Fall is officially here. Or as the drug manufacturers call it, Money Making Season.
Hollywood’s brightest stars can only wish they were afforded the same volume of press given to the flu shot. Or the same blind eye offered up to perpetually poor performance. Inexplicably, the box office bomb that is the flu shot continues to see its career make a major resurgence year after year at summer’s close. Despite the fact that it fails to deliver, somehow we’re always convinced to come back for the next showing.
Whether or not you choose to get a flu shot is a personal decision. But getting the flu shot doesn’t change the fact that the single largest determining factor in staying healthy or falling ill is the strength and integrity of your body’s own immune system. I would argue that a healthy immune system renders the flu shot obsolete. But why drag common sense into the matter?
In either case, the time to start optimizing your immune system is right now, before you find yourself getting sick. Here are 5 simple “shots” you can take on a daily basis to help you protect yourself from illness this fall.
A Heavy Shot of Water
Many of us tend to be more conscious of our water intake during the hot summer months, and rightfully so. In the summer we generally tend to be more active, we perspire more, and we drink more water in an effort to cool our body temperature.
But don’t let the cooler weather fool you. Outside of rigorous outdoor exercise under the hot summer sun, your body’s demands for water remain relatively constant throughout the year. Even working outdoors in the cool fall air can produce a good sweat when your clothing is layered up.
Water is essential to countless bodily functions. But as it relates to illness, perhaps its biggest benefit is shuttling toxins out of the body by flushing them through the lymph system. Staying well hydrated means that everything just runs more smoothly. Thirst is an obvious trigger to hydrate, but try to stay ahead of extreme bouts of thirst by getting into the habit of travelling with a water bottle and sipping from it often during the day. Adding some fresh lemon or lime to your water can brighten up the flavor and will help to make it more alkaline.
A Shot of Liquid Vitamin
I’m not a big fan of loading up on large daily doses of supplements. The bulk of your nutrients should come from your food. As their name implies, supplements are meant to bridge the gap between your best efforts at a good diet and any nutritional shortcomings. Attempts to use supplements as an equalizer for poor dietary habits will only result in less than optimal health. Additionally, many of the nutritional supplements out there are poorly regulated, and frankly, unnecessary.
But if you are going to supplement, a quality multivitamin/mineral is a good place to start. A properly balanced multivitamin can fill in the holes in your diet without pushing any one nutrient over the edge.
Liquid vitamins tend to have great bioavailability, as they have a quick absorption rate.
A Double Shot of Bone Broth
If you want the best bang for your buck, start drinking homemade bone broth. It’s a tasty beverage that is full of good things like vitamins, minerals, and collagen. Slow cook it with veggies to enhance the flavor and nutrient profile. Tumeric is a great addition with excellent anti-inflammatory properties. Hot peppers are great antimicrobials and can also help you overcome colds and congestion. Sip a mug of bone broth a few days a week for a good immune booster, and increase consumption at the hint of any illness.
I like to make beef bone broth in the slow cooker, usually letting it do its thing for 36-48 hours. But I’ll often utilize my Instant Pot for a quick batch of chicken broth. I find that because the chicken bones are smaller and easier to break down, I can get away with a shorter cooking time under pressure.
If you want to try your hand at some slow-cooked bone broth place the bones on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil, and brown them in a 400 degree oven. Transfer them to the slow cooker. I like to deglaze the baking sheet with some apple cider vinegar and scrape everything into the slow cooker. Add an onion, a few celery stalks, some carrots, peppercorns, garlic, hot pepper, or anything else to your liking. Fill the pot with water and set it to slow cook. If you’re cooking on the stove top, bring everything to a slow boil and then simmer it for 24 hrs. Stain the broth into a large glass measuring cup and pour into glass jars for storage.
A Shot of Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has been touted as a wonder drink because it has so many potential health benefits. People report improvement in everything from indigestion and acid reflux to muscle cramping and skin conditions simply by consuming a small amount of apple cider vinegar each day.
Apple cider vinegar can be especially helpful during the colder months when you might be more prone to congestion, as it can help thin mucous.
Look for an organic apple cider vinegar with the mother (pulp). Mix a tablespoon or 2 in a small glass of water each day and drink it down. Or you can simply take the vinegar straight. In either case, I recommend swishing with pure water afterward to cleanse your teeth of the vinegar’s natural acidity.
As an alternative to using apple cider vinegar, try the fire cider below.
A Shot of “Fire Cider”
Funny how things come full circle, isn’t it? MD’s used to ridicule their colleagues who would offer up natural “alternative” remedies to their patients. Now MD’s are incorporating holistic healing into their practices, and are considered progressive or cutting edge for doing so.
There’s no arguing that our diagnostics are light years ahead of where they were just a few generations ago. Likewise, our emergency care system continues to save countless lives that would have otherwise been lost to infection, blood loss, or any other number of treatable causes.
But when it comes to building wellness day to day and creating a consciousness of prevention rather than treatment, one could easily argue that we’re in a period of regression. Sometimes we’re best served by looking to the practices of our ancestors as a model for supporting natural health and healing.
Such is the case with this cold remedy known as “fire cider”. There were probably infinite variations of this recipe over the ages based around a few main ingredients. I’m sure you’ll see several “new” iterations of this formula under different brand names in the years to come.
If you want to give this recipe a try, get on it now, as it takes about a month to fully cure.
Take a good honest look at your daily habits – your eating, your exercise routine, your sleep pattern, your exposure to toxins, your attitude, etc. I’m guessing you’ll find some room for improvement somewhere within that framework that would do wonders for the health of your immune system. Remember, as sketchy as the flu shot’s track record is, even an effective flu shot doesn’t impart health.
That’s your responsibility.
Be Your Best,