The flu is a viral infection of the respiratory tract that can cause fever, chills, body aches, headaches and cough. It usually lasts five to seven days, but its symptoms can linger for two to three weeks. The CDC estimates that about 15 percent of the population gets the flu each year and many more fall victim to a cold virus.
The good news is that there are steps you can take to minimize your risk of getting sick. Frequent hand-washing is one of the best ways to avoid illness, and many people opt for a flu vaccination, but there are plenty of other things you can do.
1. Sip on Bone Broth
Bone broth can give your immune system the boost it needs to keep you healthy. It contains minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, that your body needs to fight viruses and infections. Bone broth also contains anti-inflammatory agents that can hinder the growth of infection.
Most canned varieties aren’t as nutrient-dense as homemade bone broth, so it’s best to make it yourself. It’s cost effective, easy to do and freezes well. Make a large batch and you will be set for several weeks.
Bone broth tastes good enough to eat it by itself, but it also makes delicious soups. Or try cooking vegetables, rice or pasta in it to infuse them with its healthful properties.
2. Open a Window
Even if your family and coworkers appear healthy, people are often contagious before they show any symptoms. If you share an enclosed space with others, minimize your chances of getting sick by opening a window and allowing fresh, clean air to circulate. The air flow will force airborne viral particles to keep moving, which will decrease your chances of getting sick.
3. Get Enough Sleep
In a letter published in May 2016 in JAMA Internal Medicine, scientists documented that insufficient sleep can adversely affect the immune system and increase your chances of developing a respiratory tract infection. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep every night.
4. Add Probiotics to Your Diet
Research studies suggest that people who consume probiotics are less likely to get sick than those who don’t. Probiotics strengthen the gut so your body can ward off infections.
Found in fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut, adding probiotics to your diet, while decreasing your sugar intake, will give your immune system a healthy boost. While it’s best to get it from food, it can be hard to eat enough high-quality, low-sugar, probiotic-rich foods. If you’re struggling to include them in your diet, consider taking a supplement instead.
5. Flush Out Your Nose
Use a neti pot at night to cleanse your nasal passages. This will wash away any viral particles that may have taken root during the day, preventing them from entering your respiratory system. Make sure you use a saline solution or boiled and salted water that has cooled.
Exercise can help dispel bacteria from your respiratory system, reducing your chances of getting a cold or flu virus. Physical activity also sparks positive changes in the immune system by helping white blood cells circulate faster, possibly allowing them to detect and fight infection sooner.
Sickness is not necessarily inevitable. There are plenty of measures you can take right now to strengthen your immune system and stay healthy.