It’s already cold and flu season, and I got my flu shot yesterday! I am such a baby with those- it makes my arm all sore, and I usually get a low-grade fever that night, and then I’m fine. I’m just glad I got it, and it’s done. I know a lot of people don’t get flu shots, but I’m not sure why. Getting the flu is the worst!
(If you’re interested, here’s some info about flu shots. There are several strains of flu, and the 7 most common strains from the previous flu season are put into this year’s vaccine. It’s not a guarantee that you won’t get flu this season, but it’s a good chance you won’t. More info: CDC Flu Shot Info)
I think, however, to give us the best shot at staying healthy this cold & flu season, we’ve gotta do more than just get a flu shot! I can’t speak for everyone, but I have noticed with myself that if I eat lots of sugar and don’t at least walk a few times a week, I get a cold much easier. Furthermore, I’ve noticed that over the past year (since I started eating mostly whole foods and walking/yoga/etc), I have had FAR fewer colds/sinus infections than previous years. In the past, I have been an incubus for every viral plague headed my direction. In my opinion, eating better and exercising allows the immune system to strengthen- I think that’s why I’ve only been sick once this year (and it was after that week in the Dominican- being on an airplanes and sharing germs, eating terribly, and not working out!!)!
I really do think yoga specifically helps; as any form of exercise, it get the blood moving in the body, cycling nutrients, oxygen, and electrolytes to all organs in the body, and taking cellular waste products away from those organs (that’s the same reason medical journals theorize that exercise keeps people looking younger for longer). Most yogis believe that the practice cleanses the organs by physically “wringing them out” when twisting, it cycles lymph back to the nodes, and it reduces stress, in addition to the obvious strengthening, cardio, and balance training inherent in the practice. Whether or not all of that is true, I figure it can’t hurt! Plus, I really do think it helps my stress level!
I also like to use some homeopathic type treatments, too. Now, most in my profession don’t really approve of these things, but I really think if it isn’t hurting, give it a shot! (That said, it would be irresponsible of me to make a statement on the internet without saying that certain herbals can interact with prescriptions, so just double check with your doctor beforehand.) I have tried the Yogi brand Cold Season Sampler (which is organic, to boot). I drink it as soon as I get a little sniffly, and I really do feel better shortly! Now- that said, I do have terrible allergies, and maybe it’s just helping them. Still- these teas are filled with fabulous herbs, and I love the way the “Sore Throat” one tastes- just like buttered cinnamon sugar toast!
Apparently, chicken soup has been shown to have a positive effect on healing for those who did come down with a cold/flu. Apparently, it’s a study in state-dependent learning; the brains of those who have had chicken soup in the past with a cold/flu and got better associate chicken soup with healing, which theoretically, in future illnesses causes the body to release a cascade of healing processes and they subsequently do get better. It’s a a theory they were teaching about 4-5 years ago in medical school, anyway (has it already been that long!?). So, anyway you like it, eat some chicken soup when you’re sick (or whatever it is you eat when you’re sick)! I personally like chicken dumplings (I’ve even made whole wheat dumplings, lol). In addition to chicken soup, there are lots of other foods which have immune-boosting elements; Whole Living’s website has a slideshow with several of them here.
And, of course, there’s good old rest. I must have been run down lately, because I have always been a 7 1/2 hours of sleep per night girl- to the minute. I don’t even need alarms- I used to say my own thoughts are alarming enough! But lately, get this: I have been sleeping 12-14 hours every night plus daily naps for over a week now (except call nights). I must be fighting something off, I guess. Or maybe insatiable exhaustion. Or both…?! But I haven’t come down with that cold yet…and hopefully with my yoga, teas, flu shot, and healthy eating, these sniffles won’t turn into something more. Here’s to good food and good health- my 2 favorite things!