With Autumn bringing increased flu activity1https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season.htm, now’s the time to prepare for colder months and the peak of influenza season!
Generally, between 5-20% of the population gets flu each year – healthy individuals included. 2https://api.warwickshire.gov.uk/documents/WCCC-630-483 Influenza is a very common, highly infectious disease caused by a virus. It’s variable and can change over time – each year there are different strains and compared to the common cold, symptoms of flu generally last longer and are more severe.3https://vk.ovg.ox.ac.uk/vk/influenza-flu
Influenza leads to hundreds of thousands of GP visits and tens of thousands of hospital stays a year4https://vk.ovg.ox.ac.uk/vk/influenza-flu, so, whether you consider yourself ‘healthy’ or immune-compromised, taking steps to help prevent the flu is important for all.
Here are our top tips to help protect yourself from the flu this winter
1. Drink Kefir
Numerous studies show that restoring the balance of beneficial bacteria in your microbiome can help boost your immune system considerably.5https://draxe.com/health/flu-natural-remedies/ In fact, research has determined that kefir is “immunomodulatory”, meaning that it enables the immune system to work more effectively and appropriately,6https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4854945/ reducing your risk of catching viruses and other nasty bugs.
The lactic acid bacteria strains found in kefir have been proven to offer protection against different subtypes of the influenza A virus, resulting in lower amounts of virus replication in the lungs.7https://news.gsu.edu/2017/12/13/lactic-acid-bacteria-can-protect-influenza-virus-study-finds/
You can find our best immunity-boosting Kefir smoothie recipes here.
2. Up your herbs and spices
Utilise your kitchen staples and use herbs and spices as effective immunity boosters! One of our favourite and easy-to-use options is garlic. Garlic contains compounds that help the immune system fight germs and reduce inflammation.8https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25961060/ These compounds have been shown to boost the disease-fighting response of some types of white blood cells when they encounter certain viruses, such as the viruses that cause the common cold or flu.9https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26764332/
Garlic may reduce the risk of becoming sick in the first place, but also decreases the severity and longevity of your cough, cold or flu. A 2016 study found that colds were significantly shorter for subjects who ate 2.56 grams of aged garlic extract per day during cold and flu season, compared with a placebo group. Their symptoms were also less severe.10https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26764332/
3. Prioritise sleep
Consistent sleep strengthens the immune system, allowing for effective immune function, whilst lack of sleep, on the other hand, can throw off the immune system, increasing your likelihood of getting sick.11https://www.sleepfoundation.org/physical-health/how-sleep-affects-immunity
In 2015, a study published in the Sleep journal, looked at 164 healthy adults who volunteered to catch a cold for science. According to the results, individuals who slept six hours a night or less were four times more likely to get ill after being exposed to the cold virus, compared to those who got more sleep.12https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26118561/ In fact, how many hours a person slept was one of the strongest predictors of whether or not they got sick, more so than other factors such as age, body mass, stress levels or emotional state!
If you’re having trouble sleeping, read our 6 steps to a great night’s sleep blog post for helpful tips.
4. Use essential oils
Essential oils are a safe and beneficial way to purify the air and make your home smell delicious, without chemicals and pollutants. We recommend the Natural Clean Essential Oil in a reed diffuser or essential oil burner.
Our Natural Clean Essential Oil is a combination of three essential oils: grapefruit, lemon and bergamot. Why these three for colds and flu?
– Grapefruit essential oil has antimicrobial effects that help reduce harmful strains of bacteria.13https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12165191/
– Lemon essential oil has anti-inflammatory effects.14https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3671226/
– Bergamot essential oil has been shown to fight coughs, colds and respiratory conditions.15https://draxe.com/essential-oils/bergamot-oil/
If you experience any symptoms of a cough, cold or the flu, the Natural Clean Essential Oil can be used in form of steam inhalation. You can purchase a nebuliser for this purpose, or just boil an inch of water in a saucepan, add three drops of Natural Clean Essential Oil to the pan, move the pan to a safe location, throw a towel over both your head and the pan, and inhale the steam for three minutes.
Read more about the benefits of Natural Clean Essential Oil here.
5. Get some fresh air
The dry air we inhale as we heat our homes during colder months makes airways more reactive and sensitive to viruses.16https://draxe.com/health/flu-natural-remedies/ Spending time outdoors reduces time spent in indoor environments where germs and toxins are concentrated.
An added bonus of extra time in fresh air is a healthy dose of vitamin D, known to support a healthy immune system.17https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166406/
You can read more about the benefits of getting outdoors here.
Here’s to a happy, healthy winter this year! ❄️
Check out Break your gut-harmful habits to protect your cold-fighting immunity for more information on improving your immunity and avoiding sickness this season.