It's that time of year when you'll start hearing about flu shots and the bug that's "going around" school or work. Let's stay out of that mess, don't-cha think?
Since 70% of your immune function is centered around the digestive system, it's the best place to focus on building up defenses to stay healthy! Here are a few easy steps you can take to help keep your body a cold/flu-free zone this winter:
You've got bugs in your gut. But they're the good guys! The bugs make up a whole colony of digestive flora (microbes like acidophilus) that live in your digestive tract. They're critical to help properly break down the food you eat into useable nutrients. They can also block bad bacteria and viruses from entering your bloodstream. We have to keep the population of these little gut bugs healthy and growing in order to keep our immune system functioning properly. Eating probiotic-rich naturally fermented foods like sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, or kombucha gives your gut bug population a boost and keeps your immune system strong-like-bull. I'm convinced my daily morning spoonful of home-made sauerkraut is responsible for my last 3 years flu-less. If you don't like any of the real-food versions of probiotics or don't have access to them (like when you travel) consider getting a good quality probiotic pill, like this Jarro Formulas.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Google yourself a little "Apple Cider Vinegar cures... " and you'll come up with a virtual shit-ton of miracles this stuff can perform. But most importantly, you know the little gut bugs we talked about above? They need to eat, too! And apple cider vinegar contains pre-biotic fibers, or food for the PRObiotics! Feed your bugs! Try a tablespoon diluted in a glass of water each morning; or mix it with olive oil and herbs to make a salad dressing!
3. Cut the Sugar
If you feel even a tickle in your throat, immediately get rid of ALL sources of added sugar in your diet. And this isn't just a shameless plug for my Sugar Detox program. (But you should really jump on that if you haven't yet, just sayin'...) Sugar creates an inflammatory response throughout the body, and your germ-fighting white blood cells will be occupied with the task of fighting that all-over inflammation instead of being free to tackle an invading virus or bacteria.
4. Lemon & Ginger
Lemon has natural antibacterial properties and a high dose of vitamin c, known to aid in immune response. Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory and can aid a sore throat and break up congestion, if you're already feeling a cold. You can make this concoction into a tea by steeping a few chinks of raw ginger in hot water for 5 minutes, then squeezing in the juice of one lemon. Or order a ginger & lemon shot at your local juice bar - ZING!!
5. Throat Coat tea
If you're already feeling the tickle, go get yourself some Throat Coat (Traditional Medicinals) or Throat Comfort Tea (Yogi). These both have a magical blend of herbs that seems to work like magic on an impending throat bug.
Stay healthy out there!