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8 Power Foods to Fight the Flu

In spite of extensive vaccination campaigns every flu season, millions of people still contract the influenza virus every year. Unfortunately, over-the-counter medications don’t always work to eliminate the uncomfortable symptoms. Luckily, nature is more than willing to help with a number of foods that can boost your immune function, helping you to fight the flu more quickly, or even preventing you from getting the flu to begin with.

Chicken Soup

As it turns out, there is some wisdom behind your grandmother’s bowl of chicken soup. Not only does eating soup help to keep your body hydrated, chicken soup can also reduce the inflammation that can make your symptoms feel more severe. Adding some extra garlic, onions, and leeks to the soup can help it pack and immunity-boosting punch, helping to fight and prevent further virus attacks.

Citrus

Citrus fruits are full of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that can help reduce the severity of your flu symptoms. If oranges and grapefruit aren’t your things, you can also find high concentrations of vitamin C in foods such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, red bell peppers, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, papaya, and sweet potatoes. However, it is important that you consume vitamin C with caution, as it can cause digestive problems when consumed in high concentrations.

Ginger

Ginger ale can do more than simply soothe your sore throat when you have the flu. Ginger is full of substances that can help reduce pain and fever, suppress coughing, and even help you sleep. Adding ginger to hot tea can help speed your relief, or you can drink ginger ale – just make sure that it is made from actual ginger and not artificially flavored.

Honey

Not only can honey coat your throat, easing soreness, it also has antimicrobial properties. This allows it to help your body fight of viral infections like the flu. When possible, buy buckwheat honey, which has the highest antioxidant and antimicrobial levels. For a truly flu-fighting punch, combine ginger tea with lemon and honey.

Yogurt

Yogurt with activated cultures contains Lactobacillus reuteri, that can prevent viruses from replicating inside your body. This helps your immune system fight the infection before you even get sick. The best type of yogurt to buy is organic to ensure that you receive a product that has activated cultures. Even better, consuming this type of yogurt can aid your digestion as well.

Red Wine

As with yogurt, the compounds in red wine prevent the flu virus from multiplying in your system. For best results, opt for a pinot noir, which contains the highest levels of resveratorl and polyphenols. If you prefer to stay away from alcohol, eating peanuts or grape leaves can provide a similar (though slightly less strong) effect.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms have long held a place in herbal medicine chests. Eating mushrooms encourages your body to produce cytokines, which help to fight off infections. In addition, the plysaccharides in mushrooms help to further boost your immune function, helping to keep you from getting sick in the first place. For the most flu-fighting power, eat Chinese mushroom varieties such as reishi, maitake, and shiitake.

Black pepper

One of the most common spices in your kitchen can also be used to fight off the flu. Black pepper is known to provide pain relief, and reduce fevers. Additionally, consuming black pepper can help to boost the absorption of other herbal remedies. For a truly flu-fighting dish, consider cooking up some chicken soup with onion, garlic, leeks, mushrooms, and plenty of black pepper. Then, down a glass of hot ginger tea with honey and lemon.

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Unconventional Tips for Preventing (and Surviving!) the Flu

If you’re gearing up for the flu season by eating a crate of oranges a day and find yourself wearing a surgical mask anytime you leave the house, then I bet you have already researched and tried all of the typical flu prevention treatments. After all, if you have kids or are around people who act like them, it doesn’t matter how careful you are about washing your hands or covering your mouth when you sneeze. So, Instead of those typical admonitions, I’m going to share with you some home cures that, while they might seem strange, really work!

1. Jazz It Up.

Immunoglobulin A (IgA) is an immune protein that is vital in your body’s efforts to stave off infection. Studies have demonstrated that 30 minutes of jazz actually raises the body’s levels of IgA…and continues to do so for at least another 30 minutes after the music has stopped.

2. Get Moving.

When you feel a cold coming on, the last thing you may feel like doing is swinging into action, but doing some gentle exercise can help decrease the risk of infection. The main flu-fighting benefit of the exercise is the accompanying rise in body temperature and anti-inflammatory effects that works, like a fever, to help strengthen the immune system. Maybe combine this with tip number one and Jazzercise!

3. Indulge in Chocolate.

Chocolate lovers of the world, rejoice! Yes, chocolate can be a response to feeling glum because of the flu but it can also help to alleviate one of the symptoms: coughing.  In fact, it has been shown to be even more effective than codeine. Word of warning before you stock up on Hershey’s kisses: sugar has negative impacts on immunity so instead you should go for dark chocolates. One tasty treat that you may find you come back to even after you’re well: dark hot chocolate sweetened with a drop of honey.

4. Have Some Oysters.

While you may have heard that oysters are an aphrodisiac, and your libido is most likely feeling a bit low if you don’t feel well, the real benefit to eating oysters is in their high zinc content. Zinc has been show to improve white blood cell performance and since these are the little guys that are fighting off the bacteria and viruses that seem desperate to get into your body, why not treat them to some oysters on the half shell! Just don’t order the champagne accompaniment because…

5. Stay Sober.

Despite all of the jokes you may have heard about the antiseptic nature of tequila or other hard liquor, alcohol actually works to suppress your immune system making it more likely that you will get sick. So, while you might be able to use a bottle of vodka to sanitize a wound in a pinch, you don’t want to try to use it to clear out an oncoming flu.

6. Wear Wet Socks.

Yes, I know that your mother always told you not to go out with wet hair or you would catch your ‘death of cold’ but this is different. In fact, the outcome of this is not necessarily one you would have ever logically deduced. In order for this to work, soak a pair of sock in cold water and put them on. Then, put on a second pair of thermal socks over the wet ones and go to bed. Keep your feet under a warm blanket and let the homemade hydrotherapy treatment stimulate your circulation. This improved circulation will help relieve head congestion and aids immune response.

7. Chew Garlic.

Nope, not these – we mean actual garlic…

If you’re a fan of the pungent bulb, raid your kitchen and sneak a raw clove every four hours or so. If the thought of chewing your way through it makes you hesitate, you can also cut it up into chunks and swallow it like a pill. Garlic contains allicin which has properties that combat viruses and bacteria…and as an added bonus, you’ll be well protected from vampires!

If you keep these tips and tricks in mind, you may find that you spend less time in the sick bed and more time…listening to jazz.

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The Safety and Necessity of the Flu Vaccine

The flu is one of the most dangerous types of diseases that commonly hospitalize or even kills people every winter. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 3,000 people will develop the flu. This condition can be especially dangerous for children and people over 65. One way that medical professionals prevent the flu is by providing vaccines to the public. The following information will help a person to understand why they should take a vaccine to avoid the flu.

The Flu Season

The flu season typically begins in October and lasts all the way to May. Peak times for the flu season usually happen in the months of December and January. Most cases of the flu are usually finished by April but sometimes this disease can remain so aggressive that it lasts all the way until May.

What is the Flu?

The flu is a respiratory illness that is caused by the influenza virus. People usually get this disease by coming into contact with other people that have this condition or by contracting the virus through the air or from the surfaces. There are two types of influenza viruses that causes the flu and they are A and B. Influenza A usually spreads between early winter and early spring. Influenza B can get people during anytime of the year. When people develop the flu they usually have symptoms such as headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, chills and dizziness.

The Flu Vaccine

The flu vaccine is designed to stop the flu from harming people. It is usually administered in early October though some places provide vaccinations as early as September. Flu vaccinations work by creating vaccinations that causes antibodies to build up inside of a person’s system. This happens about two weeks after a person receives a vaccination.

Flu vaccinations protect people against all types of flu viruses such as:

  • Influenza A (H1N1)
  • Influenza A (H3N2)
  • Influenza B
  • Most people receive a standard flu shot that is a manufactured virus grown in eggs. They are common for people 6 months and older.
  • Flu shots that are grown in cell cultures are designed for people 18 and over.

There are also egg-free doses that are designed for people between 18 and 49 and high dose shots that are manufactured for people 65 and older. People should get a flu shot as early as possible.

Considerations for Flu Shot Vaccines

All people are recommended to get a flu shot every year. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. Children younger than 6 months should not be vaccinated. People who have an allergic reaction to the flu vaccine should not be vaccinated. Individuals with a fever that is the result of an illness should wait until they recover before receiving a vaccination and people who have a history of Guillain–Barré Syndrome should avoid vaccination shots.

People can get a flu shot from a local hospital, clinic or even a designated pharmacy that offers this type of service. Ultimately, flu shots are very effective for controlling the spread of the flu and keeping people safe throughout the long and cold winter season.

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