Even the toughest of us tend to whimper when we are suffering from the flu. We could be living our life one day, and then a moment later be on the bathroom floor asking our loved ones to go ahead and finish us off. Even if the flu lasts for just two or three days, it often takes another week to come back from the havoc it wrecked on us. Our weight is down, our strength is down, we can barely walk across our house to get things, and we are recovering from the humiliation of being on the bathroom floor.
Once you have the flu, you basically just have to let it run its course. There might be a few medications that you can take to help with the symptoms, but there is no pill that is going to cure the flu. The key is to not catch the flu in the first place. Avoid it the best you can. There are certain things that you can do to assist you in this quest.
Channel your inner Alice from the Brady Bunch. Everything has germs on it. If you work around kids, they are like little incubators for viruses. It is essential that if you want to avoid the flu, clean everything around you. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers kill most types of bacteria, viruses, and fungi in a matter of a few seconds. Have a container of those antibacterial wipes handy at your desk and around your home. A good offense against the flu is a good defense.
Don’t Touch Anything
Act like everywhere you go is a crime scene and try not to touch anything. Flu germs are easily transferred by touch, so stuff your hands in your pockets. Charles Gerba, a professor of Microbiology & Environmental Sciences at the University of Arizona, led a study of how germs get passed around at work and found that viruses move fast from people touching and infecting commonly shared items. Often I avoid holding onto the railing when I go up and down stairs for this reason. Of course, I may stumble and fall down a flight of stairs with possibly breaking my neck, but I won’t catch the flu.
Increase Your Protein Intake
Douglas Kalman, a doctor and the director of nutrition and applied clinical trials at Miami Research Associates, states that diets that are low in protein deplete the immune system. You can increase your protein intake by meat, fish, yogurt, milk, and other food items. Or just be sure to take a protein shake everyday. Even if you still get the flu, protein builds muscle and leaves you feeling full longer. Increasing your protein is excellent for your health and fitness.
Take the Right Supplements
Many people take daily vitamins, which is a good thing. It is essential to get all the vitamins and minerals you need, and you don’t always get them from a lot of the junk food we take in. Elysium Health offers a product called Basis that focuses on cellular health and DNA maintenance. When we age, our co-enzyme Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD+) lowers quite a bit. This is important because NAD+ is critical for DNA health, circadian rhythm regulation, energy creation and hundreds of other vital functions. Basis is an NAD+ supplement that will increase your NAD+ levels back up.
Hold Your Breath
Dr. Leigh Vinocur, ER physician from the American College of Emergency Physicians, said that holding your breath for 10 to 15 seconds after someone sneezes or coughs can help ward off incoming germs. Sure, you may look a bit silly holding your breath when someone starts yakking next to you, but don’t make it look obvious. Just quietly hold your breath and start walking away.
Quit Shaking Hands
The polite thing to do when first meeting someone is to shake their hand. It’s okay to skip politeness if you are trying to stay healthy. Just explain that you are worried about your immune system being able to fight off sickness. British doctors advised athletes to eschew the longstanding symbol of sportsmanship in order to avoid getting sick at the Olympics. In addition, during the H1N1 epidemic of 2009, many school administrators, including at Northeastern University, decided to skip the ritualistic pressing of the flesh at graduation ceremonies to decrease the chance of passing on the flu virus.
Catch a Few Extra Zzzz’s
You can either get an extra hour of sleep a night during the flu season to ward off becoming sick, or sleep for a few days straight once you catch it. Sleep can help strengthen your immune system. A lack of sleep can weaken it. Resting when you are tired is not a crime. James Krueger, a researcher at Washington State University in Spokane, Washington showed that a brain-specific protein called AcPb speeds recovery in lab mice by promoting the healing power of sleep. When he infected mice that lacked the protein with the influenza virus H1N1, the strain that was common in the 2009 flu season, their symptoms were more severe and they died at higher rates. Mice that had the brain protein slept more, and recovered more quickly from the flu.
Get the Flu Shot
When many of us were kids, there was not even such a thing as a flu shot. The flu was looked at a bit like chicken pox, except the flu affected you once a year or so, not once in a lifetime. Now there are vaccines to protect you from both. Flu shots have gained in popularity over the last decade. They are frequently offered in pharmacies without even needing an appointment. The vaccine can prevent the flu, but you might have to face your fear of needles. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says that the vaccine is about 50 to 70% effective in stopping the flu virus.