Flu season isn't good for anybody except toilet roll companies but you don't have to sit back and wait for the first sneeze. There's a huge amount you can do for you immune system to prepare for flu season and increase your chance of getting to spring flu-free.
The flu isn't only one virus. Instead, 'influenza' is the name for a whole family of flu strains. The worst part is, strains of flu can evolve quickly and can be extremely contagious. This is why scientists have to develop new vaccines each year, to keep up with the evolving strains and take the wind out of their sails.
Do you want to navigate flu season feeling healthy and strong? Do you want to laugh in the face of flu and swing from the trees with pure vitality? Okay, we went a bit far there. There's lots you can do to reduce your risk of catching it though.
Keep reading to find out 10 ways you can strengthen your immune system and give yourself the best chance of staying well through flu season.
1. Get the Flu Vaccine
This seems like an obvious one but a surprising amount of people still don't get the flu vaccine when it's offered to them. Each year, new vaccines come out designed to immunise individuals against specific strains of flu.
The flu vaccines vary in effectiveness each year depending on how well they match the strains circulating and for this reason, some people may not see the point in getting it. However, to give yourself the best chance of avoiding the flu, getting the vaccine is an effective way to create an immunity to certain strains.
2. Take an Immune-Boosting Supplement
Your immune system is busy, really busy.
If you're not eating immune-boosting foods though, or if you've been suffering from stress or illness, it might be struggling.
Taking an immune-supporting supplement is an easy way to give your body a better chance of fighting the viruses hanging out on door handles. Our MultiBiotic supplement is packed with probiotics which help create a healthy gut microbiome, essential for a strong immune system. With probiotics, you're protecting yourself from the inside out.
3. Stay Hygienic
Sometimes it's the simplest things that have the greatest effect and maintaining excellent hygiene is one of them. Hand washing is one of the best ways to keep your immune system in top shape and avoid catching the flu or other viruses.
When you wash your hands with soap and water, the soap breaks down the outer layer of lipid-encapsulated viruses, like flu. Soap and water also remove the virus from your hands and wash it down the drain.
Simple, but effective.
With regular hand washing, you're avoiding all sorts of bacteria and viruses. This stops the constant barrage on your immune system so it's ready to fight when something really nasty comes along.
4. Get an Early Night
Do you want an excuse to get an early night and have a lie-in? No problem, we can help you out.
Getting enough high-quality sleep is a fantastic method of supporting your immune system. Without enough, your immune system can weaken quickly.
When you sleep, your body starts getting busy repairing things and producing cytokines, proteins that activate various immune processes. When you skimp on sleep because Netflix auto-started the next episode of your latest binge show, the production of cytokines drops off. Sure, you get to find out what happens on the show, but you're opening yourself up to getting ill.
5. Up Your Vitamin C
Vitamin C gets a lot of air time and for good reason. This vitamin helps lots of systems in the body, including the immune system. An antioxidant, vitamin C supports cell barriers against pathogens and stops free radicals from damaging cells.
There's also evidence that taking vitamin C supplements can shorten the duration of colds and enhance T-cells. T-cells are the immune system's heavyweights that help fight infections, including those in the upper respiratory tract. You can take specifically-formulated vitamin C powder like our Manuka-C that includes vitamin C and glutathione, another powerful antioxidant.
6. Eat Healthily
Supplements like vitamin C and probiotics are great for supporting immune system health but that's not a free pass to eat doughnuts and pizza every day. These supplements work best when combined with a healthy diet that gives your body the nutrients it needs to thrive.
Few of us get our five portions of vegetables a day but eating well can dramatically improve your overall health and boost your immune system.
7. Stay Active
They say sitting is the new smoking and it's not hard to see why. Our bodies evolved to move and not be sedentary for hours on end. Staying active, even walking around the office or taking the stairs, helps boost blood circulation and keep cells oxygenated.
When you get moving, the white blood cells from your immune system circulate faster, scouting out signs of invaders. Exercise also reduces stress levels, which lessens stress-related immune suppression.
8. Take a Break
Exercise is a great stress-relieving pursuit but to prepare for flu season you might need to take further stress-busting steps. Stress weakens the immune system, suppressing it and making you more susceptible to whatever's going around.
Meditation, switching off from work emails in the evening and taking care of your mental health is essential.
9. Quit Bad Habits
No one thinks smoking is good for you and quitting now will reduce the risk of catching flu and minimise its effect if you do come down with it. Over 2.5 million Australians smoke and the damage caused to the respiratory systems increases with each cigarette.
Alcohol also negatively affects the immune system, damaging the gut lining, upsetting the microbiome and reducing sleep quality. Cutting down or giving up is a good way to support your immune system for flu season (and beyond!).
10. Breathe Through Your Nose
While we have two ways of breathing, our bodies are predominantly designed for nasal breathing. Chronic mouth-breathing can lead to many negative health issues including inhaling unfiltered air, dental decay and jaw dysfunctions.
When you breathe through your nose, you're less likely to catch the flu as well. Nasal breathing traps particles before they reach your lungs, retains moisture and reduces stress by supporting the parasympathetic system.
Try These Steps to Prepare for Flu Season
While we can't control flu itself, we can all take steps to prepare our immune systems for flu season. By taking supplements that give our bodies the immune support they need via probiotics and vitamin C, and by eating healthily, we can be safe in the knowledge we're fuelling correctly.
Easy hygiene like hand washing can dramatically reduce your chances of catching a winter bug and getting enough sleep will allow your immune system to stay fighting fit. Nasal breathing and taking mental breaks help reduce stress and support immune function too.
If you want to give yourself the best chance to avoid the flu this year, take these steps and check out our immune system supplements. Get in touch with us if you have any questions, we're on hand to help you stay healthy.