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15 Smart Things You Can Do to Avoid the Flu

Everyone knows the flu is absolutely no fun. In fact, from what I’ve heard it’s absolutely horrible this year. Actually, there are several types of flu going around that are quite scary- one was more respiratory while the other was gastrointestinal. What’s really bad is that both came earlier than the normal flu season this year, indicating that there’s likely more to come.

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In fact, just today I read an article about a new stomach virus that is hitting the U.S. from Western Europe. If you dodged any of the first waves of the flu, what can you do to avoid the next one or simply to try and not get sick once again?  

Well, there are certain things I’m doing consciously although I’m no medical doctor and don’t intend for any of my tips to be a replacement for your doctor’s medical advice.  These are simply just a few of the things I know have helped us so far and hope they’ll continue to keep us strong enough to get through the flu season without getting sick, insha’allah (God willing). 

  1. Open the windows in your home, even if for just a short period of time.  Air inside the house can be stagnant and contain viruses brought in from the outside. You can circulate that air and bring fresh air indoors by cracking a few windows for about 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how large your home is. Be careful not to leave them open too long if you’re living through very cold temperatures- you don’t want to end up with frozen pipes.
  2. Clean the house by vacuuming and dusting. Spring cleaning is the most popular of all deep cleaning times, but I think flu season should be one, too. By getting rid of dust via vacuuming with a HEPA filter, you can get all kinds of airborne problems out of your home.
  3. Eat out less; cook at home more. When you cook at home, you have more control over what you’re putting into your mouth than if everything is prepared by not just one, but several people in a restaurant. Sick people could carry the norovirus and other types of viruses, passing it on to you easily especially if they haven’t washed their hands well (if at all) when preparing your food. I know- gross.
  4. Cover up when going out. When it’s cold outside, we naturally want to bundle up to protect our bodies from the windy, chilly air. What’s more important during flu season is to cover our mouths and noses because they are two entry points for which viruses can penetrate and begin to take hold, making us sick.
  5. Wash your hands. We’re often reminded by health officials to wash our hands after going to the bathroom, before eating and more. I suggest washing them more often than that- every time you touch a public object such as an elevator, shopping cart, doorway, etc. where airborne viruses can live for several hours. It may seem excessive, but hey- it’s flu season. Do what you can to keep yourself healthy and washing hands is probably one of the easiest.
  6. Wash your nose and mouth. I suggest this one separately from washing your hands because of how significant it really is- just as important as it is to cover up your nose and mouth, if you were around sick people or in a communal area with the potential for a flu outbreak, it’s a good idea to clean out your nose and mouth with water just to flush out any airborne viruses.
  7. Build up your immune system with elderberry extract. This is the first year I heard about this type of natural immune booster, but I’ve started taking it. Actually, I’ve stocked up on two types- one to strengthen the immune system and a more concentrated one to help with flu symptoms if we get it.
  8. Consume raw garlic. Being Italian, this isn’t hard but it does take a conscious effort nevertheless to put crushed raw garlic into salads or dip it in extra virgin olive oil and eat it with bread. When garlic is crushed as opposed to cut (and definitely not cooked), it releases an anti-microbial compound called allicin that helps to fight off infections.
  9. Limit contact with sick people. It’s a very good deed (and recommended in Islam) to visit the sick; however, if someone is contagious, check on them to see what they need and deliver some very healthy chicken noodle soup, but don’t stay very long.
  10. Launder clothes after visiting communal places like hospitals, schools, nurseries or nursing homes where there is a known outbreak of the flu.  This might seem a bit over the top, but it’s the main reason why healthcare professionals wear scrubs then throw them in a laundry bin before going back to their personal lives.
  11. Eat yogurt and other probiotics. A great deal of research has surfaced to reveal the wonderful benefits of consuming probiotics due to the ‘good’ bacteria they introduce to our gut, helping to boost the immune system and balance out the ‘bad’ bacteria that may be living in the digestive system. This article explains it in relation to the prevention of the flu.
  12. Drink lots of water. If your body is harboring any type of virus, it’ll need to be flushed out, particularly if you’re dehydrated. Drink plenty of water to keep things moving and keep you feeling energized.
  13. Eat fruits known to fight off sickness and build your immune system. There are so many different kinds of fruits to consume- choose the ones that are high in antioxidants, loaded with natural probiotics (i.e. cranberries) and vitamin C.
  14. Try apple cider vinegar. I use it to treat my own indigestion or heartburn, but was stunned to learn that it could also help a sore throat, reduce congestion and build the immune system. As an old-fashioned remedy, it was used as a compress to alleviate congestion, too. Either way, check out the many variations in the ways you can use it, adding honey to ease the taste for those who find it too strong.
  15. Exercise regularly. When we’re healthy, we don’t always appreciate the mere ability to move around beyond our normal range of motion. Once we’re sick, however, our body is knocked down to levels that make us feel completely run over- well, that’s how I feel. Exercising is invigoration, it helps rid our body of toxins and acclimates us to the natural climate we live in when we exercise outdoors- yes, I believe in brisk walks in the winter. Just not when I’m sick.

Do you have anything to add to this list?  Help everyone who reads this post by adding what you think is a smart thing that can be done to avoid the flu…

*Disclaimer:  The information included in this post is not meant as a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be treated as such. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.

 

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3 comments

  1. I also heard about elderberry recently, I plan to harvest some this year when it comes in season to make jelly or syrup with! Here are my tips to add to the great ones above:
    1) Take astragalus. I started this last year. I haven’t been sick since. No colds, nothing. (Even when my son got colds, I didn’t catch it, which had never happened before). It really strengthens the immune system and helps my allergies as well. Normally, I’m the one who is sick all winter, all the time, and much of the summer too. This has been a life changer for me.
    2) When you go to a public area, try to avoid touching with your fingers the things that everybody else touches, the moment you brush your face, mouth, itch your nose, or rub your eye, or even handle your keys or purse which you will later touch repeatedly, you are transferring those germs directly to you (you’re also passing your own to other people). Push the elevator button with your knuckle, use your arm, knee, foot, or even non-dominant fingers (ring and little finger) to open doors, don’t flush public toilets with your hand (does anybody do this anymore?), etc. Writing this all out sounds a bit obsessive, I’m really not, but once I consciously started focusing on these things especially when sicknesses would circulate around the office, it did make a big difference. If you think about it, you use the same parts of your same few fingers to handle almost every public item (and, your face), so it’s not like you have to break out the antibacterial wipes a la Monk, just switch it up a bit, or even use your non dominant hand, to cut down on transfer of germs between handwashes. (Although, I admit, if I’m in an elevator with somebody sneezing or coughing, I hold my breath until I get out. Okay so I may be a little obsessive, but if you’ve ever seen those slow motion illuminating sneezing pics, you know tiny droplets are getting all over you and filling all the air).
    3) Don’t forget honey has natural antibacterial properties :) It’s good for wound healing and also if you start to get a sore throat, take it and apply directly where it is sore. I use raw honey for this. I really believe this has helped prevent a lot of secondary infections when I do get a cold, which used to follow like clockwork.
    4) Get as much sleep as you can. Prioritize your sleep. Schedule it if you have to. I miss sleep.

  2. Salam,

    Hope u r good by the grace of Allah…All your tips are so valuable…will try to follow Inshaallah..

    Take care
    Farin

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