Is It The Flu or Is It You?

Is it the flu or is it you? Are we getting sicker, or just not taking optimal care of ourselves?

People tend to believe that bad things won’t happen to them and that they are less susceptible to mishaps than the average person.

Psychologists call this “it won’t happen to me” thinking “optimism bias.” Usually, optimism is a good thing, but not when it clouds your judgement in risk-taking behaviors such as buzzed driving or texting while driving, or…not eating enough veggies?

Typical diets fall short of the recommended daily value of vitamins and antioxidants, which both strengthen the immune system. You’ve probably heard this before and vowed to chow down on more fruits and veggies, but which ones?

Let’s concentrate just on vitamins – A – D are related to the immune system. Vitamins A and C help repair the protective barrier lining of the nose, throat, and GI tract, stopping bacteria from getting through. Spinach is a great source of vitamin A, while colorful foods such as citrus fruits and bell peppers are packed with vitamin C.

Vitamin B aids metabolism, which leaves the body with extra energy to fight off infection. Meats are the best source of the entire vitamin B complex.

Lastly, vitamin D prevents respiratory system infections such as pneumonia, by triggering white blood cells. Milk and tuna are good sources of vitamin D.

As always, meats, fruits, and vegetables are your caveman staples, filled with vitamins that stimulate your body’s natural mucosal lining to do its job and insulate your body from attacks. A higher fat lower carb (HFLC) diet is the perfect antidote during flu season, in addition to breaking down fat!

So is it the flu or is it you?

So many of us get sick because we underestimate the power of having a good diet when everyone has the flu but you. We also overestimate our own luck, partially because it’s way nicer to believe we won’t get sick without having to expend any extra effort to ensure it. (For example, a 2012 survey by Aflac WorkForces showed that 62% of US workers out of over 6,000 surveyed did not think they would ever get cancer or heart disease. It makes sense that we don’t want to confront these possibilities.)

However, there’s another reason that flu numbers are rising year after year: people come to work when they’re sick. It’s easy to criticize this from the cheap seats, but in today’s economy it’s tough enough to pay the bills without worrying about unpaid time off. Also, many employers just don’t give a sneeze: the National Sanitation Foundation International did a study in 2014 that showed that 25% of people who go to work when they’re sick were forced to by their boss. Not only is it egregious, but it just doesn’t make sense to have one sick worker infect the rest and tank overall productivity levels.

While that last reason Americans are getting sicker year after year may be unavoidable for some, we can still fight that “optimism bias” that makes us reckless in self-care and care for those around us. You can be as optimistic as you want, but avoiding the flu depends upon fueling your body with immune-boosting food groups.

So is it the flu or is it you? Of course, the flu can knock the best of us down from time to time, but do yourself and your body a favor and fuel yourself with the best food you can to avoid falling foul of the winter bugs.


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