In the U.S. alone, between 25 and 50 million people get the flu each year. 150,000 people are hospitalized and 30,000-40,000 die. So, it’s clear that getting the flu is a significant health concern. Most of those who are hospitalized or die from the flu are the very young and the very old; so flu prevention is even more essential for this population group. If you’re concerned about preventing the flu virus this year, here are some things you can do to reduce your risk.
Flu-related deaths usually result from pneumonia and from complications of cardiopulmonary conditions and other chronic diseases. Deaths of older adults account for more than 90% of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza.
Get a Flu Shot – Flu shots are highly effective at preventing the most prevalent strain of flu virus each year. For anyone who interacts regularly with the public, and particularly for school age children who are exposed to all sorts of germs each day, this is an important step in staying healthy throughout the flu season. It is a necessary step for the elderly and children three years old and under, who are those most likely to develop serious complications from the flu.
Wash Your Hands – The single most important thing you can do to prevent catching a contagious illness is to keep your hands clean. Wash your hands frequently, using warm water and anti-bacterial soap.
Use Tissues – When you sneeze or cough, be certain to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. Let the tissue catch the germs and throw it away immediately.
Use an Anti-viral medication – If you find yourself coming down with the flu, see your doctor and get a prescription for an anti-viral medication. These medications are effective at shortening the duration of your symptoms. In addition, some anti-viral medications can prevent you from getting the flu.
These medications are great for those who have a close family member who has contracted the flu, and are certain they have been exposed. They should not be considered a replacement for the flu vaccine, but can be used as an emergency preventer if you didn’t get the flu vaccine and know you’re at particular risk.
Eat healthy – Keeping your immune system strong is critical to disease prevention. A healthy diet, full of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with plenty of rest will help your body be more able to fight off germs that come your way.
Drink green tea – One little known secret about preventing the flu is adding green tea to your diet. Research has shown that green tea is extremely effective at preventing the flu, when consumed regularly. One study, reported by the UK Tea Council showed that green tea can protect in two ways. First, green tea suppresses the growth of influenza cells. Secondly, green tea actually kills off the influenza cells.
And, one thing that’s so great about green tea – it can protect against many strains of the flu virus. The flu vaccine each year just protects against that year’s most prevalent strain.
Green tea has recently garnered much attention for its ability to prevent disease and protect health. Research has shown that green tea’s powerful anti-oxidants are the key to preventing serious illnesses like cancer and cardiovascular disease.
In addition, it’s been shown to regulate blood sugar, which means it may have significant potential in controlling diabetes. And, it has many anti-microbial properties, and may have the ability to kill or prevent other viruses besides the flu.
Anti-oxidants are powerhouses for our health. Each day, as our body converts the food we eat into energy, free radicals are created. These free radicals damage our cells and DNA, creating a process called oxidation throughout our bodies.
If this oxidation is allowed to continue over the years, it leads to disease and early aging. But, anti-oxidants neutralize these free radicals, preventing them from doing their damage.
So, eating a diet rich in anti-oxidants is one of the best things you can do to protect your health. And, green tea is one of the best sources of anti-oxidants around. In addition, anti-oxidants can be found in fruits, vegetables, coffee, red wine and dark chocolate.
If you’re interested in maximizing your anti-oxidant intake, stick to those foods and beverages that have the most potent anti-oxidants. The best sources include:
o Green Tea
We’re learning that protecting our health and preventing disease is really more in our hands than we’ve previously realized. We have the power to keep our bodies young and healthy far into our old age, and we have the power to prevent short term illnesses, like the flu.
The flu season is a nasty period of winter – and often wreaks havoc on many families. However, with some careful attention to your health, you can prevent the flu and have a healthy and happy winter this year.