We often hear about the flu season along with dire predictions about how bad it will be the next six months or so.
Is there really a flu season? Or is it a payback season for all the unhealthy living we have done, coupled with cold weather and the lack of sunshine, which equals lack of vitamin D?
Let’s begin with the Standard American Diet or SAD. Sad indeed.
When I look through the grocery advertisements in the Sunday paper, I see more specials for junky food than for healthy food. The week of Thanksgiving, this week, tends to actually have healthier ads that other weeks. Turkey, Sweet Potatoes, Mashed potatoes are generally on the healthier end of the spectrum, depending on how you prepare them. But there are still the discounts for buying multiple cases of soda pop–which is never healthy. Stove Top Stuffing–bad news. Jello or pudding–full of nasty ingredients. (BTW, Gelatin itself is good. Its the sugar and artificial color that ruin it. So make it yourself from scratch.) Let’s face it. Eating healthy is an expensive venture. Thanksgiving or not.
Then we have the trifecta of candy holidays, Halloween, Christmas and Valentines Day. Then throw in the jelly beans and chocolate bunnies at Easter and you have the entire flu season covered. They are perfectly spread out so that they are about equal distant apart, to be sure there is a regular supply of sugar running through our veins, suppressing our immune system. Even WebMD admits that sugary foods and drinks curb the positive effects of cells that affect bacteria and viruses. This is even true of orange juice, which has a high level of natural sugars.
And of course alcohol. Alcohol begins flowing around Thanksgiving and continues through the new year. Alcohol is highly refined sugar, so any negative affects that can be assigned to sugar and also be assigned to alcohol. Plus additional ones all its own.
As you have probably heard by now, we get a steady supply of Vitamin D from the sun in the summer, as long as you spend at least 15 minutes out side in the sun each day. Winter becomes problematic. Not only do we not spend time outside during the winter, usually, the sun is at the wrong angle to absorb much Vitamin D. So even if you are a winter outdoors enthusiast, you are probably deficient in Vitamin D. This is especially true if you live north of a line from Philadelphia to San Francisco. In Minnesota, we do.
Why is this a problem? According to Harvard University, low levels of Vitamin D has been linked with all sorts of immune system problems, chronic and acute. This includes influenza. http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-d/
Regular exercise can also help reduce your risk of getting sick. But of course, if you tend to prefer exercising outdoors, you may be reducing your exercise. Exercising in the gym is always an option, but puts you in contact with a lot of other people, spreading their germs because they too eat poorly and don’t get enough vitamin D and are exposed to cold weather as well.
Conventional wisdom says that getting cold doesn’t give you a cold or make you sick. But spend a day with a homeopath during changes of seasons and particularly cold weather and you will see that there is an effect. For example, the homeopathic remedy Aconite is well known to be effective against colds, high fevers, and ear infections that come on after exposure to cold, dry wind in the winter. So yes, getting cold can make you sick.
The interaction of diet, lack of vitamin D and the cold weather in the winter can converge and increase your susceptibility in the months of November through April, the most common months to get colds and respiratory influenza.
So if we tie it all together–Standard American Diet, low levels of Vitamin D, lack of exercise and cold weather–we make a perfect host for bacteria and germs of all sorts, just lurking around, ready to make us sick if we give them the chance.
What does a healthy host–that is, one that doesn’t attract germs–look like? That is a topic for another blog.
Flu Season? Is it natural or a consequence of our lifestyles? You decide.