Flu season is upon us again and the best way to avoid getting sick with the flu is to strengthen your immune system. If you already eat healthy, take probiotics, get enough sleep and exercise, then chances are your immune system is in pretty good shape. The trick now is to keep it strong especially during flu season. Let’s look at a few things you can do to avoid putting your immune system at risk and keep it strong to help you fight off flu.
What is the Flu?
The flu is caused by a virus just as a cold is. But flu symptoms are usually more severe than cold symptoms. You generally start seeing relief from cold symptoms within a week whereas flu symptoms can last a bit longer and you don’t bounce back as fast. The worst flu symptoms may show relief after a week, but you can still be lacking energy and have milder symptoms for weeks. Symptoms of flu can include a high grade fever, achy muscles, headache, sore throat, cough, runny or stuffy nose, fatigue and possibly vomiting or diarrhea.
Keeping Your Immune System Strong
1. Get Rest
Not getting enough sleep reduces immune cell function and impairs the ability of your immune system to protect you from illness such as the flu. If you are feeling sick, then getting more sleep helps increase your immune system’s fever response to fight off invaders. Getting extra rest also helps immune cells regenerate. Adults need to get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a night. This is especially important to make a priority during flu season to keep your immune system healthy.
2. Avoid Alcohol
Excessive alcohol consumption can negatively affect your immune system function. Drinking too much alcohol can reduce white blood cells and prevent your body’s absorption of nutrients. One study performed with mice reported those given large amounts of alcohol showed signs of the immune system being weaker. Flu season is an especially good time to hit the sack early instead of staying up late at parties or out drinking with friends.
3. Hand Washing
One of your best lines of defense against getting the flu is to wash your hands. Use soap and warm water to wash throughout the day and particularly after being out in public places where you have been touching things that could have picked up germs from others, after coughing or sneezing into your hand, after using the restroom, or touching your face. When you wash, make sure you wash thoroughly and for at least 20 seconds, then be sure to dry your hands completely. Using paper towels is also better for cutting down on germ exposure than using a cloth towel, especially if multiple people are using the cloth towel.
4. Immune Support Supplement
One way I have found to support the immune system is this supplement containing reishi, cordyceps, maitake, shiitake, Turkey Tail, and Agaricus blazei mushrooms with astragalus, beta glucan and bluegreen algae. Pure, whole particle beta glucan helps with inflammation by mobilizing white blood cells to areas of injury or inflammation. These white blood cells (macrophages) remove damaged tissue quickly before it has time to trigger more inflammation. Beta glucan from yeast has been known to help fight off bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics, release chemicals that support immune cells, reduce cold symptoms, and help regulate the immune system. Beta glucans are not something the body produces naturally so we have to get them from food or supplement sources. Adding a single capsule of this immune support supplement each day to your diet can help your body to more actively defend against invading germs, viruses and antigens by stimulating the macrophages into action, which in turn triggers an entire chain reaction of defense mechanisms in the body. Shiitake and reishi mushrooms have been found to have antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties as well as being rich in beta glucans. Maitake, cordyceps and Turkey Tail mushrooms have also been found to contain a variety of substances that benefit your immune system.
5. Precautions Around Other People
Since the flu is contagious, there are certain precautions to take when around other people that will help reduce your risk of getting it. Even if you are around people that don’t appear sick, they can have the virus and begin spreading it. Washing your hands after coming into physical contact with another (ie. – shaking hands with them) is one way you can cut down on your chances of getting the virus. If you can’t immediately wash your hands then at least be sure to not touch your mouth, nose or eyes until you can. I know mom told us to cover our mouths when we cough and most people cover their noses when they sneeze, but sneezing or coughing into your sleeve instead of your hand can help cut down on the spreading of flu germs. Encourage those around you to do the same. During the peak of flu season, the safest course is to avoid crowded public places since the virus can be spread over quite a distance through the air. If that is not possible, some people wear filtering masks to reduce their risk of being affected. Others just stick with being contentious about washing their hands extra and avoid anyone that is showing symptoms of the flu.
6. Drink Water
Keeping your body hydrated helps keep all the systems including your immune system functioning at their peak capacity. Not drinking enough water also distracts your immune system as it deals with toxins in the body that are not being released from the body through urination. Drinking the right amount of water for you will leave your urine a pale yellow color. If your urine is darker yellow, then you are probably not drinking enough water daily. Drinking lots of water is also important if you get the flu as it helps flush the flu out of your system.
7. Don’t Worry
Anxiety and stress can also reduce the function of your immune system. Stress reduces your levels of IgA, a protein that is part of the immune system and helps fight off infections by preventing invaders from getting into the body, leaving the immune system more vulnerable. Reducing stress or learning methods of coping with stress can go a long way towards strengthening your immune system. On a spiritual or energetic level, according to the Law of Attraction, worrying about getting the flu can actually cause you to manifest it or draw it into your reality. Take the precautions listed in this article and go on about your everyday life without worrying that you might get the flu. If you do get the flu, then you’ll deal with it, but worrying about getting it will definitely not keep it away. Cut down on other life stressors or find ways to cope with them during the flu season too so that your immune system has the best chance of helping you avoid the flu.
The flu is nothing to fool around with. In some cases it can lead to hospitalization and even death. At best, it means time missed from work or school, family and feeling miserable. Give some or all these tips a try and get your immune system in top working order to help you fight off illness this flu season.