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Flu Prevention

Updated: Mar 18, 2019

Tips for Avoiding Flu

Flu season is definitely upon us.  I am sure by now you know someone who has been sick.  About 16% of unvaccinated adults and about 10% of vaccinated adults will get the flu each year. The vaccine gives a healthy adult about a 40% decreased risk of getting the flu. The vaccine is far less effective in adults over age 65, so, even if you get the vaccine, it is important to use other methods to reduce your risk of getting the flu.  The following is a list of proven strategies for reducing your risk of getting the flu.

  • Wash your hands frequently.  Cold and flu viruses can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours.  Door knobs, grocery carts, table tops, chairs, other people’s hands, gym equipment and towels are just a few of the places you can pick up a virus.

  • Avoid touching your face – eyes, nose, and mouth.  The average person touches their face 3-5 times per hour, often without even noticing.  This is one way viruses end up in you.

  • Avoid getting too close to people who are sneezing and coughing, and especially avoid inhaling when they are sneezing and coughing near you.  Virus particles spray through the air from sneezing and coughing and you can breathe them in.

  • Cough or sneeze into your sleeve rather than your hand to avoid spreading your germs to others.

  • Be sure you are taking your vitamin D.  For most adults, the recommended dose is 2000iu/day

  • Have some probiotics or probiotics foods daily.  This is particularly important for children.  Miso, sauerkraut and kim chee are examples of excellent sources of beneficial bacteria.   Beneficial bacteria help strengthen your immune system.

  • Get some extra sleep.  Adequate sleep if you are feeling well, and extra sleep if you are feeling run down will go a long way to keeping your immune system strong.

  • Get some regular exercise.  Any type of movement boosts immune function.

  • Eat as well as you can.  Aim for at least 5 servings of veggies and 2 servings of protein every day.  Have lots of garlic and onions if you tolerate them.  Add herbs and spices to your food – many have amazing immune boosting properties.  Oregano, chili, curry, turmeric are just a few examples of beneficial herbs and spices.

  • Avoid any known food intolerances.  If you are sensitive to dairy products, these are particularly important to avoid.  Dairy products increase mucus in the nose, sinuses and throat giving viruses a perfect place to multiply and set up shop.

  • Avoid sugar.  Too much sugar is not good for your immune system.

  • Drink tea.  Lemon, mint, elder and ginger are examples of teas that taste good and are good for you.

  • Gargle daily with salt water to kill viruses in your mouth and throat.  Use a neti pot or Neil Sinus kit (available at any pharmacy) to flush viruses from nose and sinuses.

  • Relax and enjoy something every day.  Stress is one of the worst things for our immune system.  Having fun, laughing, smiling and relaxing all make us feel better and help our immune systems work better.

By Dr. Loreen Dawson, ND

Naturopathic Physician


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