Easy ways to fight the flu

It’s flu and exam season, a double-whammy for your immune system, but there are things you can do every day to avoid getting sick—and none involve going to the doctor

Loading up on yogurt and selenium and vitamin C found in vegetables and fruit juice can help fight bugs this flu season.
Loading up on yogurt and selenium and vitamin C found in vegetables and fruit juice can help fight bugs this flu season.

No more Five-Second Rule 

We’ve all committed the crime, but Clemson University scientists dropped a piece of deli meat on a tiled floor and found it picked up 99 per cent of the bacteria within five seconds. Toss that runaway Skittle in the garbage. It isn’t worth the germs.

Cut out processed foods

Surprise surprise, sugar and refined foods don’t help fight off winter flus and other viruses. In fact, sugar inhibits white blood cells. Glucose (sugar) has a similar structure to healthier food products entering one’s cells, such as vitamin C. More glucose hinders the entry of vitamin C into cells that digest infectious cellular debris. This means the pace of your immune system is reduced to a crawl. Check your plate when you have your next meal. If everything you see is processed, you may need to liven it up with some natural colour. Eating plenty of fruit and veggies rich in fibre, from bananas to dark leafy greens, can provide intestinal flora—healthy bacteria found in the intestine that promote nutrient absorption.

Load up on vitamin C and selenium

Craving a pop? Opt for a fruit juice that’s sweet but packed with vitamin C to ward off viruses. vitamin C increases the production of white blood cells, antibodies and even interferon, the antibody that coats cell surfaces preventing viral entry.  You can get nearly half your daily dose in one eight oz. glass of orange juice. Selenium is another nutrient found in veggies, as most are grown in selinum-rich soils. This nutrient helps the immune system by recharging Vitamin C and Vitamin E. Selenium is most prominent in Brazil nuts but can also be found in various kinds of seafood like tuna and salmon.

Add some flavour to your dinners

Tara’s Natural Foods recommends spices such as garlic and oregano which produce active ingredients to protect themselves when growing, and do the same to ward off viruses, bacteria and fungi for humans. For those with milder mouths, another anti-viral option is yogurt containing milk-curdling bacteria that disables unhealthy bacteria in your body.

Get off the couch

According to a study in the American Journal of Medicine you’ll catch half as many colds in a year just from exercising 30 minutes a day. Exercise gets blood pumping, promoting the circulation of white blood cells that kill sickness-causing intruders. Squeeze in a power walk, ice skate with friends in the park or take advantage of the brand-new Athletics and Recreation Centre to stay healthy during exams.

Watch your mouth

Try to get in the habit of breathing through your nose. It might sound trivial, but your nasal passages are designed to keep dust and bacteria from entering your body using mucous membranes that act as built-in screening devices. Mouth-breathing allows passage for all airborne matter to directly settle in one’s throat, bronchial passages and lungs. Gargling twice a day with mouthwash has also proven effective against H1N1 as the initial infection of the virus takes two to three days to show symptoms in your throat.

Catch some z’s

Deep sleep helps strengthen your immune system’s ability to fight against bacteria and viruses. Unfortunately, students today sleep an average of one to 1.6 hours less than they did a generation ago.  Aim for at least eight hours of sleep each night and try not to eat right before bed, as your body’s energy will be directed to digestion rather than restoration. 

If you’re already under the weather, you need to rest up even more. The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found those who went to work feeling unwell resulted in taking more sick days. Plus all your sneezing and coughing will spread whatever you have to classmates. Save everyone the trouble and take that extra day off to recover properly.

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