know that many diseases cannot exist in an alkaline state? And yet, they can thrive an acidic state. So, the key is to help your body maintain an alkaline state and keep your immune system in peak performance! This is a simple matter of choosing to “eat that not this.”
Eating alkaline foods can:
• Detoxify the body
• Boost your Immune function
• Prevent disease by making it hard for germs and disease to survive
• Reduce inflammation
• Increase energy
• Increase your longevity
What foods are the most alkaline in the body? You guessed it, veggies, especially leafy greens and fruit. (Citrus fruits that are generally considered acidic are actually alkaline producing in the body.) Start your day with hot lemon water and be sure to include a big leafy green salad or big pile of veggies for lunch or dinner.
What “foods” are acidic in the body?
• Refined and processed foods
Nutritional studies show that avoiding dairy can be helpful to avoiding disease, particularly during cold and flu season. Dairy can create inflammation and “mucous glue,” where bacteria and viruses can grow. It can also contribute to allergy symptoms, sinus and ear infections. And as mentioned above, dairy is one of the acid-forming foods.
Water is essential for ensuring that your body eliminates waste and toxins – and that can help shorten the length of your illness. A good rule of thumb is to drink half of your weight in ounces of water every day.
So, a person who weighs 130 pounds needs approximately 65 ounces of water – more if you exercise regularly. Start as soon as you wake up, by drinking 8 ounces of water before you do anything else! And here’s a proven tip: Hot water actually penetrates your cells faster than cold or room temperature water!
I’ve listed six actions for boosting your immune system. Try choosing just three to incorporate into your daily living, and give yourself the best chance of staying healthy this season.
Top Immune-Boosting Foods and Herbs
1. Vitamin C
If you want to help support your immune system, include plenty of natural Vitamin C, and choose organic whenever possible. This powerful antioxidant helps in the repair and regeneration of tissues, and protects cells throughout the body. Good food sources of vitamin C include:
• Brussels sprouts
• Pink grapefruit
Used for centuries as powerful “food medicine.” It has antiviral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory benefits. See soup recipe below.
3. Omega 3
Found in flax, hempseed, chia seed, salmon, mackerel, krill, cod liver oil, avocado, and almonds, just to name a few. Omega 3s boost the immune system by increasing the activity of white blood cells that eliminate bacteria and protect the body against damage from over-reactions to infection. Omega 3s also lessen the severity of infection.
Found in broccoli, kale, mushrooms, sesame seeds (Tahini), pumpkin seeds, beans, cashews, eggs, wheat germ, and oysters, to name a few. Zinc helps prevent illness and can lessen the severity and length of colds and flu symptoms
Found in Brazil nuts, what germ, whole grains, eggs, sunflower seeds, garlic.
Found in cherries, red grapes, black rice, and also in natural extract, juice and pill form (at health food stores)
I've had several clients ask me what they can take if they feel like they're coming down with something. Two of my favorite immune support products are Wellness Formula Herbal Defense Complex and Super Bio-Vegetarian. Both products are formulated with a powerful combination of herbs, medicinal mushrooms, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to support the immune system and boost your well-being. Locally you can find these at Pharmaca or for existing clients, you can them at 20% off from my online dispensary.
Here’s to your best health, and kicking the cold and flu season this year!