Dr. Bell's Blog

Tips For Preventing The Flu....Without The Flu Shot

It is that time of year again.  Yep, it is flu shot advertisement season!  Everywhere you look we are being marketed to about why we all need the flu shot.  You can get your vaccine at the grocery store, drug store, doctors office, health clinic, and virtually anywhere in between.  Accessibility is not the problem, but do you really need it?

Research continues to mount that the answer is a resounding no.  Even by their own admission, the 2014/2015 flu vaccine was only effective 15-18% of the time (and many suspect the actual number may be significantly lower than that). Even with that, people will be lining up for their flu shots this year, because drug companies are masters at selling fear.  Be very careful however, because not only are the benefits of the vaccine few and far between, in many cases you may be putting yourself at even greater risk.

What Else Can You Do To Prevent The Flu?

Largely, we get sick this time of year for a variety of reasons including increased sugar consumption, decreased exercise, and a reduction of vitamin D levels.  All of these things, as well as many others, significantly lower your immune system function putting you at risk for getting sick.  My approach has always been to not worry about what is going on externally, and instead take steps to build a body that is an "armored truck" of sorts.  One that has a very high resistance to sickness and disease.

Here are a few simple tips that will help you too accomplish that:

1. Exercise:  I know, everyone knows that exercise is important.  That is more true this time of year than ever because we tend to have a more sedentary lifestyle because of the weather.  Make it a point to exercise, sweating a minimum of 3-4 times per week. Find a good mix of cardiovascular as well as simple weight training.

2. Increase Vitamin D Intake: In the summer, with regular exposure to the sun, we can get our vitamin D levels naturally (even then, most are deficient).  However, in the winter when our access to the sun is minimal, it is best to offset this with a good supplement.  I take 5000 IU's of vitamin D plus probiotics daily for this reason.  Consult your doctor to get your levels tested and see what would be best for you. Raising your levels to at least 40-60 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) is crucial for immune system function.

3. Cut Down on Sugar: Sugar interferes with the normal function of your immune system almost immediately after you eat it, altering your body's ability to fight of viruses.  Remember carbohydrates quickly turn to sugar in your body as well, therefore keep your bread, pasta, and potato consumption low as well.  Keep the majority of your meals filled with vegetables, lean meats, and non-citrus fruits.

Finally, commit to living a healthy life.  Not just sometimes, but all the time.  Make it a lifestyle and a challenge to yourself to be the healthiest you can be.  Don't focus on things on the outside, things that are out of your control. Create that "armored truck", and you will be well on your way to living the healthy life of your dreams.

LIVE well. BE well.