Once upon a time, I got sick all the time. Every time I so much as glanced at a kid with green boogers, I immediately flared up and was sick within a few days. That is until the last two years. I’ve only been sick once. One time. My husband and four daughters have been ill countless times over the same two year period, but I never caught anything. I practically eat their snot while I play nurse-maid, but it doesn’t faze me.
How have I done this? Read on and I will share my secrets with you.
First and foremost, for Heaven’s Sake please don’t get a flu shot. Their risks outweigh the possible benefits and they haven’t been proven to work anyway. (source) Colds and flus aren’t life threatening and almost everyone recovers without issue. You don’t need a vaccine for that – especially one that may not even be effective. Vaccines are simply a profit driven business bringing in tens of billions in profit to pharmaceutical companies each year and you can’t bet your bottom they don’t have your health as their number one concern. (source)
Secondly, take into consideration that 80% of your immune system lies in your gut. This means everything you eat has the potential to affect your immune system’s function for good or ill. Sugar and refined foods (especially refined grains) negatively affect your health. Your immune system is compromised for approximately 6 hours after ingesting sugar. It decreases the effectiveness of white blood cells and therefore leads to getting sick easier. (source) I’ve heard that the busiest time of year in pediatricians’ offices is the week after Halloween. Hmmm. Make sense.
On to the list.
I’ve listed the things that I do on a regular basis in order of importance. Since I’ve been doing these things for the last two years or so, my health has dramatically improved. Also keep in mind, as mentioned above, I’ve changed my eating habits as well.
11 Ways to Avoid the Flu Like Nobody’s Business
Vitamin D3 – Most Americans are deficient in Vitamin D. This is due to wearing sunscreen and not getting enough unprotected sun exposure (this is vitally important and how your body manufactures Vitamin D). About 10-15 minutes per day will do it. Expose as much of your body as you can. Ever had a neighbor that walked around in tighty-whities in his back yard? BE THAT GUY.
If you can’t get enough natural sunshine, take a high quality Vitamin D3 supplement. Therapeutic dosages (how much you need when you’re deficient) are much higher than what is listed on the packaging or on the USDA’s website. Our family has found that 2,000IUs per day for children and 10,000IUs per day for adults is about right. In the summer when we’re outside and getting enough sun, we decrease the dosage accordingly. Also see Cod Liver Oil below to find out how to get it in your diet with a real food supplement.
If you’re financially strapped or just not interested in a lifestyle change at this point – the most important thing I recommend is taking a quality Vitamin D3 supplement. It’s cheap and easy.
Magnesium – I know I’m a broken record here, but most people are magnesium deficient. Eating the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) full of refined sugars and packaged franken-foods as well as eating produce and animals raised on deficient soils has caused this deficiency. See my post on magnesium to see how to supplement.
Cod Liver Oil – There was a reason why, once upon a time, so many mommies and grannies ran for the cod liver oil when someone was getting sick. It works. It tastes and smells like death in a jar, but by golly it works! Cod Liver Oil provides you with highly absorbable vitamin A and D as well as DHA and EPA and Omega 3s and 9s. We use Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil and High Vitamin Butter Oil , but less expensive brands like NOW Foods Cod Liver Oil
(affiliate link) can also deliver results.
The good news is, these days you can get cod liver oil in convenient capsules or with natural flavors added in like “chocolate cream” to make it easier to swallow. My kids take the capsules in applesauce and the baby takes the flavored oil by the teaspoon. The younger you start ’em, the better they’ll take it willingly.
Apple Cider Vinegar – apple cider vinegar has long been beloved for its touted benefits in healing or helping healing almost anything. We’ve removed warts, cured psoriasis, calmed coughs and gotten rid of heartburn amongst many other things with apple cider vinegar. We drink it as a daily tonic that keeps our guts running efficiently. The kids won’t typically drink it, but my husband and I do. We take 4 teaspoons daily in about 2 ounces of water.
Some folks drink it as a tea with hot water and honey. We just chug it ’cause it’s strong and we want to get it over with. Also, vinegar is highly acidic so you don’t want it mellowing any long periods of time on your teeth and breaking down the enamel. Just swallow quickly and rinse well with water. We use Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar with the Mother.
Elderberry Syrup – In European medicine, Elderberries have a long history as a remedy for flu and cold symptoms. Besides just being super-delicious, they contain high levels of antioxidants, Vitamins A, B, and C, potassium, and calcium. You can make your own Elderberry syrup by combining it with other healing herbs and raw honey or buy it. (affiliate link) You can take it regularly to strengthen your immune system as well as use it in a concentrated effort to rid yourself of an illness you already have. Click here to visit my friend, The Dabblist, for a tutorial on how to make Elderberry Syrup.
Stress – I’m the worst at handling stress. I melt down, I freak out and I run around like a chicken with its head chopped off. The more I’ve learned about the body’s biological responses to stress, the more I’ve attempted to keep it under control.
The immune system is a collection of a whole bunch of cells that travel through the bloodstream. They move in and out of tissues and organs, defending and launching attacks against foreign bodies (antigens), such as bacteria, viruses and cancerous cells.
When we’re freaking out over everything, the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens is reduced. That is why we are more susceptible to infections. In addition, the stress hormone corticosteroid can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system because it lowers the number of lymphocytes (white blood cells – the defenders against antigens).
7. Sleep – I think this is one that really gets over-looked and underestimated. We get so much conflicting information – too much sleep is bad, not enough sleep is bad, you only need 6-8 hours, you need 10 or more hours. Every person is different and you have to find your groove with sleeping. I’m a 9 hour a night girl and I typically sleep from 11pm to 8am. I know this isn’t possible for everyone, but find your happy place and stick with it. If you have to be up early, go to bed earlier. Simple.
Sleep is when our bodies recharge and repair. If you don’t allow for enough recharge time, you run on a low battery all the time and your body never quite gets caught up. This leads to illness and disease. Also, try not to eat within 4 hours of going to bed. Your body will spend all its resources on digesting – not recharging and repairing.
8. Bone Broth – Grannies have fed chicken soup to ailing children and adults alike for many years. I’m not talking about the MSG-laden, toxic junk you buy at the store. Old fashioned chicken soup was made with a base of chicken stock which is made by simmering the carcasses of healthy, pastured barnyard chickens for long periods of time. This pulls out the bone marrow, vitamins and minerals contained in the bones, cartilage and tissues of the chicken and makes a powerful little stew.
Drinking or cooking with bone broth daily is great way to infuse yourself with everything you need to strengthen your body and immune system and resist illness. We make our own from the bones of pastured and grass-fed beef and chicken. It’s important to make sure you source your bones from animals who are organically raised and fed their natural diet.
9. Probiotics – It stands to reason if 80% of our immune systems lie in our guts, it’s important to make sure we have the right balance of intestinal flora. The over-use of antibiotics in recent decades has caused a lot of people to kill off all the beneficial bacteria in their bodies and digestive system. This leads to a plethora of problems like auto-immune diseases and resistance to antibiotic drugs.
One sure way to strengthen your immune system is to avoid antibiotics like the plague and to supplement with probiotics. Yoplait-poo-poo yogurt in the store with all its chemical additives and fake sweeteners does not suffice. Getting a high quality probiotic from a health food store or online store as well as making your own yogurt, buttermilk, kefir and kombucha are the best ways to go. (it’s easy, I promise!) Having one of these things daily with replace and repopulate your healthy intestinal bacteria and make your immune system super-human.
10. Handwashing – this is a no-brainer. Hand to hand contact is how most bacteria is spread. You pick your nose and then shake hands with Bob. There it goes. One thing I like to spread the word about is that antibacterial soaps are not your friend. It’s along the same lines as keeping your intestinal flora in balance. Our skin has good bacteria and bad. We don’t want to kill it all. Washing for a minute or so with warm water and a mild, natural soap will work. We use Dr. Bronner’s coconut based soaps. (affiliate link) I mix it with water 50/50 and put them in normal soap dispensers. Cheap and easy.
I especially love yoga. It has helped me immensely with dealing with anger issues. I also like to find ways to exercise that aren’t really “exercising”. Shoveling animal poo, building fences, clearing brush from our property, tilling the garden, cleaning the garage, chasing my kids at the park. You know, things that get something accomplished besides staring at my fat rolls jiggling in the mirror while I ride a pointy stationary bike to nowhere.
What do you do to stay well?
Photo attribution: freedigitalphotos.net
This post is featured on Natural Family Friday