Wellness

Keeping the Flu Away from You

While it’s not quite the season, with kids headed back to school and fall weather starting to show its face (at least in some parts of the country), cold and flu season is soon to be upon us.

Of course each year the flu season varies in length and severity, but the key to making it through the season without getting sick is prepping you and your family with healthy habits well beforehand.

Usually flu and cold season is the worst in January and February, which may seem a bit far away, however the first signs of the flu can come as early as October.

Start getting in the habit of these protective tips now, and you’ll hopefully be in for a healthy holiday season.

 

Keep Things Clean

For all you germaphobes out there this will probably fall on deaf ears, but for women who don’t carry a bottle of hand sanitizer on their person at all times, this tip is crucial to making it through flu season unscathed.

Germs are EVERYWHERE. On the phones at work, copy machine and printer buttons, doorknobs…and these aren’t even the things in your home. If you have kids the chances of things being brought home is even worse. Germs can travel on pens and pencils, notebooks and toys.

You don’t need to live in a bubble to avoid all the germs, washing your hands before you eat or prepare food, as well as scrubbing up as soon as you leave work and get home from being out will greatly cut down the number of germs in your living space.

Also, keep your hands away from your face. Many bugs get spread when your hands aren’t clean and you touch your mouth or rub your eyes.

Additionally, take five minutes a day to do what I call a “clean sweep” of the house. I get my tub of Lysol disinfecting wipes and go room by room and disinfect door knobs, faucets, remotes, handles, etc. Although I’m not militant on this routine every month of the year, it definitely helps during that season where risk of catching a bug is high.

 

Get Vaccinated

There’s a lot of opinions that gets brought in to this tip, but the main thing here is to get informed on what populations are most at risk for catching the flu and decide if it’s something you want to do.

Personally, I never got the flu shot as a kid, but once I headed off to a university with over 45,000 students on campus, lived in a dorm, and worked in a gym, I made the decision to get my free flu shot in the school clinic every year.

Although I may have never needed it, it put my mind at ease to know I was reducing my risk because I encountered so many people (and the things the touched) everyday.

The flu shot doesn’t guarantee you won’t come down with the flu, however if it’s something you’ve thought about getting, visit the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention 2014-2015 Influenza page for more information to help with making your decision.

 

Boost Your Immune System with Food

When you think of warding off a cold with food the first thing that may pop in to your head is a big, tall glass of orange juice.

While vitamin C is certainly essential, making sure to stay properly hydrated and getting adequate vitamins and minerals through other fruits, veggies and some dairy products can also aid in protecting you from getting sick.

For example the probiotics in yogurt help protect the gut and digestive tract from disease-causing bacteria, and mushrooms increase cytokine production. Cytokines are cells that help fight off infection. Check out this article from Prevention Magazine to read about the 9 other power foods that help boost immunity.

 

Use Essential Oils

If you’re more in to the natural health route rather than vaccinations, or if you’re someone who likes to mix modern medicine with natural remedies, essential oils has a big following of holistic healing believers for cold and flu prevention.

According to essential oils company, doTERRA, “Essential oils are natural aromatic compounds found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. In addition to giving plants their distinctive smells, essential oils provide plants with protection against predators and disease and play a role in plant pollination.”

One of the most popular oils mentioned for use of preventing colds and flu is Thieves oil, which is a blend of essential oils including clove, lemon, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus and rosemary.

This blend is thought to be antiviral and antibacterial and is commonly used at the height of cold and flu seasons or at the first sign of symptoms. Some users rub drops on the bottom of their feet, others use diffusers and there are also tea recipes using Thieves oil as well.

 

Starting to use this cold and flu fighting tips now might help you in not having to fight off illness later.

Let us know in the comments below some of your tried and true cold-fighting tips!

 

Sources:

Homemade Mommy – 6 Essential Oils for Colds and Flu

Prevention – Power Foods that Boost Immunity 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Elle Michels

Elle Michels

Based in Washington, D.C., Elle Michels is a contributing writer to Womenshealth.com.

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