Though the flu season rages on, I’m not a fan of flu shots. I don’t get them and rarely recommend them to anyone (with the possible exception of the very elderly or frail). The effectiveness of flu shots on otherwise healthy people is questionable, their ingredients include plenty of toxins, and the flu viruses in the shots aim to protect against mutate so quickly that the strain you were vaccinated against probably won’t be the one that makes you sick. Flu vaccines are, at best, hit or miss, and certainly not the cure all they’re made out to be.
So, instead of flu shots, for my patients I recommend strengthening immunity throughout the winter with healthy food, supplements and behaviors instead of the needle. Here are 13 ways to rev up your immunity so it’s strong enough repel viral invaders from now till April, when flu season will (hopefully) breathe it’s last:
FLU-PROOFING FOODS: Think non-stop nutrients
1) Don’t Eat Junk
Sugar weakens immune function, and processed foods add few if any nutrients to your body, so why bother? Flu season is no time for empty calories. Your body needs every nutrient it can extract from the food you eat so make every nutrient-dense morsel count.
2) Eat Your Probiotics
In addition to daily supplementation, put some probiotics on your plate and in your belly, in the form of fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut and raw, organic apple cider vinegar (with the ‘mother’).
3) Do A Deep Dive Into Greens
Dark, leafy greens are loaded with flu-fighting phytonutrients, so slip them into every meal. Add spinach to your morning smoothie or omelets; arugula to your lunchtime salad; and sauté some Swiss chard at dinner time. Think green!
4) Everything’s Better With Garlic
Not only does garlic repel vampires, it’s also got anti-viral and antibiotic properties, is a powerful immunity booster and tastes fantastic on just about everything, so chop up a raw clove or two every day and sprinkle on your meals.
FLU-FIGHTING BEHAVIORS: Think round-the-clock health builders
1) Sleep Well – And Often
Want to strengthen your immunity? Then go to bed! Sleeping is your body’s restore and repair time – so don’t cut corners. Get at least 7 -8 hours a night and try taking a 20-minute catnap when you’re falling short.
2) Do Break A Sweat
Moderate exercise helps keep your immune system healthy and robust, so keep moving throughout the winter. After your workout, sweat some more in steam room or sauna for an added immunity boost.
3) Chill Out – Whenever Possible!
The less mental stress you have during flu season, the better. Meditation, yoga or simply doing things you enjoy will help keep stress levels low, immunity high and resilience plentiful.
4) Wash Your Hands, Old School Style
Wash your hands frequently, but ditch the toxin-laden antibacterial cleansers, which tend to over-dry and crack the skin, making transmission of viruses easier. Instead, lather up with a chemical-free soap and hot water for 30 seconds. No faucet nearby? A few drops of lavender essential oil has natural hand sanitizing properties.
FLU-FIGHTING SUPPLEMENTS: Put immunity-boosters and antivirals to work
1) Pop A Probiotic
An immune system that’s tough enough to fight off the flu starts with a healthy, well-functioning gut. To keep it in good working order, take a daily probiotic, with 10-20 billion live organisms.
2) Fight Viruses With Antivirals
Immunity–boosting antiviral herbs contain medicinal compounds that attack viruses, without creating resistant viral strains, so stock up! Among the antivirals we use all winter long: andrographis, olive leaf extract, grapefruit seed extract and elderberry extract.
3) Get Your D’s From A Bottle And The Sun
Adequate levels of vitamin D supports immunity, but as sun is a key source, it’s tough to get enough of it in winter. To bridge the gap and fend off flu, boost levels with a vitamin D3 supplement. A maintenance dose of at least 2,000 IU a day should do the trick, but check with your doc first to assess your vitamin D needs.
4) Take Fish Oil
To help keep flu at bay, I recommend taking 1– 2 grams of high-quality fish oils daily to maintain wintertime immunity. Be sure to look for capsules containing omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA.
5) Pop Some Vitamin C
Take 1 – 2 grams of vitamin C daily, to help support immunity, protect your body from infection and speed its ability to heal. Vitamin C also acts as a natural antihistamine to help tame inflammation and swollen membranes.