The flu is a devastating illness, and it has been so since the 16th century. For some, the flu merely means a few miserable days spend suffering in bed, but for much of the population — especially the young, the old and the weak — the flu poses a very real health threat, one that could absolutely take their lives. When flu season comes, it is imperative that all of the population be prepared to combat it for the sake of those most at risk.
If you are eager to stay safe and healthy this flu season, here are a few natural flu prevention tricks — and why you should get a flu shot, too.
A Full Night’s Rest
You know you don’t look or feel your best when you aren’t getting enough sleep. Your eyes are sunken and puffy, your muscles feel weak and unstable, and your brain just doesn’t want to focus or think logically. As it turns out, your immune system also suffers when you don’t catch enough Zs. Generally, a lack of sleep confuses your immune system with regards to day and night; it is no longer able to distinguish when it needs to be active, so it isn’t working against health threats when it needs to. A study out of Carnegie Mellon University, University of San Francisco and University of Pittsburgh found that those who sleep six hours or less per night are four times more likely to get sick, so you should set your alarm for late to avoid the flu.
Again surprising no one, your body needs water. However, you probably aren’t drinking enough water to stave off the flu. Roughly 75 percent of Americans are in a chronic state of dehydration because they reach for other beverages, like coffee and soda, which aren’t particularly hydrating.
Water does dozens of things for your immune system. For one, water assists in the mobility of your blood stream; without water, your blood cells move less efficiently, which means you feel tired and weak, and your immune system can’t fight infection as quickly and powerfully. Plus, water helps to flush toxins from your body, through urine and sweat, and the less water you have available, the more time toxins spend in you.
You’ve heard it before, but you should read it again: You need between 11 and 15 cups of water per day, depending on your size and level of activity. If you aren’t getting this much, you won’t be equipped to fight off the flu.
Vitamin B12 is like a wonder drug to the body. It keeps your nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA — the stuff that forms the foundation of the human body. Unfortunately, it is surprisingly difficult to get the right amount of vitamin B12 from food; first, it is only found in certain kinds of meat and fortified grains, and secondly it requires a certain kind of protein produced in the stomach, which many people don’t naturally produce.
That’s why you might consider investing in B12 shots this winter. You need a shot of B12 one to two times per month to increase your energy, stamina and immunity. Of course, this doesn’t replace a healthy diet; you should still be eating enough fruits and vegetables to get the other nutrients your body needs for health.
A Flu Shot
If only there were one simple step you could take to make you immune to the flu this season… Well, there is: getting the flu shot. Though it might not seem natural — and you might have read lies about vaccines being unsafe — the flu shot is perfectly healthy. Indeed, there are dozens of reasons to get the flu shot, including keeping yourself safe from flu and protecting the more vulnerable members of your community, including babies and the elderly.
Unlike what you might have heard, there are no intentionally harmful ingredients in the flu shot. In fact, here is a list of all the stuff the flu shot contains:
- Deadened influenza virus. This cannot give you the flu.
- Egg protein. Flu vaccines are made by growing the virus inside chicken eggs, so trace amounts of egg protein remain.
- Preservatives. Thimerosal, specifically, prevents dangerous bacteria and fungi from growing in the vaccine.
- Antibiotics. Small amounts of neomycin, gentamicin and similar antibiotics do the same as thimerosal.
- Stabilizers. Small amounts of sucrose (table sugar), sorbitol and MSG keep vaccines shelf-stable, so the shots can be sent around the world.
- Polysorbate 80. If you’ve eaten store-bought salad dressing, you’ve consumed more of this compound than is contained in flu shots.
Considering that the flu itself kills more people — between 12,000 and 56,000 every year in the U.S. alone — than the flu shot ever will, you should be jumping to get the flu shot ASAP. Then, you should prepare to get enough sleep, drink enough water and otherwise give your body enough strength to survive this flu season.