It’s that dreaded time of year again—"flu season.”
In other words, it’s the time of year when people get bombarded with ads EVERYWHERE and downright bullied into getting flu shots, with fear mongering being the tactic of choice.
But what most people don’t realize is that influenza (and other viruses) is in our environment 12 months a year—not just from fall to spring!
The real reason there is an increase in the number of reported cases of flu or flu-like illnesses during this period of time is because our immune systems are being slaughtered!
Here’s what I mean:
Slaughtered immune systems
Once fall hits, several “enemies” come together to create a well-orchestrated attack on your immune system.
The first of those is an avalanche of sugar and refined carbs. We start with Labor Day barbecues, move on to Halloween candy, then Thanksgiving pies, Christmas cookies and candy, New Year’s Eve parties, Valentine’s Day chocolates and candy in Easter baskets.
Sugar and refined carbs feed harmful yeasts in your gut, which in turn can severely depress your immune system functioning.
Plus they throw off your gut microbiome, creating an environment which favors harmful bacteria. Not only does this continue the cycle of poor immune functioning, but it also irritates your gut wall making you a likely candidate for leaky gut and reduced nutrient absorption.
Once your gut wall starts leaking toxins into your bloodstream and you start lacking essential nutrients, it’s extremely convenient for viruses to take a hold of you.
Here are the other enemies in the attack:
The back-to-school and holiday seasons are loaded with stress—to get the kids off to school or college, then get ready for the holidays—baking, cooking, shopping, wrapping, decorating, traveling, entertaining, etc.
Stress causes the protective mucosal barrier inside your intestines to become less effective at defending your body against dangerous invaders, so you are much more susceptible to catching viruses and infections when under stress.
Vitamin D deficiency
Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency is extremely common, especially in the northern hemisphere where we have less exposure to sunlight during the cooler months, so our bodies can’t always make enough vitamin D.
Also, as we age our skin doesn’t make as much vitamin D in response to sun exposure. At the same time, our kidneys become less efficient at converting vitamin D into the form used by the body.
Also, food sources of vitamin D are very limited, so most times your diet won’t even come close to giving you what you need.
The holidays are a classic time to get stressed, work long hours, stay up late and drink more alcohol than usual.
All of which can impact the amount and quality of your sleep!
Lacking sleep can compromise your immune system functioning, making you more susceptible to infections, viruses and diseases.
Share and share alike
Once school starts, kids come into close contact with each other and bacteria and viruses can easily spread, especially since kids aren’t always religious about hand washing or covering their mouths when they cough or sneeze.
And whatever they may pick up at school, they can bring home and share with their family!
Plus, crowded shopping malls, grocery stores, airports and airplanes are germ factories, with infections and viruses all around that would love to make their home in you.
Poo-poo the flu fear mongering and take care of your immune system!
When you support proper immune system functioning and fight back against the “immune system slaughter,” you are FAR less likely to get sick 365 days a year—not just from October to May!
Here are 7 ways you can help:
1- Limit sugar and refined carbs
Avoid the white breads, pastries, cookies, donuts, cakes, bagels, rolls, white rice, crackers and snack chips as much as possible.
If you entertain, incorporate some healthy options into your buffet or appetizer spread, like a crudité platter, hummus or guacamole. (At the end of this blog I’ve given you the recipe for one of my new faves—red beet hummus!)
And stay far away from the #1 health wrecker in existence—SODA.
2- Eat real foods
Concentrate on nutrient-dense real foods—fresh vegetables, meats, poultry, fish, eggs, real butter and olive oil. These are the foods that will help supply the nutrients you need to stay healthy.
3- Have a good laugh
Laughter exerts positive influences on your immune system!
4- De-stress and get some rest
Do what you must to lower stress in your life (regular exercise works wonders!), and make sure you get enough sleep each night.
5- Get nutritional support with probiotics and vitamin D
Since most of your immune system resides in your gut, it's essential to make sure that you have a healthy population of beneficial gut bacteria to support it!
Supplementation with a full-spectrum probiotic like Super Shield multi-strain probiotic formula is the single most effective step you can take to support and encourage a healthy gut microbiome.
A top-notch supplement like Optimum DK Formula can help ensure your body has the vitamin D your immune system so desperately needs all year-long, especially when you can’t get out in the sun as much.
6- Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day
Water is vital for cell and lymphatic system health—both of which are crucial to proper immune system functioning.
Just make sure to have some form of filtration. Tap water contains contaminants which can have the opposite effect on your immune system—actually causing more harm than good!
7- Ditch the antibacterial products
Exposure to various microorganisms actually makes your immune system stronger!
So ditch the anti-bacterial soaps and hand sanitizer goop. Ordinary soap and warm water are all you need to keep yourself clean.
Now for the recipe I promised you:
Red Beet Hummus
1 medium or 2 small red beets, trimmed and scrubbed
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1- 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (depending on taste)
2-3 tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400°. Place beets and garlic on a sheet of foil, drizzle with olive oil, wrap up and roast for 30-40 minutes, or until beets are tender. Let beets cool slightly.
Peel beets and chop. Place beets, garlic, chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, water and cumin into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Place in a serving bowl (decorate with plastic eyeballs or spiders if serving for Halloween!) and serve with raw veggies.
To your health all year round,