It’s the annual cold and flu season. Are you ready?

During Cold and Flu season, for those who suffer from Systemic Autoimmune Diseases (SAD), food allergies, or other chronic and
systemic inflammatory illnesses, there is more to be aware of than just getting your flu vaccine. Autoimmune conditions are chronic and can affect every organ in the body, crossing almost all medical specialties, including gastroenterology, cardiology, neurology, rheumatology, gynecology, dermatology, and even endocrinology.   

To date, at least 80 different autoimmune diseases have been identified, and an additional 40 illnesses are suspected to have an autoimmune component, according to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), Autoimmune Disorders are rising rapidly in the United States and now affects an estimated 23.5 million Americans, 75% of those affected are women.   It is reported that Autoimmune Diseases are now among the top 10 leading causes of death in American women under the age of 65.

There are a number of SAD conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, celiac, and multiple sclerosis to name only a few, that weaken the body’s immune system putting it at increased risk for catching a cold, the flu or even developing other illnesses.  These chronic systemic conditions alter a persons immune system making it harder for the body to distinguish a difference between a persons own cells and any viruses, infections or other harmful germs that may invade it. Because of this people with SAD conditions are less likely to be able to fend off illnesses they may happen to catch. Making matters worse, many of the medications used to treat these chronic conditions also further weaken the immune system and may even cause other side effects presenting further complications.

There may also be dangers with combining over the counter medications and other holistic or natural remedies.  Even certain foods that may cross react with the prescription medications taken for your chronic illness.  You should always inform your doctor and pharmacist of any over the counter, holistic or natural meds you are taking in order to ensure that you are not jeopardizing their effectiveness by taking over the counter and natural remedies. Its also a good to know how a vaccine or medication is made and what is in it to lower the risks of having a flare up. 

Did you know that a fertile egg was the preferred method to incubate the serum for the flu vaccine and that there are three (3) different ways that flu vaccines are made in the United States?

How Influenza (Flu) Vaccines Are Made

Egg-Based flu Vaccines – The most common way that flu vaccines are made is using an egg-based manufacturing process that has been in existence for more than 70 years.] Though egg based is the preferred way to produce the fl vaccine there are actually three different processed to produce the flu vaccine to read more

There are a number of things you can do to help protect yourself and strengthen your immune system.  Here are just a few.

  1. strengthen immune systemHeal Your Gut –  80 % of your immune system is contained in your gut, so a healthy gut is the most important line of defense for everyone but extremely important for those with SAD conditions. Be sure to load up on high quality, multi strain probiotics either in pill/capsule form (at least 25 billion units) or better yet through daily consumption of foods like Fermented Veggies, Kombucha, Kefir and yogurt (a low sugar variety). 
  2. Try Prebiotics – Prebiotics provide your probiotics with food in order to live and multiply.  Some prebiotics are Garlic (17.5% for 1.2 oz.), raw leeks (11.7% for 1.8 oz.), raw onions (8.6% for 2.5 oz.) , cooked onions (5% for 1/4 lb.), asparagus (5% per 1/4lb.), raw bananas (1% per 1.3lb.). The recommendation for Prebiotic consumption is 5% daily
  3. Reduce Sugar and Alcohol Consumption – too much sugar from food or alcohol can suppress the immune system making it difficult for your body to fight off infection.  It also causes problems for the gut by feeding bad bacteria and allowing it to flourish in the gut causing issues like SIBO and yeast infections.
  4. Reduce Stress – studies have shown that stress can suppress your immune system.  Try meditation, yoga or at days end, you can turn the lights down, light some candles, fill the tub with essential oils and epsom salts and soak in the bath [if you can.]
  5. Sleep is very important – 7 to 10 hours of Sleep every night not only rejuvenates the mind but also the body which uses sleep to help it recover from exposure to daily toxins.
  6. Consider taking Supplements – It may be hard, if you work indoors, to get enough Vitamin D, have your physician test to make sure your levels are optimal. Zinc is needed for gene regulation and the functioning of neutrophils (natural killer cells), and lymphocytes(white blood cell). Curcumin, the orange pigment in turmeric and a potent antioxidant that improves joint health and cardiovascular function.  Glutathione, responsible for enhancing your immune system and helping your liver with detoxification. Vitamin C,  a potent antioxidant which supports optimal immune function.
  7. Moderate Exercise – Increases your heart rate and circulation therefore, boosting your immune system by allowing antibodies to travel through your body at a faster pace making it easier for illness to be found and fought and by lowering the stress hormone. Though you may do everything in your power to prepare and protect yourself there is the possibility that you may still fall prey the flu, if this happens be sure to get as much rest as you can and drink plenty of fluids.