Are you prepared for this year’s fight against the flu?
It’s October… and “the season” has finally begun!
I’m not talking about the fall foliage… or the transition from baseball to football… or even the return of your favorite TV shows.
No, this month is the “season opener” for the flu, especially here in the Northeast — and it doesn’t quit until around May.
And according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), this season could really be a WHOPPER.
Down in Australia and other countries in the Southern Hemisphere — where the flu season peaks during our summer — people have been getting hit hard with a particularly nasty flu strain known as H3N2.
There, it’s caused some pretty severe cases of illness, especially in older folks. And that could be a sneak preview of things to come in the U.S.
Of course, the CDC is ratcheting up panic to encourage you to roll up your sleeve for a flu shot, peddling it as the ONLY guarantee against these bad bugs.
But think before you jab — because the flu shot’s effectiveness is usually no better than a coin toss, and it could saddle you with symptoms that are strangely similar to the ones you were trying to avoid in the first place!
The flu’s hacking cough, body aches, and sweaty fever are bad enough, but with deadly flu complications like pneumonia becoming more likely as we age, you really can’t afford to have a false sense of security when it comes to this vicious virus.
So, instead of flipping a coin, beef up your immune system against the flu with these natural approaches:
- Practice good self-care: Make sure you regularly wash your hands, exercise, get enough sleep, and reduce stress.
- Balance your gut: Studies have shown that taking probiotics and eating fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut can slash your risk of getting an upper respiratory infection.
- Load up on vitamins: Many essential vitamins can help your immune system ward off viruses. Take about 4,000 IUs of vitamin D daily, especially during the winter months when you’re exposed to less sunlight and your body produces less D naturally. Take at least 3 grams of vitamin C daily. And try a multivitamin that includes selenium, zinc, and vitamin E.
- Try elderberry extract: Taking 600 to 900 mg of elderberry extract in the days before and during a trip can help prevent catching the flu from your fellow travelers. And if you still do get sick, elderberry can help shorten the duration of your illness.
- Eat foods high in flavonoids: Studies have shown that flavonoid-rich foods like berries, apples, pears, citrus fruits, and even dark chocolate can lessen the severity of your flu if you do happen to catch one, AND they can reduce your risk of secondary infections.
Just steer clear of drugs like Tamiflu, which will do zilch to ease your flu but could make you sick to your stomach.