It seems like everyone is sick right now so I want to give you some ideas of things you can do to help you stay healthy and fight the flu naturally.
It's downright scary out there. They're saying this is the worst flu season we've had in a decade and we're not even halfway through it yet. The news is even talking about the risk of getting the flu again even if you've already had it. Holy influenza.
There's a lot out there about how scary bad it is but there's not a lot on the news beyond getting the flu shot and washing your hands for prevention. Not to say these two won't help protect you, but there is so much more you can do that will reinforce your body's defenses and keep your immune system in fighting shape to protect you and fight the flu naturally (and other bugs too).
When your immune system is strong (ie. getting what it needs to operate in tip top form) it works better and can protect you from getting sick. Or, even if you do happen to come down with something, the stronger your immune is, the the less time you'll be sick and the faster you'll recover and get back to your normal life.
These eight small things can go a long way in shoring up your defenses and protecting you from sickness. I've said it before and I'll say it again (but dare I in print?) I believe these things have kept me and my family healthy and well this winter (knock on wood!).
So here they are, these are the things I try to do for myself and my family all year round, and pay extra attention to now during cold and flu season to help us ward off the bugs and fight the flu naturally.
How to Stay Healthy and Fight the Flu Naturally
Take Your vitamins.
Especially vitamin C + zinc. These two taken together are like an immune booster super combo. Vitamin C boosts the immune system and zinc increases white blood cell counts to help fight infections. When taken together, zinc works with vitamin C to make it even more powerful. Make sure you're getting a healthy dose of each daily through your food. For vitamin C look for yellow, orange, red and green foods like oranges, lemons, strawberries, goji berries, mango, pineapple, bell peppers, broccoli, and brussel sprouts. Foods high in zinc include pumpkin seeds, beans, grass-fed beef, spinach, cashews, mushrooms and dark chocolate (the kind with very little sugar though... sugar sucks up your vitamin and minerals).
Sip some broth.
Homemade vegetable broth or bone broth is like a liquid multi-vitamin/multi-mineral. When vegetables or the bones from an animal like a chicken, cow or fish are boiled their vitamins and minerals leech out into the water and the broth becomes a nourishing drink. Vegetables need only be boiled about an hour. Bones require quite a bit longer, around 24 hours to get the full benefit of the minerals they contain.
Rest, rest, REST.
Rest is best. When your body is busy it doesn't have time to fix what's gone wrong. When you rest and sleep, you give your body a chance to do the much needed repair work to make you well again. I know it can be hard to take a time out but not allowing yourself to get rundown with lack of sleep and putting in the rest upfront when you first start feeling bad can drastically reduce the amount of time you're not well.
Get in more greens.
Dark leafy green vegetables are nature's multi-vitamin. They're full of vitamins and minerals our bodies need to be getting every single day. They also hydrate and oxygenate helping to bring water and fresh oxygen to your blood and cells which your body desperately needs to help it repair. Try to get them in at every meal and go for variety - spinach, kale, chard, collards, broccoli, mustard greens, brussel sprouts, cabbage.... Add greens to a smoothie. Eat a salad. Stir them into a soup or stew. The more the better.
Eat all the colors.
The more varied and colorful your diet, the more vitamins and minerals you're getting in. Shoot for the rainbow - red, blue, green, purple, orange, yellow and even white. Berries and other dark, richly pigmented foods (think the ones that stain) are particularly good because they're highest in antioxidants - the things that help protect your cells from damage.
Add garlic and onions.
Garlic and onion are nature's antibiotics. They are potent microbe fighters and can kill bacteria, viruses and other nasty bugs that make you sick. Try eating more garlic and onion by cooking with them more and incorporating them into your meals. A lot of homemade soups, stews and stir-fry dishes start with an onion and garlic sauté. You can also slice up some red onion and add it to a salad. Raw is more powerful than cooked. If you really start to feel something coming on, try cutting up a raw clove of garlic and taking it like pills with some water. It's not as bad as it sounds and it can help nip whatever's making you not feel so hot before it turns into something worse.
Pack the probiotics.
Did you know that 70-80% of your immune system lives in your digestive tract? In the last few years we've learned so much about how intricately linked our immune system is with our digestive system and the billions of microscopic "good" bacteria that live there. Turns out these good bacteria help to keep the bad bacteria out, or in some cases, in check. But all it takes it one round of antibiotics for your army to be wiped out completely leaving your gut without it's trusty protective force. Probiotics help replenish and rebuild the good bacteria in your gut. Adding one in to your regimen helps reinforce your immune system and keep it in tip top shape. Look for one with a variety of strains and at least 5+ billion CFU.
Steer clear of sugar.
Speaking of things that can wipe out your good bacteria... sugar in all it's forms, including refined and processed carbs (like breads, pastries, pastas, etc.) is food for the bad bacteria in your digestive system and can throw off the delicate balance between the good and bad that I talked about above. Steer clear of sugar to starve the bad the guys out. Instead focus on foods that feed the good guys, like fiber rich vegetables and fruits.
Your Turn: How do you Stay Healthy?
These are just the top things that come to my mind in our routine when I think about what's keeping us well right now. I'd love to learn from you too... What do you do to keep yourself and your family healthy this time of year?
I hope you found this post helpful. Take care of yourself out there... I wish you all the health.
Megan Adams Brown, CHC, helps people take charge of their health and to start listening to themselves over the latest diet trend to optimize their own wellness, happiness and potential. Her family-friendly meal plans help parents take charge in the kitchen, too. This leads to more vegetables, less junk, and happier, healthier kids and parents. Megan shares kid-approved, allergy-friendly recipes on her blog. To learn more click here.