How to Stay Healthy during Flu Season

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Flu Tips
Photo: iStock.com/arcady_31

It’s official, we’ve entered flu season. You know the symptoms—fever, headache, a sore throat, and a general feeling of weakness that seems to radiate all over your body.  Just when you’re desperate for a good night’s rest, your nose feels like it’s been stuffed with a hundred cotton balls.  The worst part is not being able to taste your food—how utterly dreadful! Time for urgent action.

Cold and Flu Prevention Tips

If you feel yourself getting sick, one of the best things you can do is to stay home from work and take it easy. Trust us, your coworkers will thank you for it! If you do decide to go into work, you could risk unnecessarily spreading the virus to everyone around you—and nobody wants that. With that in mind, here are a few cold and flu season tips to help you stay healthy this winter.

Wash or Sanitize Your Hands Frequently

We use our hands for everything from lifting heavy equipment to typing and even blowing our noses among many other things. Most of the time, we use our hands without even considering what we’re doing. As a result, our hands have the capacity to carry and spread innumerable germs wherever we go and whatever we touch throughout the day. It’s important to be especially mindful of this when you’re working around other people. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly throughout the day and keep a hand sanitizer handy.

Catch Some Zzz’s

Getting a full night’s sleep is essential to maintaining good health and keeping your immune system strong. Sleeping gives your body—and this includes your immune system—an opportunity to rest and recharge from the various stresses and obligations you face during the day.

Exercise Regularly and Maintain a Healthy Diet

Understandably, the bone-chilling cold weather, ice and snow can deter even the most fervent athletes from wanting to go out for a run or even leave their homes to go to the gym, but it’s still important that you maintain healthy habits as much as possible in the winter. You don’t necessarily have to go on a full day’s hike up a mountain to maintain flexibility, strength, and endurance. Even brief and simple exercises such as a 20-minute walk, yoga, Pilates, or stretching are great ways to stay in shape in the winter!

Don’t be Stubborn! Listen to Your Body!

This is arguably the most important piece of advice anyone can offer you! Always listen to your body. If you feel slight aches and pains, that signal the onset of a fever or cold, don’t ignore them.

If your symptoms persist after three to four days, then it’s time to pay a visit to your doctor so her or she can prescribe some antibiotics.

Eight Immune Boosting Foods to Help Prevent and Fight the Flu

Apart from adequate sleep, exercise, and reducing the stress in your life, diet plays a key role in building immunity to upper respiratory infections. Certain foods, if eaten all year round can actually boost your immune system and, in turn, help you fight the flu.

The secret is to eat a combination of these immune-boosting foods regularly, even daily.  When we do so, an incredible synergy happens, and the nutritional effects are multiplied.

Here is a list of five immune-boosting foods that can help you fight the flu:

1.Green Tea

Full of antioxidants and a phenolic compound called catechin, green tea is a flu fighting, immune system boosting powerhouse, especially when enjoyed with lemon or honey.

2.Yogurt 

Bolster your digestive tract with beneficial bacteria by eating yogurt everyday. When choosing a yogurt, avoid those with thickeners or stabilizers.  Instead, reach for plain, organic yogurt. Carol Anne Brannon, a Nutrition Expert explains that pasteurization (non-organic yogurt) usually kills the beneficial microorganisms that our bodies require to stay healthy. Look for brands that contain three or more strains of beneficial bacterial. One example is Lactobacillus reuteri, known to prevent the replication of viruses that take over our body when we get sick. Try Greek yogurt with 0% fat and add your own fruit, stevia, or a drizzle of unpasteurized (raw) honey. Delightful!

3.Berries

Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that complement the flu-fighting power of the immune system. Include them in a regular, healthy and balanced diet to increase your fiber intake.

4.Buckwheat Honey

In general, most types of raw honey contain antibiotic and antifungal properties. But buckwheat honey, leads the pack, According to Nutritional Consultant, Pamela Durkin, buckwheat honey actually “promotes the growth of bifidobacteria in the gut which helps with immune function”. Dribble raw buckwheat honey on your Greek yogurt and you’ll be giving your digestive tract a double dose of immune enhancing power.

5.Shiitake and Maitake Mushrooms

Although mushrooms have been used in healing for centuries for their anti-viral and anti-bacterial effects, shiitake and maitake mushrooms contain the polysachaaride beta d glucan, known to activate the immune system and destroy cells that cause disease. Julie Daniluk, a leading Registered Holistic Nutritionist, recommends that we eat shiitakes because they “contain the active compound lentinan, which has the ability to strengthen the immune system”.

Since shiitake and maitake varieties taste divine, it’s no hardship to eat them everyday. Toss them in your omelette or sauté them lightly and add them to whole-grain spelt penne. It’s just as easy to create a quick and flavorful mushroom soup using a few handfuls of sliced shiitakes, a little grated ginger and garlic, a few cups of home-made or low-sodium organic chicken broth and a few chopped veggies. So comforting and healing!

6.Turmeric

The Asian spice turmeric is a flavorful addition to many dishes, but it’s also loaded with immune-strengthening antioxidants as well as natural anti-inflammatory properties. Used in a powder form, it can be added to soups, sauces, rice dishes, smoothies, and even tea.

7.Garlic

If you’re not eating garlic everyday, you’re missing out on its incredible flavor and immune-enhancing power. Allicin, the main component in garlic is specifically known to bolster immunity, by acting as a defender against bacterial, viral and fungal infections. To receive the full benefit, find ways to use raw garlic everyday, such as in a vinaigrette or a pesto.

8.Kefir

Kefir, a fermented milk product that resembles a thin yogurt, is loaded with live and active bacteria. Bacteria in kefir can actually colonize in the digestive tract, instead of just passing through it. Good yeasts found in kefir also play a critical role in fending off yeasts that cause infection and compromise our immune system. The National Kefir Association explains that kefir contains seven to ten probiotic cultures (“good” bacteria) that can jumpstart your digestion and help you fight the flu.

Although kefir can be eaten straight from the container, if you’ve never had it before, you might find it a little sour at first. Start by eating a little bit of it everyday. Add a few tablespoons of kefir to your smoothie or give your immune system an extra boost by mixing a few spoonfuls to the yogurt you’ve just sweetened with buckwheat honey.

Keep your immune system healthy, avoid the flu, and savour every bite.

Try this delish garlic vinaigrette by TTW contributor Eleni Tzotzis

Ingredients:

  1. 1-2 cloves of garlic (depending on size)
  2. 2 tbsp. Unpasteurized Apple Cider Vinegar
  3. 5 tbsp. Extra Virgin, Cold Pressed Olive Oil
  4. Sea Salt (fine or ground)
  5. Freshly Ground Pepper (black peppercorns)

Method:

  1. In a small bowl, grate the garlic (a micro-plane works nicely) and add the vinegar.
  2. Slowly dribble olive oil (a few drops at a time) whisking into vinegar, a tablespoon at a time.
  3. Mix in a pinch or two of sea salt and freshly ground pepper (taste & adjust seasoning to your liking).