With flu season just around the corner, you'll want to do everything you can to avoid contracting a virus. In addition to getting the flu shot, there are also a number of ways to prevent the flu naturally. This includes everything from switching up your daily habits to eating certain foods and nutrients. Staying as healthy as you can during this season can help keep your immune system up, and the more you do to take care of your body, the less likely you are to catch the dreaded flu.
"Fall is the start of the flu season, and every individual could get exposed to it," holistic health and wellness specialist Dr. Natalya Fazylova, tells Bustle. "A major factor to address is your immune system and your daily habits that will determine if you get sick. Flu virus is contagious and if you are near an individual who is sick you can get exposed to it with in few minutes. So if you would like to avoid getting sick and arm yourself against cough, fever, aches and pains this season, you might need to change some of your habits."
If you're looking to stay healthy this season, try these six ways to prevent the flu naturally, according to experts.
Getting enough sleep is essential for your immune system to function well. "People who don’t get enough sleep have a lowered immune system, making them more susceptible to colds, viruses, and chronic diseases," Dr. Elizabeth Trattner A.P, DOM, a Chinese and Integrative Medicine expert, tells Bustle. Try to stick to a routine bedtime and get at least eight hours of sleep per night, she says.
Research continues to support a link between moderate, regular exercise and a healthy immune system. "During exercise, immune cells circulate through the body more quickly and are better able to kill bacteria and viruses," Trattner says. Physical activity can also help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways, which can reduce your chance of getting the flu.
Meditation can not only work wonders for your mind but for your body as well. "Meditation reduces the incidence of infectious ailments by de-stressing the body and mind," Trattner says. "Ample research has shown that just 20 minutes of meditation a day increases endorphins, decreases cortisol levels, and fosters positive states of mind to promote better health."
4. Wash Your Hands
Washing your hands is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself against the flu. "The easiest way to spread viruses is if someone sneezes into their hands and uses a keyboard or touches a phone, and hours later you come in contact with these objects," OneMedical family physician Navya Mysore MDCM, CCFP, tells Bustle. "Viruses can last hours on these objects, so it's key to wash your hands or to use hand sanitizer. Also don't forget to sanitize your work station and your phone regularly."
5. Incorporate Elderberry
Elderberry is available in tablets and liquid, and it helps to stimulate the body’s immune system. "Elderberry has antiviral properties, especially against different strains of influenza virus," Trattner says. Elderberry was shown to be effective in vitro against 10 strains of influenza virus, according to research published in the journal European Cytokine Network.
6. Eat Anti-Viral Foods
Your diet also matters when it comes to preventing the flu. "Certain foods such as fish, garlic, onions, and citrus fruits — to name a few — have infection-fighting properties, so adding them to your food menu will help your body to fight viruses naturally," Dr. Fazylova says. You'll also want to drink lots of liquids, which can help flush out all the toxins and infections through the lymphatic system.
No one wants to get the flu, so be sure to adopt these habits to help prevent you from getting the virus.