The Fall is here, the leaves are falling and there is a chill in the air…but beware, there are also germs in the air around us! According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) flu viruses can circulate throughout the year and the start of the season can vary, but it usually occurs in October. Flu season usually peaks between December and February although the peak for last year’s season continued into March. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season.htm
Healthcare professionals and the CDC tell us that the best way to avoid getting the flu is by getting the flu vaccine. The CDC recommends the vaccine for individuals 6 months of age and older. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits/index.htm
In addition to being vaccinated there are other actions a person can take to prevent getting the flu and remaining healthy during this season. Read below for some tips on staying healthy during the flu season.
• Wash your hands frequently. According to the CDC hand washing is the number one way of removing germs from our hands. Throughout the day we pick up thousands of germs on our hands and if we don’t wash them off, they can easily come in contact with our eyes, nose or mouth, which are entry sites for germs. How long is an adequate handwashing you might ask? It’s at least for 20 seconds or singing Happy Birthday twice! If soap and water are not available you can use a waterless alcohol-based sanitizer to wash your hands. https://www.cdc.gov/.handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html.
• Getting plenty of rest. Sleep is extremely important for overall good health. It’s when our body repairs and restores itself. Lack of sleep can impair a person’s ability to fight infections, such as the flu. Recent studies have shown that people who got less than seven hours of sleep a night were more likely to develop cold symptoms. http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/need-sleep/whats-in-it-for-you/health The National
Sleep Foundation, a leader in sleep science and healthy sleep habits recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep for adults ages 18 to 64. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/pressrelease/national-sleep-foundation-recommends-new-sleep-times/page/0/1
• Natural remedies for flu prevention Especially during cold and flu season it’s important to eat fruits and vegetables that have anti-oxidants, which boost the immune systems ability to fight infection. According to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and quality proteins are a foundation for a healthy immune system. They have shown in studies that eating a sugary snack can depress the immune system for several hours. https://www.naturopathic.org/content.asp?contentid=250
Include vitamins and minerals in your diet. Vitamins such as C, A and Zinc enhance the body’s immune system and help it fight infection. Vitamin C can shorten the duration and the severity of infection; Vitamin A and Zinc are associated with enhancing T cell function, white blood cells that fight infection. https://www.naturopathic.org/content.asp?contentid=250
• Stress Management. We all know that stress is a part of life, but excessive stress can decrease the functioning of our immune system. Incorporating stress management practices into your life is important to manage your stress, especially during cold and flu season. Stress management techniques, such as yoga, deep breathing, meditation and exercise can help improve our overall health and leave us less vulnerable to colds and the flu.
Remember, staying healthy during the flu season can be a challenge but with these recommendations and tips, it can be easier to navigate this year’s season!