Flu Season Is Upon Us:
7 Natural Ways to Protect Yourself
It’s that time of year. Every pharmacy you drive by has a sign out front, “Come in to get your flu shot!” The cold and flu season is indeed upon us. But, that doesn’t mean you have to fall victim to seasonal illness.
Today, we’re going to give you a guide for staying healthy all winter long.
Flu Strains Raise Concerns
The flu is no laughing matter. Sometimes it’s mild with symptoms that aren’t much worse than a cold. But it can be much worse. In a typical year, the flu hospitalizes around 200,000 people and kills 30,000.
Because every flu season is unpredictable, it’s best to be prepared for the worst. Fortunately, you can do a lot to protect yourself from the flu in just a few simple, affordable steps.
Easy Ways to Protect Yourself
during Cold and Flu Season
Frequent hand washing is your number one defense against the flu. You generally catch the flu one of two ways – by breathing in the same air as someone who is already sick or by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your face. So, wash your hands often: after using the restroom, before you eat, when you get home, and at work after handling things that everyone in the office also touches, like the copy machine.
Give sick people a wide berth. If you come within three feet of someone with the flu, you breathe in the air that they are breathing out and that means you’re taking in their flu germs. If you notice people are sick, politely decline to get too close to them.
Stay warm. Being cold can’t cause the flu, but if you’ve been exposed to the flu virus, letting your body get cold may drop your defenses enough for the virus to gain a foothold, causing you to get sick.
Run a humidifier indoors. Dry winter air can irritate your airways and impair your body’s natural defenses against viruses like the flu. Meanwhile, higher humidity actually reduces the number of germs in the air. So adding moisture into the air in your home can help in multiple ways.
Exercise can help protect you. Getting regular exercise gives your immune system a boost. But don’t exercise for hours on end – that can stress your body and actually compromise your immune system. If you’re already feeling symptoms from a cold or flu virus, go ahead and exercise if all you have is a stuffy or runny nose, headache, or sore throat. If the symptoms extend below your neck – coughing, achy joints, or a fever – rest is your best medicine.
Use your common sense. Eat well, drink lots of water, get plenty of sleep, and find healthy ways to counter stress. Do these four things and you’ll keep your immune system functioning at its peak, which means even if you get exposed to the flu, you may never develop symptoms… your body will sweep it away before you feel any ill effects.
Take your vitamin D. During the winter months, your body is not as able to convert sunlight to vitamin D – the sun’s rays are just too weak. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in your immune system, so if you’re running low on this critical nutrient, you’re running the risk of getting sick. Take at least 400 IU of vitamin D3 every day during the winter.
To Vaccinate or Not To Vaccinate
The government’s aim for the flu vaccine is a 100 percent coverage rate for everyone over the age of six months. Vaccination is a very personal decision, and one that we encourage you to research thoroughly before making.
The arguments in favor of the flu vaccine are that it can decrease the spread of the virus, which can help protect people who are at high risk of complications. It can give you full protection against the specific influenza strains it’s been formulated for. And, it can reduce the severity of symptoms if you are exposed to other strains.
The arguments against the flu vaccine are that ingredients used to create the vaccine may be harmful. In Finland, for example, the government has acknowledged that the swine flu vaccine did irreparable harm to the nervous system of at least 79 people receiving the shot.
We’re often asked our personal opinion on vaccines, and we’re happy to share them, but we have to emphasize that it is not a recommendation for how you should approach vaccines. As we said, that’s a personal decision, and only you can decide what’s best for you. Here’s our breakdown. We believe that…
Vaccines can play a useful role in public health.
Advancements in vaccine formulations have made them safer now than they were in the past – many of these advancements have been forced by people who recognized safety issues with vaccines and very vocally raised their concerns.
No one should be able to force you to get a vaccination.
A healthy immune system starts with good hygiene, good nutrition, and good rest. We prefer this approach over most vaccinations.
Vaccines are a good idea for at-risk groups. The elderly have a much higher rate of flu-related complications, for example, and flu shots may help save lives among that group.
First responders and people working with high-risk groups have more responsibility and stand to benefit more from vaccines.
There’s no guarantee – you may choose to get vaccinated and find yourself to be in the small statistical group that has terrible complications. Or you may choose not to get vaccinated and join the small statistical group that has terrible complications from the disease itself. Fully understand the risks of either decision.
As you can see, we’re not dogmatic on either side of the issue of vaccines. Consider your circumstances. Weigh the risks and benefits. Review all your options – including natural defenses – and then decide what’s best for you and your family.
Flu season can be a rough time. When you get sick, you can be faced with days of misery or even weeks of misery. You may have miss work or holiday celebrations with your family. But you can avoid the flu.
First decide if the flu vaccine is right for you. And then, whether you get vaccinated or not, follow the seven steps we outline here to give your body its best defense against viruses. It’s the surest way to get through the winter flu-free.