When I worked at my corporate job without exception all my colleagues with little kids would fall prey to the flu right around fall. Sometimes even more than once. I assumed that having kids in your life meant they would do a number on your immune system. So I braced myself for the constant sniffles when my son was born .
When that didn’t happen I thought it was because he wasn’t in daycare yet. Daycare produced a few runny noses for him, but other than that we were great. Interestingly enough, the next fall season we had the same experience. Flu hit once and lasted for 1 day! This is going to be my third fall season with my son and I’m planning on having a flu-free season. I’ve decoded what we’ve been doing right and want to share that with you.
If you’re taking a multivitamin you might think you’ve taken enough precautions, but this is the time of the year to do something extra since those kiddo bugs are strong!
So what’s the big secret?
We think of our digestive system as the place where food is dealt with. While this is true, your intestines also contain more immune cells than any other part of your body. It’s approximated that 70-80% of your immunity resides in your gut. Which makes your gut a pathogen fighting machine. Any dysfunction of your gut will reflect in how susceptible you are to what’s going around this coming season.
A lot of variety of different good bacteria in your gut (your microbiota) is essential. You also need the ratio of good to bad bacteria to be in favor of the good ones. This ratio has a direct effect on your health and immune response. Luckily, the largest determinant of this ratio and the diversity of your microbiota is how you use your fork.
What to eat?
I have some daily practices for you to incorporate. Never underestimate the power of the things we eat daily since they have a compounding effect. And you will find yourself craving these easy additions.
1. Power of Fiber
You might have a surprised look on your face, but really fiber! In this case you want to focus on soluble fiber since this is the fiber used to feed the good bacteria in our gut, which will allow them to grow faster. Foods containing inulin or oligofructose are a great source of soluble fiber. How the immune effect works exactly is still being researched, but soluble fiber’s beneficial properties are undeniable.
Soluble Fiber Sources
30 grams (yikes!) provide you with 6 grams of prebiotics. Raw garlic gives your microbiota much needed nourishment. See the explanations below on fire cider for a great way to add more raw garlic to your life. Adding raw garlic daily to a salad or your dinner is a great way to make use of the compounding benefits.
Both raw (70 grams provides 6 grams of prebiotics) and cooked onions (120 grams will do the trick for 6 grams of prebiotics) are a great source of soluble fiber. It doesn’t really matter if you choose white, yellow or red onions. Either one will provide you with the needed benefits.
Even though flax seeds are richest in insoluble fiber (about two thirds) that will deal with constipation for instance, it is also source of soluble fiber as well (1 gram per tablespoon when broken).
Always buy whole flax seeds and then grind them yourself. Since the broken flax seeds you buy in the store have already gone rancid due to the sensitive nature.
You can add a 1 tot 2 tablespoons to your smoothie or grind it to sprinkle over a salad, breakfast option or side dish.
When increasing your fiber intake, make sure you drink more water to prevent bloating and constipation.
Fermented foods are a great budget friendly way to care for your immune system since the lactic acid they contain contribute to that variety of your gut microbiota. Especially kimchi is a powerful and tasty addition to your diet. Beachu Kimchi is the most popular Korean version of this dish containing beachu cabbage, ginger, radish, onion, chili peppers and fermented seafood, but the variations are endless.
Pre- & Probiotics
Kimchi contains probiotics, the good bacteria needed to restore the good-to-bad-ratio of bacteria in your gut. It also contains prebiotics for the good bacteria to be able to survive in your gut as opposed to store bought probiotics . This is therefore a great (budget friendly) substitute for store bought probiotics.
The easiest way to add Kimchi to your diet is to have a tablespoon daily. Sometimes I add a little plate as an appetizer or I’ll add some to the salad dressing. Kimchi will help you prevent an infection, but also help you cure a cold or flu quicker.
3. Fire Cider
I love making home medicines and fire cider is a powerful potion that can prevent illness and also help you fight the flu once you have it. Trust me this stuff is amazing! They don’t call it poor man’s penicillin without a reason.
Easy DIY Medicine
All you need is a few garlic cloves, a few big onions, a large piece of fresh ginger, some horseradish, a few small peppers and unprocessed apple cider vinegar (Braggs is a great brand) to cover it with. You then let the mixture sit for approximately two weeks. If you don’t have all the ingredients except for the apple cider vinegar it will still be potent enough to fight an infection.
To prevent getting sick, mix a teaspoon of fire cider daily with some water as a small shot. If you’re already sick then take one teaspoon right away in a cup of tea every hour (fermentation can wait). You can add honey or maple syrup if you need to make it easier to drink. Because the taste is strong and the smell is probably stronger, the smell is also great to clear up your sinuses.
If you want my recipes of these DIY medicines, you can send a request on the contact page!