FLU SEASON IS NEARBY:
COLOURED FRUITS AND
DRINK PLENTY OF WATER
ADEQUATE SLEEP & EXERCISE
PLUS FOR SURE:
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
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
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
"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.
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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