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9 Natural Tips to Avoid the Dreaded Winter Flu

flu season ahead

The Dreaded Flu.

It doesn’t exactly get a great reputation.

“Stay away from me!” is probably most people’s reaction, when you cough in a public place.

Just as you’ve had enough of people deliberately avoiding you in the public when you’re trying to get through your daily routine (Why aren’t you resting?!), you realize that your bug may not go away for weeks…

As winter approaches, it may only get worse.

But… You just want to get over your flu and go back to your normal routine ASAP.

Unfortunately, given factory farming, influenza activity is likely to increase, and flu viruses can affect literally billions of people in a matter of months.

Yes, months.

According to Dr. Michael Greger (If you’ve missed our interview with him, click here), “The industrialization of the chicken and pork industries is thought to have wrought these unprecedented changes in avian and swine influenza.” (Remember SARS?)

So if the flu is here to stay, what can you do to boost your immune system, recover faster, and get through the dreary season?

While you can take as much medicine as you want (Who wants to do that anyway?), there’s no real cure for the common cold or flu. You can see a doctor and take some pills to lessen the symptoms of a flu, but it can still take weeks for you to recover. Yes, I repeat, weeks.

Here are 9 measures you can take to avoid the flu this winter:

 #1: Get plenty of sleep

Sleep boosts your immune system. When you don’t have enough sleep, your immune system does not function as well and you’re more prone to diseases.

And when you lack sleep, you’re likely to make unhealthy choices and turn to processed sugary foods like donuts to get an energy kick.

When you get enough sleep, you make better food choices which in turn lead to a healthier body.  A few tips to boost your sleep:

  • Avoid caffeine a few hours before bed time. Coffee is a no-no (save it for the AM). Caffeinated beverages like green tea, Yerba mate and food like cacao can also disrupt your sleep
  • Avoid sugary foods like heavy starches before bed time as it may give you an energy rush
  • Try to shut down your electronic devices (iphone, laptop) at least 30 minutes before you sleep (I find this hard to do too!)
  • Make sure your bedroom is at a comfortable temperature so it isn’t too hot or cold. I like it slightly cooler
  • Natural remedies like Valerian Root may help you sleep better

And if you’re already sick, don’t *rush* back to work. Get some sleep.

Work can wait… and you also don’t want to get your whole office sick, or do you? 😉

#2: Smoothie it up!

I love my smoothies. Smoothies give you the nutrition your body needs to fend off the flu, and is a great way to include lots of greens in your diet, especially when you don’t have the appetite or energy to chew thoroughly when you’re sick.

When you blend the greens, you’re also drinking its fiber with all its nutrients intact, especially since the blending process makes the fruit and greens easier to digest.

This ensures you’re getting maximum nutrition from your greens and fruit so your body can recover faster from the flu.

Smoothies also fill you up more so than juices because of the fiber so I think they are a great treat especially if you’re too lethargic to cook or buy food when you’re sick.

Check out our Muscle-Building Power Smoothie here:

smoothie fb

#3: Got juice?

Yes, green juice still has its place, especially if you body doesn’t want to be processing so much fiber when you’re very sick. However, juice is absorbed into the blood very quickly, so this may elevate blood sugar levels.

As a result, you may want to limit juicing fruit and juice more greens instead. One of my favorite green juice is Pressed Juicery’s Greens 3 and 5. Sweet, light, and refreshing,

Since I personally prefer fruit to greens, I recommend blending over juicing. But that’s just my personal preference.

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#4: Hydrate

Drink lots of water to help you detox and flush your waste out your system. Water prevents dehydration and can help unclog stuffy noses.

I love my fruit water with oranges, or lemon if you want a bit of tangi-ness in your drink. Lemon offers an alkalizing effect to your body. Just add a few pieces of fruit into your water and the fruit will make your water more flavorful and colorful!

And yes, I love my coconut water (fresh off the coconut!) as well as herbal tea. They can keep you hydrated and calm your upset stomach.

Nicole Lana Photo

#5: Wash your hands

This is pretty self explanatory.

Some experts argue that antibacterial soap increases the risk of creating resistant bacteria for the flu, and are toxic.

So you may want to wash your hands with chemical free soap.

#6: Get some sun

Vitamin D may reduce chances of influenza. Some studies have shown that there is a link between vitamin D levels and the risk of getting influenza.

Vitamin D boosts our immune system by reducing the levels of inflammatory proteins and increasing the amount of antimicrobial proteins that destroy invading germs and viruses.

So boost your vitamin D intake. And the best way to do that is to get your vitamin D naturally through sun exposure, though it can be challenging in the dim dreary and dark winters.

So taking vitamin D supplements may prevent or treat influenza, though the effects of vitamin D supplements on influenza have not been proven yet.

#7: Eat whole plant-based foods and avoid processed foods

When your body is busy fighting the flu, the last thing you want is to put junk like refined sugar and processed foods in your body.

Other than your smoothies and juices, you may want to incorporate more raw fruit and vegetables in your diet for their flu-fighting antioxidant benefits. I prefer raw vegetables since high heat can destroy the phytonutrients available in plants, and you want those nutrients to fight your cold. With the above being said, cooked vegetables are also important – some vegetables are better cooked than raw.

Dietary fats, animal protein and cholesterol can potentially suppress the immune system, while antioxidants found in plant foods enhance our bodies’ ability to fight disease. So you may want to limit your fat (i.e. olive oil, flaxseed oil, fish oil) and animal food (including dairy) intake.

A low-fat, plant-based whole food based diet, including vegetables, herbs, fruit, starches and grains maybe best for your body.

7 Super Flu-fighting Foods:

  • Ginger: Contains chemicals called sesquiterpenes that specifically target cold viruses, is a natural pain and fever reducer and a mild sedative, so it can help you sleep better
  • Garlic: Contain antiseptic and immunity-boosting compounds, helps open clogged sinuses given phytochemical allicin, which is antimicrobial
  • Honey: Can help relieve sore throat, contains solid antioxidant and antimicrobial properties help fight infections from viruses, bacteria, and fungi
  • Nutritional Yeast: May prevent immune decline in marathon runners. Athletes who overtrain may put excessive stress on their bodies and become more susceptible to respiratory infection.
  • Fruit and Dark Leafy Greens: Contain great source of vitamins and phytonuitrients that help flight flu. Notable ones include oranges, mangoes, kale, berries.
  • Mushrooms: May increase production of cytokines, cells that help fight off infection, and contain polysaccharides, another class of compounds that support your immune system.
  • Black Pepper: High in piperine, a compound known for it’s anti-fever and pain-relieving properties.

 #8: Take a warm bath

When you take a warm bath, your higher body temperature can play a role in fighting infections and boost your immunity system. So light up your candles and take a nice bubble warm bath… heat it up to around 38C, slightly higher than your body’s core temperature (37 C).

 #9: Exercise

Yes, break a sweat. Staying active can potentially cut the risk of having a cold by 50%.

Exercising can also improve your immune system’s efficiency.

If you’re sick, a light walk in nature, Pilates and a bit of yin yoga are great alternatives to hitting it hard at the gym. Plus you still get to work on your core muscles so you can maintain your six-pack. 😉

Since I presume most of you readers already exercise, I’ll save more exclusive expert exercise tips for later.

Yes I intentionally left this point to the last, because I presume you all are getting your exercise in, but *not* getting enough sleep (hence, go back to #1: Sleep!)  And if you aren’t getting enough exercise, go get some (no pun intended) 😉

What measures do you take to stay healthy during the flu season? Leave a comment.

If you’re too lazy to comment, at least share it with your friends, unless you really don’t care, or simply don’t like the article. But if you’ve read this far, I presume you can take the time to at least click “Like” (Whoops, I’m doing it again! 😉 )

Source of featured image: eiu.edu
  • sean

    Does alcohol free Hand sanitizer classify the same as chemically free soap ? will it kill at the germ present ?