I’m not going to spend too much time writing about the flu vaccine or the madness the news has created surrounding the “epidemic” upon us. It makes me angry. The whole thing. So, I won’t talk about it too much. I will say this, the shot is not a guarantee that you won’t get the flu. The CDC admits it only has a 60% effectiveness rate and that’s IF they guessed the right strain of the flu to create this current batch of shots from.
So, get your shot if you want, I’m not the shot police. But please don’t think that’s all you have to do. You have to take care of yourself and your immune system or no amount of shots is going to do the trick. We keep creating band-aids in the form of immunizations and medicines. Contrary to my best-friend’s belief, I’m not anti-medicine. There is a place and use for shots and pills. But we have to stop thinking they are the FIX for everything. WE are the fix. I’m not saying we can prevent any and all disease, but we can go a long way toward staying healthy just by making a few changes.
There are some important factors that have been linked to depressed immune function and they aren’t just clean hands and immunity shots. Some things we can control:
- malnutrition and yo-yo dieting
- chronic stress
- lack of exercise
No shock there right? So what can you do? Well, there is the obvious- add in some physical activity and try some deep breathing or gratitude practice to reduce the stress, but those are entirely new posts that need to be written. I’m here to talk about food. Malnutrition is not just for the sweet, cherub faces you see on those commercials on late night t.v. There are plenty of us who are malnourished right here in America.
The first step toward a stronger immune system is to clean out the holiday habits. Say goodbye to sweet treats, full liquor cabinets and the daily indulgences you allowed throughout December. C’mon we all did it, so fess up and release any guilt over it. We’re all human and moving forward from mistakes should be an inalienable right as far as I’m concerned. In the name of moving forward, try these eight things:
- Add greens into your diet-the iron and trace amounts of zinc help bolster your immunity, not to mention they’re jam-packed with other nutrients we all need Now, I’m not talking iceberg lettuce. Throw some kale in your salad. Eat spinach in your morning eggs. Start the day with a green smoothie.
- Sprinkle some wheat germ or flax seed on your cereal, in your yogurt or on salads. Iron and B Vitamins are important as well as the Omegas that come from flax.
- Eat mushrooms! I say this enthusiastically because I love mushrooms. But even if you don’t love the taste, you’ll love the immune boost you get from eating them.
- Eat organic produce or wash, wash, wash really well. Eliminating the pesticides and hormones will alleviate some of the stress already on our immune systems.
- Back away from the cookie jar. Sugar is linked to poor immune function. Use fruits for your sweets from now on.
- Groove on Garlic. Garlic isn’t just delicious. It’s an excellent source of Vitamin B6 which is important for a fighting immune system. It’s also full of selenium and Vitamin C so it’s kind of an Immunity SuperHero, known in some circles and “Russian Penicillin”. Try this oat-risotto recipe which is garlic heavy.
- Avoid any foods that are potential allergens. Repeated exposure to dairy, gluten, eggs etc. will weaken your immune system. Think about it-if your body is busy fighting the food you put into it, it can’t fight the flu, or an arthritis flare up or anything else that comes your way. There is a reason the 14 Day Jump Start cleanses I run are so popular-because eliminating allergens is so important and cleanses help you identify them.
- Avoid artificial colors and flavors in food. I’ll just quote Michael Pollan here, for your body to work effectively follow this rule: “If it comes from a plant, eat it. If it’s made in a plant, don’t.”
Maybe this list seems like a lot. If so, even picking one thing will move you toward a stronger immune system. Here’s hoping we all stay flu-free.