Posted by Vishva News Reporter on October 12, 2004





From Health & Fitness - Sympatico.msn: October, 06 2004

Last year, Canadians endured one the worst flu season in four years, beginning in early October and stretching into May.
"It came quite early and there was a fair amount of activity before the holidays," says Dr. Gerry Predy, medical officer of health for Capital Health in Edmonton.

Sober statistics tell the tale. For the first full week of 2004, Health Canada reported continued widespread flu activity in most provinces. For the same period in 2003, only localized flu cases were reported in Quebec and central and southwest Ontario, with no widespread activity anywhere in the country.

The questions remains: How can you protect yourself against this year's flu strain?........Please click on the  next line to find out how......


So, there's good news and bad. The flu vaccination, which changes from year to year, does offer protection against many of the flu strains in circulation, and even if you do get a different strain of the flu, the severity of your infection will be weakened by the flu shot. However, even if you've had a flu shot, you may still get the flu because the flu viruses used to make the vaccine each year are chosen in anticipation of which strains are expected, and may not always be accurate.

If you and your family have been lucky enough to avoid the flu in the past, there are ways to keep from becoming another statistic at Health Canada. To begin with, experts suggest flu immunization. Aleina Tweed, a surveillance epidemiologist at the Center for Disease Control in British Columbia, notes that frequent hand washing is critical. "It can reduce 50 to 80 percent of common infections, like the flu, colds and stomach bugs," she says.

Getting plenty of rest and drinking enough fluids have both been shown to increase immunity, while overly strenuous exercise, like running a marathon, temporarily decreases your immune system. "Moderate exercise is no problem," Rohan says, adding that it can actually boost your ability to fight off the flu virus.

"Research shows that chicken soup helps liquefy nasal secretions better than water or tea," Rohan adds. Eating something sweet for energy is another important part of the healing process, he says. Tea with honey, a natural alternative to cola, fits the bill. (Caution: diet sodas offer a sweet flavour but no energy.)

Eating foods high in antioxidants helps boost immunity and speed the production of white blood cells, which fight infection. When choosing fruits and vegetables, the general rule is that the more colourful they are, the more antioxidants they contain. Items in this category include spinach, carrots, squash, blueberries, cranberries, kale and sweet potatoes. Try steaming your spinach and kale and baking your sweet potatoes and squash, rather than frying them or sautéing them in butter. You'll also get to enjoy the natural flavour of these tasty foods!

Alternative medicine says you can also build immunity by eating garlic and onions, taking Vitamins C and E, and eating foods rich in zinc, like meat, chicken, peanuts and peanut butter. Cheese and other dairy products contain a substance that has been shown to boost immunity in animals. The active cultures in yogurt may also increase immunity.

Another natural remedy that has shown promising results in clinical trials, Predy notes, is ginseng. "It appears to offer some degree of protection against influenza and other viral infections," he says.

Even if you use food to fight off the flu, it's still important to take a multivitamin, as health experts suggest. This way, you can be sure your body gets any vitamins and minerals you might be missing in your diet, and correct any depletion you experience from illness.

Eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep can both help prevent you from suffering the miserable fate of the flu, and combat it in the event it finds its way to you. Either way - you can take your health into your own hands.

Next Steps

Look for some flu remedies in our Hot Drinks for Cold Nights article - One of these is sure to help in your anti-flu fight!

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