Flu season is fully underway now, and a large percentage of states in the US are reporting high levels of the flu. Although the flu has not hit the outbreak levels that we saw last year, the flu is still harmful for everyone who gets it.
Fortunately, we can make small changes that can help prevent the flu, and can help us to fight it off if we do get sick.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You will be far happier if you never have any flu symptoms.
With prevention, there are some things that you need to do more of. These will keep your body healthy and boost your immune system. Other things you need to do less of. These are things that can disrupt your immune system and make you more susceptible to colds and the flu this season.
Wash your hands
Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands. It can’t be repeated enough!
But in addition to repeating this important step, let’s give some recommendations. Wash your hands with soap and warm water, and rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds.
Drink Room Temperature Water
To be properly hydrated, you need to drink half of your body weight in ounces. So, if you weigh 150 lbs, you would need to drink 75 ounces every day. During this winter flu season, you need to drink even more. The increased recommendation is 16 ounces every hour to keep yourself healthy. Also make sure that you are drinking room temperature water. Drinking ice water can shock your system.
Eat Healthy Food
Increase your consumption of healthy food, like seasonal fruits and vegetables. In February, in- season vegetables include broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, leeks, parsnips, rutabagas, and turnips. In season fruits include grapefruit, lemons, oranges, tangelos, and tangerines. It’s the perfect time for some citrus!
Eat more grains and beans, but make sure you prepare them properly. It is important to soak your grains and beans. Use twice as much water to soak them for at least 12 hours. It requires some planning, but the health benefits are worth it, especially during this difficult flu season.
Make sure that you are eating clean meats. Look for organic grass-fed beef, and organic free-range chicken. These items are a little more expensive than conventionally-raised meats, but you can eat a slightly smaller serving and load up on vegetables.
Raw nuts and seeds are also an excellent healthy food choice. Raw nuts and seeds have not been roasted in oil and salted, so their flavor profile is slightly different, and they retain all their beneficial nutrients.
Nasal irrigation is a simple process that uses a neti pot to flush out the nasal passages and sinus with salt water. It is important to use a good neti pot salt mixture instead of just table salt. Often neti pots are sold with packets of salt. Simply mix the salt with warm water and then pour it into one nostril.
During this time of year it is easy to have dry skin as well as dry nasal passages. You can moisturize your nasal passages with unrefined sesame seed oil or extra virgin olive oil. Simply dip a q-tip in the oil and rub it inside your nostrils. As an extra benefit, this oil can provide a barrier to germs.
Get at least 30 minutes of cardio exercise every day. This does not have to be extremely intense cardio though; taking a walk will fulfill the requirement.
Spend 5 minutes each day breathing deeply. You can follow the pattern 4-7-8: inhale for 4 counts, hold your breath for 7 counts, and then exhale for 8 breaths. This pattern is extremely relaxing for your nervous system. You can do this at any time of day, including right when you first wake up, before you go to sleep, or in the middle of your day.
Epsom Salt Soaks
Fill the bathtub with warm water, add 1-2 cups of epsom salts, and a couple drops of an essential oil. Lavender, eucalyptus, and lemon are wonderful scents and can help boost your system. (If you have sensitive skin, be careful with lemon in your bath). Epsom salts are an excellent source of magnesium, which is an important nutrient for our health.
Reduce Unhealthy Food
Sugar tops this list of unhealthy food. Studies show that eating or drinking sugar slows down your immune system’s response to germs and bacteria. This effect can last for hours after you consume the sugar.
Eat less processed foods. The reason for this is the same as with sugar. Processed food is often filled with sugar (under as many as 61 different names!) and other harmful chemicals that can weaken your immune system.
Skip the buffet-style meals. Too many people have been walking through that buffet line touching the utensils and breathing onto the food, so try a different dinner spot.
Stress has so many impacts on our health, and weakening our immune system is one impact. Winter is a stressful time of year for many of us, but it’s essential to find ways that you can manage your stress. This could include getting outside, using a lightbox or sunrise alarm clock (particularly if you have Seasonal Affective Disorder), asking for help with some of your obligations, and taking time to meditate.
Stop Touching Your Eyes, Nose, and Mouth
Don’t touch your eyes, nose, and mouth. We introduce germs into our system through our eyes, nose, and mouth. Washing your hands helps remove germs that you come in contact with, but if you haven’t washed, you can limit your exposure by keeping your hands away from your face.
Stock your medicine cabinet with these items in case you do get sick. They have been shown to reduce the length and severity of symptoms. Consult your doctor, nutritionist, or natural healer to talk about the amounts you should be taking.
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Omega-3 (Fish Oil / Fermented Cod Liver Oil)
- Mindfully Made Elderberry
- Diffuser with essential oils, like lavender, eucalyptus, and lemon
- Oregano essential oil. Mix 1 – 2 drops of oregano oil with organic coconut oil and rub it on the bottom of your feet, then put socks on.
Keep some fresh or dried ginger in your kitchen so you can make ginger tea. Just simmer fresh or dried ginger for 20 minutes. Strain out the ginger and add a touch of raw honey and a squeeze of lemon.
Make these small changes to keep yourself and your family healthy through this flu season.