It's the fall season! That means beautiful fiery trees, snuggly sweaters, pumpkins, scarecrows, hayrides and all the fall flavors and aromas! It also means flu season is upon us yet again. Besides crossing your fingers and washing your hands, what else can you do to avoid the flu? Supporting your immune system is crucial in warding off the flu and other seasonal viruses. Here are the top five tips for getting through flu season influenza-free:
1. Sleep More. Sleep Better.
It's no secret that most of us don't get enough quality sleep. However, it may come as a surprise just how detrimental insufficient sleep can be to your health. You're not just tired during the day - you're significantly compromised in every way. Cognitively, physically, emotionally, hormonally and immunologically. Sufficient high-quality sleep is one of the most determinant factors in the health of your immune system. During periods of sleep, your body works to repair cells, heal tissues, and fight infections. If you're not getting enough sleep, your immune system suffers, you will get sick more often and recovery will take longer. So, how much sleep is "enough"? - that varies slightly person-to-person. The average adult requires 7 - 9 hours of sleep DAILY for healthy mental and bodily function. School-aged children require 9-11 hours of sleep daily, with teens requiring between eight and 10 hours. In addition, sometimes your body will require additional sleep to support the immune system and ward off an impending illness. If you feel unusually tired one day, listen to your body and go to bed early or call into work to get extra sleep! Pre-emptive sleep can do wonders for avoiding the flu and other illnesses.
2. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
We've heard this a million times - drink more water. Drinking sufficient amounts of water daily is key to basic health and immune health. However, that's not all there is to hydration. Many people drink plenty of water and are still dehydrated. Here's why - electrolyte imbalance! There are two components to hydration: water intake and electrolyte levels. What are electrolytes? Electrolytes are specific minerals that help your body get the Hydrogen and Oxygen from the water you drink into the cells properly and efficiently. These generally consist of Sodium, Magnesium, Potassium, Calcium, Chloride, Phosphate, and Bicarbonate. Most people benefit from supplementing Sodium, Magnesium, and Potassium on a daily basis. Sodium has antimicrobial properties, magnesium helps reduce inflammation and regulate cell life cycles, and potassium aids in immune cell communication. These minerals also have many other health benefits in their own right separate of immune health. Needless to say, daily electrolyte supplementation is a no-brainer. Choose a healthy source of electrolyte supplementation and steer clear of products that are high in sugar, contain artificial ingredients and are low in actual electrolytes. Additionally, drink when thirsty - you may find that as you balance your electrolytes you are much less thirsty. While it is important to drink enough water, forcing yourself to drink when you are not thirsty can lead to digestive issues and contribute to further electrolyte imbalance.
3. Get Moving
Exercise is another key factor in immune health and avoiding the flu. Because exercise increases circulation, immune cell mobilization is then elevated, and your body is better prepared to fight the flu and other threats. Don't be discouraged or intimidated by some of the fitness trends pushing time-consuming daily workout plans. The body benefits from any movement and it can be as simple as 20 minutes three times a week. If that is all you can manage, that's great! Walking outside is one of the most beneficial activities for the human body and the immune system. Low to moderate intensity activities like strength training, walking, swimming, biking, rollerblading, yoga and Pilates have all been shown to dish out major physical and mental benefits and won't leave you gasping for air. If you prefer going to the gym, walking on the treadmill, using the stair climber, elliptical, stationary bike or rowing machine are all great options. Aim for 20-30 minutes, three days a week, at a pace that gets you slightly out of breath but still able to speak. No need to complicate it and - have fun!
4. Supplement Key Nutrients
Getting necessary nutrients and eating a healthy diet is tough these days - especially if you are busy with work and raising a family. It's no surprise that, as busy as we are, sometimes our diet falls short. During flu season, there are some key nutrients that you can supplement to help support your immune system and protect against the flu and other seasonal viruses. The first and most important is Vitamin D. It is a MUST. Sufficient Vitamin D is required to produce important virus-fighting proteins, activate T-Cells, help the immune system fight inflammation, and regenerate cells. It is estimated that 42% of American adults are deficient in Vitamin D and as much as 70% of American children are deficient in this key nutrient. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for everyone to supplement. No ifs, ands or buts! Zinc is the next nutrient on the list to help you avoid the flu. Zinc helps the lining of our skin and organs protect against infiltration from pathogens, it supports the creation of immune cells, and seems to be involved in almost every facet of immune function. Since the Standard American Diet is extremely low in Zinc, many of us would benefit from its supplementation during flu season. Another crucial nutrient to supplement during flu season is Omega-3 Fatty Acids. High levels of this nutrient is found mostly in salmon, sardines, pastured meat and pastured eggs along with plant sources like flax seeds, chia seeds, and soybeans. While you may not think to supplement with this nutrient during the spring and summer months, it can be a powerful tool to boost your immune system during flu season. Supplementing with Omega-3 Fatty Acids helps your body greatly reduce general inflammation, which helps your immune system to focus on pathogens and recover from illness. It also supports healthy cell membranes to protect against infections and aids in proper immune function through white blood cell regulation and improved immune cell communication. Omega-3s are known for other benefits to the brain, eyes and heart so don't forget this nutrient in your supplement arsenal. Vitamin C of course goes without saying - supplement it daily during flu season!
5. Consider Holistic Approaches
Holistic healthcare can be an extremely beneficial compliment to your regular checkups and visits with your treating physicians to help ward off the flu and other seasonal viruses. Holistic approaches can make whole-body connections that are often overlooked by Specialists and Internists. They can also assist in proper nutritional supplementation. One of the most cunning and effective holistic treatments available is Quantum Healing. This type of treatment uses biocommunication to improve the energetic health and balance of your mind and body. Similar to the benefits of meditation, grounding, sound baths, laughter and animal therapy, quantum healing operates on a level that is deeply rooted in the body and soul - beyond the focus of conventional medicine. Quantum Healing works to balance your body biofield - which is the energetic field that surrounds the body and exists within it. Because your genes and cells communicate within this field through quantum tunnels, this technique is an effective way to support your health and wellness on the cellular level. Specifically, the immune system responds quickly and mightily to these energetic treatments. You can greatly improve your immune function and health with regular and targeted bioenergetic treatments to aid in avoiding the flu.
**Everyone's individual needs are different when it comes to nutritional supplementation. It is highly recommended that if you are interested in initiating a supplement regimen, you obtain a blood test from a functional or holistic doctor to confirm your specific needs. Similarly, the quantum healing technique discussed in this article can also assist in determining beneficial nutritional supplementation with extreme accuracy and without needles.