What Is A Natural Alternative to the Flu Shot?

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Articles, Nutrition

Yeah, yeah, I know. You read the article that “Food X” is good for you, then 10 minutes later, you walk away and completely forget to incorporate it into your routine. But seriously, this one is so easy and commonplace that there's no reason not to include it.

This column contribution is from my guest blogger, John Gilbert, AKA “The Metabolism Mastermind”…John usually is a regular contributor to the FREE Ben Greenfield Fitness newsletter, but I've decided to give you a taste of his writing here on this blog post, since I'm racing a triathlon in Chile and don't have much time to write!

Read this article if you A) are concerned about the flu but don't want to get “The Shot” or B) want to enhance your physical performance.


From John Gilbert:

This time of year brings the increased potential of contracting infections of all kinds, especially the flu. However, you can increase your chances of avoiding infection through the foods you eat. This week’s article is from a study “Apples and Onions may Protect Athletes from Flu” and focuses on these preventative measures you can incorporate into your diet.

Do not be offset by the titles incorporation of “Athletes,” since immune system health benefits have been seen from these foods in the sedentary population as well. Another health benefit of consuming these foods beyond the athlete status is the ability to lower blood pressure. Plus, those suffering from psychological stress, not just physical stress (exercise), can especially reap the benefits of these infection fighting foods.

However, if you are an athlete, exerciser, or someone with high psychological stress levels, you should know that you are at higher risk than sedentary individuals in contracting upper respiratory infections like the flu. The article’s study illustrates that Quercetin, a chemical found in high concentrations in apples and onions, decreases the susceptibility to respiratory infection typically associated with stress, in this case, the physical stress of exercise.

Preventing a respiratory infection has only beneficial implications for athletic performance, a consistent exercise regimen, and/or productivity at work. An infection would likely bring on additional stress, increasing the susceptibility to other infections. Avoiding infection will also help you to feel great, something we forget about in our attempts to perform, lose weight, or accomplish goals/projects at work.

This week’s goals focus on consuming an abundance of apples and onions to go beyond the one benefit of preventing the flu.

Apples and onions are also great examples of foods that are advantageous for weight loss, due to:

–    High Fiber

–    High Nutrient Density

–    High Water Content

All you would need to do is add a healthy fat when eating the apple or onion and you would have a food that that helps you feel full via fat, water, and fiber, while being high in beneficial nutrients (combination examples provided below).

This Week’s Goals:

-Consume at least 6 apples (6 instead of 7 so you can get to the store tonight and buy your apples for the rest of the week

– Get a variety of different apple types

-Utilize apples in at least one reasonably health recipe you have never tried before

Meal/Snack Examples:

– Apple slices dipped in almond butter

– Apple slices dipped in low fat, cottage cheese

– Waldorf Salad with Walnuts

– Apple by itself while in a rush or at work

Consume at least 3 onions:

– Average ½ an onion a day for 6 days

– Get variety of onions

– Incorporate onions into at least two reasonably healthy recipes you have never tried before

Meal/Snack Examples:

– Sliced onion on a sandwich with some avocado, tomato, and spinach

– Onions sautéed with some olive oil incorporated into:

– Canned salmon with green bell pepper dish

– Breakfast burrito with bell peppers, tomato

– Onions in various salads like Red Onion Orange Salad

These goals may seem a bit specific, although, they are this way for a reason. The variety of different apples and onions will provide you with different tastes, textures, colors, and nutrients. The employment of new recipes is meant to begin building your skills of finding new recipes and cooking, very important contributors to eating nutritious, delicious, and boredom-free! Many of the examples, such as the breakfast burrito or fresh apple, can also be pre-packaged to utilize on the go or for lunch at work. Good luck and I wish you the best for taking control of your health in this New Year!


John Gilbert
Washington State University
Exercise Physiology and Metabolism and Dietetics
[email protected]

P.S. If you liked this article, you may want to check out John's other articles that appear in the weekly Ben Greenfield Fitness newsletter. Sign up below!

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