How to Fend Off the Flu
And what to do if you do get sick
With flu season upon us, we all need to be vigilant about taking good care
of ourselves to boost our immunity and avoid getting sick. An ounce of
prevention could be worth a week's time in the sickbed!
So what should you be doing to stay flu-free? All are things you should be
doing anyway for the good of your health:
- Taking a daily multivitamin
- Getting enough rest and regular physical activity
- Drinking plenty of liquids
- Following a healthy eating plan that includes a variety of vitamin- and
In particular, vitamins B6 and B12 contribute to a healthy immune system.
Vitamin B6 is widely available in foods, including potatoes, spinach, turkey,
beans, and enriched cereal grains. B12, on the other hand, is only available
from animal sources such as meat, milk, and fish.
Minerals such as selenium and zinc also work to keep the immune system
strong. These minerals are found in protein-rich foods such as beans, nuts,
meat, and poultry.
Keeping up with your physical activity program can help, too. The American
Council on Exercise (ACE) recommends regular, moderate exercise to boost the
immune system. According to ACE, people who exercise four to five times per
week are less likely to come down with colds and flu.
And don't forget to take simple "respiratory hygiene" precautions
that can help reduce the spread of disease, including:
- Washing your hands frequently, using soap, for at least 15 seconds
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
- Cleaning the headsets of your telephones, and washing doorknobs, railings,
and other frequently handled objects to keep them free of germs
- Keeping your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
What to Do When You've Got the Flu
If you do catch the flu, see your doctor, and ask about antiviral
medications that can reduce your sick time by a day or two and make you less
contagious. While you stay home and try to recover, follow this advice from the
Centers for Disease Control:
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Avoid tobacco and alcohol
Don't worry about following your eating plan or keeping up with your journal
when you're not feeling well. Most people don't feel much like eating when they
are sick, especially if they have flu-like symptoms. You can catch up your
journal when you're back to enjoying solid food, or simply skip the period
during which you were ill.
The single most important nutrition therapy for a speedy recovery is to
drink plenty of nourishing liquids, such as hot tea, broth-based or chicken
soup, and 100% fruit juice. All of these beverages contain easily-to-digest
fluids and nutrients that will help you get well.
You might want to make your tea the chamomile variety. Chamomile tea, long
regarded as a calming bedtime tea and as a way to quell an upset stomach, is
now thought to be an immunity-booster as well. A study recently published in
the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that five daily
cups of chamomile tea helped fight infections.