Health & Spirit

Vaccines Are Iffy, so Do 1 More Thing to Resist the Flu

Marilynn Preston on

Great question. Prevention! What can a person do to keep from getting the flu?

"Take the flu vaccine," the doctors kept repeating. And wash your hands. And if you feel sick, stay home from work or school so you don't make other people sick."

I listened to this interesting discussion about the flu for 25 minutes of a 30-minute segment, and when I turned it off in the parking lot of my yoga class, I knew I had a column.

Yes, dear readers, flu vaccines can be helpful, and washing your hands periodically during the day is very smart, but as your most personal trainer I want to mention another strategy for fighting off the flu virus and all its nasty friends. It's a strategy that I think is every bit as important as taking a flu vaccine that is 32 percent effective. It's actually more important, in the long term.

Drum roll, please.

Strengthen your immune system! You have one. Everyone does. And the sooner you tune in to yours -- and what it needs to become stronger and more protective -- the less likely you will be to come down with a debilitating, even deadly, case of the flu. Is it 100 percent effective? No. Nothing is.


What is your immune system exactly? To cover the "exactly" would take volumes, so for now let's go with something simple from Harvard's health department: "It's an extremely complex network of cells and molecules." Translation: There's no place in your body that your immune system is not. I like to think of it as a gel-like matrix of potential.

It's your immune system that protects you from the disease, suffering and death caused by viruses, infectious bacteria, fungi, parasites and more. So again, vaccines can be helpful and hand washing is de rigueur, but don't forget the incredible power you have to engage with your immune system in ways that make it more effective, more protective and more resilient.

The only question is, when will you decide to take action?

"Get plenty of sleep. Be physically active. Manage your stress. Drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food," it says deep into the CDC site, the last line of the last paragraph of a page called "Preventing the Flu."


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