The U.S. is currently in the midst of a flu epidemic. Here are a few suggestions that will help reducing your chances of catching it:
1. Wash your hands. This short video gives a powerful demonstration of how easy it is to spread infection. Make sure to wash your hands before eating, when preparing food or caring for someone who is sick, or after any of the following: touching an animal, handling garbage, changing a diaper, using the bathroom, coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose, or handling objects used by the general public (e.g., gym equipment or shopping carts). I prefer soap and water to hand sanitizer but will use the latter when I know I will not have immediate access to a washroom or sink. The Centers for Disease Control recommend scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds.
2. Irrigate your sinuses. I am a big fan of the neti pot, which uses salt water to remove impurities from your sinuses in a simple, mechanical fashion. Just tilt your head to the side and let water drain into and out of your nose. The salt helps draw out impurities and acts as a natural antiseptic. Because the flu virus is most likely to enter your system through your mouth and nose, it makes perfect sense to remove the virus from your nostrils before it ever gets absorbed into your bloodstream. This greatly reduces the load on your immune system.
3. Gargle with salt water. Gargling removes infectious agents from the throat mechanically, thus reducing your chances of getting sick. For many people, flu symptoms start with a sore throat. As the flu virus invades the mouth and throat, the immune system enacts an inflammatory response there. Rinsing out the virus through gargling can preempt sore throat and other inflammatory flu symptoms.
4. Counteract the effects of stress. Stress has been shown to lower immune function and increase susceptibility to infection. Look for simple ways to lower your stress levels. One of the most effective stress reduction techniques out there isRepose. Just 7 minutes of Repose three times a day lowers stress, elevates mood, improves overall psychological well-being, and reduces the number of days per month that work or household activities are curtailed due to physical health issues such as pain or illness.
5. Lower inflammation. Flu symptoms are not caused directly by the flu virus but rather by your body's response to it. The immune system carries out an inflammatory response that leads to fever, congestion, sore throat and body aches. Reducing inflammation is one of the great health challenges of modern life and an issue that I have already addressed extensively on this blog. Three simple ways to lower inflammation in your body are: a) eat more anti-inflammatory foods; b) avoid foods that promote inflammation; and c) remove toxins through Epsom salt baths.
I hope these suggestions will help you stay healthy and reduce your chances of getting sick this flu season.