The flu season is in full swing and may continue for another couple weeks or so. As we try to ride it out, let's consider how we can decrease our chances of coming down with a cold or flu. Many people would just tell us to get the current flu vaccine, but what if these vaccines do not protect us from the flu strains currently in our town? That’s the case with this year’s flu shots, which experts say are only 23% effective, due to a virus mutation which occurred after the vaccine had already been produced.
Now before a virus can make us sick, it has to get inside of the body. A virus can enter the body through any orifice, but our eyes, noses, and mouths are prime candidates. This is why it’s best to refrain from touching our faces, and to thoroughly wash our hands every so often.
Imagine yourself at a grocery store check-out line as the cashier hands you your change. Unbeknownst to you, the money that is now in your hands was previously handled by someone sick with the flu. You put the change safely in your pocket, then feel an itch on your nose. You scratch it, without thinking of the germs that have just made their way onto your face and into your nose. Your next breath sucks these germs right inside your lungs, and from there they can invade your cells and travel throughout your body.
But wait; if getting sick is that easy, why aren't you sick all the time? Enter your immune system. Without it, the germs that you encounter on a daily basis would kill you. Your immune system combats and destroys many germs without you even taking notice. However, sometimes viruses manage to slip past even this powerful defense. That is when you get sick. Even the symptoms of a common cold or flu show you that your immune system is at work trying to clear out all of the viruses that have taken up residence in your body.
How can you keep this vital system strong and healthy? By living a healthy lifestyle. Eating healthy foods, drinking water, getting adequate sleep, quitting unhealthy habits - these all play an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system. And continue these good habits; don't let things slide if you happen to catch the flu. Instead of indulging in unhealthy comfort foods, think of your immune system and how hard it's working to make you healthy. Give your body the proper tools it needs to do the job. Feeling like something sweet? Eat fruit! You'll be giving your body essential nutrients, antioxidants and healthy sugars. Thirsty? Drink plenty of water and herbal tea. The tea will soothe a sore throat and stuffy nose, and the water will prevent dehydration as your body flushes the germs from its system. Has the flu upset your stomach? Drink ginger root tea to settle it. Are you feeling exhausted? Get plenty of rest and sleep! Even if you have 101 things to do, make yourself take a break and let your body recover. Just as author Ashleigh Brilliant said, "Sometimes the most urgent thing you can possibly do is take a complete rest."