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Like it or not cold and flu season come around each year. Most adults get 2-4 colds each year, while 5-20% of adults will get the flu. If you find yourself falling prey to sickness and spending too many crisp afternoons under the covers, it might be time to switch up some of your preventative methods. Here are some tips for staying healthy during the flu season.
5 Expert Tips For Staying Healthy During The Flu Season
Keeping up your immune system is key to preventing illness. Here are some expert tips that you might not have heard before (or at least realized their importance).
#1. Exercise regularly
When the weather cools down and the holiday fun heats up it can be tempting to put the gym workouts on the back burner, but this is a no-no. Exercise can be one of the most important things you can do to keep up your immunity all winter long. Even just 20-30 minutes of fitness a day might be able to prevent you from getting sick.
One study that looked at postmenopausal women found that those who worked out got 1/3rd of the colds of those who didn’t. Surely everyone can benefit from a cardio session. (Just be sure and wash your hands afterwards!)
#2. Try acupuncture
There is some research to back up the fact that acupuncture can help to prevent getting sick.
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese course of medicine where small (mostly painless) needles are inserted into certain points of the body to keep the energy meridians flowing properly. Science hasn’t proven that acupuncture can fully prevent a cold, but it’s an option that can’t hurt and even a lot of doctors swear by it.
#3. Keep hands clean
Cold and flu germs are viruses, which can survive on normal household surfaces and doorknobs after they’ve been left behind by a sick person.
Doctors, who are obviously exposed to tons of germs all day, do their best to avoid the contamination by wiping down surfaces that they touch regularly with alcohol disinfectant wipes.
Using hand sanitizer when you’re out and about in public is the best defense, since you probably don’t want to scare people off with your can of disinfectant.
Avoid touching your nose and eyes as much as possible because those sensitive membranes on the face make the perfect entryway for germs to get in. Always wash your hands thoroughly before you go anywhere near your face. This is a good habit in general.
#4. Know (and use) your supplements
There are some go-to supplements when it comes to preventing sickness that some swear by, but the research is mixed. As long as you aren’t taking medications that can be affected by them or have other serious health issues, trying out supplements like vitamin C and zinc shouldn’t do any harm. Some research on vitamin C preventing colds is conclusive, while others say it can help to keep germs away when you’ve been exposed to some sort of stressor in your physical state or close environment.
Vitamin C usually cuts down on the length of a cold by a day, so while it might not be the magic pill it certainly has benefits. Large doses can lead to kidney stones though so don’t overdo it even thought the vitamin is water soluble and excretes excess from the body.
Zinc is another supplement that is commonly debated, but it makes for a soothing throat lozenge and may be able to speed up healing. More than 50mg of Zinc a day however can actually suppress your immune system.
Omega-3 fatty acids which can be taken in supplement form can increase the activity of phagocytes in the body, which are cells that literally eat up bacteria. Some research also suggests that omega-3’s can increase the airflow in the respiratory system which makes it harder for an infection to take hold in there.
The Chinese root Astragalus has been proven to boost immunity in mice and may be able to do so in humans as well. This one requires some planning however, as it can take 6-8 weeks to really start working.
Ginseng is not proven to prevent colds, but when taken during it can shorten the duration by half.
#5) Keep it simple
A lot of maintenance if you do end up coming down with a cold can be handled pretty simply. Getting enough sleep, eating healthy, avoiding stressors like processed sugars and alcohol, while sticking with wholesome ingredients instead.
Honey for example, has been proven to be better at treating coughs than a lot of cough medicine! (Plus, it’s cheap.) Mix it up with some lemon and hot water for a truly soothing treat. Using a saline solution or a Neti pot to clear your nasal passages is usually going to be as or more effective than using an over the counter decongestant or antihistamine which can have different unwanted effects on the body.
Chicken soup isn’t suggested for colds for no reason either: it can truly help you heal in multiple ways. For one thing the heat can loosen up the nasal passages and lead any stuffiness to drain. That in itself can help to reduce the pressure in the nasal passages that often goes along with a cold. All the ingredients in the soup have potential healing properties as well, including the veggies and the chicken.
Do you have any unique ways of preventing cold and flu’s during the winter months? Let us know if you have something to add or found something on this list helpful!