It's only just into winter here and already the constant reminders to get the flu vaccine are really bugging me! The frequent playing of TV adverts (even on the rare times I turn it on), radio and sign advertising around town... It's like there's a global pandemic and we are all going to die if we don't get one! While many people will fall for the marketing, I won't be. Because there are better and safer alternatives!
Firstly, you have an immune system! Your immune system has developed over millions of years to protect you from any and all known and unknown infections and injuries, and it does this 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, forever. Your immune system learns and remembers infections from bacteria, viruses, parasites, mould, and other microbes and acts on them very quickly to enable you to have a permanent immunity from subsequent infections - usually without you showing any symptoms.
You don't catch a cold or flu just because "it's going around"! You get a cold and flu because your immune system is not working, or not able to protect you as it normally does. When your immune system is down or low, then those viruses (usually unnoticed by you) can start spreading out of control faster than your immune system can deal with them. At this time of year it will be the opportunistic cold and flu viruses which are more likely to make you unwell.
Instead of relying on a potentially risky flu vaccine which can be only about 16-26% effective for some age groups (see my previous article on my website), I recommend supporting your immune system naturally to improve its effectiveness to prevent cold and flu.
It is important to note that just because you may have been exposed to a microbe, say a flu virus, it doesn't mean that you will get it! In fact the transmission rate for flu, even in highly populated environments is quite low, with only around 20% of people getting flu even when deliberately exposed to the virus. The other 80% were automatically protected by their stronger immune systems!
What causes your immune system to not function as effectively?
There are many things which can deplete your immune system and therefore increase your risk of getting a cold or flu, here are just some:
- A poor nutrient intake, ie nutrient deficiencies or excesses
- Stress, emotional issues, traumas etc
- Poor quality or quantity of sleep
- Lifestyle factors - smoking, alcohol, drugs, lack of exercise
- Poor hygiene - not washing your hands after touching objects that others may have infected, or poor hygiene by others coughing and spreading the germs to you
- Low vitamin D levels in your body - vitamin D is a massive immune system booster!
- Digestive system function - you can eat the best nutrients, but if your gut function is poor, then you might not get all the nutrients you need for a healthy immune system defence
- Imbalance of your gut bacteria, which actually make most of your immune system proteins
- Exposure to toxins and chemicals in your food and environment
- Some medications - immunosuppressives, anti-inflammatories, corticosteroids, antibiotics and many more.
In this series, I won't be going over all of these immune-boosting and preventative strategies, but I will focus on the main ones to help you improve your immune system function, so you can stay healthy this winter! Look out for the next article soon!