We are fully into the flu season and there have been some nasty things going around town this year. There are several ways to naturally help protect against illness. Advice you’ve already instinctively know: eat a proper diet, take your vitamins and get lots of sleep. Tricia Gilkerson, writer at Intoxicated On Life broke these down into more concrete advice.
1) Avoid Inflammatory Foods and Eat Foods that Decrease Inflammation
Inflammation is your immune system’s way of fighting off pathogens. With chronic inflammation your immune system becomes overtaxed. Therefore decreasing inflammatory foods will help to strengthen your immune system and fight against any flu invasions. Inflammatory foods to avoid include sugar, alcohol, wheat, margarine, canola oil, all trans-fats as well as any food that you are already sensitive to. I personally would also add dairy to this list. Foods that decrease inflammation are good to eat while strengthening you’re immune system: Green tea and healthy fats such as butter, coconut oil, palm oil.
2) Protect your gut with probiotics
This is the basis of one school of thought within Chinese Medicine. As long as your digestion is working properly, your body has access to the nutrients you are taking in. If your digestive system is struggling, most likely so is your immune system. Probiotics are a way to increase the “friendly” bacteria that normally inhabits your gut. This bacteria helps your digestive tract to restore normal flora, function optimally and supports your immune system. Naturally you can increase your gut bacteria through sauerkraut, kefir, natural pickles and kombucha. If you do supplement with probiotics, I personally recommend any that need to be refrigerated.
3) Increase Vitamin C + D, and Echinacea
Tricia at Intoxicated on Life calls Vitamin C a power-house antioxidant. When you start to feel sick, a mega-dose of vitamin C can greatly boost your immune system. Research has shown that the better your vitamin D levels are, the less likely you are to catch the flu and other respiratory infections too. Dr. John Cannell, MD recommend high-dose vitamin D be supplement for 3 days at the first sign of a cold or flu because it is not only a natural antibiotic, but also a fights against viruses, fungi and parasites. If anyone around you starts to feel sick, start taking echinacea in a tincture form to protect your self immediately. If you're already well into feeling sick, its too late for echinacea to help.
4) Receive Acupuncture
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas have been shown to help protect your body against flu. Everyone has some form of constitutional weakness, be it respiratory, digestive, circulatory or detoxification. Acupuncture treatments are individually tailored to strengthen your weakness as well as your immune system in general. When received preventatively, acupuncture treatments give you a true boost when fighting against colds or flus. Studies have shown that after acupuncture treatments, certain blood counts and immune enhancing chemicals are elevated.
5) Plenty of Sleep
Donna Arand, PhD and SABSM says that your immune system is degraded when you don’t get enough sleep which, “makes you more vulnerable to picking up illnesses and not being able to fight them off.” While we sleep, our body repairs itself. Proper sleep truly allows our body to optimally fight disease.
Whether you've received the flu shot this year or not, or already come down with something going around town, boost your immune system with acupuncture, diet and sleep!