As we enter the “Flu season is upon us” fear mongering time of year, it would be good to step back and evaluate what this really means. There is no such thing as “flu season.” Influenza and other viruses are in our environment 365 days a year – not just from the early fall to spring.
The flu shot is frequently a miserable failure, especially in the over 50 age group. There are about 200 different viruses that cause flu or flu-like illness, yet the shot only contains three or possibly four. Plus, many flu shots contain mercury (the most potent neurotoxin in existence) and formaldehyde (a documented carcinogen), are cultured in chicken eggs (which could be a big issue for people with egg allergies) and you run the risk of getting paralyzed from Guillain-Barre syndrome.
There are some reasons why our immune systems are weakened during the flu “season.” It’s like a perfect storm with sugar and refined carbs attacking your immune system. This starts with the end of summer barbecues, moves to Halloween candy, then Thanksgiving pies, Christmas cookies and candy, New Year’s Eve parties, Valentine’s Day chocolates and chocolate Easter bunnies.
Sugar and refined carbs feed harmful yeasts in your gut, which in turn can severely depress your immune system functioning. This also irritates your gut wall, making you a likely candidate for leaky gut and reduced nutrient absorption. Once your gut wall starts leaking toxins into your bloodstream and you start lacking essential nutrients, it’s extremely convenient for viruses to take a hold of you.
There are also other factors that come together in the perfect storm. They are stress, vitamin D deficiency, lacking sleep and sharing, which comes with school starting up bringing kids together as well as germ factories like crowded shopping malls, grocery stores, airports and airplanes.
Understanding how our immune system works and is interconnected with the rest of your body is the first step to a healthy immune system. There is the brain-immune axis, which is just what it sounds like – a direct connection between the brain and the immune system. The gut-brain axis is the communication between your microbiome and brain and is pivotal for overall health. Around 80 percent of your immune system is found in the gut.
Your immune system needs some help. The common cold is usually caused by a virus, which means you can’t just take an antibiotic and knock it out. There’s a lot you can do to fuel your immune system with all the resources it needs to fight for you.
Get plenty of rest: Sleep quality is a big step toward knocking out cold and flu symptoms. Keeping your immune system strong depends on quality sleep.
Stay hydrated: Well-intentioned loved ones might suggest an electrolyte drink like Gatorade or Pedialyte and may also push orange juice for a little extra vitamin C. Although those drinks will provide some hydration, they’re also loaded with sugar, which is bad for immune function. Instead, sip on warm bone broth and add a sprinkle of trace minerals for electrolyte support.
Increase immune supportive nutrients: There are three key nutrients that can help support your immune system function: vitamin D, vitamin A and zinc.
Avoid sugar, processed foods and refined sugars: When you are sick, you might not have much of an appetite, but steer clear of sugar bombs like processed foods and sweets. Studies show that high blood sugar levels suppress your immune response. Eating a diet high in nutrient-dense vegetables, proteins and healthy fats is the best preventive medicine when it comes to a healthy immune system and being able to ward off severe symptoms.
Herbal supplements: There are a few natural plants that have the unique ability to support different parts of your immune system. They are astragalus and echinacea.
Support healthy methylation pathways: Methylation is sort of an antioxidant recycling process in your body and it’s needed for optimal brain and immune health. This helps your body produce the top disease-fighting immune function which is antioxidant glutathione.
Drive down inflammation: Chronic inflammation is one of the major underlying culprits of chronic disease, but healthy inflammation levels fight off disease. To support healthy inflammation levels, it is essential to support your brain’s neurotransmitter, acetylcholine.
Improve microbiome health: For a healthy immune system, you need to have a healthy microbiome and conditions associated with dysbiosis.
Add in adaptogens: These natural plants and herbs provide support to different areas of your body in order to restore balance. Some really good ones include ashwagandha, maca and astragalus.
Eat more detoxing food medicines: An overload of toxins can put stress on your immune system. Parsley, cilantro, dandelion tea and blueberries can help.
Gargle with sea salt water: Sea salt is more than a meal-time seasoning and is actually a fantastic anti-inflammatory tool to ease a sore throat. Add one teaspoon of sea salt to eight ounces of water and gargle for at least 30 seconds.
Cook with ginger: Fresh ginger has been shown to prevent the human respiratory virus from attaching to cells and forming plaque in the airways.
Add in cinnamon: Cinnamon can help stabilize blood sugar and also works as a next-level immune system supporter. Its high antioxidant content can protect cells from damage.
Get some sunlight: Sunlight has demonstrated incredible healing properties.
Book a sauna session: Saunas are incredibly relaxing and comforting. Research has shown that regular sauna sessions decrease the risk of respiratory diseases like pneumonia.
Enjoy fresh air: Fresh air is thought to help kill off bacteria and the influenza viruses.
Turn to essential oils: When you feel a cold creeping up, try some of the following essential oils: Eucalyptus, tea tree, frankincense and myrrh, peppermint and lemon. When using these oils, make sure to read the bottle for key areas to put the oil for the best effect and for the amount to use.