“Get your flu shot here!” It’s hard to drive around town this time of year without seeing these signs. My intention isn’t to tell you whether or not you should swing into the parking lot next time you see one of them, but I do think it’s important to know that you have alternatives.
It’s no secret that a robust immune system is the key to avoiding illness of any kind. When you make choices with that in mind, you help foster a strong immune system—and you increase your body’s chances of fighting off any virus or bacteria that tries to take it over. After all, the flu shot is only as effective as the strains that are included each year.
Here are some alternatives to the flu shot that are sure to give your immune system the boost it needs this time of year.
#1: Optimize Your Gut Flora
Your gut houses about 80 percent of your immune system. The trillions of bacteria that live there serve many purposes, one of which is to help you fight off any infections you’ve been exposed to. In good news for your immune system, you can improve your gut flora easily through your diet. Consuming fermented veggies, kombucha, and homemade yogurt each day provides your immune system with all kinds of wonderful, immune-boosting bacteria. If you haven’t gotten into the groove of fermented foods yet, a good quality probiotic can be wildly beneficial.
#2: Avoid Sugar
Sugar is an “anti-nutrient.” That means your body must expend precious nutrients it’s stored up just to digest the stuff. You can imagine the effect this has on your immune system. Rather than building up your immunity, sugar puts an added burden on it. For your best chance at optimal health, give your immune system what it needs by staying away from sugar and consuming a traditional, nutrient dense diet instead. And learn more about this anti-nutrient by adding William Dufty’s Sugar Blues to your self-health library.
#3: Exercise (But Don’t Overdo It)
A regular exercise routine is good for every aspect of your health. However, that doesn’t mean more is necessarily better. In other words, make sure you keep up a regular, moderate exercise program, but don’t start training for next year’s marathon in the middle of flu season. If you push your body to the point of exhaustion through physical activity, you’ll exhaust your immune system too.
#4: Take Whole Food Supplements
Since the stress of daily life combined with less-than-stellar habits can get in the way of maintaining a robust immune system, whole food supplements (like the ones from Standard Process) can be a lifesaver. Immuplex and Congaplex both offer daily support to your immune system, and you can increase your dosage at the first sign of illness. Of course, first you should find a health care practitioner who can help you determine the appropriate nutritional supplementation and avoid illness.
Whether you decide to get a flu shot this year or not, think of the above alternatives as habits you should develop as part of your self-healther lifestyle. Your immune system will show its appreciation by helping you fight off those unavoidable ailments you’re exposed to just by walking around in the world every day, including the flu.
Photo from iStock/svetkor