It’s a fact that every year, the media reports that this will be the “worst flu season ever!”.
It’s a fact that majority of my colleagues will go into panic mode and queue up for the latest flu shot.
It’s a fact that just about all of those colleagues of mine end up sick, run down, fatigued and generally blah.
I used to be one of them! However, it’s a fact that I haven’t had the flu shot in about 7 years and I don’t think I’ve EVER had the flu (yes, I touched wood as I wrote this).
Now, I’m not advising you to avoid the flu injection – not at all. I made my own personal choice on this matter based on a lot of research. I’m simply going to suggest that there are other more natural ways that we can prepare our bodies for the “flu season”, which can help strengthen and improve our immune system and improve our overall health through flu season and beyond.
4 super simple tips to strengthen your immune system
Sugar | Yep, starting with the most obvious. Studies today are telling us more and more that sugar not only suppresses our immune system (after we eat it), but it’s one of the most highly inflammatory substances we can put into our body, as sugar can rob us of energy and nutrients and unbalance our microbiome. I’m not just talking about the white stuff, as sugar can hide in the strangest of places, like breads, “healthy” cereals, condiments and even dairy products – always make sure to check your labels!. Also, check the nutrition label - divide the grams of sugar by 4, and this will tell you how many teaspoons of sugar are in just one serving.
Veggies | Now this food group you want to eat lots of – think cooked, raw and every colour under the rainbow. Vegetables provide phytonutrients and antioxidants which we need to protect our cells from damage and in some cases repair and reverse damage already done. Not a fan? Perhaps try adding pureed veggies into your life through soups and sauces, where you’ll hardly notice they’re there. Perhaps add pureed carrots or pumpkin into your next batch of bolognaise sauce, or extra leafy greens (instead of just basil) to your next batch of pesto.
Processed Foods | Due to my own personal health journey, one of the “food groups” I avoid are processed foods, which are highly inflammatory and can hide a myriad of pro-inflammatory ingredients from gluten and sugar to refined seed oils and GMO’s. It’s a rare day indeed that I find something as clean and as nutritious as anything I can make myself (and often as quick!). If you are going to be eating out or picking up take-away, then try and choose foods as close to their natural form as possible.
Drink/Eat water | Don’t over think it. Just drink it! Not a fan of drinking water, then perhaps try warm herbal teas or infuse with fresh fruits. Still not a huge fan? Then add more water-rich plants to your diet, like cucumber, melons and leafy greens. The water trapped in these fresh plant foods also contain a myriad of vitamins, minerals and fibres which all help our body to absorb more water more slowly, keeping us hydrated for longer. Upping our water intake helps boost our immune system, transport oxygen, fat and glucose to our muscles and supports our body to digest and get rid of any waste.
For a little immune boosting inspiration
Carob + Banana Balls
Makes approx. 12 balls
2 cups of organic coconut (flakes or desiccated) | 1 heaped tbsp. of carob powder (you can use raw cacao) | 1 tbsp. coconut oil (not melted) | 1 small ripe banana | 1 medjool date (soaked for a few minutes in water) | 1 tsp cinnamon | Pinch of salt
Blitz all ingredients together in your food processor until it all comes together in one big sticky ball. Taste for sweetness (I personally find the banana and just 1 date makes these balls sweet enough). Roll spoonful’s of the mixture into balls and place into an air-tight container and leave in your fridge to firm up.
These can be stored in your freezer - simply pull one out when ready to eat, they defrost in no time.