Well we are in the middle of winter, (only a couple of months to go before spring is here!) and all over the mass media news outlets areas are reporting huge increases of people who have the flu. Even the H1N1 strain seems to be running rampant, and people are getting sick, and some are dying from the flu. This isn’t anything new, people get the flu every year, and unfortunately some will die. And this is regardless if you get the flu vaccine or not.
Whether you choose to get a flu shot or not, that’s your decision. But regardless if you do or you don’t there are things you can do to help protect yourself and your family against the flu, and other seasonal sicknesses, here are 15 ways to fight the flu or at least reduce your chances of getting the flu.
1. Wash Your Hands
One of the best ways to protect yourself against viruses is to wash your hands. Take the extra few seconds to do it right. Scrub your hands, and sing “Happy Birthday” as you wash your hands. That is about the time needed to make sure your hands are clean. It’s also a good idea to carry around a bottle of hand sanitizer, just in case. Also if you have to cough or sneeze, try not to use your hands, but rather the crook of your elbow. Not only will you be preventing any germs you have from being shared, but you won’t be as likely to ‘share’ your germs with others. But most importantly, wash your hands often, and think about the things you are touching…door knobs, elevator buttons, a shopping cart handle, light switches… I could go on and on, but this is why washing your hands is so important, because you never know who touched everything you are touching. So do yourself and your family a favor, wash your hands a lot.
2. Increase Vitamin D
Vitamin D plays an important role in helping to boost immunities, which has been proven by studies as recent as 2010 from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vitamin D also helps your body be able to utilize other minerals, such as calcium, which helps to make your bones strong, and aids in healing. Make sure to get at least the daily recommended daily allowance of Vitamin D from traditional sources such as milk of course, but even higher sources of Vitamin D are Fish, like tuna and salmon. Eggs and Swiss cheese are sources as well, but salmon and tuna are the highest. You can also take a supplement, and even being in the sun for 20 minutes a day can help your body to ‘make’ vitamin D.
3. Increase Vitamin C
This is the most well-known vitamin in regard to helping your body to stay healthy. Vitamin C not only helps to boost your immune system, but it helps to promote healing, and even has been touted to help with cardiovascular health. Some people believe in taking mega doses of the Vitamin, but you don’t have to get carried away, most studies that have been completed report that 500 mg a day is enough. But don’t only rely on the vitamin supplements to get your dose of vitamin C, increase the types of food you eat in order to help your body get what it needs. Foods that are high in Vitamin C are raw kale (120mg), kiwi (93 mg), broccoli (89 mg), citrus fruit like oranges and grapefruit (49-60 mg), papaya (62 mg) and strawberries (59 mg). If you actually ate the recommended daily servings of fruit and vegetables your body would get more than what it needs in Vitamin C. And since it is a water soluble vitamin, what your body doesn’t need is ‘flushed’ away.
4. Increase the Humidity in Your Home
Again, there are actually studies done that show the flu virus is more mobile in a dry environment. So when you are at home, increase the humidity of your home. Buy a humidifier, or even boil water on your stove in a large pot. And you can get the added benefit of deodorizing your home by adding some cinnamon, and cloves, or any other spices you may enjoy to have filling the air of your home. But by increasing the humidity of your home, you can actually help prevent the flu virus from floating as freely throughout your home.
5. Take Omega 3 oil supplement
This is an easy addition to include in your diet. Omega 3’s are great for not only helping to fight off the flu by boosting your immune system, but some studies have shown they can help lift your mood as well. This can be especially good during the dark months of winter, and that’s when the flu seems to run rampant anyway, so do yourself and your body a favor, and add this supplement to your daily routine.
6. Increase Fluids and Electrolytes
Most people don’t drink enough water on a daily basis, maybe this is why so many people end up getting the flu? But whatever the reason, make sure you are drinking at least 8 -8 ounce glasses of water a day. You can also boost that by including drinks with added electrolytes. Fluids help to lubricate everything, and also helps with the transportation (circulation) of everything throughout the body. So make a goal of increasing water and fluids every day, and even more so if there is sickness.
7. Get Your Rest
Getting enough sleep is very important. Are you well rested? Do you get enough sleep every night? If you are tired and run down, there’s a good chance your body is run down too. And if your body is tired, it can’t defend itself as well against illness and injury. So make sure you to get at least eight hours of sleep every night, and if you can, fit in a nap during the day.
8. Eat Light
By eating light, I don’t mean cutting back on how much you’re eating, but rather eat lighter meals. Cut back on the heavy rich foods, and instead opt for foods that are easier to digest, and are calorie dense. By increasing more natural foods, and staying away from the heavily processed meals you are giving your body the real nutrition it needs to function well, and build up a good defense against intruders. Think of your immune system as you would your home security system. By eating foods that are more natural, your defenses are stronger, like a whole home security system with constant monitoring from some outside company. Versus if you eat highly processed foods for every meal, it would be like leaving every door and window in your home open with a big sign in the driveway letting everyone know you are out of town for the week. I know, that’s a silly analogy, and you would never do that, but think about what you are eating, if you eat out for every meal, you aren’t really helping your body to be at its best to help protect you.
9. Change Your Toothbrush
This may sound silly, but think about it. You brush your teeth every day, twice a day at least with the same toothbrush whether you are healthy or sick. That is promoting an ideal environment for germs. Replace your toothbrush at least once every 3 to 4 months, and if you do get sick, think about keeping it even cleaner. One way would be to have a little cup in your bathroom, and using Listerine mouthwash to soak your toothbrush in after you have rinsed it off from using it. Listerine kills germs right? So why not use it to disinfect your toothbrush? Soak your toothbrush in it for 30 seconds or so, and then tap it out, and store it with the bristles up. Don’t keep your toothbrush in a drawer, or covered environment, because this is what bacteria loves. A cool damp and dark environment is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Keep your toothbrush dry, and in the light to help prevent bacteria growth.
10. Keep Your Home Clean
This may seem to go without saying, but a clean home can help to cut back on viruses. Make a routine to clean regularly, and really clean if there seems to be sickness in the area, and in your home. Do everything you can to prevent the flu from infiltrating your home. You can buy furnace filters that not only fight dust and allergens, but also filter out viruses and bacteria. They aren’t cheap, but if it helps prevent your family from getting the flu. It will be money well spent. The last for 3 months, and after using them in our home, I’m sold and will continue to buy them.
So not only can you “filter” the air in your home, but also, don’t forget to clean the bathrooms, and all the surfaces that are touched be everyone. Doorknobs, light switches, chairs, faucets, etc. If you think there may be germs on it, keep it clean. Use antibacterial wipes to wipe down surfaces that are touched be everyone on a daily basis if you can.
11. Eat The Good Bacteria
Increase the natural ‘good’ bacteria of your GI system. Acidophilus is good, and you can take supplements like probiotics. The probiotics will be really needed in case you end up needing an antibiotic.
12. Eat More Garlic
Foods like garlic and oregano are great to help your body fight off bad bacteria, and they taste great too!
13. Get Some Exercise
Exercise is a great immune system booster because it gets the heart pumping, and that in turn increases circulation, which helps everything in your body. So make a point of getting a little exercise every day. But don’t go to extremes, if you are running a fever, and fighting the flu your body needs to rest, and not be expending energy on a strenuous work out. So while you are healthy, get some exercise every day, but when you are run down focus on resting and getting well before deciding to tackle that marathon training.
14. Wash Towels and Linens frequently
Washing your towels and sheets may seem like a silly way to prevent the flu, but think about it, if you’re sick, and you keep recycling that towel for a week there is the possibility that the virus could be on the towel. The same goes for hand towels, wash cloths and yes, your sheets. If you are fighting an illness, don’t re-use your towels and washcloths. You may have a little more laundry to do, but you might keep you and your family from getting sick, or causing an illness to linger or spread to everyone in your household.
15. Stay Away From Crowded Places, Including the Hospital
It makes sense to stay away from crowded areas if there is a flu epidemic happening. But something’s are easier said than done. If you have to go to the grocery store, try to do it when there is likely to be less people in the store. And use the hand sanitizer and antimicrobial wipes on the carts. If you have been dying to see the latest movie that was just released and there is a lot of information on the news about the flu being on the increase, wait to go to that movie, or restaurant. It might be an inconvenience, but is it worth bringing the flu home to see your favorite actor?
And it may sound crazy to stay away from the hospital, but seriously, this is where the baddest of the bacteria are, and the emergency room is bound to be packed with people who have the flu.
If you go to the hospital to get an antibiotic to treat your flu like symptoms, you will be out of luck. The flu is a virus, and antibiotics fight bacteria, not viruses. And In a SHTF scenario a hospital will not be an option.
A lot of people use the emergency department of the hospital as their primary care physician, so the wait times are probably going to be horrible. If you are just feeling under the weather, do everything you can at home, and save the emergency room for true emergencies. A true emergency would mean problems breathing, high fever, trauma, or heart attack symptoms. And yes, there are other ‘real’ emergencies, but use common sense.
If you follow at least some of the tips listed above, you will increase the likelihood that you will remain healthy this flu season, if you do all of these things, you are increasing your own health exponentially. So do what you can, and here is to your health, and hopefully a very fast moving flu season!