By Dr. Stephanie M. Seitz, ND, MT
Many people recognize flu season as fall and winter, but February is typically the peak of flu activity. With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it’s more important than ever to stay healthy, so how can we prevent getting sick? Here are a few simple steps to keep yourself well during the peak of the flu season.
Wash your hands
The pandemic has shone a light on the importance of hand washing, and for good reason. Washing your hands often is the easiest and most effective way to prevent the spread of germs. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to wash your hands before and after touching your face, touching your mask, touching a surface that’s frequently touched by others and, of course, after using the restroom. Germs can live on surfaces for two hours or more, so it’s important to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you don’t have access to soap and water, an alcohol-based wipe or hand sanitizers are good alternatives.
Incorporate vitamin D
According to research by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vitamin D plays a role in reducing your likelihood of developing the flu. However, most Americans are deficient in this vitamin, which can lead to rickets, poor immune system function, and risk of cardiovascular disease. Vitamin D storages can be increased by exposure to sunlight, eating fish, egg yolks, beef liver or taking supplementation. However, you should have your blood levels checked by your physician before supplementing as too much vitamin D can be toxic and can damage your kidneys.
Staying properly hydrated can support the immune system and allow it to defend your body from viruses. Drinking at least half your body weight in water in ounces is a great way to stay hydrated which enables your body to fight off the flu. It will also help improve your quality of sleep, cognition and mood. If you have a hard time drinking enough water, consider adding your favorite fresh fruit to the water to provide flavor or a marked water bottle to give you goals to hit throughout the day.
Eat a healthy diet
Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help support the immune system by providing your body the central nutrients it needs to function properly. The immune system protects the body from infection, so giving the immune system the power it needs to defend the body can help keep you healthy during the flu season.
The flu is highly contagious and spreads through respiratory droplets that are produced when speaking, sneezing, or coughing like the coronavirus. Adding these steps in addition to CDC guidance to prevent the spread of coronavirus, like wearing a mask and social distancing, will help keep you healthy through the end of flu season.
Dr. Stephanie Seitz, ND, MT with Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences has extensive training in a variety of treatment modalities including homeopathy, botanical medicine, clinical nutrition and acupuncture.