I say, “Season” because I don’t really believe it’s a season. Yes, many people get sick this time of year. Yes, there is a ready and willing nurse on every corner ready to give you the magic flu shot. Yes, your local drugstore will sell enough nightime-sniffling-sneezing-coughing-aching-stuffy nose-fever so you can rest medicine to choke a million horses over the next few months.
Ask your doctor if people can get the flu during other times of the year. The answer? Yes. That’s because “the flu” is always out there. Furthermore, many people who get sick during “cold and flu season” do not have the actual flu. They likely have a cold, which is not protected by the flu shot in the first place. This graphic sums up my flu “season” theory:
It’s cold. We don’t go outside as often.
It’s the holiday season. We eat like crap.
It’s the holiday season. We are stressed.
It’s the holiday season. We don’t rest.
It’s the holiday season. We drive-thru instead of eating REAL FOOD.
So what do we do? We inject ourselves with a vaccine that isn’t really as effective as we like to think it is and cross our fingers that we don’t get sick in other ways. Keep in mind the flu vaccine does NOT protect against colds and stomach viruses.
You’re probably not sick because it’s cold and flu season. You’re probably sick because you aren’t taking time to care for yourself properly.
My point? You still have to do work, people.
A health immune system will do its job. A healthy immune system doesn’t just happen. You have to help it along.
So, with that, I will give you my favorite suggestions to support your immune system this time of year:
It’s amazing stuff. Here’s an awesome blog post on it.
Not only is is amazing for your immune system, but if you DO get sick, its an awesome coughing therapy when mixed with warm honey and hot water.
2.) CUT THE SUGAR.
Sugar is the enemy of your immune system. 100 grams of sugar can suppress your immune system for 6-7 hours. One pumpkin spice latte has 49g. How many of you have the lemon pound cake too? Add another 46g. Think about that for a second. You have just tanked your immune system for the next several hours of your day. Surrounded by people in a busy mall, perhaps. You know, where viruses live.
Keep in mind this does not apply to natural sweeteners like honey.
Also keep in mind I am NOT saying to use artificial sugar. That shiz will kill you. Really.
3.) EAT REAL FOOD
If your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize it as food, don’t eat it.
Quality protein. Green vegetables (fresh, not canned!), yummy fruits. Probiotic rich foods like raw milk or kefir, fermented foods, and apple cider vinegar.
Yes, it’s a busy time of year, which means you are more likely to drive through for something unhealthy. That said, it’s a busy time of year, which means you really don’t have time to be sick. Take the time to invest in your food.
I also want to say that it’s the holiday season and there should be some indulging going on. Have the latte. Have the poundcake, just not every day. Christmas is not complete without my mom’s hearty country breakfast. I’m not turning that down, but I’m also saving my cheat for that day and drinking kefir smoothies in the meantime.
4.) R & R
Rest and relaxation. They seem to be impossible this time of year. Make time for it. Get plenty of sleep. Relax at the end of a long day. Make 20 minutes for some yoga or deep breathing. Read a book. Listen to music. Curl up on the couch with your blankie and sip hot tea. Figure out what calms you down, and pursue it.
5.) LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
You will be in contact with all kinds of fun bugs and viruses all winter. This means your body will be fighting them quite frequently. Feeling run down? Need a nap? Craving oranges? You might be pregnant. But you also might be fighting something and your body is asking for help. Listen and do as you’re told. Take the nap. Eat the oranges. Go to bed earlier. Your body is speaking to you and it’s your job to listen.
Look, I’m not a doctor, clearly. I may follow my own rules and still get sick. I’d rather err on the side of healthy though. Last year was the first year I was sick during the holidays in four or five years. I was eating horribly, stressing over a million things and not paying attention to how poorly I was treating myself. The result? The entire fam staying home on Christmas with a stomach virus. I’m determined to have a positive do-over this year. The thing is, I knew better. I KNOW better. This year I will do better.
Because I deserve better. You do too.