Flu Season Fallacy
Why we get sick and what to do about it
Every year we get bombarded by the news that it is flu season, and the only way to protect yourself is to get the shot. Nevermind that the shot is neither entirely safe or very effective (~1% efficacy rate in adults). There is actually little increase in exposure during this time of year. If we take a step back to the foundations of how our immune system works, we see that what really happen. It isn’t a nasty bug going around but a population with a susceptible immune system.
A Strong Immune System
What makes a strong immune system? One that works the way it was designed, at 100% capacity. We’re designed for perfect health, and when we get the right building blocks we can fight off just about anything that comes our way. We need plenty of clean water, clean air, abundant sunshine, exciting exercise and nutrient rich foods to build our immune system as strong as it can be, not to mention a healthy nervous system to control it.
A Season of Immune Suppression
Think about how our habits change in the fall and winter. It starts to get cold outside, so we bundle up and spend less time outdoors. We stay inside, don’t move around as much, and then come the holidays. Big meals and sweet treats, not to mention more cooking and fewer fresh foods. Each of these key changes hinder immune function, leaving us open to whatever infections might be going around.
Less sunshine and vitamin D: sunshine is the best source of vitamin D, and vitamin D helps regulate the immune system.
Less fresh air: when we go inside we breathe recirculated air, increasing our potential exposure to ‘bugs’ going around.
Less exercise: exercise helps boost the immune system over time, and over time we can weaken it by sitting around.
Too much sugar: too much sugar directly suppresses the immune system, leaving us vulnerable to infection.
Too much processed food: along with being nutrient poor, we tend to over-eat during holidays. This directs energy to the digestive system, robbing our immune system of energy needed to protect ourselves.
Fewer fresh foods: most nutrient dense foods we need for our immune system are fresh fruits and vegetables. These go great in a summer salad, not beside a honey baked ham. Fewer nutrients gives our immune system fewer building blocks to fortify itself during the long fall and winter season.