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Flu Shot from the Food “Farm-acy”: How to care for your Immune System

 What should we eat and what supplements should we take to prevent colds and flu?

So I’ve never been a big flu shot person. Not for any pious reason, it just seems that each year it’s gotten increasingly tricky to guess which actual virus strain is next to sweep the nation, so I usually end up skipping it and the additives that come with it. It’s really more of a personal choice, and worst case scenario, I get sick.

The truth is, It’s actually ok to get sick. In fact it’s good for the body to be exposed to different germs so it can effectively fight them off. What really matters is the severity and duration of the symptoms. In other words, when the enemy of the season comes, will the immune system be ready to fight? My approach to any illness whether acute or progressive has always been to strengthen the body’s systems at their core before going on the offense. Kind of like building a foundation under a house before the walls come up.

Here are my favorite tips for cold & flu season as well as a sneaky peek into my kitchen and whole food medicine cabinet. (Knock on wood, my hubby’s been sick 3 times this year with colds, while myself and my 8 month old only suffered some mild symptoms before giving that virus a swift kick in the buttocks!)

Bone brothsThere has been a lot of talk recently on the benefits of bone broth for its naturally occurring minerals that provide immune system boosting and anti-inflammatory properties.  Chinese medicine has been using bone broth for its ability to strengthen the blood, kidneys, and support digestion. It also has a perfect electrolyte balance that makes it the best thing to consume if you feel like you’re getting sick. Using the bones from grass fed beef and organic chickens, the cooking process takes several hours (which is why many people would rather purchase the broth then making their own). During the winter months, I recommend getting a straight up glass of this goodness every single day, and because my time is limited these days, I purchase from a place called Wise choice markets. They’re also great to cook or make soup with! The packages come frozen right to your door, so you can keep them in your freezer and thaw a day or two before consuming.  Little Tommy drinks this like a champ! I heat some in a sauce-pan til it’s just a little warm, or add it to his veggies and purees. For more amazing info on bone broth, check out my nutrition sister, Abra Pappa’s post on everything you’ve ever wanted to know about bone broth here

Garlic– Nature’s antibiotic. Chop it up as small as possible, and cook as little as possible. I add it to pretty much any vegetable I make.

Water to flush out toxins. I’ve always been horrible at drinking enough water, but I found that adding a bit of lemon or mint makes me drink more.  Aim for 8-10 glasses per day.

Watch the sugar intake– Sugar can significantly impair the immune system. Whenever  I feel like I’m coming down with something, the first thing I do is watch my sugar intake, and I’m not just talking about desserts. When you want something hot & comforting skip the hot cocao & marshmallows, and opt for herbal tea with lemon. On your salad, skip the fancy dressings and opt for olive oil & apple cider vinegar, and watch added sugar in yogurts, low calorie foods, and condiments like kechups and bbq sauces. Alcohol is also in the danger zone category, and sense it’s boring to be the designated driver, just stay home and concentrate on the next tip. 

Get your zzzzzs– T4 helper cells are severely impaired by just one night of insufficient sleep. (I know all of my fellow new moms are hating this, but it’s sadly true). Lately, I’ve had to put other things aside so I can focus on sleep and it’s helped a ton.  Sleep is one of the most important activities you can partake in, and I’m proud to say I’ve literally had sessions with clients where sleep was the focus for the entire hour and it actually helped them lose access weight as well. So pour yourself that hot cup of tea, snuggle up with a book, read 2 paragraphs and pass out. Your book club will understand. And don’t send hate mail but alcohol is in the same boat. Just wait til your cold passes and I promise it will. 

Supplementation

Probiotics– There has been more talk about probiotics in the past few years then there ever has been. A few of my programs and blog posts are centered around this since our gut health dictates what happens everywhere else in the body. During flu season, I usually double the amount I’m taking, especially if I feel like I’m fighting something off. But because it’s now such a major buzz word in the wellness world, probiotics have been added to everything from lollipops, to beverages to chocolate and though it won’t hurt to consume those, you probably aren’t reaping the full benefits. More info on one of my favorites, prosynbiotic here. Fermented foods in general, ie Kombucha populate the gut with good bacteria that arises naturally, and not awkwardly added in. By now there’s got to be a flavor you enjoy. 

Shrooms!- Yes mushrooms are fantastic for boosting immunity. They contain potent immune-modulating compounds that act as “food” for the immune system. My brand new favorite supplement, Epimune. (vegetarian) contains patented extracts from mushrooms like maitake & turkey tail.

Cellular Vitality (also vegetarian) is a synergistic blend of B vitamins, bromelain (digestive enzyme), mushroom, six berry seeds, CoQ10, ginseng, and ribonucleic acid that helps support cellular energy and function.

Other Go to’s: 

Long term support– On a regular basis I take a combination of: epimune complex, cod liver oil, echinacea & andrographics complex, to support the immune system response.

Short term support– The days I feel something coming on, I take a LOT of these: Congaplex chewables, (usually knocks out a cold pretty fast and super kid-friendly), raw garlic, elderberry, extra probiotics, and herbal throat spray. 

Not sure what to get? Feel free to contact me with any questions and I’ll write you a personal prescription. 

Cheers to your health!

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