Flu season is upon us, even if it feels like the dead of summer outside. As such, it’s important that we take as many precautions as possible to help prevent the flu and the spread of other diseases — especially in the hospital setting here at AHS.
As the Wellness Program Manager, it’s my job to encourage you to do the best you can to protect yourself and your family as the weather (eventually) cools and the cold and flu start to crawl into our work space.
The number one way to prevent the spread of infection is good hand hygiene. Wash your hands thoroughly and often. In addition to that very important precaution, taking care to make sure your immune system is in tip top shape should be a huge priority this time of year. Of course, taking care of yourself is a year-round pursuit, but when it comes to flu season, you want as much protection as you can get.
Remember, the flu vaccine doesn’t cover every single form of flu going around each year, so you’re not scot-free if you choose to take the shot. You still have work to do!
7 Ways to Prevent the Flu
Recommendations for preventing flu infection are predictably similar to recommendations for general good health. The bottom line: take good care of your health and your immune system will be ready to fight for you when invaders come your way.
- Stay hydrated. Typical recommendations for hydration are to shoot for half your body weight in ounces. So if you weigh 100 lbs, drink 50 oz of water throughout the day.
- Eat the rainbow: Proper diet includes a variety of fruits and vegetables every single day. Try to fill at least half your plate with both raw and cooked vegetables in order to ensure you’re getting enough micronutrients and fiber to feed that healthy bacteria in your gut.
- Load up on herb and spices: Herbs and spices are the closest things to wild foods we have in our diets these days, which means they haven’t been stripped of their natural phytonutrients that help us fight off disease. Garlic, onions, ginger, turmeric, cilantro, oregano, and parsley are all great herbs and spices to add to your daily meals. Garlic and onions even have antimicrobial and anti-cancer properties! Check out this post on how to boost your intake of phytonutrients.
- Get some sun or take vitamin D: Vitamin D is a major component to a healthy immune system, so adequate amounts in the system are vital during flu season. Of course, in the winter months it’s hard to get enough sun for most people not living on the equator. I won’t say that every single person should supplement with vitamin D in the winter months, but it’s not a bad idea to find out your numbers to know for sure if you need a little boost.
- SLEEP! I can’t express enough how vital sleep is to the health of your immune system. We talked about this in our Sleep Better Workshops here at AHS, and I’ve written about the vital role of sleep as well here and here. Get your sleep routine under control to help you stave off the flu.
- Steer clear of processed sugars and flours: White sugars and flours are pro-inflammatory foods that weaken the immune system by their very nature. They also wreak havoc on your gut (the next item on the list.) This can be problematic considering flu season and holiday season overlap considerably. Just be smart about your treats this time of year and try to balance them out with numbers 2 and 3 above!
- Take care of your gut: Gut health is number one for your immune system. Heal your gut and the rest will follow. What goes into your mouth determines so much of how we interact with the world around us, including how often we get sick. Drink bone broth, take a probiotic, maybe even make your own kombucha!