Did you make New Year’s resolutions about improving your health? I have a treat for you today, a guest post from Chef Karen, Catholic mama to an adorable 8-month-old baby girl, good friend, and certified natural chef. We were childhood friends and got reconnected when we both moved back to our hometown. Enjoy her awesome wisdom about avoiding the flu by strengthening your immune system! – Haley
Hello, Carrots-For-Michaelmas-ites! I am so excited to be writing this guest post for the lovely Miss Haley! She was so sweet to ask me. Today I’m going to talk about something that is on everyone’s mind this time of year: THE FLU!
Getting the flu is no fun, but watching your babies get the flu is even less fun. I am all about natural health, so I’m going to give some great tips on how to keep your family’s immune systems rockin’ all through the winter season, so you will just beast past the flu.
Here’s what you can do:
1. Get lots of sunshine! Contrary to popular belief, the sun is your friend! While the majority of people in America are vitamin D deficient and supplementing is a good thing to do, it cannot replace good ol’ natural sunshine. When your skin is exposed to sunshine, it synthesizes vitamin D3 sulfate, which is water soluble and can travel freely through your bloodstream. The supplemental D3 is not sulfated, and cannot be converted. Try to get at least 30 minutes of midday sun (no sunscreen!), but don’t burn. Whenever I am fighting something, a good little baking in the sun always makes me feel better!
2. Supplement Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 has been shown in numerous studies to be one of the most important factors in combating the flu and colds. For those days when you just can’t get in the time in the sun, a liquid vitamin D3 supplement is a must. Current research is saying up to 8,000 IU a day may be needed for adults, but you really need to monitor your blood serum levels to know, because everyone is different. I usually take about 5,000 IU if I have gotten sun that day, 7,000 if I haven’t, and 10,000 if I feel a cold coming on.
3. Up your Vitamin C. The ideal source of vitamin C would be pure vitamin C powder, but that is pretty sour and most people don’t have it on hand. While Emergen-C has a lot of sugar in it, it has definitely been effective in my experience in staving off colds! You can also make fresh squeezed lemonade, warm lemon water, and nourishing healthy lemonade jello (see recipe below)!
4. Keep your hands away from your nose and eyes. I know most people are paranoid about drinking after a sick person, but chances are, you’ll more likely catch the flu if you’ve been rubbing your eyes a lot after being around sick people! Think about it – if you ingest something (bacteria, etc.), it has to go all the way through your stomach and all the acids and gut flora. What is the likelihood it would survive all that? However, your nose and eyes give almost free access to your system. So, wash your hands frequently, and keep them away from your face!
5. Up the probiotics. If you don’t take probiotics normally, DO! They have been shown to be extremely necessary for proper immune function, and since most of us aren’t eating tons of fermented foods all the time (although that would be great too!), you definitely want to supplement. If you are getting sick or around sick people, you should be able to double your dosage short-term, as long as it doesn’t bother your stomach. If you are up for it, fermented foods (preferably homemade) are an awesome way to get more good gut flora naturally - sauerkraut (Bubbi’s makes a live version), pickles, kombucha, kefir, yogurt, etc.
6. Eat fresh bone broth. Turns out, there is science behind the old remedy of a bowl of chicken noodle soup! Although I don’t recommend the processed, gluten-filled store-bought stuff, making your own bone broth at home is a super easy, cheap, and EXCELLENT option. Simmering the bones pulls out all of those beneficial minerals like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, plus bone marrow, healthy fats, and gelatin. Gelatin is extremely nourishing and also healing for your gut, which affects your overall health tremendously. Using lots of homemade bone broth to cook with during flu season, or just drinking a big steaming mug of it, will definitely help to keep you on the path of health.
Oscillococcinum. Did you get that? Yeah, I don’t blame you. Oscillococcinum is a homeopathic remedy that has gotten lots of recognition for its effectiveness in warding off and shortening the length of the flu. It is most effective if taken when you first notice any signs of flu-like symptoms – it has worked for me many a time! You can even find it at drugstores like Walgreens.
Get plenty of rest. I know, I’m being kind of hypocritical with this one. Having an 8-month-old who likes to wake up at least every hour at night doesn’t exactly make the ideal situation for adequate sleep. But, do what you can to optimize your sleep – take a magnesium supplement, like Natural Calm, before bed, drink chamomile tea, take time to unwind. Rest when you can!
Manage your stress levels. This can also be much easier said than done, but make a concerted effort to keep your stress levels low. Get some sort of exercise every day, go out in the sun, play a fun game, listen to some chill music – whatever works for you!
Last, but certainly not least, Eat a healthy diet. This means whole foods, nothing processed, and NO SUGAR, including sugary fruits! Eat lots of organic meats, veggies, especially green leafy ones like kale and spinach, sweet potatoes, and coconut oil. Lots of coconut oil (anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and immune boosting).
There you have it, folks! If you incorporate all, or at least most, of these tips, you should be able to breeze through this flu season without fear. And now, for that recipe I promised…
Immune-Boosting Lemonade Jello
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 Tablespoon Great Lakes Kosher Gelatin
- ¼ cup cold water
- ¼ cup water near boiling
- 1 cup cold water
- 25-30 drops liquid stevia
- In a bowl or large mason jar, whisk gelatin powder into ¼ cup cold water.
- Once well incorporated and beginning to thicken, add hot water and whisk until gelatin powder is all dissolved.
- Add additional 1 cup of cold water and stir.
- Stir in lemon and lime juice and add stevia to taste. Be sure to do this at the end, so the hot water doesn’t destroy all of the vitamin C, which is heat-sensitive.
- Pour into an 8×8 glass baking dish, or any other dish (will take longer to solidify if the dish is deeper).
- Place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or until set.
- Enjoy the immune-boosting properties AND delicious taste of your lemonade jello!
Disclaimer: These tips are not designed to replace the advice of your physician.
Come visit my blog for lots of yummy real food recipes, including gluten-free and grain-free, tips for living a more natural, chemical-free life, and lots of crazy stories from my life as a health nut Therapeutic-Chef-turned-mama! I am committed to making healthy, nourishing food without ever sacrificing flavor, because ain’t nobody got time for that. If you want more personalized help on your path to a better you, I also offer services such as Whole Food Lifestyle Coaching, cooking lessons, pantry makeovers, guided shopping trips, consultations, and even long-distance cooking lessons via Skype. Come on over and say hi! – Chef Karen