Unfortunately, flu season is here. Don’t start the new year off with congestion and a sore throat! Below are a few tips to help fuel and strengthen your immune system.
You should consume 5-7 servings of various fruits and vegetables and 2-3 servings of whole grains daily. The vitamins and minerals from these foods provide your immune system with essential nutrients, and the fiber promotes diversity in the gut flora, eliminates feces and strengthens the immune system.
Aim to have at least 7 hours of quality sleep each night. If possible, go to bed no later than 11pm. Sleep is essential, as it allows our body to enter repair mode. Sleep deprivation can suppress our immune system.
Increasing circulation is very important when you are on the brink of sickness. It reduces fever, helps bring fighters to the site of infection and eliminates waste. Sweating is the end goal of increasing circulation. It can be done through 30-60 minutes (including breaks) of sauna or exercise with moderate intensity. Just remember to shower right after!
Adequate hydration also promotes circulation. The general rule of thumb is to aim to drink half of your body weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 100 pounds, drink at least 50 ounces of water a day. You can also drink herbal tea, such as Elderberry or Echinacea, to further support the immune system.
The best time to use supplements is during the first 48 hours you experience flu symptoms. These symptoms include running nose, postnasal drip, fatigue, body ache or coughing. Make sure you choose a reputable brand to ensure best results.
The flu vaccine is recommended for the following high-risk population:
- People who are age 65 and older
- Pregnant women
- Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- People with chronic lung disease, asthma, heart disease, blood disorder, kidney disorder or liver disorder
Do not get the flu vaccine if you have a history of severe allergic reactions. Babies six months or younger should also not receive a vaccine. Always talk to your doctor first, especially if you are allergic to eggs, suffer from Guillain-Barre syndrome or are already experiencing flu-like symptoms. Keep in mind that vaccine effectiveness is usually about 30-40%, so don’t let it be your only protection!