Five Tips to Beat the Flu this Fall (And other respiratory infections, too!)

Fall is upon us. That means back to school, football, and (unfortunately) the flu. Keep reading for 5 tips that can keep you and your kids in tip-top shape this Fall and Winter!  Most of these suggestions are useful in avoiding respiratory illness in general.

 

woman-noseWhat is the flu and why should I care?

The influenza virus is likely more serious than you realize, especially for young children and older adults. For example, the Swine Flu of 2009 killed over 3,500 people in North America. That’s more than the 9/11 terrorist attack. But consider the Spanish Flu of 1918. It’s estimated to have killed between 3 and 5 percent of the world population. So, yea… a flu pandemic can be bad!

 

Characterized by sudden onset of fever, chills, headache, cough, sore throat, and muscle aches, the symptoms of the influenza virus typically last around 7 days and, contrary to popular belief, the “stomach flu” is a misnomer. The influenza virus is a respiratory illness and, though some strains may cause GI symptoms, it’s not classic for the disease.

 

Rough, right? Here’s how you can avoid it! 

 

vitamin-d1. Get Enough Vitamin D

While vitamin D comes from dietary sources like liver, egg yolk, and dairy, most is made in our skin from UV light and a molecule that resembles cholesterol. Low vitamin D levels are more common at high latitudes and have been associated with increased risk of respiratory illness and asthma. We recommend supplementing with the liquid form of vitamin D3, especially in the fall and  winter. You can find it cheap on Amazon. One bottle will last you months!

 

2. Get Your Zzzssleeping-baby-flu-post

It sounds like basic advice (and it is!) but sleep deprivation results in increased susceptibility to respiratory illness. Put your kids to bed early and don’t stay up too late ! A study from the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that people who slept less than 6 hours a night reported more respiratory infections and “head colds” than their well-rested peers.

 

3. Consider a Neti Pot

Neti pots have become popular in the treatment of sinus issues, but do they help prevent the flu? Many doctors think so.  Since the flu virus often resides in the nasal passages prior to infection, saline rinses could prevent influenza. Furthermore, saline rinses are safe if performed correctly: A 2007 Cochrane Database article reads “… the beneficial effect of saline [in treating nasal and sinus congestion] appears to outweigh … drawbacks for the majority of patients.”

 

4. Take Zinc at the First Signs of Illnesszinc

Oral zinc supplements, via lozenge or other form, have been shown to decrease the duration of colds and other viruses and possibly the flu… but only if you start supplementing within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms! So hit it hard and hit it fast and avoid the nasal zinc preparations. These could cause smelling loss. Finally, avoid supplementation for too long. This could lead to GI side effects.

 

5. Get Vaccinated

According to the CDC, “recent studies show [the influenza] vaccine reduces the risk of flu illness by about 50%  to 60%…” Considering the population as a whole, vaccination is your best bet for staying flu-free this year. In fact, most healthcare workers require vaccination by their employers.  One caveat: since the most common strains of influenza are constantly mutating, the vaccine for any given year may be more or less effective.

 

vaccination

 

So there you have it: Five ways to fight the flu this Fall! Of course common sense applies, too. Stay active, exercise, and eat a healthy diet containing plenty of fruits and vegetables. If you need help in this area (and with gut health in general) consider contacting us and trying Shakeology!