I came across an interesting article today that I wanted to share with you. It was written in November 2011 but is still very relevant today. It gives 15 tips for staying healthy during flu season. However, many of the recommendations are applicable to year-round good health. That is what intrigued me and prompted me to share the article with you. The focus is on helping your immune system stay strong and eliminating things in your life that weaken it. I am a big believer in preventive medicine. Here is the link to the article: http://www.prevention.com/health/health-concerns/your-winter-stay-healthy-guide
There are a couple of points from the article that I have some additional comments on regarding staying healthy in flu season.
1. Flu vaccine. Because of a bigger genetic shift in the flu virus from last year, this year’s flu vaccine is only about 50% effective. It is still helpful to get one.
2. Goal setting. This is helpful for some people but not everyone.
3. If you get at least five colors of fruits and vegetables in your diet each day, you are most likely getting an adequate daily supply of vitamins and nutrients; a multivitamin may not be necessary. Additional nutritional thoughts: focus on lean protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. Limit sweets, salt and simple carbohydrates. Drink plenty of water (4-6 glasses a day) to stay well hydrated.
4. Astragalus. Talk with your regular doctor or naturopathic physician to see if this would be beneficial for you.
5. Getting three hours of exercise a day would not be possible for most people. The general guidelines are to get 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise most days of the week. Any exercise you do helps!
6. Zinc. Studies have shown conflicting results as to whether it actually reduces the duration of the common cold. I do not currently recommend zinc to my patients.
7. Flu medication. Only take antiviral flu medication if your physician has tested and diagnosed you with influenza (the real flu). It only shortens the duration of symptoms by less than 24 hours, so it may not be necessary for everyone. There are many other viral upper respiratory infections during the winter months that mimic the flu but are not the flu. They do not respond to anti-flu medications such as Tamiflu or Relenza. For these infections we treat the symptoms and let them run their course.