If you want to join the ranks of “those people” who rarely get sick, start with the strategies listed below. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it does give you a general idea of how to live healthy and avoid getting sick. Other factors, like getting high-quality sleep and avoiding exposure to environmental toxins, are important too, but if you’re looking for a few simple “secrets” to get started on today … start with these …
- Optimize Your Vitamin DThis takes the number one position for a reason: if you’re vitamin-D-deficient, and many are, your immune system will not activate to do its job. Just one example of an important gene that vitamin D up-regulates is your ability to fight infections, including the flu. It produces over 200 antimicrobial peptides, the most important of which is cathelicidin, a naturally occurring broad-spectrum antibiotic.At least five studies show an inverse association between lower respiratory tract infections and vitamin D levels. That is, the higher your vitamin D level, the lower your risk of contracting colds, flu, and other respiratory tract infections. To find out more, including your best sources of vitamin D, dosing and what proper levels should be, please watch my free one-hour lecture.The best way to increase your vitamin D level is by sun exposure but that is difficult for most people in the fall and winter, so next best would be to use a safe tanning bed. Neither of these methods require blood testing as long as you are getting enough exposure to get a tan. The least best way to increase your vitamin D level is by swallowing it, which will require a blood test to confirm your level is correct. Most adults require 8,000 units to reach therapeutic levels and some much more. Although that may sound too high to some, remember you can get up to 20,000 units through sun or tanning bed exposures.
- Optimize Your Insulin and Leptin Levels by Avoiding Sugar, FructoseEating sugar, fructose and grains will increase your insulin level, which is one of the fastest ways to get sick and also experience premature aging. Leptin is another heavyweight hormone associated with disease and the aging process.Like your insulin levels, if your leptin levels become elevated, your body systems will develop a resistance to this hormone, which will wreak havoc in your body.My nutrition plan, based on natural whole foods, is your first step toward optimizing your insulin and leptin levels and increasing your chances of living a longer, healthier life. The heart of my program is the elimination, or at the very least, drastic reduction of fructose, grains and sugar in your diet, which is also important for flu prevention because sugar decreases the function of your immune system.
- ExerciseIf you are exercising regularly, just as if your vitamin D levels are optimized, the likelihood of your acquiring the flu or other viral illness decreases quite dramatically, and studies have clearly shown this.In one such study, staying active cut the risk of having a cold by 50 percent, and cut the severity of symptoms by 31 percent among those who did catch a cold. The researchers noted that each round of exercise may lead to a boost in circulating immune system cells that could help ward off a virus.It’s a well-known fact that exercise improves the circulation of immune cells in your blood. The job of these cells is to neutralize pathogens throughout your body. The better these cells circulate, the more efficient your immune system is at locating and defending against viruses and diseases trying to attack your body.Since exercise has repeatedly been proven to benefit your immune system over the long haul, it’s crucial to treat exercise like a drug that must be properly prescribed, monitored and maintained for you to enjoy the most benefits. Essentially, you need to have a varied, routine that includes high-intensity interval exercises like Peak Fitness.
- Eat Plenty of Raw FoodOne of the most important aspects of a healthy diet that is frequently overlooked is the issue of eating your food uncooked, in its natural raw state.Unfortunately, as you may be aware, over 90 percent of the food purchased by Americans is processed. And when you’re consuming these kinds of denatured and chemically altered foods, it’s no surprise we have an epidemic of chronic and degenerative diseases, not to mention way too many cases of colds and flu.Ideally you’ll want to eat as many foods as possible in their unprocessed state; typically organic, biodynamic foods that have been grown locally, and are therefore in season. But even when you choose the best foods available you can destroy most of the nutrition if you cook them. I believe it’s really wise to strive to get as much raw food in your diet as possible.I personally try to eat about 80 percent of my food raw, including raw eggs and organic, naturally raised meats.
- Learn How to Effectively Cope With StressStress has a major influence on the function of your immune system, which is why you’ve probably noticed you’re more likely to catch a cold or the flu when you’re under a lot of stress. This is true for both acute stressful episodes, such as preparing a big project for work, and chronic stress, such as relationship troubles or grief. Both will deteriorate your immune system and leave it less able to fight off infectious agents.And, in the event you do get sick, emotional stressors can actually make your cold and flu symptoms worse. So be sure you take time in life to de-stress and unwind using stress management tools like exercise, meditation, massage, and solid social support.