Well, it’s flu season again. If you want to join the ranks of “those people” who rarely get sick, start with the strategies listed below. This list is not complete, by any means, but it is a good start.
Optimize Your Vitamin D
Having an optimal vitamin D level is critical to your good health. It’s deficiency is linked to sub-optimal functioning of your immune system. Just one example of an important gene that vitamin D up-regulates is your ward off infections, including cods and the flu. It creates over 200 antimicrobial proteins, the most important is cathelicidin, a naturally occurring broad-spectrum antibiotic.
At least five studies show a relationship between lower respiratory tract infections and low vitamin D levels. That is, the higher your vitamin D level, the lower your risk of contracting colds, flu, and other respiratory tract infections.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Getting adequate sleep and rest is helps your body to efficiently and effectively ward off infections.
Decrease Your Sugar Consumption
Eating sugar, fructose and grains will increase your insulin level, which is one of the easiest ways to get sick and also experience premature aging. Leptin is another heavyweight hormone associated with disease and the aging process.
Like your insulin levels, if your leptin levels become elevated, your body systems will develop a resistance to this hormone, which will wreak havoc in your body.
If you are exercising regularly, just as if your vitamin D levels are optimized, the likelihood of your acquiring the flu or other viral illness decreases quite dramatically, and studies have clearly shown this.
In one study, exercise caused a 50 percent reduction of catching a cold, and decreased the severity of symptoms by 31 percent among those who did catch a cold. The researchers noted that each round of exercise may lead to a boost in circulating immune system cells that could help ward off a virus.
It’s a well-known fact that exercise improves the circulation of immune cells in your blood. The job of these cells is to neutralize pathogens throughout your body. The better these cells circulate, the more efficient your immune system is at locating and defending against viruses and diseases trying to attack your body.
Eat Plenty of Raw Food
One of the most important aspects of a healthy diet that is frequently overlooked is the issue of eating your food uncooked, in its natural raw state.
Unfortunately, as you may be aware, over 90 percent of the food purchased by Americans is processed. And when you’re consuming these kinds of denatured and chemically altered foods, it’s no surprise we have an epidemic of chronic and degenerative diseases, not to mention way too many cases of colds and flu.
Optimally, you’ll want to eat as many foods as possible in their unprocessed state; typically organic, biodynamic foods that have been grown locally, and are therefore in season. But even when you choose the best foods available you can destroy most of the nutrition if you cook them.
Learn How to More Effectively Cope With Stress
Stress is a leading contributor to chronic diseases and has a significant impact on your immune system’s functioning. It is easier to catch a cold or the flu when you’re under a lot of stress. This is true for both acute stressful episodes, such as preparing a big project for work, and chronic stress, such as relationship troubles or grief. Both forms will suppress your immune system and render your body more susceptible to an infection.
If you do become infected, emotional stress can actually make your cold and flu symptoms worse. One of the most important aspects of stress reduction is to pay attention and learn how to change your reaction so as not to trigger the stress response. Your perception is the critical key to the way your body responds to stress. Also, take time in life to de-stress and unwind using stress management tools like exercise, meditation, massage, and solid social support. Theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, also effectively halts the stress response.
Following these guidelines will help you optimize both your health and immune function, and by doing so minimize your risk of the flu and other infectious disease.