6 Tips for Fighting the Flu Using a Functional Medicine Approach
Massachusetts doctor shares how to boost immunity the natural way
Autumn is the season for pumpkin spice lattes and oversized sweaters. Unfortunately, it’s also prime flu season. According to the CDC, flu cases begin to rise in autumn and peak in December and February.
Common advice will tell you to visit a local doctor to get an annual flu shot, and as doctors of functional medicine in Massachusetts, we support this. However, we also believe in supporting the body properly to augment the flu shot.
6 Immunity Tips from a Doctor of Functional Medicine in MA
1. Eat your greens.
As functional medicine doctors, nutrition is one of our main focus points. Late fall and early winter are prime holiday seasons. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas often include our favorite candies and homemade treats, but eating unhealthy foods comes with a cost. Our bodies have to work harder to filter out excess sugar, weakening our immune systems. This uptick in processed sugar isn’t helping our bodies stay primed against the flu—in fact, we’re only making things worse!
Don’t worry—you don’t have to skip out on pumpkin pie! This holiday season, nourish your body with fiber-rich whole grains, protein, omega-3 and omega-6 fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Consider buying free-range protein, whole-grain breads, or use coconut oil while cooking this holiday season. Healthier eating is an investment, with short-term benefits of great-tasting food and long-term benefits of feeling better! Eat in moderation while still enjoying delicious foods.
2. Get more sleep.
In a culture that embraces a “hustle” mindset, we all could use more sleep. With cold weather and sickness rolling in, it’s even more important to make sure our bodies get essential rest for repairing and replenishing our internal systems.
Let’s be real: are we really getting the 7.5 hours of sleep doctors recommend? Probably not.
This season, try for an earlier bedtime. The most effective strategy is to adopt an evening routine to help your mind and body wind down. Stretch your muscles, make a warm cup of tea, or journal before you get in bed. And don’t forget to turn off your devices well before it’s time for sleep. Blue light can disrupt your circadian rhythm, so either disconnect, or start wearing blue light blocking glasses.
If you’re struggling with sleep, the cause may be more serious than bedtime habits. Consider reaching out to a functional medicine doctor to assess your lifestyle and treat your insomnia.
3. Give your immune system a helping hand.
With infections spreading around our offices, schools, and homes, sometimes our bodies just need some extra help.
Consult with your doctor and consider adding supplements to your daily regimen—or adjust your current dosage. Vitamin C, Zinc, Vitamin D, and Elderberry provide your body with nutrients needed to help fight off flu and other illnesses.
Probiotics are another way to give your body a hand. Fermented foods are rich in probiotics and many people enjoy the fermentation process during the dark and dreary winter months. Try making pickles, sauerkraut, or kombucha. If fermentation isn’t your thing, probiotics are also available in supplement form.
Consider our immune-boosting bundle, or go the extra mile by investing in our IV immune booster. Our IV products are designed to boost your immune system, help your body fight off disease, reduce the risk of catching the flu, and help your body recover more quickly from an illness. Both immunity products provide you with nutrients and supplements to keep your immune system “happy and healthy!”
4. Get off that couch!
Exercise boosts your immune system, energizes your body, and helps you get better sleep. It’s a win-win-win!
Running and walking are great ways to get outside before the bitter cold sets in. Or stay cozy in your house while HIIT training, practicing yoga, or dancing. You don’t have to get up at 5 am every morning to pump iron. With YouTube, hundreds of workouts are available at your fingertips. Workout from home whenever you have time.
5. Take a mental health check.
Even without a global pandemic, anxiety is a struggle for many people. As seasons change, many individuals also experience seasonal depression.
Massachusetts is known for its dark, cold winters, and our functional medicine practice often sees an uptick of patients looking to relieve symptoms of depression during this time. We believe in supporting mental health just as much as we believe in supporting physical health. Anxiety management and treatment are crucial for a healthy body and mind.
When it comes to immune health, your gut is a huge factor. This “second brain” comprises at least 75% of your immune system, and it’s hugely impacted by your mental health. Your gut also gives back to your brain, “producing 75% of our neurotransmitters and up to 95% of our body’s serotonin.” The impact of mental health stretches far beyond thoughts and feelings, also impacting your immune system and your chances at contracting the flu.
If you struggle with anxiety or depression, you’re not alone. Over the past eighteen months, everyone’s mental health has suffered. Don’t be afraid to find help and healing for your body and mind. As functional medicine doctors, we’re here to help you manage your mental health naturally.
6. Wash your hands!
Over the past year and a half, you’ve probably been told to wash your hands more often than you’d like. It’s time to hear it one more time. Wash your hands!
To avoid catching the flu and other “undesirable viruses”, wash your hands with soap and warm water, avoid touching your nose and mouth when out and about, and frequently disinfect your home and personal items.
Did you know that disinfectants are riddled with toxic chemicals? Pay attention to the products you’re using on your body and in your home. Invest in clean disinfectants or use alternative options such as lavender and tea tree oil.
Functional Medicine Doctors in Massachusetts are here to help you this season.
There’s more to flu prevention than getting your annual shot. Here at Five Journeys, our functional medicine doctors provide natural ways to stay healthy so you can enjoy this upcoming season feeling your best. Whether you’re in need of a nutrition consult or want to invest in supplements, our functional medicine practice in Massachusetts is here to help.