How to Stay Healthy When Everyone is Sick

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We seem to be a tiny, healthy island in the middle of flu season. I keep on hearing from friends, family members and co-workers who are afflicted with the most terrible head colds, gastro bugs, bronchitis, laryngitis and a really bad strain of influenza that is knocking people down... HARD.  I think I'm one of the only healthy people left in my office. 

Despite being surrounded by every virus known to man (well, it feels that way sometimes), we've managed to escape mostly unscathed. JBean had a quick bout of gastro on New Year's Day, and there have been some runny noses. However, the really bad stuff seems to be missing us. We might get a little bug, but it's not severe and it's gone in no time.


How do we stay healthy when everyone else is hacking up a lung? 

1. Get Adequate Rest

We really work hard to make sure we're going to bed at a decent time.  The kids don't have screens within a couple of hours of bed to help them avoid sleep disruption, and they're pretty good about solid nights' sleeps. And the adults? Well, we've stopped taking our cell phones to bed with us. We work hard to talk out our stress before we decide to go to our room for the night. I journal. We drink calming tea in the evenings. And I take therapeutic mushrooms to help me relax before bed time (more on that in another post). 

Spending time outside during the day (whether it's actually getting exercise or just enjoying some fresh air) really helps, too.

2. Avoid Sugar

Sugar feeds bacteria. Sugar weakens your immune system. Sugar is the enemy. You know this. We seriously limit it in our home, and I believe that makes a gigantic difference in our overall health.

3. Diffuse Virus-Killing Essential Oils

The pure extracts of really strong plants can work wonders for killing viruses and bacteria. We stick with Tea Tree Oil and a Thieves blend. 

4. Eat a lot of Garlic (and other whole foods)

Some foods help us balance our gut culture. Others kill bad bacteria and viruses (like garlic). When everyone else is coming down with everything, we throw extra garlic in the sauce. 

5. Bone Broth

We use homemade bone broth multiple times a week. We don't typically pour a mug of it and drink it like tea (sometimes I do), but we do cook with it frequently. I believe that the nourishing nature of a good bone broth really boosts our immunity. Bone broth boasts loads of minerals, collagen, amino acids and healthy fats - all necessary for good health.

Unlike a simple broth or stock, the new hype surrounding bone broth is based on the fact that it's simmered for a really long time. Some people add an acid (like vinegar) to help break down the bones, but if you simmer your bones for 24 hours you're going to get all the good stuff. 

I'll share our basic method. Then I freeze or pressure can it by the quart, and we use it until it's time to make more. 

What bones to use? We use chicken, turkey or beef, depending on what we have handy. It's important to me that they're not full of hormones or antibiotics, so I go with clean bones from a source I trust.

Bone Broth - a simple recipe

Bones - chicken, turkey or beef
Herbs (fresh or dried)

We find that roasting or smoking the bones lends gorgeous, full-flavour to the final product. It also starts that breaking down phase that you want, so you can access all the nutrients within the bones. You want them a nice rich brown.

Place the bones and any drippings from roasting/smoking into a large pot, adding a halved onion, halved head of garlic, a carrot or two, a couple stalks of celery, a tablespoon of peppercorns and a bunch of fresh herbs. 

If you don't have fresh herbs, you can throw in dried ones. Parsley is a favourite for broth, and we love thyme, rosemary, and oregano as well.

Hold off on the salt! You can add that later when you're using it. That way, if you're cooking the broth down to a sauce, you don't wind up with a super-salty mess.

Cover with water. Bring to a boil, then turn down to the lowest simmer. Simmer for 24 hours. Allow to cool, then strain through cheesecloth. Seal and keep in the fridge for up to 7 days, or jar and pressure can, or place in containers and freeze for future use.

Smoked Bone Broth, canned and ready for the cellar.

My Oma would always pick every last bit of meat off of the bones when all was said and done. She wasn't one for snacking, but if the broth was done, she'd make a snack of this super soft, warm meat, served with a bit of hot mustard. It's pretty bland, but it's still a tradition I've maintained. It reminds me of the frugality of those who've gone before me, and it inspires me to be thankful.

Bone broth is really lovely heated up and enjoyed in a mug - with salt to taste. It's a great snack between meals, too.  You can also really throw it into just about any dish you cook. Use it to simmer rice or quinoa, make sauce with it, add it to anything that asks for liquid. 

And of course, you could always be traditional and make soup with it!