How To Avoid Catching The Flu This Winter, With Or Without A Flu Vaccine [Opinion]

The CDC is reporting that the 2016-2017 flu season is in full swing and is worse than usual, according to NBC News.

Now that winter is upon us, the flu season is upon us, too. The flu tends to be more prevalent in winter months because children are cooped up together in schools and daycare, and people tend to be in closer quarters. Doctors also believe that the lack of time in the sun during winter months leads to lower levels of vitamin D, which lowers our natural immunity to colds and flu.

While the CDC and media are using this opportunity to push vaccinations, many people do not want to get flu vaccines for any number of reasons. Some are concerned about side effects, while others don’t believe flu vaccines are very helpful, especially as flu vaccines have had abysmal protection rates in some recent years. Other people may opt to get flu vaccines but want to take steps to further protect themselves since they are so commonly ineffective.

The good news is that science has proven many ways to prevent the flu. There are quite a few simple ways to protect yourself and your family from catching the flu this winter.

One of the best ways to prevent the flu is to take ginseng. Ginseng provides excellent protection from the flu as well as colds and other illnesses. As Inquisitr has reported, ginseng protects against contracting the flu and also helps you recover from it more quickly if you do get ill.

Another one of the best ways to prevent the flu is to take immune-boosting elderberry syrup, which is also one of the best ways to treat it if you do catch the flu.

Elderberry syrup has been shown to help cure at least 10 different types of flu. It boosts immunity and dramatically decreases the duration of flu and other illnesses if you do contract them. One study found that 90 percent of those taking elderberry syrup had a complete recovery from the flu on day two, whereas those not taking elderberry took six days to recover. Famous herbalist Rosemary Gladstar made an easy elderberry syrup that uses just dried elderberries, water, and honey much like this one from About Home.

It’s also important to get yourself and your kids outside every day. As mentioned earlier, vitamin D is crucial for a strong immune system, as is regular exercise. If you can’t get enough time in the sun, be sure to take a supplement and remember that doctors now recommend a minimum of 4,000 IUs each day of vitamin D, which is 10 times the current RDA.

Make sure to limit your sugar to protect yourself from the flu, too. Sugar weakens our immune systems, making us more susceptible to illness and making it harder for our bodies to fight off illnesses when we do get sick.

Healthy bacteria such as probiotics also help protect you from catching the flu. Antibiotics and antibacterial products can do more harm than we realize, killing off the beneficial bacteria that ordinarily keep us healthy and prevent illness. Restock your family’s friendly bacteria with products like yogurt, kefir, and naturally fermented foods, and consume healthy prebiotic foods as well.

Also avoid the use of antibiotics or antibacterial products unless absolutely necessary, since these will generally lead to far more illnesses in the future.

Sleep is important to protect yourself from sickness and prevent the flu this time of year, too. Lack of sleep weakens our immune systems and makes us far more vulnerable to illness. Aim for at least seven hours of sleep per night for maximum health benefits.

If you are a mother of a young child, breastfeeding your baby is an important way to keep your child safe from the flu. This passes on antibodies against any illnesses you catch, in addition to boosting your baby’s natural defenses. In other words, if you catch the flu then your breastmilk will provide a natural immunity for your child to prevent illness or pass on antibodies your body has made to quickly kill off the virus in your baby.

It’s also important to encourage hand washing now more than ever to prevent spreading germs. Be sure to remind children to wash their hands often to minimize their chances of catching any illness others are spreading in their environment. This is a simple way to minimize your chances of catching anything out there this time of year.

It’s even more important to also serve real, whole foods to boost the immune system this time of year. Processed foods and chemical additives wreak havoc on bodies, especially children’s bodies. Concentrate on serving fresh produce, whole grains, healthy proteins, and natural ingredients. All of these not only provide immune-boosting vitamins and nutrients, but they also replace foods that harm the immune system, such as sugars and artificial ingredients.

Lastly, have fun. Happiness really does make us healthier, and laughter has been shown to greatly benefit our bodies and prevent illness. Studies have shown that laughter boosts immune systems, lowers stress hormones, decreases pain, among other health benefits. Flu season or not, we all could use those benefits.

Most importantly, before doing any of the suggestions above, consult your doctor first for the best ways to prevent flu this season.

[Featured Image by Dirima/Shutterstock]