As the weather begins to change, one word begins to weigh on many people's minds: flu. You begin to see signs for clinics everywhere: drug stores, grocery stores, health clinics. According to the CDC, those who are at greatest risk for developing it are the elderly, young children and those who suffer from chronic conditions. While the vaccine is highly effective, natural methods exist that can help prevent you from catching this infection.
Consume raw garlic. According to Dr. Connealy, Medical Director for South Coast Medical Center of New Medicine, garlic has antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties that help prevent infections from developing and spreading. To receive optimal benefits, cut two cloves into smaller pieces and swallow them with a glass of water.
Eat mushrooms. Forget the apple a day, enjoy a mushroom instead. Dr Connealy states that both shiitake and maitake are the best choices when it comes to boosting your immune system. These mushrooms increase your white blood cells, the cells that strengthen your immunity against infection.
Increase your sleep. Think of your immune system as a battery; it needs to be charged each night to work at its maximum capacity. Eight hours is what's recommended to fully charge it, giving it the strength to fight off infections.
Eat more fruits and vegetables. These are important for good health under normal circumstances, but when trying to prevent influenza, they are even more so. Eating a wide variety of these super foods ensures you will receive the vitamins and minerals that are vital for strengthening your immune system. These include vitamins A, B6, C and E and minerals such as zinc, selenium, iron and copper.
Exercise more often. The benefits of exercise are two-fold; it helps strengthen your immune system while reducing your stress levels simultaneously. Dr. Connealy suggests that walking for 30 to 60 minutes a day can reduce the number of colds and sore throats you develop by half; this is due to an increased immune system. Exercise is also a terrific stress reducer. As stated by Dr. Connealy, 90 percent of illness and disease is stress-related. Exercise with caution though; if you exercise more than 90 minutes a day, you could become run down and actually increase your chances of developing the flu.
Wash your hands. Hand washing is the single most important step anyone can take in preventing the spread of any disease or infection. Use warm soap and water, taking care to scrub under your nails. Sing the Happy Birthday song while washing; this ensures you are washing long enough. When finished, use a clean paper towel to turn off the faucets, and always avoid touching your mouth and nose; these are the easiest methods of transportation for germs.