Eat, Drink and Be Merry To Boost Your Health and Fight H1N1

I thought I’d send you this helpful Special Article before we go into the stresses of the Holiday Season. The body responds to all changes as stress, (for more information about what stress does to you and the holidays are no exception, whether you are having a good time or a bad time it’s ‘change’. So you may feel extra tired, get a little snarky with your boss (spouse, kids, fill-in-the-blank!), and you may find that you are stressing out your immune system. With the flu season upon us and the H1N1 virus reaching pandemic, let’s look at what we can do to alleviate some stress and fight off the flu!

Of course, let’s start with some basics: wash your hands, often; use those hand sanitizers but soap and water is best when you can; don’t sneeze into your hand, but instead sneeze into your sleeve (takes a little getting used to, but you can do it!); avoid hand-shaking—I’m giving out hugs, ha-ha! And for goodness sake, if you do get sick stay at home. We are also advised to get the flu-shot and I suggest you talk to your primary health-care provider about that.

However, there are some other steps you can take to help ward off flu and build the strength of your immune system:

• Get enough sleep—too little compromises all body systems and make you weaker! (for tips on how to get more or better quality sleep
• Reduce your stress levels—don’t sweat the small stuff!
• Move your body—exercise makes us feel great and generates health promoting hormones (for tips to getting started
• Do not over-indulge in alcohol—‘tis the season. Less is more; take time to enjoy a beverage. As they say ‘life is too short to drink bad wine’.
• Take time to laugh—boosts your immune system!
• Eat healthy foods—which I cannot emphasize enough!

And here are some ideas of some immune system building foods to help you keep the flu and colds at bay:

• Remember, eat 7 to ten servings of fruits and veggies each day (a serving on average being ½ cup)
o Dark green leafy vegetables are great at this time of year: try kale, spinach and romaine lettuce. I enjoy kale simply steamed with a little apple-cider vinegar and fresh ground black pepper as a side dish. Easy!
o The broccoli family is high in nutrients and includes cabbage, cauliflower, bok-choy and Brussels spouts. I often make a batch of coleslaw and have a serving with lunch and dinner. My daughter Sarah enjoys baby bok-choy steamed with some garlic and sprinkled with umeboshi vinegar as a side-dish to take to the office at lunch.
o All the orange fruits and veggies are high in beta-carotene as we know. This time of year they are easy to obtain and are inexpensive. Try sweet potatoes instead of your regular spud side-dish. My daughter Emma likes to mash carrots with sweet potato for a tasty side-dish. Pop some dried apricots in a Ziploc and carry in your purse for a quick snack. They are full of Vitamin C which is an immune booster.
o Garlic daily! Crush it in a salad dressing, chop it in your stir-fry, and toss in with your roasts. Garlic goes with most things; is anti-viral and is good for your heart.
Further additions to your diet to boost your immune system: (for more info
o There has been a lot of hype around Vitamin D and its ability to produce a chemical in the body with a virus killing nature. It’s not enough on its own, but make sure you are getting it in your diet. Eat fish and fortified dairy products and get out in the sunshine when you can. If you are interested in adding this as a supplement to your diet find a natural source and beware of allergies. If in doubt contact your primary health care provider before using supplementation.
o And remember the mineral Zinc is good for your immune system. It’s in beef, lamb, (a great lamb recipe poultry and oysters. For the vegetarians, try adding raw pumpkin seeds, peanuts, and legumes, those mushrooms I mentioned earlier and for some, dairy products.
o The herbalist in me says get into your herb and spice cupboard and tune-up your food favorites! Oregano and rosemary are wonderful additions to all your savory dishes, which cinnamon and cloves spice up your sweets. While they taste great they are giving your immune system a life by being anti-viral and anti-bacterial. (Click here for a free recipe
o Drink tea. Yes, I am well known for my love of tea and I’m always talking about drinking tea, but it really is good stuff and it’s good for you too! One of the things that black and green teas do is boost the immune system. (For more about tea
o Mushrooms appear to have anti-inflammatory traits. The best are shitake, but all mushrooms are good.

If this all seems a little overwhelming the School of Complementary Therapies has an excellent home-study course Nutrition 101 ( that will have you mastering the basics of healthy eating in a very short time. (It’s also a lot of fun and good for helping understand nutrition and weight loss.)

And whatever you do—don’t forget to keep washing your hands! And let me know any tips you have to avoid flu and colds—I’ll publish them and share with others.

Keep well,

Jacqueline Fairbrass

Author's Bio: 

Jacqueline Fairbrass is the 'live a better life--Life Facilitator, CEO of Feeling Absolutely Fabulous and Founder of the School of Complementary Therapies. She currently resides in Seattle, WA and may be reached at

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