According to the CDC, “Getting an annual flu vaccine is the first and best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu.”
What if I told you that there were more effective ways to prevent the flu bug other than the notorious flu vaccine? Especially since research has shown that last year’s flu vaccine was only a mere 18% effective for adults and 15% effective for children! Let’s take a look at action steps towards health that do not include taking a trip to the local drug store, dealing with pesky side effects, or poor statistics. And guess what? These steps can be taken ALL year to ensure good health; not just starting every October when flu “season” rolls around!
It’s time to get to the ROOT cause of what is making us sick, and build a stronger immunity like never before!
Top 10 Ways to Prevent the Flu:
1. Pay attention to vitamin D levels
The decrease in vitamin D during the winter months plays a large roll in decreased immune system function. People start spending more time cramped indoors, and less time enjoying natural vitamin D outside. Increase your vitamin D intake by taking a lunch time walk, supplementing through vitamin D enriched foods (while staying clear of dairy products- these are often high in sugar and have mucus producing properties), and taking quality cod liver oil and vitamins during your morning routine.
2. Avoid sugar and processed foods
Here’s the thing… these types of foods should be limited from your diet starting now, and should be replaced with real, whole foods! Sugar and processed foods strongly impacts your immune function by inhibiting phagocytosis, the process in which your cells destroy harmful viruses and bacteria. Not only can removing these foods from your diet increase your immune response, but it will also result in higher energy levels, decrease risk for certain cancers, fewer trips to the dentist, lower diabetes and cardiovascular risks, etc.
3. Get plenty of rest
When your sleep routine is out-of-whack due to a busy schedule, or you have a difficult time getting a good night’s sleep in general, your whole body becomes overly fatigued. Just like it is difficult for you to focus or complete tasks in a prompt manner when you are overly tired… your immune system acts in the same way, and can result in the inability to effectively fight off “bugs” when you haven’t had plenty of rest!
4. Stay hydrated
A good rule of thumb is to aim for drinking half your body weight in ounces per day! For example: If you weigh 150lbs, you should be drinking 75oz of WATER per day. Coffee, soft drinks, and Gatorade do not count towards this goal, they count against! Staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your overall health, and most people don’t take it as seriously as it is. In terms of increasing immune function, water helps produce lymph which carries white blood cells. These are the fighter cells that increase during an immune response!
5. Address your stress
Managing your stress is KEY! Chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease to name a few major risk factors. However, individuals who face stress also tend to have a weakened immune system! Just like not getting sufficient rest, chronic stress can wear you down, and decrease immune response efficiency. Schedule in “you time” each day such as an hour to read before you start your day, having a regular yoga routine, or time to grab coffee with a friend!
Having a regular exercise routine is good for all areas of your health, but especially good for maintaining a strong immune system. Make exercise a priority throughout the week; whether that entails yoga, walking, running, or weight training. Add a variety of workout types to your workout routine!
7. Wash our hands- but DITCH the antibacterial soaps
Most recently you have probably read articles on social media regarding the FDA ordering soap companies to rid their antibacterial properties. Not only do these soaps most often contain toxic chemicals and have been deemed to be ineffective, but they have also been linked to bacterial resistance. We don’t want that! Using a good quality NON-antibacterial/non-toxic soap and water is the suggestion here.
8. Find natural immune enhancers
Incorporating natural immune enhancers into your diet to keep you looking good and feeling good! Boosters such as ginger, oregano, cruciferous vegetables (often times green in color such as broccoli, cabbage, kale), avocado, mushrooms, etc.
9. Enjoy healthy bacteria
Did you know that 80% of your immune system is located in your GUT?! Your gut is filled with an abundance of healthy bacteria designed to fight infections and properly digest food. Keep this defense mechanism flourishing by incorporating quality probiotics and fermented foods in your daily routine. (Also refer to ditching antibacterial soaps, #7, up above!)
10. Chiropractic care, of course!
We definitely can’t leave this one out, and saved the best for last! Chiropractic care is hands-down one of the best ways to keep your immune system functioning at 100%. According to a study completed by Ronald Pero, Ph.D. (chief cancer prevention researcher at New York’s Preventative Medicine Institute), patients under chiropractic care were found to have a 200% greater immune competence than those not under chiropractic care. WOW! How does this work? Chiropractors work to detect and correct misalignments in the spine that are causing nerve dysfunction. Nerve dysfunction does not always result in pain, and is actually MUCH bigger in terms of possible effects. When stress is placed on the nervous system (aka spinal misalignment), communication is decreased between the bodily systems. Did you know that your nervous system controls EVERY other system in your body? If not corrected, nervous system dysfunction can lead to health complications, a weakened immune system, and overall decrease in quality of life. This is why many people have found success through chiropractic with eliminating dis-ease states such as infertility, ear infections, ADH, depression/anxiety, bed wetting, chronic colds, etc!
“The best immune system is in the body. Not in the lab.” –Dr. C.S. Gonstead