Saying this past year has been stressful is a bit of an understatement. With COVID-19 everywhere we may have forgotten about getting the flu, but it’s still out there. This year, many of us may have weakened immune systems, so protecting ourselves is more important than ever during these unprecedented times. While we are all taking precautions to avoid the spread of COVID-19, here are some additional ways you can protect yourself from the flu this season as well.
Avoid Close Contact with Others
According to the CDC, you should keep your distance from others if you are feeling sick and from those who might be sick. Keeping your distance is important to prevent the spread of the flu and the coronavirus.
While we are all trying to avoid contact with others to avoid getting sick, this doesn’t mean life just stops. Try to see what policies your company has with work from home options during the flu season. Also ordering groceries online and picking them up curbside is a great option to avoid close contact with others. Most restaurants now offer delivery or curbside pickup as well.
Every year the flu virus changes and adapts, this is why it’s important to get vaccinated every year. That way you have the most updated antibodies to fight off the virus.
“Getting your annual flu vaccine is more important than ever this year. Although the flu vaccine does not protect against COVID-19, it does reduce your risk of getting the flu, flu-related complications, and hospitalization, explained Fidelis Care Chief Medical Officer, Vincent Marchello, MD. “You can safely get a flu vaccine at multiple locations, including your doctor’s office and pharmacies. Call ahead for more information. Getting a flu vaccine is an essential part of protecting your health and your family’s health this season.”
Wash your Hands Properly
Did you know that the average person comes in contact with approximately 840,000 germs every 30 minutes? It is estimated that only 5% of people wash their hands correctly, with most people only washing for 6 seconds. Always remember to wash your hands frequently and remember the basics for proper handwashing techniques.
- This includes washing your hands with cold/warm water, lathering the soap, washing the front and back of your hands, and in between your fingers and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds or if you’re teaching children the proper technique, a nice trick is to wash your hands for the duration of time it takes you to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
- Of course, most of us are no strangers to washing our hands, but did you know there’s a medically proper way to do so? John Hopkins Medicine launched a video on how to properly wash your hands. This could a great tool for parents teaching their children while flu season is in full effect.
Boost Your Immune System.
Your immune system protects you from any infections, bacterial or viral, so we want to make sure it’s functioning properly. Medical News Today suggests following these strategies:
- Take Vitamin D – This is important for a strong immune system.
- Eat fruits and vegetables
- Eat antioxidants – Antioxidants are compounds that protect our cells from free radical damage. The top antioxidants include: Vitamin A , Vitamin C, Vitamin E, selenium and the caratonoids (pre-cursor to vitamin A)-beta-carotene, lutien, lycopene and zeaxanthin
- Exercise – According to research, immune cell activity in the blood can increase from 50% to 400%, following exercise, based on intensity. Regular, moderate exercise is the key to maintaining this immune boost.
- Reduce your stress levels – Stress can lower the lymphocytes in the body. Lymphocyes are the white blood cells that help fight off infection. If lyphocytes levels are low, the body is more susceptible to infection.
- Sleep 7-9 hour – Sleep is very important to a healthy immune system. In one study, individuals who slept less than 6 hours were 4 times as likely to get sick as individuals who slept 7 or more hours.
The Best Immune Boosting Foods
A diet filled with a variety of whole foods including fruits, vegetables and fresh seafood, will do wonders for your immune system and help fight off the flu. Choose from all the colors of the rainbow. Here are a few recommendations:
- Vitamin A : animal products such as cold fish, liver and egg yolks
- Vitamin C: sweet red pepper, strawberries, kiwis, oranges, red, green, yellow peppers
- Vitamin D: A good dose of sunshine will boost your vitamin D. Food sources of Vitamin D include: Salmon, sardines and cod liver oil.
- Vitamin E: spinach, avocadoes, sunflower seeds, almonds, dark leafy greens
- Beta-carotene: dark leafy greens and orange produce such as carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin
- Lutein & Zeaxanthin: dark leafy greens, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, eggs, oranges
- Lycopene: tomatoes, grapefruit, papaya, asparagus, red cabbage, red peppers
- Zinc: legumes, seeds, nuts, oysters, beef
The Top 4 Natural Immune Boosting Substances
There are many natural substances that can boost the immune system. Vitamin C is a powerhouse when it comes to illness. However, there are other vitamins, minerals, herbs and natural substances that can do wonders to boost your immune system and protect you from the flu this season. Here are the four of the best substances to include in your immune boosting arsenal:
Vitamin D – Because most individuals are deficient in this very important substance, a dosage of 2000 to 5000 IU/day is advised for most people. Vitamin D3 is highly recommended, as this is the natural source from animal products and easier to absorb. A good food source of vitamin D, as well as vitamin E and A is Fermented Cod Liver Oil.
Oil of oregano – This oil is a powerful immune boosting substance. It has been used for over 2500 years as an anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and an anti-oxidant. The recommended dosage is 4 drops, 4 times per day for 10 days.
Elderberries – Elderberry is a flowering plant native to parts of Europe, Africa and parts of Asia. Elderberry syrup is one of the most studied due to its benefits as a powerful immune booster. The berries contain compounds called anthocyadnidins, which have “immunostimulant effects”. Studies show that people treated with elderberry vs a placebo recover faster from flu symptoms. The recommendation is one teaspoon of syrup per day, which can be increased to 3x/day in cases of illness. Elderberry tea, powders and capsules are also available.
Colloidal Silver – Colloidal silver is electrically charged silver nano particles suspended in pure distilled water. Silver has been used to treat disease for more than 6000 years. In fact, it was commonly used as a natural antibiotic as recently as the 1940’s, when modern antibiotics arrived on the scene. It is scientifically proven to be effective against most organisms and pathogens. The recommended dose for immune support is one eye dropper per day.
There’s an old wives tale that says eating homemade chicken soup when you’re sick will help you get better. While a bowl of soup won’t kill the flu virus, the broth, chicken and vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals, which will help boost your immune system. The hot soup will lift your spirits, help you destress and may even help you sleep. All of this combined is a recipe for healing.
If you or a loved one does start to feel sick, it is suggested you stay home and quarantine yourself. Whether it’s just the flu or a little cold, with the current state of the pandemic, you wouldn’t want to take a risk.