As it turns out the flu is not a season. People generally tend to get sicker when the weather gets cooler, this is true, but does it have to happen? Is there a predisposition for everyone to get sick at this time no matter what they do or how well their immune systems are working? Is the vaccine the only way to truly prevent getting the flu? Let’s have a look at some of the key factors that are causing the flu.
What Causes The Flu?
There are a few main factors that one can attribute to contracting the flu. Because the flu generally happens when the weather gets cooler and people are not getting as much sunlight, many people become vitamin D deficient. There have been a number of studies done that show the direct correlation between vitamin D deficiency and the contraction of the flu.(1) If you are not going to be exposing yourself to very much sunlight throughout the day, you may want to consider taking a Vitamin D supplement.
Those with a weaker immune system are more prone to getting the flu so it is important to keep healthy all year long. Eat a diet that is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables to be sure that you are meeting your daily intake of vitamins and minerals.
How To Avoid The Flu
- Get fresh air. Even though it may be colder outside, it is important to get outdoors and go for a walk, or shovel the driveway; anything to give your lungs a boost of freshness. Being cooped up indoors alongside other people will increase your chances of getting sick.
- Wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face. This is just a simple thing to do, wash your hands after you go to the washroom and before you eat or drink. You don’t need to go nuts with hand sanitizer and Lysol spray, but just be sure to keep clean. This will minimize your chance of contracting a virus.
- Get some exercise. Try to do some form of physical activity daily. Doing so can actually increase your immune system response. Regular exercise can also increase the activity of a type of white blood cells that attack viruses. (2)
- Make sure to get adequate sleep. When you sleep at night your body starts repairing your cells and any injuries that have occurred during a normal days wear and tear. According to a study that was done in 2012, not getting enough sleep is as disruptive to the immune system as stress. Sleep patterns may in fact, play a role in a gene that helps to fight off viruses and bacteria. (3)
- Be happy. Laugh often. Maintaining a positive attitude and outlook on life can take you far. Our mental well-being is directly related to our physical well being. The better you feel emotionally, the less chance you will have at getting sick. Of course there are some exceptions to this, but generally a good attitude can go a long way and hey, if you do get sick at least you will be able to stay in good spirits with the right attitude. (4)
- Limit alcohol consumption. Alcohol actually suppresses the part of the immune system that protects you from getting sick and the part that fights off the germs that get into your system. Drinking too much can give you a much greater chance at contracting an illness. (5)
- Keep hydrated. Often in the cooler months we are less inclined to drink as much water. Keeping hydrated is essential to keep your immune system cells at optimal function. Indoor winter air is much dryer than our bodies would like, so it is important to make an effort to drink enough water.
What If You Do Get The Flu?
There is a lot of research to show that the number of annual deaths caused by the flu each year are greatly exaggerated. There are corporate interests at hand here, especially when it comes to the flu vaccine. (Read more about that here) With that being said, don’t worry. If you do get the flu, then you get the flu. Don’t panic. Many people get the flu all the time, and you may have to take a few days off work , rest and watch movies all day, but there is an extremely high probability that you will recover. Be sure to keep hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids and rest when you are tired.
Wishing you health and happiness this fall and winter season!