10/24/2016 Update: I wrote this article nearly a year ago and since then I have incorporated a few new tricks to staying well. 🙂 I am going into 3 years of zero sickness and I feel great every day!!! 🙂 I have added and updated them below.
The key to staying well involves 3 main components: nutrition, love yourself and reducing contact where possible. I have been very proud of my health streaks since going vegan in 2013. I was a vegetarian for 20 years and I was normally sick 3-4x every single year. This I have learned is mainly due to my former addiction to dairy products. Nearly every time I would get sick I would eat yogurt, drink dairy based smoothies and other things that just increased the inflammation and bacteria growth in my body. My first year as a vegan that number went down to 1 and since then I have not got sick in over 2 years! I actually placed “not getting sick for a full year” as one of my 2015 new years resolutions. I want to share my insights on how I have got myself to the place that I do not get sick. I want to share that it takes some energy to stay well but I believe that it is much better than the alternative.
First thing to mention is that my body is not impenetrable to germs. I really wish it was but I am not sure if that is even possible. Every season my body gets a few bugs which infect my body and my body fights off over the course of 24hours to a few days. So what is the difference between this and getting sick? I do not actually get sick and I am aware of what is going on. I get no actual symptoms of the infection. I simply feel my body working on it until it is gone. This involves me requiring usually 1-2 hours extra sleep and a bit less energy than my normal kung pow vegan energy. When I am experiencing this I am very careful about pushing my limits.
NO PROCESSED SUGAR! I mean none. If you are feeling your body getting sick then do not skip this rule. Most infections including cancer feed on sugar. No wonder our planet is having such an issue with cancer today. Well, when I know my body has a bug it is fighting I completely cut out all processed sugars. I have tested this theory in the past when I used to get sick and eating sugar would make my symptoms worse and elongate my sickness.
I use a variety of natural tinctures to help fight the infection.
Sambucus (Black Elderberry Syrup) – This is one powerful potion. I will take it every few hours if I feel a bug in my body. It seems to hold things back very well. This tastes delicious! Fall 2016 Update: They have reformulated it so it is slightly more concentrated. It also is available in orange and cherry flavor. I like the original but the original is much more expensive because it is only available in 8oz. Here is the one I recommend: Sambucus
Oil Of Oregano – Another Powerhouse. I take 5-6 drops on my tongue and then I follow with a glass of water. The goal is to coat the back fo the throat with as much as possible. It is a great antibiotic. There are many different brands making it but Sources Naturals Oil of Oregano seems to be great. I have used it for a few years now. This tastes really strong and burns. Be careful. Never take full strength Oil of Oregano without oil in it. Source Naturals is pre-mixed. Here is the one I recommend:
Liquid Echinacea – To round things out I take one serving of it daily as needed. This does not taste too bad. I put it straight in my mouth but some will want it in water. Here is the one I recommend: Liquid Echinacea
Water: I know that everyone knows they need to drink a minimum of 64oz of water a day but how many of us do? I lived chronically dehydrated for over 15 years of my life and had many life challenges related to my lack of water. If you want to stay healthy then never get less than 64 ounces of water in a day.
Here a few tips:
Quart(32oz) Jar: Use a quart jar and drink the whole thing before you eat anything. This was how I got into drinking water. Every morning I would grab my quart jar and I would fill and drink the entire thing within about 1-2 minutes. Sometimes I would add 1tbsp of apple cider vinegar but I no longer do that regularly. Once I finished it, I refilled it and then I would slowly drink the 2nd one over the afternoon. Done, 64 ounces 🙂
What I now do is drink 16 ounces of water and then I make 32 ounces of tea. But where do you get 32oz tea cups? I buy beer mugs at the dollar store. They are very sturdy and can handle hot and cold very well because they are made of very thick glass. Normally I get in about 64 ounces of water in before I start my smoothie around 2 or 3pm.
But will it make me pee more? This is the immediate rebuttal I receive when I mention drinking more water. I do not really understand why people are more concerned with convince than their health. Anyways, it is only a noticable in the beginning. For the first month you will have to go probably 10+ times a day but after a while your body will understand that it is not temporarily receiving more water so it will use it instead of flush it. I drink about 75oz of water daily now and I use the restroom about 4x. When I was chronically dehydrated I was only urinating about 2x a day so it is only slightly more often. Remember things always get worse before they get better. It is amazing how many things will get better in your life after you start drinking water. Trust me 🙂
- Vitamin D – This is a must in the winter for anyone that is living in the northern parts of the US but when the body is working overtime to stay well this is even more important.
- Vitamin B-12 – I recommend this for anyone who is feeling low on energy. I do not always take B-12 but when I am supporting my immune system I make sure I get it daily.
Organic Apple Cider Vinegar. I recently had to support my body extra well while a loved one had a fierce cold. Over the course of 5 days, I drank over 16 ounces of ACV. It is a health nectar. I usually put about 1/2 tbsp in a full glass of water in the morning but when I am feeling a bug in the body I will take 1tbsp every few hours. I only recommend Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar
Water & Tea Every Morning(10/2016 Update):
Green Smoothies every morning and more if needed. Smoothies are so powerful to the body. I would highly recommend adding the following to your smoothies to make them extra powerful.
- Fresh Ginger
- Fresh Turmeric
- Fresh Basil
- Assortment of organic fruits: Apples, bananas with peel, blueberries, strawberries, and Avocado with Seed.
- Assortment of organic produce: Kale, Spinach, Beets with their greens, and Carrots.
I created this slide for a INVEG Plant-Powered Living class which I teach. I keep working on my smoothies so in 6 months I am sure I will have it changed quite a bit 🙂 Image updated 10/24/2016, I have added Sweet Potatoes to my smoothies. Great base and tons of phytonutrients. If you simply drink these daily, you will feel amazing! 🙂
Adding garlic, ginger and hot spices(cayenne pepper) to dishes while under the weather does aid in healing.
Positive Mantras to Self:
I know that this sounds like crazy mumbo jumbo but it really does work. The human body is very powerful and telling yourself how you feel either good or bad has direct results. Recently I shared this tip with a loved one who had been complaining that she was dying for a few days while sick with a cold. Once she gave up the negativity and starting telling the cells of her body that she was not dying she immediately had a change in her body and stopped getting sicker.
So what should you say? Honestly as long as you believe it and it is positive I do not believe it matters much. Here are a few of the ones that I use:
- I am Well!
- I am healthy!
- I am Powerful!
- I am whole!
There is power in the statement of simply I AM! You can research more on the subject but it is a powerful statement and it is so simple. When I know my body is working on healing I will say these statements in my head many times throughout the day. I would definitely recommend them when you wake up and before bed.
This one is sort of obvious but also sometimes rather challenging if your loved one is sick and you are taking care of them. If possible I would recommend having a separate sleeping area for one of you and then separate bathrooms if possible. When I take care of loved ones I will wash my hands after giving them meals or vitamins and anytime I am in their area of the house.
Final thoughts – Drink more smoothies
I understand that I talk about green smoothies a lot but it is only because they are truly one of the most powerful things that I have found to keep my body strong and healthy year around. They are not really fun to make daily and I honestly don’t love the process. It would be so much simpler to throw some processed sugar covered cereal in a bowl with plant-based milk and eat but I know that is not what the human body is designed to live on especially for breakfast. It truly is the most important meal of the day so please do yourself a favor and eat some greens to start your day. 🙂