In this episode of Wellness Radio, Dr. Nathan Warren gave his advice on preparing for flu season and lets us in on what his family is doing to maintain health throughout the fall and winter months.
As always, he focuses on strengthening the immune system and healing the gut lining. Nourishing the body with good food and necessary supplements at this time will help kids and adults alike to make it through the flu season strong and in good health.
This article is a summary of the one-hour long show. If you’d like to get more details, be sure to watch the video. Here are some time stamps for the topics he discusses for your convenience.
2:47 - The mindset we teach our kids
4:28 - How to prepare for flu season
14:30 - What we eat at home during fall and winter
18:57 - How to choose your meat
23:29 - Recommendations for perimenopausal women
25:02 - Fasting by gender
35:03 - Making sure your gut is prepared
48:09 - Your vitamin D levels and effects of deficiency
In our house, we steer away from always telling our kids to be careful. Instead, we help them work their way through things they’re about to do. If they’re about to attempt a jump from the top bunk and we see them in action, instead of calling out in fear to them, we might ask them if they’ve noticed the height and have thought through their decision. We help them to see all the what-ifs and allow them to make their choices, guiding them to better decisions.
If we're constantly saying to them to be careful, it gives them the idea that risks are to be feared. But life is full of risks! We don't want them to fear risks, we want them to be able to assess risks and be prepared.
When it comes to risks with our health, we have a choice. We can prevent health issues, and if something does go wrong, we can choose to heal instead of masking symptoms. We’re not living to be careful, we’re preparing for risks because that’s what life is.
We also do not live by the mindset that food is medicine. Food is not medicine, food is nourishment. Food is information that supplies your cells with everything that it needs to operate, have energy, and function. Medicine certainly does not do all that.
Our ancestors ate for the seasons. In the summer they ate fruits and vegetables that were in abundance and in the winter, they hunted. We try to practice diet variation like our ancestors who changed their diet when the weather got cold. Our modern lifestyle has decreased diet variation and the benefits it has. In our household as we get closer to the winter months, we consume lots of dense nutrition from animal protein and animal fat. Grass-fed liver is one of the most nutrient-dense foods available. Even when compared to kale and spinach the nutrient density isn’t close at all.
As outside gets colder, we focus on big nutrient-dense meals with lots of grass-fed meat, bone broth, and animal fats. We try to have a mug of bone broth before at least one meal per day, or before both meals if we have it readily available. Bone broth is a highly nutrient-dense food that supports good gut health.
Did you know that 70-80% of your immune system relies on good gut health? Bone broth is full of vital minerals, amino acids, lots of healthy fats, vitamins, and other nutrients. You can easily make bone broth yourself, saving time and money. (Try this recipe from our favorite brand, Kettle & Fire!) Try to source local grass-fed bones from your butcher or farm. You can make broth in an Instant Pot in a matter of hours or 24-36 hours in a crockpot.
We generally eat lots of plant-based foods and fruits in the spring and summer. Foods that are lighter in density are perfect for the heat. In the winter, we pair our animal protein and fat with cruciferous vegetables and lots of leafy greens.
As best as possible, try to choose local grass-fed, grass-finished, pastured meat, dairy, and eggs. Or if you're not able to connect with a local farmer, check out pasture-raised farmers online that ship their produce.
If you have a food sensitivity surrounding eggs, it’s probably the egg whites. You can cut it out for a little while, heal your gut, then reintroduce it back into the system because eggs, especially egg yolks, are very nutrient-dense. There’s lots of good fat inside an egg yolk along with vitamins A, D, E, and K, plus choline, which is huge for brain development, building up your hormones and your cell membrane. That’s why you should be eating eggs.
We use our Instant Pot over and over in the flu season because it saves time to make really healthy meals from animal protein. We love that you can take a frozen roast, pop it in, and in a couple of hours, it’s ready to go. When using heat and pressure in a safe way to cook your meat, it preserves around 90% of the nutrients in the food.
Eating good calories is important in the fall and winter. Now is the time to make big smoothies full of protein and healthy fat. I don’t use a ton of fruit in my smoothies, maybe some frozen berries, as we really eat our fruits in the summer months. I’ll use a bit of Stevia or monk fruit to sweeten up my smoothies if needed.
If you’re a woman approaching or already going through menopause, nutrient-dense food is even more important for you. Nutrient-dense meals support your hormones. It’s also a good idea to cycle in higher carbs one to two days per week. This could mean having a sweet potato with dinner or some organic non-GMO wild rice. Consuming healthier carbs 1-2 times per week will help even further with your hormones.
I’ve found that men do really well eating one or two meals per day during fall and winter months in a smaller feeding window of 4-6 hours. For women, it’s a better idea to stick to 16-17 hour fasts to help balance out your hormones. If you have adrenal issues or fatigue, then a less restrictive fast of 14 hours, where you’re still eating three meals, per day is probably best.
Including collagen in your diet will support your body to fight off weak bones leading to knee and hip issues. As we age and lose collagen, the modern diet replenishes very little of it.
Our ancestors consumed collagenous tissue which supported their health. Studies reveal that up to 50% of collagenous tissue is replaced in the body when supplementing with collagen or consuming bone broth. This replacement staves off arthritis and other bone and joint issues as we age. Whether you’re consuming bulletproof coffee infused with collagen or a collagen powder like the grass-fed collagen from Ancient Nutrition (available here) which we really love, you’ll see the benefits from consistent consumption.
It’s important to make sure that your gut is prepared for the flu season. Preparing and healing your gut really means protecting the mucosal membrane of the intestinal lining. The Standard American Diet is filled with wheat, and wheat ravages the intestinal lining.
The argument for wheat is that it has historically kept populations alive in the past during times of famine. But, not because that generation survived means they thrived. Wheat leads to gut permeability by triggering a molecule called Zonulin, which opens up the lining of the gut. This molecule can be triggered for months, so a beer or a slice of bread here or there has long-lasting negative effects on the gut.
Ion Biome works well for closing up the tight junctions of your gut. If you eat foods that have trace amounts of herbicides or pesticides in them, your body will get rid of it via waste matter instead of absorbing it when you have a teaspoon of Ion Biome before your meals. This supplement also increases communication between bacteria and your cells. When I do a gut protocol with a patient, I use Ion Biome for healing and restoring the gut to better health.
Spore forms of probiotics (such as Megasporebiotic by Microbiome Labs) are also wonderful for gut health, as they are able to withstand the acidity of the stomach and heat. One of the fun things I do with my kids is to use these probiotics in paleo waffles. I open up a capsule and put it right into the batter as we’re making waffles.
Saccharomyces boulardii (we like Klaire Labs brand, available here) is a natural cleanup that will help if you are experiencing an overgrowth of yeast or bacteria. It helps to proliferate good bacteria and get rid of bad bacteria, just beware of side effects like vomiting and nausea while it’s working, as it is strong.
Vitamin D is absolutely important, especially as we go into the colder months where we are inside more than the summer months. Test your levels, and if you’re below 60, then you want to get it up to 90 with a vitamin D supplement. I like a Vitamin D complex with K1 and K2 (such as DV3 by Systemic Formulas) so you are delivering calcium to the bones in an appropriate way. There’s a synergistic effect when these vitamins are consumed together.
Garlic is a great immune booster. It’s antimicrobial and antiviral so it will help keep your gut clean and healthy while boosting immunity. Chop it up small, leave it out for a minute to get sticky, then swallow it with lemon water. It won’t be pleasant smelling on the breath, but it will really help get you ready for flu season.
Oil of oregano is also an effective immune booster, but must be cut with water, as it is very strong. You can burn your throat and it may bleed if you take it by itself. It must be diluted.
We use a supplement called Oreganol which is cut with extra virgin olive oil. I put 3--5 drops under my tongue to boost the immune system or put it in water and gargle with it to knock out a sore throat quickly.
Use these actionable tips to boost your immune system and get ready for the flu season and you will come out healthier and stronger when the seasons are ready to change.
Disclaimer: This content is strictly the opinion of Drs. Warren and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All recipients of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Drs. Warren do not take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All recipients of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.