- Get ready, this could be a dangerous few months
- How to protect yourself in a flu epidemic
- Eat yourself more immune to respiratory disease
My wedding anniversary is coming up.
As usual, I have nothing ready yet. No gift. No card. No romantic ideas.
The guy at the all-night garage is getting ready the special bouquet I buy in panic every year.
My wife and I married on a hot, sunny day on the second weekend of September.
It was ridiculous, really – I’d planned everything around poor weather (pessimist that I am) which meant that the music and fancy decoration was all indoors.
But everyone was stood outside on the lawn for the whole day, where I’d arranged nothing.
In the decade since, I’ve noticed something about my wedding anniversary…
It’s almost ALWAYS sunny and hot.
Until recently, I’ve said to people that they should plan weddings and festivals for early September instead of August, as it’s always nicer weather.
But this year…
Well… maybe not.
It’s as if, at the end of August, someone pulled a huge lever marked ‘AUTUMN’.
Lashing rain, storms and dark skies. I even put on a roaring fire last week.
So, as Autumn has crashed into the party, dripping wet, I may as well get onto the topic I was saving for later in the month…
Are you flu-season ready?
There have been reports of a particularly bad outbreak of flu in Australia and New Zealand… in fact, double the usual levels. It’s been tough going for many people down under.
As NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens has pointed out, a bad flu season there usually means a bad one here.
And by ‘bad’, I mean genuinely dangerous.
Back in 2015, a tough flu season increased the registered deaths in the England and Wales by 28,189, (5.6%), the largest percentage death rise since 1968.
So this is something people should take seriously…
Particularly the very elderly, vulnerable people with serious illnesses and those recovering from health problems.
Even those of us who aren’t particularly at threat owe it to society to keep the virus from spreading.
Here are some ways to prevent flu….
Wash Your Hands…
There are many professionals who are exposed to cold and flu germs every day, including doctors, nurses, teachers, therapists and flight attendants.
One of the main preventative strategies used by these people?
Quite simply – washing hands.
Over the coming months, wash your hands regularly, particularly if you’re in contact with lots of strangers. Especially after you’ve used public transport, after meetings, before eating…
Boost your vitamin D levels
Vitamin D helps your overall immune system, this is well known.
However, it also acts as an antimicrobial agent, helping to create up to 300 peptides in your body that can kill bacteria and viruses.
In 2010 there was a study published, entitled ‘Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren.’
It showed that children taking a small dose of vitamin D3 each day (1,200 IUs) reduced their chances of getting flu by a massive 42%.
At the beginning of this year, a study published in the British Medical Journal showed that daily Vitamin D supplements could prevent more than three million people a year falling ill with a cold or chest infection.
In fact, it can HALF your chances of getting a respiratory infection.
This means you should up your intake of oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines. Also red meat, liver and eggs.
Vitamin D primarily comes from our body’s response to sunlight, so get as much natural sunlight as you can and take up daily walking if possible.
Talking of oily fish, having a good supply of quality Omega 3 oils is an essential for keeping your immune system strong during the flu season.
Krill oil has more antioxidant strength than regular fish oils, thanks to its levels of astaxanthin, so worth trying that – click here to get a 2-month trial supply: Krill for Health
Boost your immunity through diet
As I showed you in October last year, a healthy, balanced gut is essential for a strong immune system.
So it’s a good idea to increase the diversity of microbial life inside your gut. To do that you should try and eat the following:
• Cultured dairy products like buttermilk, yoghurt, and cheese
• Fibrous foods like leeks, beans, mushrooms, onions.
• Fermented foods like apple cider vinegar and pickled vegetables.
• Plenty of raw fruit and vegetables.
As you do this, try and cut down on refined carbohydrates where possible. These are bad for the balance of your gut flora.
Same goes for sugary foods. Sugar encourages the growth of pathogenic bacteria, yeast, and fungi. These make your immune system vulnerable to attack by a respiratory virus.
Get good quality sleep.
At Washington State University, a scientist named James Krueger has shown that there’s a strong link between sleep and immunity to flu.
In tests on mice he showed that a brain protein called AcPb speeds up recovery from flu by promoting sleep.
In mice that lacked this protein, symptoms of flu were worse and the death rate higher.
Krueger says: “Influenza is a tough nut to crack and sooner or later the virologists say we’re overdue for a pandemic… This is one tiny contribution in a bigger endeavour. We don’t have a lot of artificial defence mechanisms that we can offer people.”
On top of that, chronic lack of sleep is linked to poor immune systems. In this paper entitled ‘Sleep and immune function’ researchers conclude:
“Sleep and the circadian system are strong regulators of immunological processes.”
They add that “prolonged sleep curtailment and the accompanying stress response” cause your body to go into a state of “chronic low-grade inflammation.”
To encourage healthy sleep this autumn:
• Switch off electrical appliances in your room at night
• Block out light pollution from outside
• Do exercise every day (walking, swimming, running are ideal)
• Don’t watch TV directly before you go to sleep, try reading or listening to mellow music
• Try medication and relaxation therapies in the evening
• Get yourself organised with a calendar and day planner to reduce stress and worry
• Don’t eat after 6pm
• Avoid caffeine in the later parts of the day
If you have trouble breathing while sleeping, use one of these: BreatheEase
It will also help you relieve the symptoms if you do catch any nasty respiratory illness this autumn.
I’ll be back with more on Thursday – enjoy the rest of your weekend!
PS: Krill has a lot of uses, from pain relief to healthy bone, but it’s also a great overall preventative and immune-system booster. Find out more here.