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Avoiding the Flu

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Fortify Your Immune System
If you make an effort to take good care of yourself, you will probably find that your immune system performs incredibly well.  Being healthy and practicing good health-promoting habits helps you to remain healthy.

Of course even with a good diet of whole and healthy foods, it is beneficial to allow yourself occasional treats and even small binges.  As long as you don't make it a regular thing.   If you try to be too strict with yourself, chances are you will abandon your healthy diet all together.

It is the same with exercise.  Try to be consistent as possible, but if something interferes with your workout for a few days, that is okay too.  As long as you make sure to get back to following your workout plan as soon as you can.

Here are some additional tips to help you bolster your immune system:
  • Get at least seven or eight hours of sleep each night.
  • Make sure you stay well-hydrated
  • Eat a few servings of vegetables and fresh fruit each day
  • Make sure your vitamin D levels are optimal
  • Try to get some exercise each day.
  • Practice simple meditation techniques to help release stress and quiet your mind.

You have probably noticed the annual media blitz promoting a  "yearly flu shot", as if it is something we have perpetually scheduled on our calendars.  For many of us, this annual "war on the flu" is unquestioned wisdom, and we succumb to the idea that we are just  defenseless humans at the mercy of the all-powerful flu virus.

Is that really the case?

What most of the so-called "experts" fail to mention in their relentless marketing campaigns is the adaptability and versatility of our amazing immune system. We're the lucky owners of a state-of-the-art built-in biowarfare system, that works 24/7 to battle microscopic foreign invaders of our health and well-being. Once our remarkable immune system has detected a foreign protein it immediately begins attacking and destroying the alien molecules. And, the memory of that particular invader is permanent, enabling a future immune response to be swift and effective.1

The main issue with influenza is that we are faced with new strains each year which we have never encountered.  Fortunately our immune system is extremely flexible - its inherent design allows it to respond quickly to new foreign invaders - and most of the time it is incredibly successful.

Two simple things you can do to lower your chances of getting the flu is to avoid touching your eyes and nose, and wash your hands often.  It's not necessary to use antibacterial soap however, which can create antibiotic resistant superbugs and cause problems in the water supply.  Any natural and nontoxic soap will work just fine.

It is also crucial to make sure your vitamin D levels are optimal.  You can check with your doctor and have it tested if you suspect you may be deficient.

Sometimes our immune systems can be weakened due to various circumstances, bad habits, and stress. Stress is  well-known for compromising a body's immune defenses.2 And, unfortunately, many of us have plenty of stress these days.  If you're not getting enough sleep, eating poorly and not exercising regularly, and then add a good dose of worry and anxiety to that... getting sick becomes much more likely.  So the key is to develop and maintain healthy living habits and successful strategies for managing stress.3

If you do the simple things that keep you healthy and well, in the winter months you will hopefully just let the flu pass you by, knowing you've done everything you can to keep your immune system in top shape.  If your immune system is functioning properly, you're far less likely to "catch" something.

And, even if you do succumb, you've got a much better chance of getting well again quickly.

1Sompayrac L: How the Immune System Works, 2nd ed. Blackwell, 2002.
2Wein H:Stress and disease - new perspectives. NIH Word on Health, October 2000.
3The Truth About Your Immune System - What You Need To Know. Harvard Health Publications, 2007.

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