As we enter the season of holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, etc) and the season of flu, two concerns on many people’s minds are flu prevention and weight loss. Luckily, there are some simple suggestions that can help maintain a healthy weight and help bolster the body’s defenses against the flu and other illness this season.
My first and most important recommendation for both of these goals is to switch to a healthy diet. The old adage “you are what you eat,” has never been more true. As the percentage of the population that is medically classified as overweight or obese rises steadily, it is no surprise that rates of cancer, disease, and other medical issues rise as well. For optimal health, I recommend a diet of high quality proteins, abundant sources of beneficial fats, and adequate amounts of organic or locally grown vegetables, if available.
Proteins are necessary for virtually every function the body performs. One of the disadvantages of the low-fat diet that has been promoted my the medical community for so long is the lower intake of protein that often accompanies it. Additionally, a low fat diet is often a high carb diet, as foods like whole grains and starchy vegetables are considered “healthy” low-fat foods. This high carbohydrate diet can contribute to insulin resistance, obesity and eventually diabetes if continued over long periods of time. As proteins are vital for every function of the body, they also perform an important role in immune function and weight maintenance. Antibodies are specialized proteins that help defend the body from illness and bacteria. Proteins are necessary for cell division which is vital in healing and growth, and proteins in the form of hormones and enzymes regulate chemical reactions in the body. The adult body needs one gram of usable protein for each 2.2 pounds of body weight. This means that a 180 pound man would need around 80 grams of protein a day and a 145 pound woman would need about 65 grams a day. I recommend organic grass fed beef, free range chickens, free range eggs, organic raw dairy, and certain forms of protein powder. I will post more on this soon.
This may sound foreign to you if you have followed a low fat diet in the past, but more and more studies are proving that eating fat does not make you fat. In fact, recent research is showing that adequate fat intake is vital to weight loss. (A good discussion on fats here) Fats provide concentrated energy and are important building blocks in hormones. Fats carry the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Studies show that fats, including the much feared saturated fats, contribute to immune strength, bone strength, and can protect the liver. For optimal immune function, it is important to get adequate fats from healthy sources including olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, nuts/seeds, krill oil and animal sources.
I hopefully won’t have to do much to convince you that vegetables are healthy and important for optimal health and weight loss. The important thing is to get organic or locally grown vegetables whenever possible as organic varieties can often contain up to three times the nutrients of conventional vegetables. For weight loss and immune function, it is important to avoid eating too many starchy vegetables like potatoes and winter squash and to focus on greens (spinach, lettuce, kale, mustard greens, etc), peppers, tomatoes, hot peppers, garlic, onions, celery, and asparagus. I get mine in by drinking veggie smoothies and eating a salad or two green vegetables at every meal.
Another thing that helps weight loss and flu prevention is to maintain adequate levels of vitamin D.
More and more research is showing the importance of Vitamin D in maintain weight levels, preventing disease and for optimal mental health. The best source of Vitamin D is that which is naturally produced by your body when it is exposed to sunlight in moderation, though this can be difficult in winter months. If you are unable to get 30 minutes of sunlight a day, supplementation may be necessary. If you choose to supplement, opt for Vitamin D3, a more assimilable and healthy version than other forms.
Since Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, it can be dangerous if taken in excess. Consider having your vitamin D levels checked by a doctor before beginning any supplementation, though Vitamin D obtained from sunlight is considered safe. It is important to carefully maintain optimal levels of Vitamin D, as too much or too little can be dangerous. Recent research is also showing that optimizing vitamin D levels can be a major factor in maintaining or reaching a healthy weight.
- During flu season especially, we drink homemade bone broth daily to help bolster our immune systems
- We also make homemade elderberry syrup to help ward off illness
- This article has a full breakdown of herbs and supplements we use to keep from getting sick or to shorten illness
How do you keep from getting the flu? Share your tips below!