By Dr. Christy Matusiak
That beautiful season, cooler than summer, and warmer than winter. The leaves are changing from green to red/yellow/orange. Pumpkin everything is out! There’s fire pits, and Halloween! Especially since having kids, fall has become one of my favorite seasons! Although you know what else this time of year brings…? Those big scary “bugs.” After all, it’s “flu season” now through March. And for some, 2020 poses a larger than usual concern, since now we have to deal with cold and flu viruses…but Coronavirus as well! Haven’t we suffered enough?!
Well, my position on this may be different than what you’re used to hearing. So, please forgive my soapbox for this blog, but this is a topic near and dear to my heart. And my stance on the issue may shock some of you:
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS “FLU SEASON.” I know it may sound ridiculous, but hear me out. The flu viruses are around all year round. I know plenty of people who had the flu in June. (Not counting Covid)! It’s not as if these viruses wait until Fall is upon us and they sneak around and pounce to infect us around Halloween. Now, this year holds with it more challenges than typically due to Covid. However, there are several reasons that people are more vulnerable to succumbing to any virus this time of year. And it has nothing to do with the bugs and everything to do with us: LOSS OF SUNLIGHT Once the chill sets in the air, our bodies have to work much harder to maintain its functions and keep warm. Between the cooling of our environment, and the loss of sun (AKA our Vitamin D source!), our immune systems can easily become stressed. A recent research article showed that regular vitamin D intake was MORE effective at flu prevention than a flu shot. INCREASED SUGAR INTAKE As a result of the holidays that begin this time of year, many people give in to the societal and cultural expectations that the holidays = sugar. Did you know that after consuming even a small to moderate amount of added processed sugar, your immune system is nearly PARALYZED for a few hours? Despite the prevalence of sugar-infused products that are seemingly everywhere, it’s incredibly important to try to keep your intake to a minimum. STRESS Short term, increased cortisol can actually boost immune function by reducing inflammation. However, long term, high inflammation due to increased stress and cortisol lead to an overworked and over-tired immune system that can’t properly protect you. Increased cortisol is correlated with a reduction in lymphocytes, which are the body’s primary white blood cell defense against viruses. (ie: colds, flus, and yes, Covid). So, what can we do to stay healthy and illness-free during this risky season?
Maintain high vitamin D levels (blood levels should be 50-80 ng/dl) through supplementation or a safe tanning bed
Eat warming foods (soups, stews…etc.) abundant in vegetables and nutrient dense foods
Manage our stress levels through meditation and consistent exercise
Keep added sugar consumption to a minimum
Continue to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water daily.
Get adequate amounts and quality of sleep
If you happen to get sick anyway, don’t delay in working to fix it! We are all human. I occasionally catch viruses too. However, when I’m afflicted with something, I act quickly and generally can fight it off with proper rest, nutrition, remedies, and supplementation in a few days rather than a few weeks.
If you’d like more specific information about how to keep your immunity high, without a flu shot, check https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gWWWWfUSlw and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvAd9tjxEcw&t=10s and stay connected with me by subscribing.
I sincerely hope that you remain healthy this time of year!
You have the tools – now get to work with them!
~Dr. Christy Matusiak