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  • Writer's pictureDr. Jo Nell Shaw DC, ND

3 things you MUST do for flu season

In order to be prepared for the flu we need to know what places us in harms way. Why do healthy people become ill?

When thinking of the flu or other illness we typically think of the symptoms related to it: fever, chills, runny nose, fatigue and the like. These specific symptoms are not what we are looking to combat. These symptoms are not the cause of the illness. We could take medications and they might make these symptoms decrease but the illness and original cause of it remain.

Why? Because symptoms are your body’s way of communicating an imbalance. Typically these imbalances or stressors come in the form of sleep deprivation, eating junk food, high emotional stress and lots of changes. When these lifestyle factors cause us to be thrown off balance our body responds by trying to course correct. We end up feeling tired and wanting to rest because we have not given our body rest. This is huge as we enter the holiday season.

In order to protect yourself from illnesses like the flu it is vitally important that your foundation is strong. That means being sure your lifestyle supports health. The basics like getting sleep, eating a nutritious diet, and exercising. After these basics are covered we can move into more specific ways to support your level of health.

1. Preparing your environment.

You live in your body, so there is no closer “environment” to take care of. Your body heals itself, as long as there is no interference. Your immune system and every cell in your body is controlled by your brain. If you want your body and immune function to be top notch be sure there is nothing getting in the way of your brain and body communicating clearly. Whenever there is a disconnect your tissues are not getting full instructions from your brain on the amount of proteins to create and how quickly and how well you heal.

This is where spinal health comes in, if there is stress and tension in parts of your body that should not be there, it is decreasing the ability of your brain and body to communicate, and in turn you are not functioning at your best. Seeing a chiropractor can correct this, if you are looking for a doctor you can trust come see me or any of my peers. Search for chiropractors who specialize in kids and pregnancy.

Hand washing WITH SOAP. I can tell you that many people do not wash their hands well. Get in the habit of singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star or another short song to know that you have taken enough time to adequately wash your hands before meals and after being around people. Why does this matter? Many illnesses are spread through physical contact with bacteria and viruses. This is not to say that everyone exposed to the same pathogen will get sick. Not at all, but limiting exposure on top of supporting your own healthy foundation minimizes risk.

Use natural cleansers such as lemon essential oil and others for air quality and surface cleanliness. Having a clean home decreases the amount of physical exposure to the bacteria of the world. I recommend using natural products to avoid the harsh toxic products. These not only overload our livers, who have to metabolize and convert incoming chemicals in the body but they also are commonly increasing our overall toxic burden and that has lasting effects on hormonal regulation and our threshold for disease and illness.

2. Nutrition matters, the content of your foods matters.

Every meal matters. My simple advice for this time of year is to eat lots of vegetables with fiber, leafy greens, as well as avoiding processed foods and sugars. WHAT?! Yes, I know this time of year is full of candy and pies and all sorts of goodies. I also know that you trade in what tastes good in the moment, for improved overall function without all that sugar in your system. The choice is yours. Everyone loves to be able to have go to vitamins and herbs to use to boost their reserves. I recommend Vitamin D, Zinc, Vitamin C and probiotics.

Probiotics help to seed the digestive tract with beneficial bacteria that create an internal barrier as well as influence our neurotransmitter production and immune function. These are not short term solutions and are best used for long periods of time, 6 months of continuous use in kids showed the best results.

A study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that supplementing preschool children (3-5 years old) with daily vitamin C (50 mg) and probiotics reduced the frequency and duration of upper respiratory infections and decreased the number of days missed at school as well as the amount of antibiotics needed. I don’t know about you, but as a mom I know those results mean a great deal to me.

3. Get your supplies ready.

Going to the store for supplies when you feel sick or having to take a sick child to the store is no fun for anyone. So get prepared before you need these items. Herbal support can be helpful when you are looking to support your body as it shifts gears to increase your defenses. The two herbs I use most when looking to increase the function of my immune system is echinacea and elderberry. Elderberry tastes great and is full of anthocyanin and this is what gives it that deep color and counteracts oxidative stress and repairs cell membranes.

I love using echinacea root as soon as I feel a tickle in my throat. My tip for you is when you use an echinacea tincture, you know its potent if your tongue feels prickly after you take it. Warming socks. This is an old school at home hydrotherapy that uses cold wet cotton socks and bulky wool socks. More on this in the future. It is so powerful for good sleep, clearing congestion, and improving the immune system it deserves its own article.

These are my quick wins for busy moms. I hope you found this article of interest. If you did go ahead and share it on social media, DM me or comment with your “ah ha moments”. If you have questions please feel free to email me my information is below.

Article citations

  • Garaiova et al. Probiotics and vitamin C for the prevention of respiratory tract infections in children attending preschool: a randomized controlled pilot study. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2015) 69, 373–379; doi:10.1038/ejcn.2014.174

  • Wangensteen H, Barsett H. Elderberry and Elderflower Extracts, Phenolic Compounds, and Metabolites and Their Effect on Complement, RAW 264.7 Macrophages and Dendritic Cells. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18(3), 584;

Pregnant woman looking at and holding her growing belly.
A mother's health is intertwined with her unborn child's.

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