Photo credit: Caroline
Flu season typically starts in the fall and reaches its peak in January. The flu virus spreads very quickly, but there are a number of simple ways to prevent and reduce the risk of germ transmission, by following some basic hygiene rules and taking precautions if living with someone who already got sick.
Annual Flu Shot – Flu vaccine is something that can definitely help you stay healthy during the flu season. Sometimes it can happen that people who are vaccinated get the flu, but then the symptoms are milder and the probability of complications is almost none. Flu vaccines are usually offered from September, so it is recommended for everyone who is at greater risk of flu complications ( young children, anyone 65 years and older, people who suffer from chronic illnesses, pregnant woman) to get vaccinated.
Wash Your Hands – Washing your hands frequently is maybe the most important thing you can do to protect yourself from getting the flu. It is perfectly fine to use regular soap, it is not important to use an antibacterial one, think that even rinsing your hands in plain water is useful. You can use hand sanitizer when you are not by the sink. You need to wash your hands frequently and rub them vigorously under water for at least 30 seconds. Washing your hands is crucial to protect you from getting the flu especially after touching doorknobs, using public transportation, going to the toilette or in other situations when being in common areas. So when going outside remember to always take out with you an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and avoid close contact with sick people. (If you have the flu, stay at home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone)
Don’t Touch Your Face – We touch our faces few times a minute, so you can see how important is to wash your hands frequently. Not touching your face will be a difficult one, but you should try not to because that is how the cold and flu bacteria and viruses spread. They enter our system through our mouth, eyes or nose. So if you touch an infected area like a doorknob and touch your face afterwards you will probably introduce the germs into your system.
Trash Tissues & Clean Home – If you have someone home with a flue it is very important that they don’t leave dirty tissues lying around. Flu germs can spread in many ways and one of them is through used tissues, so make sure you throw them after use, not leaving them lying around. The important thing to do is to wash your hands after using tissues, as you can spread the germs by touching anything afterwards. Also if having at home someone with a cold or flu you should pay some more attention to cleaning the house using cleaning products containing bleach or that contain the word “disinfectant” on their label. Change the towels and pillow cases every day as they are germ-prone hot spots. Last but not least, disinfect all the objects that are often used at home like phones, remote control, keyboards, doorknobs. Few think about, but it would be necessary to disinfect all objects most often used in the home: the TV remote control, computer keyboard, the phone. Remember that flu germs can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours and the best thing to protect yourself if not having much time to disinfect all the germ hot spots in your house every day is to wash your hands and avoid touching your face.
Eat Right and Get Regular Exercise – Staying healthy during the flu season is very simple if you eat right and exercise regularly. We recommend you to follow the Mediterranean eating pattern as it is rich in all the nutrients you need to stay healthy. Mediterranean diet is rich in nutrient foods like fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices that are very rich in vitamins, minerals and other substances that will boost your immune system. It is much better to follow the Mediterranean eating pattern then taking dietary supplements that can have sometimes serious side effects. Eating food that is rich in
vitamins and minerals, especially Zinc will help your immune system to fight viruses much better. Probiotics are also a powerful immunity booster. It is also very important to sleep at least 8 hours if possible and don’t forget about the fluids, drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. Alcohol and cigarettes should be avoided as they weaken your immune system, alcohol dehydrates your body and damages liver, which is responsible for filtering out toxins and pathogens. See more about what to eat for staying healthy during the winter and preventing the flu here.