I’m sure you’ve heard about it in the news – the flu virus has mutated, therefore leaving the flu shot less effective this year. A lot of you are catching the flu (along with your families), and those who haven’t yet are freaked out that they will. I’m right there with you sisters and brothers, and that’s where we’re here to help.
There is still hope and lots of ways to help the flu – even if your family doesn’t take the flu shot. See below for surprising ways to keep your immunity up and to help prevent the flu (and other viruses):
- Eat local honey. Local honey (it needs to be cultivated from the town you live in) is very effective in not only improving your immune system, but helping prevent seasonal allergies
- Garlic is a natural antibiotic, helping your body to fight off germs the natural way
- Organic Plain Yogurt. Be sure to buy organic plain yogurt (Greek is even better). This type of yogurt has the highest concentration of the good bacteria you need to fight off the bad bacteria and keep your immune system (and digestive tract) healthy. We like Stoneyfield Organic Yogurt.
- Kefir. This super food (drink) has many times more of the good bacteria than yogurt, and different types of strains as well. Your best bet: to either have a serving of each every day, or alternate out (one serving of Kefir one day, one serving of yogurt the next).
- Lemon with Cayenne and Ginger in Hot Water: I know – this does not sound appetizing, but it will keep sickness away. Mix this tonic together every morning on an empty stomach and not only will you improve your immunity, but also your overall health, digestion, and you will be giving yourself a good detox. ONLY use either whole lemons or organic lemon juice.
- Lemon Water on a Regular Basis: Pouring a glass of water? Add lemon. Ordering water (or tea) at a restaurant? Add lemon. This small but important habit will improve your health and immunity. Take my word for it. And REMEMBER: only use whole lemons or ORGANIC lemon juice – none of the fake stuff (and yes, a lot of it is fake – I’ve done the research).
- Exercise: At least 30 minutes of exercise daily is known to improve overall health, including immunity. Don’t have 30 minutes? Break it up into 10 or 15 minute increments. My time-saving exercise tip: Do office exercises on your lunch break, or take a walk at lunch (weather permitting). It will improve your productivity for the rest of the afternoon as well!
- A Multivitamin: A multivitamin doesn’t replace a healthy diet, but will supplement you with Vitamin C, D and B vitamins (among others) that you need to keep a healthy immunity.
- Vitamin D: Most of us do not get enough Vitamin D this time of year, so it’s a great idea to take a supplement. Although we think mostly of vitamin C as being a good immunity booster, Vitamin D is as well.
- Saline Nose Spray. Keeping your airways moist will help to fight off germs. This is one reason why so much sickness goes around in the winter – the dry air we breathe.
- Humidifier. Same concept as above. Definitely use one while you’re sleeping if anything.
- Get the Flu Shot. Although the virus is mutated, the flu shot is still 50% effective in fighting off the flu, and if you do get the virus that has mutated, the flu shot may help lessen symptoms. Although it doesn’t have the usual 80% effectiveness, it’s still worth taking.
- Sleep is one of the top immunity boosters, making it a very high priority on this list. Your body repairs itself and the immune system during sleep. Aim for eight hours a night (with your humidifier on of course ).
- Nap When You Can. This is one that has helped me a ton (maybe also because I’m pregnant), but on the days you can, fit a 20 minute nap in when you feel the sluggishness coming on. It’s proven that a 20 minute nap is rejuvenating and good for your health.
- Yoga helps repair and heal the body in so many ways – mentally and physically. By doing yoga, you are strengthening yourself physically, while reducing stress (which has a huge impact on the immune system)
- Speaking of Stress, Meditate. Meditation may sound or feel strange if you have never done it. But you don’t have to chant “OMs” (or you can if you want). All you have to do is find a quiet place, maybe add a nice scented candle and/or relaxing music, but absolutely no distractions. Just sit in peace with your eyes closed. This is a good time to let thoughts fall pass in and then let them fall away, or use this as prayer time to sit and listen for God. Meditation is proven to reduce stress and increase health/immunity.
- Legs Up the Wall Pose. This and meditation go hand in hand for me. You don’t have to, but I recommend it. Take a pillow and put it up against a wall. Lay flat with your buttocks on the pillow and legs straight up the wall. Stay in this pose for about 15 minutes.
- Eat a Healthy Diet. Your diet can make your break your health – literally. So choose fresh veggies and fruits, and go organic when possible. Eat lots of lean meats, and eat out as little as possible (definitely stay away from fast food). Eating healthy supplies your body with the vitamins and nutrients it needs to fight off those bad bugs.
- Avoid Sugar and Alcohol When Possible. It’s ok to indulge every now in then – I’m all about moderation. Just don’t overdo it on the sweets or alcohol. It’s healthy to have one glass of red wine or one beer a day, but anything over that (especially for women) can be unhealthy and lower your immune system.
- Green Tea. Green tea, another super food (or drink), is known to boost the immune system and improve overall health, including reducing the risk of many cancers. Drink up! Add lemon to increase its effects.
- Wash Your Hands Frequently and keep your hands away from your eyes and mouth. This is a no-brainer, but many people skip this super important health-must. All it takes one of those little suckers (flu viruses) to enter your body and contaminate you, so wash wash wash.
- Stay Out of Large Crowds. I know this sounds a little OCD and isn’t always possible, but if you have the choice, stay away from huge crowds and stay home when possible, and resume those social activities when flu season has passed (or at least lessened a bit)
- Don’t use Antibacterial Soap or Hand Sanitizer. Sounds contradictory, doesn’t it? Well we have some evidence to back this one up. Repeatedly using hand sanitizer and antibacterial soaps have shown to weaken our immune systems by not giving our bodies a chance to be able to fight off the bacteria/viruses it needs to. What’s more, theories are out suggesting that it may contribute to food allergies. Why? Because it lowers our immunity to a point that our body is looking at certain things (foods) as being “bad” for the body, when they really aren’t, and trying to fight them off. So the plan: stick with good ole’ regular soap. Our grandparents knew what they were doing
- Floss. “What does flossing have to do with my immune system?” you may ask. Inflammation caused by not flossing can introduce bacteria and inflammation to other parts of the body, increasing your risk of heart disease and cancer, so floss those pearly whites!
- Get a Massage. Want a good excuse to pay for a massage? This is it. By reducing stress and increasing your amount of natural killer cells, massage definitely improves immunity. So what are you waiting for?
Got anymore tips? Write them below in the comments section…we’d love to hear from you! And cheers to good health this winter!
*Disclaimer: These tips are not guaranteed to prevent the flu, just overall tips on helping you to stay your healthiest to help prevent it as much as possible.