So you have the flu. What should you do?
A lot of folks get a seasonal flu shot.
Unfortunately–even if we ignore the potentially harmful side effects–a specific year’s flu shot can be horribly ineffective against that year’s flu strand. This year’s shot was notoriously bad.
Most of this ineffectiveness, however, is due to the fact that most common flu symptoms arise from a weakened immune system, not the flu.
According to a recent study, patients coming in for flu-like symptoms only had the flu between 3 and 17 percent of the time!
The most common causes of a weakened immune system are a Vitamin D deficiency, eating too much sugar, lack of sleep, and lack of exercise.
Whether you got the flu shot or not, these 3 steps will help you bulletproof your immune system for the rest of this and future flu seasons.
1. Get Enough Vitamin D
Your body has about 30,000 genes. Vitamin D affects about 3,000 of them.
Growing research shows that there is a link between the flu, flu-like colds, other respiratory illnesses, and Vitamin D deficiency.
Unfortunately most of us are horribly deficient–especially in winter.
Your body should have between 40-60 nanograms of Vitamin D-3 in your blood. (Source: Rhonda Patrick.) An estimated 85 percent of American adults are Vitamin D deficient.
Vitamin D is know as the Sunshine Vitamin because sunshine is your body’s biggest and best natural source.
Sadly, if you live in the upper half of the United States (or a similar distance from the Equator) you get ZERO Vitamin D from our favorite fireball for about half the year. The sun is too far from your position in winter.
This causes D levels to plummet, which leads to a weakened immune system. The pathogens our bodies normally fight off overtake our compromised systems and we get sick.
Diet is another reason for low levels of Vitamin D and record levels of the flu.
If you don’t regularly eat a lot of fatty fish, animal liver, and egg yolks, chances are your D levels are near nonexistent.
You can have your Vitamin D levels checked by getting a blood test. It’s not cheap. According to experts, 2,000 IUs a day is a good dose for most people.
Skip the sugary Vitamin C drinks and invest in a high-quality liquid Vitamin D supplement to really fight the flu. I recommend Optimal Vitamin D3 from Seeking Health because the serving size is conveniently 2,000 IUs and (more importantly) the company has a solid reputation.
2. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep, diet, and exercise are the most important keys to a healthy lifestyle. Sleep may be the most important.
Spies and terrorists both use sleep deprivation to torture captives because it’s so effective. People’s processes go haywire. They lose motor control. Sleep deprivation can mimic drunk driving and cause hallucinations.
Sleep deprivation also lowers your body’s natural defenses.
While every body is different, getting 8 to 9 hours of quality sleep is optimal for almost everyone.
After duration, the most important factor for quality sleep is darkness. You want your room to be as close to pitch black as possible.
Your brain and body did not evolve with LED lights. Any light on in a room showed negative impact on sleep quality in clinical studies.
Looking at televisions and smart phones is like looking at mini suns. At least sleep-wise. The light tells your ancient brain that it’s daytime, which throws off your body’s internal clock.
Because of this, it’s ideal to stop looking at screens 2 hours before you go to sleep.
If you’re like me this ideal is all but a pipedream most nights.
Thanks to modern technology there is a hack. A way to have your smart phone and use it too. Cyxus glasses filter out the sunshine-like (blue) rays, allowing your melatonin levels to stay in their natural rhythm.
You may not think the removable specs are cool. However, they’re Fonzie compared to the immovable dark circles under your eyes.
Get as much quality sleep as possible when you have the flu.
Exercise gets your blood pumping. This improved circulation will help flush the crap out of your system.
Moreover, certain pathogens can only survive in a narrow temperature range. So a sweaty workout (ideally followed by a cold shower) can really help as well.
DO NOT go to a public gym if you think you may have the flu. Don’t be that person. You’ll get a bunch of other people–whose immune systems are also weakened–sick.
Instead, utilize some simple at-home techniques to get your heart rate up.
Most flu-like symptoms are not the flu at all–up to 97% of the time!
Rather, these symptoms–such as fever, cough, runny nose, and fatigue–are due to a compromised immune system.
The most common reason for this is a Vitamin D deficiency. The vast majority of adults in developed countries suffer from this. 2,000 IUs of a high quality Vitamin D supplement can help your body get into a healthy range.
Sleep is probably the most important pillar when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle.
LED lights interfere with your body’s natural circadian rhythm. To fix this either a) stop looking at screens 2 hours before you go to sleep, or b) use blue-light blocking glasses during this time.
Finally, it’s important to stay active when you’re feeling ill. Don’t go to public gyms (and know your limits; if you absolutely cannot workout, don’t) but make sure to get your blood pumping. Physical activity will speed up your recovery process.
I hope this article helps you or a loved one fight the “flu.”
If you have any questions or comments, please submit them below. Thank you!