The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. People are most contagious during the first three to four days of the flu. What makes things more complicated, however, is that even seemingly healthy adults who have been infected by the flu can be infectious one day prior to experiencing symptoms, and up to seven days after becoming sick.
Flu season is approaching and friends, family and coworkers will be catching and spreading the illness. While most of us have experienced the flu, this doesn’t mean new bouts will be any less of a nuisance or exhausting, putting you out for one to two weeks and preventing you from getting on with what you need to do.
The flu is particularly prolific during colder months as researchers have found the virus is more stable in cold, low humidity air, due to flu particles’ ability to float without collecting moisture and dropping to the ground. Maintaining a healthy immune system gives you the best chance of naturally avoiding catching the flu. Here are our top tips on keeping in good health this flu season.
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. It is common for the flu and colds to be confused but they are caused by different viruses. The common cold is a viral infection of your nose and throat (upper respiratory tract) that usually comes on slowly. The flu, on the other hand, comes on suddenly and feels much worse than the common cold, attacking the entire respiratory system including the lungs.
Symptoms of the flu include:
- Runny nose
- Muscle or body aches
Natural Ways To Protect Yourself From The Flu
Paying special attention to your overall well-being through eating fresh foods and exercising will stand you in the best stead against colds and flus, but sometimes even the healthiest get knocked down by the flu during winter. To further strengthen your immunity, here are some key flu -fighters to both prevent contracting the flu virus and to recover as quickly as possible should you get sick.
- Vitamin C is famously used to bolster immune system function
- Adults should get between 75-90 milligrams per day of Vitamin C to maintain regular health but during flu season additional doses are recommended.
- Eating whole fruits and vegetables can take you a long way in maintaining Vitamin C levels. Peppers, dark leafy greens, kiwifruit, broccoli, berries, oranges, tomatoes and green peas are fantastic sources of Vitamin C.
- Taking Vitamin C in megadoses has been found to relieve and prevent flu symptoms and could be especially beneficial if you come in contact with a lot of different people throughout the day.
- Vitamin D is produced in the body through sun exposure and interacts with immune system genes. Studies have found good Vitamin D levels protect against catching colds and flu.
- As well as assisting and maintaining immune function, Vitamin D is also an antimicrobial agent which can kill bacteria, viruses and fungi.
- During the colder months our Vitamin D levels may drop below the recommended daily amount which is 600 IU for men and women.
- Get your vitamin D levels checked by your GP to make sure you’re not already deficient and seek out a quality supplement to take daily to top up your levels.
- Echinacea is a popular flu fighter and his best taken at the first sign of the flu to shorten duration and decrease the severity.
- Echinacea is a coneflower that has been used as a traditional herbal remedy for more than 400 years to make medicine from its flowers, leaves and roots.
- Echinacea reduces the chance of catching viruses by up to 58% and reduces their duration significantly.
- Being anti-inflammatory, echinacea can reduce bronchial symptoms of a cold and flu.
- Elderberry is a flowering and fruiting plant and supplements can be taken as a syrup or in lozenge form.
- Elderberry contains compounds that inhibit the enzyme that flu viruses use to penetrate our cell membranes and can help treat cold and flu symptoms by reducing congestion and ridding the body of illness through increasing perspiration.
- Oregano oil is a fantastic multi-benefit health supplement.
- It has been found to have a powerful antiviral effect with disinfectant, antifungal and antibacterial properties.
- Zinc supports immune function and also has an antiviral effect. It works best when taken at the first sign of illness.
- Zinc may lessen the symptoms of the cold virus but it is important to keep to the recommended dose as excessive amounts can be harmful.
Maintain Digestive Health With Diet
It has been found that a significant proportion of your immune system (80%) is in the gastrointestinal tract. Maintaining digestive health is crucial to flu prevention during winter, some key ways you can do this include:
- Reducing processed foods, take quality probiotics and eat fermented foods to assist with bowel functioning
- Consuming light, easy to digest foods including soups, broths and teas – especially when experiencing symptoms.
- Drinking adequate amounts of water both in prevention and treatment of the flu, which is incredibly dehydrating.
- Incorporating ginger and garlic into your meals and hot drinks, both are antimicrobial and anti inflammatory, treating both symptoms and the illness head-on
An often overlooked source of general health, sleep is crucial during flu season. if your body is overly fatigued it stands less of a chance of fighting viruses.
Getting sleep and taking time to recuperate is the best thing you can do for yourself. And the truth is, when you’re feeling sick, you won’t feel like doing much else. Sleep as much as you can and avoid contact with others until you have been fever-free – without taking any fever-reducing medication – for 24 to 48 hours. While resting, place an extra pillow under your head to help drain your nasal passages and make sleeping more comfortable.
Regular exercise is a key prevention strategy for most ailments, improving the circulation of immune cells in your blood which neuuetralize viruses. Maintaining your exercise routine with both assist in a good night’s sleep and help you to draw more benefits from fresh foods and supplements.
We hope you remain fit and healthy this winter with cases of flu abound!
Tip: Fruits and vegetables are great for your health—and even better for your waistline. But some fresh foods are more powerful than others. Read more on: Superfoods That Fight Disease
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