With my experience working for an acupuncturist (who happens to be my sister) for the last 3 years, I have learned so much about Chinese/Alternative medicine as well as other therapies. I feel like the flu shot is equivalent to taking a diet pill instead of working out. You do have to put some effort in, to get the results you want.
Being "healthy" and being able to avoid colds and influenza as well as other types of sickness is truly a lifestyle decision. It does take a conscious effort to create positive daily habits that support your desired healthy body. But after a few weeks or months of these new habits they now become routine and easy and they make you feel so good you actually look forward to it. I know I do!
So here is my list of how to stay healthy during flu season, and all year long (in no particular order of importance):
- Take a high quality medium to high dose probiotic every day. I use this brand and have had great results. A naturopath once told me to take it at night, or at the time of day when you have the least amount of stomach acid this way the pill will get all the way to your intestines(immune system) before dissolving. Also, store the bottle in the fridge to keep the bacteria alive longer. Your immune system truly is in your gut and having the right balance of bacteria there is key. Antibiotics literally kill your immune system so make sure you are boosting it back up if you do have to take an antibiotic.
- Take a daily multi-vitamin that is best suited for your age and body needs. There are so many many brands out there, it's hard to know which is best and if they really help so I know it can be frustrating. But you should notice a difference when you take them. Even if it's just more energy, better digestion or better cognition, etc. I take this brand. We also sell this brand at Jade Star Acupuncture and I know it's amazing, I will switch to this once I am done breastfeeding. A daily vitamin is important because no matter how healthy we eat, it's likely we are missing a few key nutrients every day.
- Take a daily vitamin C. I take Emergen-C every day, even though my multi has C in it, I know I need extra to keep sickness at bay. I have a glass of it every night with my daily dose of magnesium. If I start to feel run down or I'm around someone with a cold, I take 3 packs of Emergen-C a day.
- Eat raw garlic if you do get sick, and cook with it often for prevention. Garlic has antibiotic properties that work best when it is consumed raw. I know that sounds hard to swallow but it really works. I mince 3 cloves of garlic into tiny pieces and then put it in a glass of orange juice and chug it down. I did this twice a day for two days when I got mastitis(infection in my breast) and I was back to normal the next day. No antibiotic needed. You just might want to eat it with meal in case it irritates your stomach.
- Take a high quality fish oil supplement every day. These have become so popular over the last decade. They are actually more popular than multi-vitamins now, so there are a ton of brands and options out there. I love this brand(I take this dose specifically because I am breastfeeding), I have always had a good experience with them. Also getting a liquid form is best if you can stomach it. The smell is strong and it is very oily, you can always add it to a smoothie. Fish oil not only supports brain function but also a healthy immune system and reduces inflammation.
- Take a daily dose of vitamin D3. This supplement is actually a hormone and is a key nutrient in immune health. More than half the country is deficient in it. Here is an interesting article about Vitamin D to check out if you want to learn more. I take this brand and I also use this app which helps me track how much vitamin D I am getting from the sun.
- Drink a lot of water and avoid all soft drinks and sugary drinks. I don't usually count how many ounces of water, but I drink when I'm thirsty. I think there are too many opinions out there about how much water is best, just drink when you're thirsty and avoid the sugar/fake sugar/carcinogen filled "other drinks."
- Drink a cup of bone broth a day. If you're not sure exactly what bone broth is, here is a great article on the details of it. Make sure you're using bones from grass fed antibiotic free animals. This delicious magical drink can seriously do wonders for your health in so many ways. I have heard so many stories of better energy, clear skin, no more creaky joints, sleeping better, and more. (Yes, you can buy it already made at health food stores but make it yourself is so much better. Zero preservatives. Made with love. And such a better deal. I can make 2 gallons worth with $12 of bones)
- Cover your wind gates. What?! My wind what? According to Chinese medicine, sickness enters the body through these points on the body: the back of the neck, the lower back, and the feet. By keeping these areas covered, especially when out in the wind or cold weather, you are preventing sickness from entering your body. So now you have two reasons to wrap up in that cute new scarf!
- Eat whole real food. Food that grew out of the earth and not the stuff created in a lab to make it look more appealing. Cook with the seasons, eat what is currently in season and your body will thank you. There is a reason soups and squash sound so good in the fall and salad is appealing in the summer, it's what is best for your body. This is a great place to find easy recipes using real food.
- Take a daily dose of magnesium. This vitamin is not talked about often but it plays a big role in your health. Magnesium is what helps your body to calm down. Calcium excites your cells and nerves while magnesium does the opposite and allows you to rest. If you are stressed out emotionally, mentally, and or physically then magnesium will help you. All that stress takes a toll on your immune system so being able to relax is so important. Just a spoonful of this stuff every night before bed will do the trick.
- Practice self care. This is a huge priority if you want to stay healthy. I cannot say that enough. Those of us that do too much, take on too much, try to do everything for everyone but always forget about ourselves are the most susceptible to sickness. Make a promise and commit to yourself to do one thing every day that is taking care of you. Even if it just taking 5 minutes to do some body care like pluck your eyebrows, or 45 minutes to take a lavender bath. I love this list from Tiny Buddha.
- Get acupuncture. Even if it's just once a month. This hour long treatment will help reset the flow of energy through your body so it is balanced and better able to ward off invaders. Your acupuncturist can also recommend certains herbs or other treatments that can strengthen your health.
Many of these items have a cost involved, so many readers may think "Oh I can't afford that so I'll skip it." But if you add it all up and consider the cost, one month of the supplements I recommend cost about the same as one dinner out at a restaurant. So skip the restaurant at least once a month, cook a whole food meal at home and now you can afford all the supplements listed above plus you'll enjoy a healthy home cooked meal!
Plus consider how important your health is to you....
Can you afford a sick day?
What are your priorities?
What is most important to you in life?
It's not just about the flu season, it's about the quality of your whole life. I hope this list has helped give you some good ideas and inspire you to make healthy habits!
FYI: I am not a physician or giving medical advice. I am only sharing what has helped my personal situation. Please consult your physician before making changes to your diet and lifestyle. None of the links included in this post are affiliated with me or profit me in any way.