The Michigan Community Department of Health says that the best way to protect against influenza is to get vaccinated. While many people do choose to get the flu vaccine each year, others opt for an alternate approach, that of maintaining and boosting a healthy body and immune system in order to stop flu bugs in their tracks. Taking a proactive stance toward health, especially during flu season, is something everyone can do, and we are here to help.
First and foremost in any health regimen is to eat a whole foods diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and if you eat animal products, clean sources of meat, fish, chicken, and dairy. Refined, processed foods, especially those that are full of sodium, sugar, trans fats and synthetic chemicals tax your immune system and minimize your body’s ability to be healthy. If you need ideas for what and how to cook with whole foods, our What’s For Dinner demos on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays provide samples of simple, economical meals you can prepare yourself. We are always ready to help get you get started on your path towards better health.
Here are some suggestions for specific foods that are particularly good flu fighters. Colorful fruits and veggies are high in antioxidants so consider including foods like sweet potatoes, broccoli, squash, purple grapes, blueberries, carrots or collards in your diet. Boost your daily Vitamin C intake by enjoying foods such as citrus fruits, red peppers, broccoli, kale, kiwi, or spinach. Also, onions and garlic have natural antiviral properties and you may eat these with abandon.
Second on the list of ways to boost your immune system is to fortify your gut with good bacteria. A healthy gut is a cornerstone of good health; it improves digestion and helps increase your resistance to infections. You can help yourself achieve good gut health by eating cultured or fermented foods such as cultured veggies, kombucha, yogurt, or kefir, or by taking a daily probiotic supplement. We have several brands of cultured veggies in the dairy cooler. Another good product is a probiotic juice drink located by the yogurts, GoodBelly Plus, with mango, strawberry, and blueberry acai flavors.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a safe, magic pill that prevented flu? There might actually be such a protocol, according to the March, 2010 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN,) which states that Vitamin D was extremely effective at halting influenza infections in children. Another study in the AJCN suggests that higher vitamin D status enhances your immunity to microbial infection. Since sunbathing is not an option for most of us this time of year, taking a vitamin D3 supplement is your best bet. Our wellness department has a good selection of Vitamin D products. (Note: Vitamin D can be toxic at high doses. This happens rarely, nevertheless it is advisable to check your vitamin D levels by having your blood tested.)
Natural Flu Treatment
We carry many high quality products that keep your immune system in peak form and/or assist in overcoming a bug once it has taken hold. Shorten your cold or flu with something from our Wellness Department. Flu product suggestions >
Get Your ZZZZs
A few old-fashioned bits of advice for optimal health are to get adequate exercise and plenty of sleep. According to scientists, sleep is very closely connected to the strength of the immune system and that’s why people feel tired and exhausted when they have an infection or are sick. Also be sure to drink lots of water as dehydration will inhibit the immune system.
Wash Those Hands
Remember how your mother used to tell you to “Wash your hands!” Well, she was on to something. Frequent hand washing is one of the easiest ways to avoid getting sick and spreading illness. Remembering to wash your hands often just might stop the next flu bug from taking hold. Finally, you can stop by the Lake Street Café and treat yourself to a freshly-made juice drink such as the “Green Goodness” or our own “Flu Shot” that tastes great and helps boost your immunity. There’s nothing like a super fresh juice drink that tastes great and is good for you.
Here’s to a healthy, flu-free winter for everyone.