Once again it’s flu season and once again the flu shot is being touted as your defense against the flu. I’m not even going to get into whether the flu shot works or not but what I’d like to make you aware of is the additives in a flu shot. I for one don’t feed myself any additives, preservatives or flavourings so I find it hypocritical that I would take any medication that injects additives and preservatives into my system. I found this table on the website of Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, so a very reliable source for what excipients are added to flu shots.
If I don’t do flu shots every year, what do I do to prevent getting the flu or colds? By the way if you are not prepared to do the right thing by your body then perhaps you need to rethink what you do do to protect yourself from winter infirmities.
Firstly I make sure that my immune system is functioning at peak performance. 80% of the immune system surrounds the gastrointestinal tract. The bacteria in the gut communicate with the immune system as to what is friend or foe. So making sure that what you eat nourishes the body and the integrity and health of the bacteria in the gut are key to keeping the immune system working well.
Here are a few things to do in order to help the immune system and health of gut bacteria
1. Stay away from processed foods, most processed foods are filled with ingredients that your body cannot use, they become toxic and cause the immune system to become weak.
2. Eat foods from your local farmers market. The foods will be seasonal, they won’t have travelled across the Pacific ocean losing much of their goodness and they will help strengthen your immune system.
3. Make sure you meats are grass fed, your fish is local and wild and your chickens are free range. Eat fish several times a week. Make up bone broths and make soups and stews from them or include on a weekly basis lamb shanks and osso buco.
4. If you love your dairy, try and buy as local as possible, if you are feeling a sniffle coming on these foods are not wise to eat. The fat clogs up the immune system and creates a sluggishness that will not be helpful in preventing the cold or flu. But if you are feeling well then good quality unprocessed dairy is a wonderful accompaniment to your diet. Fermented dairy being the absolute best; natural yogurts, kefir, soft cheeses and most types of white cheeses, also try different types of dairy – buffalo, goat and sheep are worth trying.
5. Fermented foods will ensure your gut bacteria are well fed, sauerkraut, kimchi, traditional pickles, apple cider vinegar, kumbucha or any traditional fermented food. Or use the Changing Habits Probiotics.
6. The addition of foods that are high in vitamin C will also help the immune system. Changing Habits Camu Camu is one of the highest food sources of vitamin C. It has 20% vitamin C content and then is surrounded by other nutrients that help you use the vitamin C in the food. Nature is put together perfectly to help us use the nutrients in a mutually beneficial way.
7. Hot drinks are invaluable during the winter months. Many herbs that can be steeped in tea enhance the immune system. Go to your local specialty tea shop and ask them for a mix that supports your needs. My favourite is ginger, chili and lemongrass – these I pick from my garden.
8. Sleep in the winter is very important, it is a time for the body to heal. Bright lights after 9.00pm should be dimmed and try not to put monitors close to your eyes. A dim TV as opposed to a bright lap top will help your melatonin (the sleeping/healing hormone) to increase after sunset.
9. It is important to exercise, if you have a desk job every hour just get up and stretch for a couple of minutes, as for you that are constantly on your feet, keep up the wonderful movement.
Happy Winter Eating
Chicken Soup Strengthens the Immune System – Grandma was right!
4 chicken thighs with bones
1 large brown onion – peeled and chopped finely
1 celery stick, trimmed and finely chopped
2 large Australian garlic cloves – finely chopped
6 sprigs of fresh thyme – leaves picked, stalked discarded
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
3 TBS finely chopped freshly parsley
2 litres of filtered water
1 tsp seaweed salt
Place the chicken, onion, celery, garlic, peppercorns, parsley, thyme and water in a large saucepan with a lid, bring to the boil and simmer for 40 minutes Using tongs transfer the chicken onto a clean work bench, using the tongs cut the meat away from the bone. Discard the bones.
Finely chop the chicken and add back to the pot Taste and season with salt Pour into bowls garnish with parsley and serve