Cold and flu season hasn’t fully struck but the only thing better than treating the flu naturally is preventing the flu naturally! Here are 4 things you can do today to boost your immune system to help prevent colds and flu. Then at the end, a few things to do if you have already been bit by the bug:)
PREVENTING THE FLU
Vitamin D is the go-to nutrient when it comes to flu prevention. Unfortunately most American’s are deficient, even in sunny San Diego. From a dietary standpoint, Vitamin D can be found in fatty fish and pasture-raised egg yolks (yes, you should eat the yolks!). However, if you are deficient in Vitamin D you may benefit from supplementation. First, make sure to get your vitamin D levels checked and that you are in the therapeutic range of 50-70 ng/ml. If you are low, you can increase your levels with a short term dose of 8,000IU D3 daily. Some people may not need this much and others may need more, so be sure to do this under the care of your doctor or qualified nutritionist.
Fermented foods contain beneficial bacteria, called probiotics, which help keep our immune system strong and make sure that we are getting the most nutrients out of the food we are eating. Fermented foods include yogurt, miso, kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh and kimchi.
Try this 15-minute Classic Miso Soup recipe.
Garlic has powerful anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. However, most of the health benefits are significantly reduced when the garlic is cooked so to get the most benefits you need to eat the garlic raw. I find a really great way to include raw garlic in your diet (and still have people want to hang out with you!) is to create a fresh, homemade pesto. You can use this to spread on sandwiches or use it as a topping for chicken, fish or pasta after cooking.
Lack of sleep and an increase in stress are incredibly destructive to our immune systems. Our bodies need time to rest and repair and this can actually increase during the winter months when germs and viruses thrive in the cold dry air. We are all individuals, but during the winter season, most people thrive on 7-10 hours. If you are having trouble with sleep read my blog about foods that help and harm sleep or watch my video about bedtime rituals that will improve your sleep.
Even if you are doing all the right things, sometimes you just get sick. Here are some treatments to lessen the symptoms and get back on your feet as quickly as possible.
TREATING THE FLU
Vitamin C may seem like old news, but vitamin C is still a powerhouse when it comes to relieving flu symptoms. You can find Vitamin C in dark leafy greens, bell peppers and citrus fruits. However, if you are at the point where you are experiencing symptoms you might want to supplement. Start with 500mg every 1-2 waking hours and then cut back to your normal dose when symptoms improve.
It turns out that treating the flu with chicken soup is based in a lot of science. Bone broth has been shown to activate the immune system and cut down on the spread of the flu virus. You can easily make your own homemade broth with high quality bones, carrots, celery, onion and apple cider vinegar, or many local health food stores carry it pre-made.
Try this Homemade Bone Broth recipe.
Cut out the Sugar
I know this one can be heartbreaking because sometimes when we are sick we really only want some sweet comfort food. Unfortunately, these sugars can feed your flu and make it last longer. At the first sign of sickness be sure to cut out the sugars and refined carbohydrates and load up on fresh vegetables, proteins and soups.
As always, feel free to contact me directly if you have any specific questions about your immune system or supplementation.