Natural Ways to Prevent the Flu this Flu Season
Sometimes it may seem impossible to avoid the catching a nasty strain of the flu virus during flu season. You know, those awful body aches, chills and that debilitating fatigue that makes you just want to curl into a ball and hide away for days? Germs are literally everywhere and we sometimes forget to wash our hands correctly, take precautions around other sick people (think family and co-workers), and get the flu shot. Although standard flu prevention strategies seem to be enough to protect yourself, most of the time they aren’t. There are many morealternative ways to help your immune system develop some serious armor again the flu. Many of the general recommendations for preventing the flu can actually make you more susceptible to contracting the virus. Extra Germ-X, anyone? Not so fast. Check out seven ways to naturally protect yourself from the flu below.
Eat a Colorful, Organic Diet
It is a pretty well-known fact that eating a load of colorful fruits and vegetables can help to prevent many diseases; but did you know that they can also help protect you from the flu virus too? The flu is more likely to attack people with lowered or weakened immune systems, but can inevitably happen to anyone, which is why loading up on pesticide-free produce is so vital to protecting yourself. Choosing organic fruits and vegetables high in vitamin A, C and E, as well as phytonutrients can be a surefire way to build your immune system up fast. Enjoy local and seasonal foods for even more benefits!
Get Some Sleep
Sleep may sound like a foreign word to some people, but it is one of the most important players in the game of sickness and health. The “magic number” of hours for sleep per night may vary based on the individual, but studies show that between 7-9 hours per night is suffice for most healthy adults. Sleeping too little and even sleeping too much can weaken your immune system and can heighten your chances of catching the flu. Aim for a consistent sleep schedule each week where you sleep and wake at the same time every day.
Avoid Antibacterial Soaps, if Possible
This one may seem counterintuitive, but antibacterial soaps are known to kill both good and bad bacteria, which may actually increase your odds of contracting the flu virus. You need the good bacteria on your skin to help flourish the other good bacteria in the gut. When this process is disrupted by chemical laden soaps and sanitizers, it can actually decrease immunity and induce illness. Washing your hands with warm, soapy water for 30-45 seconds when needed is the best way to get rid of the bad bacteria and keep the good. Try to stock up on natural and organic soaps with no harsh chemicals and eat a variety of fermented foods to help keep the good bacteria thriving in your gut. (TIP: If sanitizer is desired, try using an organic lavender oil on the hands. It is known for its antibacterial properties).
Cold water may not sound too palatable during the winter months, but staying adequately hydrated is another way to keep the immune system fully charged. Try drinking warm lemon water, herbal teas, broth-based soups, and just plain, filtered room-temperature water throughout the day to keep the body flushed of toxins and fully functioning to ward off the flu virus if it happens to cross your path.
Exercise, But Don’t Overdo it
Exercise is a great way to build up the immune system, but too much of a good thing can definitely be a bad thing. A good rule of thumb is to get between 30-45 minutes of mild to moderate exercise each day. If you find yourself feeling weak and run down after each workout, you may be overexerting yourself and ultimately doing yourself more harm than good. Over exercising can actually cause a weakened immune system because the body has begun to see it as a “stressor” instead of a “stress relief”. Consider this an excuse to relax a bit and enjoy a cup of tea!
Get Some Sunshine Everyday
The sun has been known as a source of healing energy for centuries, yet many of us avoid it like the plague because of the fears we have been taught about its potential dangers. Just like anything else, too much of a good thing can be bad, but the sun can actually prevent many illnesses, like the flu, if used properly. Sunbathing (even in the winter months) increases the number of lymphocytes in the blood stream which are responsible for warding off illnesses and infection. Aim to get approximately 20 minutes of direct sunlight each day, preferably in the early morning when the sun is rising, for maximum benefit.
The winter months can cause a lot of stress and anxiety in many people. With the holidays coming up and seasonal depression at bay, it can sometimes feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Although stress is a natural human response, it does us more harm than good. Try to make a list of the things that you are thankful for and find at least one reason to smile every day. Smiling reduces cortisol levels and increases endorphins which leaves us feeling joyful and light!