Fall is upon us and my goal is for you to be glowing with physical health, bursting with energy, and looking and feeling as fabulous as you possibly can, even if it is flu season.
As you get older, your body becomes less able to resist some diseases as the immune system begins to weaken and it becomes more important to know how to be healthy. Digestion slows and your body slackens its ability to process blood sugar.
Fortunately, with a few easy steps, I can show you how to be in top physical health and bolster your immune system so you’re rarely sick – which means no downtime and more fun in life.
Wash Your Hands
It is extremely important to consistently wash your hands throughout the year, however especially during flu season. A lot of infections are passed by hand – almost all infections actually. You might hear your spouse coughing and you think, “Great, now I’m going to get sick, too.” But, it’s the germs on surfaces, not the germs in the air that you catch more easily.
Here’s an example: Suppose you’re traveling. The person in front of you with the flu touches the escalator handrail (one of the most germ-infested surfaces known to man).Now everyone who touches the escalator gets those germs on their hands, and the next time they touch their mouth, those germs have found a way into their body. So, it’s important to wash your hands habitually: before meals, after you go to the bathroom, after every handshake, and after you touch anything in public places.
Keep The Bacteria in Your Gut Healthy
Your digestive system may not be the first thing you think of when you envision your immune system at work. But the bacterial balance in your stomach and intestines plays a huge role in your ability to ward off illness.
You have 100 trillion bacteria in your belly, ten times the number of cells in your body, and some of those bacterial species can be deadly. So you need to make sure you have enough good bacteria to ward off the bad. Probiotics can help you strike the healthy balance you need. Essentially, probiotics are “friendly” bacteria that provide many health benefits, in addition to boosting immunity. They can aid digestion, improve nutrient absorption, and even help with weight loss.
Eat Natural, “Whole” Foods to Enhance Your Physical Health
A diet rich in whole foods is one that’s packed with foods that are very close to their natural, unprocessed and unrefined form. The closer the food is to nature, the better it is for your immunity.
Load up on veggies, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, onions, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, and all the leafy greens, and all fruits, because they contain antioxidants like vitamin C and beta-carotene that your immunity “army” needs to fight off infections. Try to eat them as close to their natural state as possible. That means either raw or slightly steamed. If you find vegetables bland, season them with herbs, throw them in smoothies, or hide them in pureed soups. Make it your personal mission to become a veggie fanatic. Get creative!
While I’m on the topic of antioxidants, I’d like to take a moment to sing the praises of berries. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and the like are all sweet, delicious, little immunity powerhouses. They are loaded with various antioxidants, including vitamin C.
How to Be Healthy: Delete “White” Foods From Your Diet
I always tell my patients who want to know how to be healthy, ”With the exceptions of cauliflower and low-fat yogurts or cheeses, there are very few white foods that are healthy for you”. I’m referring to simple sugars, refined carbohydrates, foods that have been stripped of their natural nutrients and fiber, such as the white flour in many baked goods, white pasta, white rice, and, of course, white sugar – they’re just empty calories with zero nutritional value. Even in moderation, they’ll make you feel – and look – old before your time.
In terms of your immunity, simple carbohydrates, such as the ones found in candy, cause your blood sugars to spike after you eat them. When that happens, the excessive glucose essentially gets crowded in your blood and affects your circulation. Anytime your circulation is affected, that means your blood can’t get to a problem as quickly. And if your blood can’t get there, your white blood cells can’t either, which leaves your body unable to heal itself or fight off infection vigorously. Rule of thumb: if it’s white, get it out of sight!
Eat Foods High in Selenium During Flu Season
Selenium, a trace mineral found in certain foods, is essential to a properly functioning immune system and a deficiency can compromise your overall immunity. This mineral is a constituent of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant and immune booster made naturally by your body.
Selenium helps break down hydrogen peroxide – one of the most harmful free radicals around – into water. Mounds of research show that selenium can help fight infections, maintain brain function as we get older, and prevent some cancers. You need to get enough selenium in your diet, but shouldn’t go overboard, because too much selenium can cause other physical health issues. Be sure to consume moderate amounts of lean meats, some seafood such as tuna and cod, sunflower seeds, or eggs.
Vitamin D, which your body naturally produces when you’re exposed to sunlight, also offers some major support to your immunity. One study at the University of Copenhagen showed that vitamin D can actually trigger your immune cells to go into action. It also indicated that if you do not have enough vitamin D, your T-cells can’t react properly to infection. So, go outside and soak up a few rays.
Get Quality Shut-Eye
Getting enough good sleep on a regular basis is imperative to maintaining your immune system and physical health. I know you can’t always have a perfect night’s sleep, so don’t beat yourself up if you work round the clock one night or stay out later than you should. But keep in mind that even one lousy night of sleep has shown to increase inflammation in your body and could increase your risk for autoimmune diseases. So no more Mad Men reruns late at night; your sleep is more important!
Your body has been equipped with some very high-tech defense systems, but they do require care and attention. Following these simple steps, will give your immune system a fighting chance to protect you from harm during flu season. The less illness that invades your body over a lifetime, the longer your lifetime could last and the more you’ll be able to enjoy it!
Thank you for reading this article on how to be healthy during flu season and throughout the year. Be sure to consistently wash your hands and stay in good physical health. If you enjoyed this article, please share and comment below!
If you want more tips on your health and weight loss, take the time to learn more about my 17 Day Diet Meal Plan. You’ll learn how to start eating healthy and lose weight safely.