Flu Prevention: What Works?* | Personal Training in Bellevue and Kirkland

Cold and flu season is officially here, and with it many different remedies and cures! But how to ‘sort the fly shit from the pepper’, to use a colorful old saying, and figure out what really works? My feeling is that if we work to stay as healthy as possible we’ll be able to ward off most of the really nasty stuff out there.

Sleep ~ Like most people you probably know that sleep is one of THE most important factors in your health. But did you know how many different systems in your body are impacted by insufficient sleep? Your hunger, your fitness, your mood, your cognitive function, and the big boy: your immune system. If you want to avoid flu and colds you need to make it a priority, and that means thinking about Sleep Hygiene earlier in the day.

Sleep Hygiene: Eat dinner at a reasonable, or even early, time frame (5 – 6 pm). DON’T eat after 9 pm as it compromises the immune system. Adopt calming rituals before bed, such as meditation, prayer, reading a good book, lighting candles, stretching, taking a soothing bath or shower. Consistent use will ‘train’ your mind to expect sleep will follow afterwards. Dim your lights, put on pj’s, be sure and remove ALL electronic devices from the bedroom, use a sleep mask.

Manage Stress ~ Stressors abound in our busy lives, and can be anything from extreme physical stress to emotional stress. Even infections are stressors for the immune system! If you are stressed in both your work life and personal life, and possibly also have to suffer through a stressful commute everyday, your entire system will be running sub par and you’ll easily get sick. The message? Look at your life and see what you can change, and if you can: Change it! If not, try and adopt practices than will noticeably lower the stress response, such as Yoga, walking, hiking, or meditation. Or, and this can be challenging: Rethink the stressor and decide it is a character builder and will help you manage other stress as it comes along.

Spend Time in Nature ~ Studies repeatedly show that spending time in ‘green’ spaces boosts the immune system. **A single day trip to a forest park can increase the number of natural killer cells as well as up regulating anticancer proteins for up to an entire week! In fact, in Japan ‘Forest Bathing’ is a legitimate form of immune therapy ☺

Sunbathe ~ Sun provides vitamin D, which greatly strengthens the immune system, helping prevent colds and flu’s. If you live in an area where it’s not possible to get a lot of sun exposure year round, be sure to take vitamin D supplements. **If you see a naturopath you can ask about having your blood levels tested for adequate vitamin D.

Eat Mushrooms ~ Studies show that many mushrooms are excellent modulators of the immune system! All ‘roons have benefits, but three are of notable importance: Shitake, Reishi, and Cordyceps. I like to incorporate Shitake mushrooms when I make my chicken vegetable soup ☺

Flavanoids ~ As the saying goes, ‘eat all the colors of the rainbow’! Keep eating all your colorful produce, plus coffee, tea, dark chocolate, cooking with herbs and spices, and eating as many plants as possible. ALL go a long way to having a strong immune system.

Really Rest ~ Don’t bring work home with you on a regular basis, or be constantly plugged in to emails and social media, making it your quest to stay up to date on every little thing. We all need mental as well as physical rest. Read some great books! Binge watch your fav’s on Netflix! Play with your dog or cat! Sleep…..ahhhh! Try to break away from the insanity and do what feels real and grounded.

What Does Your Appetite Say? Listen to your intuition: Do you feel like eating? Don’t feel like eating? What do you want to eat? Does a bowl of soup and early bed sound best? Kids know how to honor their appetite and can run the gamut from eating everything in sight to having a very spartan palate and worrying their parents! The old adage of ‘starve a cold/feed a fever’ has been proven untrue time and again. Go with what your gut (intuition) says.

Make Chicken Soup! ~ Chicken soup has been shown to have immune boosting properties. One of my favorite ways to make it includes 1 – 2 entire bulbs of garlic (immune system!), with ½ - 2/3 cup of dried shitake mushrooms (immune system!). I also put in sweet potatoes, green beans, and fresh fennel. Add fresh thyme and chili peppers and you’re good to go ☺

*Thanks to Mark Sisson, ‘Flu Prevention’, Paleo magazine, Feb/March 2017, for the main ideas.



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